Copy Cat, Dirty Rat

May 2, 2015

A few interesting things happened in the last weekend of March (which feels like an eternity ago).  One I’m not at liberty to discuss, but I can tell you that I went to a wedding, and I can also divulge that I got gastro.  In the middle of the speeches.

I also received my first cease and desist notice.  Via Facebook, does that count?

I don’t remember being accused of plagiarism before, not even when I used to plagiarise my friend Lindsay’s assignments at law school.

As an accountant, you follow the same rules (or you should), so you’re all copying each other.  No one will ever accuse you of the stealing their idea for depreciating machinery, or of mimicking their classification of minor office equipment.

Clever crochet addicts upload videos to YouTube, showing step by step how to copy what they’ve made.  Sharing is caring in the crochet world!

I was quite affronted by this communication, and not only because I had been nil by mouth for 24 hours, but because I genuinely hadn’t stolen this person’s idea, and I had actually approached this person about selling their products.

Late last year, I was winding up the clothing side of Hazel’s House, and I’d taught myself to crochet (thanks to the free tutorials on YouTube).  I was looking for other things that I could make, but I didn’t have a lot of time on my hands.  I spent hours on Instagram (which is why I have no spare time), distracting myself from the fact that my online clothing store had failed and I was out of pocket tens of thousands of dollars.

In November (the dates are important) I took my first screen shots of concrete pots and candles.  In December, I found some concrete mix in the garden shed.  Also in December, I got boyf to get me some paint test pots from Resene.

Boyf was not happy that I had boxes of yarn stacked beside the bed, the linen cupboard was full of soy wax flakes and fragrance, and I was now collecting a range of plastic containers to use as molds for concrete pots exclaiming “this will be perfect!”

We flew home from our Christmas break, and I had to return to my real job, in a real office, with real people, and I’m contracted to be there 40 hours a week.  I also have exercise commitments, wine drinking commitments, reality TV watching commitments, supermarket shopping commitments and social media stalking commitments, which leave no time for house keeping commitments, let alone concreting commitments.

It was nearing the end of January, and I hadn’t started the concrete making production line, but I had a lot of #concretelove inspo from Insta, and I’d been doing a lot of talking about it.  During my research I found someone who was making very similar stuff, not only was this person in New Zealand (I’d been stalking a bunch of Aussies until then), this person was in the same city.

To me, the answer was easy, I’d make contact, enquire about wholesaling raw products, paint them, add the candle, or the succulent, and then sell them.  That would save me trying to perfect the process, and would be a way of supporting a fellow small business.

So I contacted this person, said almost word for word what I’ve just told you, and this person said that they would assess my suitability to be a stockist, and then get back to me.  This person never got back to me.

And so, two months later, when I finally got around to converting the single garage into a single person concrete processing plant, painting the pots, pouring the soy wax (in boyf’s kitchen when he’s not home to tell me off), this person contacts me, accusing me of stealing their idea.

Now, had I fronted up at the markets, seen an original idea, taken some pics (mental or otherwise), and then gone home and replicated someone’s intellectual property, then that person, should get on the keyboard and hit me with a friendly “WTAF are you doing?” message.  But in this case, I happened across someone on Instagram, had the courtesy of contacting them, letting them know I wanted to make a similar product, offering to purchase from them wholesale, so they shouldn’t really be on their soap box preaching about stealing ideas and not supporting small business.

Now I’m feeling the pressure to disclose all the pics I have on my virtual vision board, that I want to modify and create, but genuinely do not have the hours in the day to make them and post a pic on Instagram – which is as good as a patent, right?

Hazel Signature

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Sarah May 2, 2015 at 10:15 pm

Seeing how many places are making & selling these from various manufacturers (hell I remember seeing these about 6 years ago in the your home & garden magazine & for sale via ezibuy) how is this stealing their idea? Have they patented their design? or did they pay the first person to make these for licencing rights? If you had copied their design exactly then yeah cease & desist, but if it isn’t patented I’d te her to shove off. These & similar have also been around for a number of years but have recently become popular again. On another note a cease & desist letter should be mailed to you not sent via facebook. Some people can be ridiculous sometimes.

Hazel May 4, 2015 at 7:09 am

Thanks Sarah. Sorry, I was being facetious about the Cease and Desist. It wasn’t a formal document, it was an FB message asking me to stop copying her, and a guilt trip about how hard it is to build a brand as a creative.

But my mum has a concrete pot in the garden that she made – complete with marbles for decoration, I can claim she’s my inspiration, right?


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