I have always secretly hoped that my products wouldn't get copycat. I know that this is a very naive thought, since I am a designer (we tend to get copied) and my product's sell all over the world and their photos are well spread over the Internet. So today as I was going to bed I decided to read one of my fav columns over at DesignSponge, and I found a very good article about copycats written by Stephanie. In there she advices you to goggle your images which I normally do, but not in the way she suggested, so I did, and imaging my shock when I came across not 1 but 2 o 3 different companies in the far east selling a copy of them. OMG I am so furious I can't go to sleep, they even used a watermark on my own photos.
This products were launched at 100% Design back in September 2011, after putting together my ideas and looking into how to make them for months. As a small company where every product is made by hand, mainly here in London or in Spain, I find very difficult to take some of my designs into production, so when Gassy (my then boyfriend, now supplier of the wooden products), told me he could make them, I didn't believe him, or have much faith in his skills. It took as months of product development and tests to get to what we currently have. Needless to say that he does and amazing job. I launched them at the show not knowing the public's response as I always do, and for my surprise they have become the best sellers. Gassy have worked and continues to do very hard and sometimes under extreme conditions, like 40 degrees back in Gran Canaria, in his little studio, each knob/hook is made by hand. Sometimes people email me to ask for a discount (which sometimes I offer on my blog, newsletter or depending on the total order), or tell me straight away how expensive they are, well go and make it yourself to see how much time and skills take to make a good quality handmade product?
As the production gets bigger and bigger we have sometimes struggle to keep up with the demand for this products, they sell around the world none stop. If you believe in eco, sustainability and fair commerce, then I believe you wouldn't buy them from this horrible companies in the far east without scruples.
I am way to upset to digest the whole thing and need time to deal with the situation in the best way I can. I am not a very polite person when I loose my temper specially about things like this, so I need to calm down and think of an strategy to follow. chocolate creative is my baby, I work very hard on this business to make it grow and to be able to have a decent living out of it.
From now on I am going to be very aware of to whom I send the wholesale catalogue and prices, I am a vey nice person and I tent to trust people but experiences like this make me sick in my stomach and loose trust on people. How many times I get emails asking for all the wholesale info and never even heard back from this companies or retailers.
chocolate creative is run by me, Margarita Lorenzo, a human being, I am not a corporation, just me, who designs and makes (sometimes my mother jumps in or I outsource the sewing and printing), and answer the emails (sometimes in my not so well written English), organise, pack and do the post runners most of the time, the one you see at the trade and consumers shows, the one that writes in this blog and the one behind the brand, so all I ask is being treated with respect and the same treatment goes to my company and products.
As said any help or advice on this matter are very welcome, thanks for being there and your support.
A very upset designer, Margarita!