Friday, July 1, 2011

Handmade and cheap Chinese knock offs

I was contacted last night by Jessie, who has the lovely Etsy shop westbyron  She works in metal clay and I've always admired her work. She just discovered that many of her designs are being knocked off very cheaply in China, and are being sold by supply sellers on both Etsy and Ebay, and as finished jewelry on Etsy. She is devastated, to say the least, and was hoping I would have some advice for her. As I understand it, because they are being made in China, copyright law doesn't apply. This is all SO wrong, yet there is nothing that we artists can do about it. Putting our work on the internet leaves us wide open for this sort of thing. There's a Chinese wholesale marketplace site called Alibaba which has a huge number of Etsy photographs on it. They don't even photograph the knock off themselves - they take the photos directly from Etsy and use those to sell with. This has happened to me, but I try to stay off the Chinese wholesaler sites because it's so infuriating. I was lucky in that the manufacturer using my photos took them down, but many won't.

This is Jessie's lovely, handmade piece. Here it is in her shop

Here is one of the many suppliers selling it on Ebay. 
Tibetan "silver" is not silver at all, other than the color.

Edit - of the shops I linked to has commented and I've taken the down the link. I apologize for dragging her in to this mess as she didn't know. Which I believe is probably true for most, if not all, the people buying the charm as a supply. It's a bad situation for everyone, except the for whoever did the knock offs in the first place.

One of the biggest problems with this is that if these knock offs proliferate and become popular on Etsy, sooner or later someone is going to accuse Jessie of copying. Ugh! I wish there was a solution for this mess, but I don't think there is. One thing we can do as individuals is be conscientious of  how we spend our money. Do we really need so much cheap junk? The cost is actually much higher than we realize.


WolfeWoman said...

This is so wrong! My daughter's work was knocked off by a Chinese factory and we saw it in bed, Bath and Beyond. thanks for spreading the word.

Mieko said...

Well said, Sue. It is so frustrating that artists have no way to protect ourselves in the current environment. Jessie's work is so lovely. Hopefully there are many shoppers on Etsy who are looking for truly unique artisan jewelry and can see the difference.

GlitzGlitter said...

This makes me want to cry.

Fiore Jewelry said...

Wow. I was just looking at your friends shop this morning admiring their work. My sister and I decided we need this necklace because of the owl's pineapple ring looking eyes.

I never considered anyone on etsy getting ripped off like that. It's so scary what can happen these days, and now people on Etsy can legally sell her knockoffs. I hope word gets around and people just decide it's better not to support such a thing on Etsy.

SummersStudio said...

Oh, my, but this is very disturbing but an all too common story. It's almost as if they cast your friends pendant directly (and badly). I think as consumers we need to reminded that this happens and as you've said,ask ourselves questions when we make purchases. Thank you for posting this.

Lorelei DiMichele said...

I am one of the artists who is referenced in the links. I had no idea that the design was a knock off, and had NO WAY of knowing. I appologize to Jessie for this unfortunate event, and as a fellow artist, I certainly understand how frustrating this must be for her. In support of her, I have removed any listings that were wrongfully duplicated without her concent.
However, I wish that a link to my store had not been posted. I feel somewhat singled out in this. A friendly email to me personally would have been sufficient for me to correct the issue. I am not affiliated with the company that is stealing her designs. I operate my business with great integrity, and my innocent mistake does not reflect my character.
Again, my appologies to Jessie, and anyone else whom this has inconvenienced.

Sue said...

Lorelei, I've edited the post and removed the links. I'm sorry for dragging you in to this, and thank you for apologizing to Jessie. This whole mess is a nightmare without any real solution.

Louise @ Aurora said...

This makes me so mad!! Luckily it hasn't happened to me (yet!) but I am more aware now and will stay clear of these Chinese wholesalers. It must be so infuriating to know you can do nothing about it. I can see why they would want to copy that necklace though - it is beautiful! Thanks for the warning xx

Star of the East said...

Ebay is very strict with such things, I'm pretty sure that they would remove the copycat?? She has a record of her sold items for years, so she can easily show that she has been making them for a long time!

Gold Charm said...

That is very sad that there is so much copying around here...and since this is an open market it is much more easy.We must protest by buying only the originals.