HSN 24-Hour Craft Events Are THE DEVIL!

Two weeks ago today, HSN was having one of their “24-hour craft event” programming days, where from midnight to midnight, all the products they show are craft-related. They’re also known as “Kathy is definitely filing for bankruptcy soon” days in my inner circle.

I always hope and pray I don’t find out about the crafting days so that I’m not even remotely tempted to spend money on anything, but with my religious following of crafter extraordinaires like Amber from Damask Love, Beth from Kingston Crafts, Anna Griffin & Sara Davies from Crafter’s Companion, it’s absolutely mission impossible.

I’ve been a victim of HSN’s 24 hour days for over a year now, and during that time, I’ve succumbed to my desire to purchase the following items (in no specific order):

we-r-memory-keepers-alphabet-punch-board.jpegWe R Memory Keepers – Alphabet Punch Board: When I tell you that I will be in physical pain if I don’t buy whatever Amber shows, I’m not kidding. As soon as I saw her punching out letters in seconds, I could see myself making 387845437984 banners with the punch board. Even though I have a Cricut machine where I can cut literally anything in any size, sometimes I don’t want to crank it up and do this whole operation with mats and digital designs if I’m making something simple. Please recycle this same explanation for 95% of the products I’ll list below. I have, unfortunately, not yet used my punch board 😦 but I will!

xyron-creative-station.jpgXyron XRN510 Creative Station: I believe Beth is the one to blame here for selling this so well, but honestly the Xyron adhesive products family sells itself. I’ve actually used it a number of times when I’ve had intricate items that I need to stick but don’t want to use glue for, and it made my life so much easier! I did have to go back in with a weeder to take out the adhesive from the holes, but no biggie. Still saved me tons of time!

 

Image result for diamond press crafters companionThe Diamond Press by Crafter’s Companion: Sara Davies could sell me a used needle if she wanted to. She is such a masterful crafter and showcaser of items, that I am defenseless against her charm! She showed the Diamond Press on its launch day at HSN, and I got it with the auto-ship (when they release more die cuts in future months and you sign up to get them automatically as soon as they come out). I haven’t used it either, but I already have a couple of events/ideas lined up to use it in the near future (::cough cough:: #MyBestFriendsWedding ::cough cough::).

We R Memory Keepers-Banner Punch Board: Amber, I’m going to start billing you for my purchases. Why do you do this to me, girl? You sold me on this so hard, I couldn’t turn away. And don’t even try to act innocent, I got receipts! Anywho, I bought this baby because again, I might not really feel like jump-starting my Cricut to cut big triangles for a banner, nor do I want to do it by hand. This seemed like a good enough reason to buy the punch board, and I did use it right away to create a banner for a friend’s birthday!

 

Now, for my most recent acquisitions, which just arrived and I’ve already started using –

Xyron® Sticker Makers Magnet Tape & Mega Runner™Xyron Sticker Makers Magnet Tape & Mega Runner: Since one of my crafty friends raved about her ATG tape runner gun, I’ve been wondering whether or not it’s worth the investment for me, but I hadn’t settled on it until May 9th, 2017, when HSN decided to bundle a Xyron tape runner with two sticker maker mini stations AND a magnet tape roll as well, all for $29.99. Who can say no to that?! If you can, I don’t trust you.

 

Crafter's Companion 3D Embossing Folders SetCrafter’s Companion 3D Embossing Folders Set: I don’t have a Cuttlebug (kind of like the Diamond Press, but bigger), I’ve never wanted one and I never thought I would, but when I saw Sara Davies making this on live TV, I have never wanted something more in my life! My crafty friend offered to gift me her old Cuttlebug machine and I said DONE! I took advantage of the Flex-Pay option HSN was offering that day so that I wouldn’t feel as guilty seeing the full price in one swipe, and now these stunning folders are mine! I almost bought the gold wax they use to get this effect, but they were sold out. Things selling out are my only saving grace.

I love all of these things so much, even if I haven’t had the chance to use them as much yet. I know I’ll make use of them soon, whether it’s for items for #MyBestFriendsWedding or for any other event, I’ll get my money’s worth. In the meantime though, I think I should stay away from any upcoming 24-hour craft events for my well-being (and my wallet’s!).

Amigos y Familia: Tía Martha, La Inspiración Que Lo Puede Todo

For the English version of this post, click here.

Para esta edición de mi serie de blogs de amigos y familia con talento para manualidades, me voy a poner un poco sentimental, así que prepárense para una lectura emocional. Desafortunadamente, este miembro de mi familia perdió su batalla contra el cáncer ya hace casi 3 años, así que es un poco difícil ver todo esto sin entristecerme, pero mi tía Martha se merece este pequeño homenaje, y mucho más.

Mi tía Martha fue una guerrera admirable que era imparable en su misión de lograr el éxito de su familia. No había reto al que ella no se le midiera, y aun mejor, hacia todo con una sonrisa de oreja a oreja que hasta hoy veo claramente. Siempre adore a mi tía, y de todas las que tengo, definitivamente ella era la más cercana a mí y siempre recuerdo las veces que se comparaba conmigo, por lo cual esto significa aún más para mí.

Dentro de todas sus cualidades, mi tía cocinaba increíble, cosía cosas hermosas y era literalmente buena para todo tipo de manualidades. Ella era súper creativa y todo lo que hacía no solo era lindo sino también útil, y lo hacía parecer súper fácil. Ella era de esas personas que podían ayudar con cualquier parte de la preparación de una fiesta de principio a fin, y no puedo siquiera estimar cuantos eventos ella ayudó a montar en su vida. La recuerdo inflando globos, cocinando pasa-palos, entregando el cotillón – y todo de la manera más humilde, sin querer siquiera unas gracias. Solo era feliz siendo parte del momento.

De todas las cosas que mi tía sabía hacer, creo que la que más la vi haciendo fue coser. Cuando yo vivía en Venezuela, ella nos visitaba de Colombia y la máquina de coser no paraba desde el momento que ella llegaba hasta que se iba. Aunque mi mama fue quien la compró, la maquina no la tocaba más nadie sino mi tía. Hoy en dia me doy cuenta que este fue el comienzo

de cuando mis aptitudes creativas empezaron a tener una dirección guiada. A mí siempre me había gustado colorear y construir maquetas y ratoncitos de rollos de papel de baño, pero mientras mis manualidades eran para juego y diversión, las creaciones de mi tía tenían propósito. Ella me enseñó a usar la máquina de coser y aunque hasta el sol de hoy tengo problemas ensartando la bobina inferior, he podido completar algunos proyectos gracias a ella.

La primera de sus creaciones que me gustaría mostrar es esta “toalla-bolsa” que, según yo, mi tía inventó. Ahora se ven más comúnmente, pero en aquel momento la de mi tía fue la primera que vi. Fueron un hit total, y ella llegó a hacer docenas ya que todo el mundo quería una. Como ella vivía en Santa Marta, que es una ciudad playera en la costa colombiana, las toalla-bolsas eran súper útiles para todos, ya que eran toallas que se convertían en mochilas, y eliminaban el problema de meter una toalla en un bolso (acaparando todo el espacio), o en su defecto cargarla en la mano. Era genial. Lo sigue siendo.

La otra cualidad increíble de mi tía es que alguien le podía mostrar un producto, y ella lo replicaba con una facilidad incomparable. Esto es algo que ahora me doy cuenta yo también hago, y creo que parte de la confianza que tengo en mi misma de lograrlo viene de verla a ella haciéndolo tantas veces. Por ejemplo:

  • Estas toallas de cabeza: creo que mi mama le pidió que la rehiciera un poco más delgada en la parte de abajo ya que ella tiene el cabello corto. Y como por arte de magia…
  • Este recuerdo de fiesta de muñecas colgantes: como saben, a veces los recuerdos de fiesta salen anormalmente caros. Así que, para la opción más económica, mi tía decidió hacer una versión diferente de estas muñecas, logrando un look único y perfecto para la fiesta de mi ahijada.

También recuerdo que a mi mama siempre le han hecho falta los gorros de baño, pero siempre se le perdían, así que un día mi tía cortó un poncho de lluvia, compro una tira elástica ¡y listo! Suficientes gorros para una década. Quisiera tener alguna foto de ellos, pero lamentablemente no hay nada en mis archivos. Solo recuerdo que eran amarillos y que me impresiono lo rápido que mi tía logro hacerlos.

Como mencioné anteriormente, mi tía tenía un talento increíble para la costura y la mejor evidencia de ello es, por supuesto, la ropa que hacía. Ella podía arreglar o hacer prácticamente cualquier cosa, y lo hacía. Aquí algunas de las cosas que ella hizo más recientemente:

Créanme cuando les digo que esto es solo una pequeña parte de las tantas cosas que mi tía hizo. Desafortunadamente, en el tiempo que ella estaba haciendo la mayoría de estas cosas aún no había teléfonos con cámaras y no teníamos ese sentido de capturar cada momento como hoy. Pero espero que estas fotos hayan sido suficiente para darle rienda suelta a su imaginación para pensar en todas las cosas hermosas que las manos de mi tía produjeron. Mi tía tenía un gran talento, que me cuento con suerte de no solo haberla visto en acción, sino también de haber aprendido de ella. Una de las últimas veces que hablé con ella, le pude agradecer por sus enseñanzas y le comenté que le había pegado una M a mi máquina de coser en su honor y ella, como siempre, se rio.

Tía, te extraño más de lo que puedo expresar en palabras y estoy eternamente agradecida que dentro de mi grupo de talentosos Amigos y Familia, siempre conté contigo para inspiración, conocimientos, y más que todo, tu actitud de “sí se puede” y tu sonrisa.

Friends & Family: Tia Martha, A Can-Do Inspiration

Para la version en español de este blog, haz clic aquí.

For this installment of #WCBFriendsAndFamily, I’m going to get really personal and sappy, so buckle up for an emotional ride. This family member unfortunately lost her battle to cancer almost three years ago, so it’s a little hard to look at this stuff without getting sad, but mi Tia Martha deserves this, and so much more.

My tia Martha (I can’t come to terms with calling her aunt, it just doesn’t feel the same) was an admirable warrior of a human who was unstoppable in her quest to make her family thrive. There was no challenge too big for her, and she did everything with the most beautiful smile I can still see to this day. I absolutely loved my tia and out of all the aunts I have, she was the one I was closest to, and I remember her saying she saw a lot of herself in me so I think that’s partly why this means so much to me.

Within all her admirable qualities, my tia was an AMAZING cook, an extremely talented seamstress, and quite honestly a jack of all trades in the crafting department. She was super creative and made things that were useful and beautiful, and she made it all look so easy. She was one of those people who could help in every single area of set-up and breakdown for a party, and I can only imagine how many events she had her hand in throughout her life. I remember her blowing up balloons, baking hors d’oeuvres, passing out the cotillion/favors – all in the most selfless way. I don’t think she ever even craved a thank you. She was just happy to be there doing her part.

Out of all the amazing things my tia would do, I think the one I saw her do the most was sewing. Back when I lived in Venezuela, she would come visit us from Colombia and I swear from the moment she arrived until she left, that sewing machine was going. My mom had bought it, but I think my tia was the only one who ever touched it. I now see this is how my tia started guiding my creative side to go in a streamlined direction. I’d always liked coloring and building paper models or mice out of toilet paper rolls, but while my crafts were just for fun and games, my tia’s stuff had a purpose. She taught me how to use the sewing machine and even though to this day I have trouble hooking the bottom bobbin, I’ve been able to do quite a few projects with it thanks to her.

The first thing I’d like to highlight – and possibly the coolest – is this towel bag my tia “invented.” I’ve only just now seen a lot of different versions of this, but the first time I ever saw it was when my tia made them. They were a total hit and she made dozens of them, everyone wanted one. Since she lived in Santa Marta, which is a beach town in the coast of Colombia, these were super useful for everyone, because it’s a towel that wraps into its own bag, so you don’t have to stuff it into another bag where it won’t fit or carry it on your hand. It was genius. Still is.

The other great thing about my tia is that anyone would come to her with an existing product, and she’d have no problem replicating it almost identically. This is something I now realize I do as well, and I think I got a lot of my confidence from seeing her do it so seamlessly. For example:

  • This head towel – I think my mom asked her if she could make more like it, and she did, but with a few modifications at my mom’s request
  • This doll party favor – as you know, party favors are expensive. So in order to save money for this party, my tia decided to make a different version of these cute hanging dolls she saw:

I also remember, my mom was a big user of shower caps but she always lost them, so one time my tia cut up a poncho and bought some elastic and bam! Extra shower caps for everyone. I wish I had a picture of those, but none I could find. All I remember is they were bright yellow and I was impressed how quickly she came up with the idea and made them.

As I mentioned earlier, my tia was a very talented seamstress and the best show of that, of course, is clothing. She could mend and make pretty much anything, and she did. Here are some of the stuff we have record of her making:

Trust me when I say that this is just a sample of the many, many things my tia created. Unfortunately, back when she was in the height of her making phone cameras weren’t a thing yet, and we didn’t feel that urgency/ease to document everything. But I hope these were enough of an insight for you to imagine all the beautiful things my tia’s hands were able to produce. My tia had such a huge talent, I’m lucky to have been able to see her do it and to have learned from her. One of the last times I spoke to her before she passed, I was able to thank her for teaching me all she did and I told her I put an M on my sewing machine in her honor, and she laughed, as always.

Tia, I miss you more than words can express, and I am so grateful that among my crafty and talented Friends & Family, I always counted on you for inspiration, knowledge, and most of all your can-do attitude and smile.

I want to introduce you to… My talented crafty friends!

People say a lot of who you are is a direct result of your environment and those closest to you and upon some reflection, I’ve come to realize how much of my love for crafting has been reinforced by those around me. Of course, I’ve got tons of support from non-crafty people (which are the majority of my close relatives), but I am so happy to be able to share my craftventures with both friends and family that are just as excited about getting their hands dirty with DIYs as I am.

Some of my earliest memories include feeling happy finger-painting at school, and admiring my cousin’s drawings and wanting to be just like him (funny enough, I only just discovered I can actually draw, like two years ago! You’d think I would’ve attempted it because I was so inspired by him, but it appears I focused on other crafty endeavors…). He’ll definitely have a post completely dedicated to his stunning work! At summer camp, I wasn’t much of an athlete so I’d run off early each day to schedule my activities and make sure I got a spot at any of the crafting disciplines they offered, especially pottery. I even got the Arts & Crafts trophy at the end of my season.

My cousin, my tia, my grandma, and so many of my crafty friends and family members have helped me learn more about myself, gain confidence in my skills and supported me with advice on DIYs, orders, dealing with customers and beyond. Now I want to highlight them in this series called #WCBFriendsAndFamily. Stay tuned, as I’ll be showcasing them individually on this blog!

 

5 Things I’ve learned in My First Year on Etsy

One year. 365 days. 525,600 minutes (RENT fans, you’re welcome.) Can’t believe it!

Even though I originally opened my shop in November of 2014, I was flying under the radar, relying solely on Etsy’s SEO and Pinterest to make sales – until May of 2015 that is! That’s when I finally mustered up the courage to go public with my shop and open social media channels, add new products, and heavily focus on making it happen. Since that decision, a lot has happened and I have learned many valuable lessons in all areas from customer service, to operations, to social media, etc. Here are 5 of the most important things I’ve learned over the past year:

  1. Pictures, pictures, pictures! This is an obvious one, but trust me when I tell you that most Etsy sellers *think* they have good pictures, but we really don’t notice how bad (or average) they are until we do! I’m part of a few discussion forums where I’ve participated in exchanges about many topics, including pictures, and we’ve all massively helped each other better position our items, learn about lighting, etc. My pictures have dramatically changed since I first started out, and trust me when I tell you I thought I was doing a good job, and then I realized how bad they were. Exhibit A:
    Left: Original pictures  Right: Proof that evolution exists

    Left: Original pictures
    Right: Proof that evolution exists

    The picture on the left was the worst of my bunch, but there are no words to explain how I thought that would be good. At the time, I always took my pictures at night with bad lighting, using my “Frosty” colored corrugated wall as a backdrop, flash photography, and weird angles. AND I THOUGHT I WAS KILLING IT. I have nothing to say for myself.

    PRO TIP: Take advantage of all the communities out there, and get feedback on everything you can. You may be a one-man-show like me, but there are so many people willing to help or give quick advice that will make all the difference.

  2. Planning ahead and organization is everything. I’m pretty OCD and I love Excel sheets (really, I do), but when it comes to a self-run business, you really need to be aware of all of your activities/responsibilities, the time it takes you to complete them, the ROI (return on investment) from everything (are you sure you’re spending your time appropriately considering how it converts into sales?), and do as much ahead of time as you can. I’m the type of person who does really well under pressure, and that makes me consciously procrastinate, but unfortunately, I also get “moods” during which I don’t particularly enjoy to craft, and those can last weeks. So doing things ahead of time is very helpful, so that when I don’t want to do something, I don’t have to. Also, everything is much harder than it looks, so you will realize that you need more time to do things well until it becomes second nature.
  3. The customer is… an interesting individual. I am happy to say that the bulk of my sales come from total strangers on Etsy, and I’ve come across so many interesting characters that I could honestly write a whole book about. Customer service has always been my priority from the get-go, so I really try to do my best with each order, but that’s not to say that things are sometimes out of your hands and you just have to deal. The majority of my customers have been super nice, and about a third of them have left me great reviews. A portion of them I’ve had little to no interaction with. And a few have been a little more work than the rest. It’s all part of the game, and you just have to play along and hope for the best result, but definitely don’t let it get personal. I let one order in particular get the best of me and it was about a month of feeling crappy 24/7. Not fun. Try your best to separate your work and craft from your personal life and feelings.
  4. Be your own customer. This one has always been obvious to me and I’ve tried to use it in every sense, but it’s always good to analyze every “front of the house” aspect of your business from the customer perspective. For social media, would you ‘like’ the picture you just posted if it came up in your feed? For SEO, would you search for the item you’re posting using those words? For customer service, would you be pleased with the way you’re treating the buyer if that were you? Always do things thinking of the customer and how you’d respond in their place.
  5. Learn, implement and evolve! We’ve all heard the phrase “nothing is more constant than change,” so we need to be sure that we’re evolving with the trends and that our products remain attractive and innovative. Also, something I’m proud of myself for doing this past year is I’ve participated in many workshops (online and in person), free and paid, and I’ve learned a lot of different things that I’ve implemented wherever possible and I’ve definitely seen results from most of them. Information selling is a big thing right now, so a lot of people are putting out content for free to entice you to buy, and it’s always worth looking into. If you learn one thing you didn’t know before, it’s worth it!

I could’ve told you these things a year ago because a lot of it is common sense, but it’s one thing to “know” something broadly, and another to truly live it and see the relevance of following through.

Do you sell your crafts? Are you in business by yourself? What have you learned since launching that you had an idea about or wish you knew before starting out? Comment below!

Flirting with… Vinyl!

For the most part, crafters and craft shop owners have a little bit of a niche, whether it be paint, paper crafting, glass work, wood burning, etc. I, on the other hand, am all over the place, excited to experiment, trying to soak up and learn as much as I can, and living out my wildest #craftasies. I enjoy this freedom, and though I’ve been working heavily on the paper crafting and painting world, I’m currently dabbing my feet in the unknown waters of Vinyl. The way I feel about working with vinyl is the same feeling you have when you like a guy who has a little bit of a dangerous appeal, and you know that the relationship has potential, but you’re scared of getting hurt… You know?

I have problems. I’m aware.

I never heard about vinyl prior to getting my Cricut Explore, which I planned on using exclusively for my card stock crafts. Then, my friend (who saved my life and taught me how to use my Cricut when I was struggling HARD with YouTube videos, so THANK YOU KATHY!) invited me to join a couple of Facebook groups called Let’s Learn Cricut Explore and Cricut Lovers Guide to Design Space (admin approval is required to join), which she told me would be a great way to get acquainted with the Cricut’s features and I could ask questions to the members – currently over 20,000 in each! So I joined, and realized that the vast majority of the members worked mostly with vinyl (or Heat Transfer Vinyl/HTV) to make decals or clothing accents. It looked cool, but scary.

I was intimidated to try any vinyl projects, because it just looked like a sticky situation (HA! get it?) and like I could mess it up easily. I avoided it at all costs and even though my Cricut brought a sample of vinyl, I refused to open it… Until I had to make an item which I knew would only make sense to be made with HTV. My friend was turning 26, and she mentioned that she wanted a sash that said “26 & Fabulous.” So I mustered up my courage, bought some glittery HTV, followed the instructions I remembered I’d seen in the Facebook groups countless times (mirror the image if necessary, check your settings, use chalk powder to show the lines when weeding, etc.) and got to work! Until I got to my first major roadblock: I couldn’t find an iron in my house. For HTV to work you NEED heat to stick it to the fabric. But fear not, because I tend to get REALLY creative when I’m in a craft jumble… So I figured, since it’s a sash, I could probably pull this off with my Hair Iron!

Ta da! I added a thin border with another ribbon to top it off, and it came out exactly the way my friend said she wanted it! She ended up wearing it all weekend long 🙂 20160108_223607578_iOS

After this, I felt a teensy bit more confident and willing give the permanent vinyl a chance, perhaps even decorate my Cricut machine (a lot of crafters do it!) so I decided to order a stack of sample colors from Amazon to have them handy for whenever I decided to step up to bat… Which didn’t take too long!

First, my mom’s friend asked me if I could make a decal for her car. Like, PERMANENT. And it had to come out right because it doesn’t come off easy and it was for her business. So I got to work, and I even stuck it on her car myself 🙂 She LOVED it!

20160220_193011431_iOS

Any pro vinyl crafter out there will know that this is cake. The real test of vinyl craftsmanship is layering, i.e. cutting out each component of the image in its respective color, and then layering it appropriately to create the final image. And you know where I’m going with this – someone asked me for something that I knew would look best layered!

My best friend wanted to do something cute for her son’s second birthday at school. She wanted to send some favor bags for his classmates, and she wanted them to be Mickey themed since that’s his favorite character. I came up with a design idea, and she loved it, so now it was time to work! Mickey heads with their names on them? Let’s do it!

AHHHHHHHH I LOVE CRAFTING! And my Cricut!!! For these projects, the most helpful tips I’d seen in the groups included setting the machine to cut “washi tape” because sometimes it’s too rough when you set it to “vinyl,” and to invest in a set of basic dental tools because they’re thinner than the Cricut tools. Also, Cricut Transfer Tape (or basic contact paper if you’re in a bind) is ESSENTIAL to transfer/layer all the pieces 🙂

So now, having done a small scale version of the projects that thousands of people do every day with vinyl, I’m finally comfortable enough to work with the material and hope I can continue to improve my skills and do some great stuff with it! In the meantime, I decided to take my manicure to the next level with some more of that vinyl 😉 20160328_182320868_iOS

Copyright Infringement, Plagiarism, and ‘Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery’

Creating something brand new or finding truly original content/products is very hard these days. For example, think about current TV executive board meetings… In my head, they go a little something like this:

  • TV Guy 1: Hey guys, let’s talk about ideas for a new show for next fall
  • TV Guy 2: How about we remake/reunite Friends/Full House/Charmed/Sabrina the Teenage Witch/Gilmore Girls/literally any 90s show ever made?
  • All the TV Guys in unison: SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN!

Whatever happened to predictability? Ha, had to! No, but seriously, they really need to stop bringing back everyone and everything, especially when the shows had perfect closures – except Friends. They can bring back Friends forever until every cast member dies.

Anywho… The point is, a lot of times it can feel like everything has already been created/thought of, and it’s hard to think about something from scratch. After all, we have Pinterest!

I completely understand the struggle. As an Etsy seller, it’s my ultimate goal to have fresh and new items that my customers can only find at my shop, that keep them coming back, and that provide me with a stable income. I’ve tried from day 1 to make things people want, and because I’ve taken enough business classes, I know the key is to look for a market void and try to fill it.

The whole “photo booth props” niche was a very happy accident, but an accident nonetheless. I know there are plenty of providers of photo booth props in both digital and physical format, and I know they’ll continue to come up. I for one have tried very hard to create designs that are 100% authentic, different from what’s already out there, of good quality, and fun. Even though the bulk of my items are inspired by Disney, every single prop has been hand drawn, cut and put together by me – just like I make 4th of July, graduation, or wedding sets. The ideas/events/institutions have been around forever, but the designs themselves are mine.

So you can imagine, it’s disheartening/frustrating (to say the least) when you find that your designs have been copied by other sellers, right under your nose. And that’s what inspired this blog post. Is imitation REALLY the most sincere form of flattery? I’m not sure.

Yesterday, I was doing my routine SEO self-check, where I search random keywords associated with my items and I see in which pages they land, so I can make sure I’m staying relevant and top-sided in Etsy’s algorithms. As I start scanning for my props, on the very first page my eyes pick up on some familiar shapes, and I’m confused for a moment. Wait… Is that… Did I… No that’s not… Who… Woah. That’s my design, but that’s NOT my picture, or my shop.

As you all should know by now, I’m obsessed with everything Disney. So when the Descendants Movie came out, I was front row (to my TV) ready to watch it and fall in love with yet another new classic. It worked. I did. I died. And then, a customer saw my standard set of Villain-inspired props, and asked if I could make her some Descendants villain props. I already had 3 out of the 4 parents (Evil Queen, Jafar & Maleficent) designed from prior sets, so I got to work and drew out the last parent (Cruella), plus the 4 children: Evie, Jay, Mal & Carlos. I’m pretty proud of how they turned out, and I’ve already received a few orders for the set. So you can imagine, that when I see someone copied my design to the T, I’m a little bit flabbergasted. Let me show you what I mean:

I’ve checked for Descendants props on Etsy before, but there were none. Mine were the very first set of Villain parents and children on the marketplace. Until, quite literally, last week. On March 14th, another shop posted a set of Descendants props that looks like this:

Quite honestly, I couldn’t believe it! So eerie to notice the ends of the hair on the girls, Carlos’ (black and white hair) spikes, Jay’s hairstyle… They literally copied my design inch by inch. On the side of the parents, I think most of those props had been done before, but again, I hand drew my designs based off of the original cartoons, not other people’s interpretation of them.

Do you know what I did when I saw this? Wild guess? I laughed. I was in shock, but I try to avoid going crazy over things I cannot change, because ultimately, it only affects me. So I just laughed and, tried to figure out what I should do next. These were my options:

  1. Let it go (whaddup Frozen reference?! Whaddup iiSuperwomanii reference within the reference? #inception): be the bigger person, not care that my work was copied, move on…
  2. Report the listing: Etsy has an option to report listings. I’ve never done this before so I’m not sure under what grounds you may report something (probably over graphic or offensive content?). But, I really don’t want to start drama with another shop. I’ve been on the receiving side of crazy before, and it’s not fun.
  3. Send the shop a direct message: should I let them know I know? I would crap my pants if another shop messaged me telling me I plagiarized their item. I would for sure take it down, possibly apologize, but that’s just me. I’m not sure how the other shop will react.
  4. Write a blog about it to open up a dialogue and hear different perspectives on the matter? Sounds like a plan 🙂

I won’t do anything other than #4 right now. I really just wanted to put this out there for two reasons:

  1. For aspiring or existing Etsy owners – I know of one owner in particular who went through this recently. She was devastated that her design was plagiarized and I believe she reported it, but I’m not sure how much she could do about it or how the case turned out. I just know that it tortured her and stole her peace for weeks. We all work hard to make our shops stand out, hoping for stable sales and happy customers eager to leave reviews. It’s not an easy process trying to make a shop grow and go from hobby or side gig to a business, and this is potentially a roadblock. It’s not a “fair” competition. It’s a dirty play. It sucks but it’s not a make or break situation, so I really just wanted to showcase the story and hopefully have it serve as a “everything will be alright” reassurance, which I’ll need to confirm in the future. But I really think it will.
  2. Trying to honor my #WCBBloggingTuesdays commitment, and always #KeepingItReal (also, please help #KeepInstagramChronological)

In any case, as shocked and surprised as I was, this hasn’t really affected me the way other events have (I’m an ultra sensitive person), so I’m proud of myself for that. At the same time, I know social media makes it seem like everything is peachy 100% of the time, and I don’t tend to share the down moments, but I think it’s an important part of my journey, and in every moment, there’s a lesson to be learned.

Please share your thoughts below, and any personal stories of dealing with plagiarism or copycats are a plus!!