the corporate, the crafter and the copyist [a tale as old as time]
This week, I have been mostly thinking about when a business becomes a corporate [if at all?]
Or, when the transition is made from 'crafter' to small business / company and when it becomes ok to copy other peoples ideas?
"Well, it's NEVER ok to copy!" I hear some of you shouting at your screens as you read this, Im inclined to feel the same, but check this out...
Remember the situation recently where the comedian changed his name, to take on one of the 'big boys'?
Everyone was supporting him, he got a lot of media attention and everyone was behind the underdog... [although, reading a little bit further into this, it seems that, as with most things in the media, this was not entirely as it first seemed? I don't know enough about that to comment any further...]
Anyway, having started this business from the ground up, from the kitchen table of our home, to a little workshop in a lovely yard around the corner, to being able to spread the love and finally employ people [in an area with relatively high unemployment] I'm struggling with how, the transition from kitchen table to 'warehouse-in-a-field' suddenly makes me / us a target or, for want of a better way of putting it, a 'callous corporate'?
Therefore its suddenly ok, to be 'inspired' by our work, yet not mention our work or business at all, when trying to sell designs based [well, practically exactly the same in some cases], as ours?
Its funny, because people believe so much in the following of a company, or their social media presence, that they think it must be 'faceless'.
That they must have brought in a 'team' to handle it all, so they don't have to deal with the public or customers themselves?
In many cases [particularly ours!] that's not the case at all...
So, when we get that message sent through, by a loyal follower / liker of our page who has seen us grow and wants to show you another business, who has made products EXACTLY the same as ours, we ALL still get that rising sick feeling. The anxiety... [mainly Steve and I, although I know the guys we work with feel it too...]
It's even worse when you get to the stage of employing people, because you feel an extra responsibility for their livelihoods and the protection of that, [gawd knows- that's hard enough already!!]
Hell, I've even been asked how we make our products as robustly as we do, by someone who intended to [and actually DID] base their next product collection on ours-?!
As an aside, that also makes me concerned, as perhaps the resulting products wouldn't be as strong, or have a repairs / end of life policy, but those products may be confused with our own?!
Which brings me on to our trademarks.
Wyatt&Jack® Inflatable Amnesty® and Wyatt&Jack Junior® are ALL registered trademarks.
Let's get something straight, please don't tell me, that if you had an idea you thought you could turn into something larger, plus provide employment on a larger scale, that you wouldn't protect it?
A trademark, doesn't immediately equate to being a 'corporate aresehole'
It also doesn't mean that we are trying to prevent anyone 'doing their bit for the environment' [we hear that one regularly, its pretty passive aggressive... it kind of means that you can copy ideas and that's ok, because you're only doing it 'for the environment'
note: they are still someone else ideas. Its still devastating and really upsetting when you use them to further your own business and income...
note 2: there are hundreds of ways you can help the environment if you creatively think enough about it
Are we no longer celebrating success?
Don't get me wrong, I think its great that we live in an era full of ideas that are so readily accessible to everyone and I'm more than happy to discuss what we do...
[ as I said, we have a duty to protect some of our processes, because we employ people and they have taken us years to tweak and get right] - the products, not the employees!!
I would just ask, that if you're going to use the same hashtags, target the same audience and sell the same designs- at the very least, be courteous enough to mention it!!
In conclusion, I'm wondering what people think?
When does a 'crafter' become a 'small business'?
When does a 'small company' become a corporate, in the eyes of the public?
At what point is it ok to then start making their designs?
When does the underdog, become the 'public enemy'?