It is hard to create anything truly unique in jewelry. Inevitably, artists find themselves working with similar styles, especially as suppliers are shared and trends abound. But those of us who are truly concerned with matters of ethics and respect in the artistic community find ways to negotiate these similarities that honor our fellow artists.
Today, I had my first experience with artistic dishonesty. In my recent update, I posted several intent necklaces that have tiny bottles filled with herbs, oils, and gemstones. Now, I know that intent necklaces are common. My friend Kythryne at Wyrding Studios makes beautiful ones of stone and wire. Other sellers have done bottle necklaces. I had hoped to make mine unique to me and my style of design.
In searching for a supplier for the variety of herbs I’d need, in June 2009, I turned to a popular Etsy seller of metaphysical items. I shared with her my idea and asked if she’d be interested in a partnership. She responded yes, and that she would allow me to purchase herbs from her for this venture.
Flash forward to two weeks ago. She declined my wholesale offer because my prices were not the price point she was looking for. Fine and well. I thanked her and placed another order.
This morning, I found that she had duped my idea– down to the bottles and name used. Though not gem-studded, she had undercut me by half. She claims that her line had been in the works for six months, and yet she had neglected to mention this and the similarities between her product and my product in the entire month we had been discussing my product as a potential partnership– and wherein I shared my naming and design plans.
This is absolutely unethical, and, I feel, completely dishonest. In plain language– why would someone entertain the notion of partnership and/or wholesale if they had allegedly been planning a nearly identical item for several months? Her silence on the matter, as well as the timing of the release of her item– two weeks after viewing my product and declining a wholesale agreement with me– are both incredibly suspect.
I find myself incredibly let down by a fellow practitioner today. This is my first true “wind out of the sails” experience since I took my business full time, and truly, I don’t know how to respond other than to call out the dishonesty for the bald-faced lying it is. Well, that and keeping very thorough records of purchases, correspondence, and screencaps. I am nothing if not an extremely detail-oriented Virgo. I will say nothing that I cannot back up with time-stamped evidence.
For this reason, I will resolve to remain steadfast in respecting the intellectual property of others. The wonderful Beth of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, one of my ethical role models, once said “I have never in my life stepped on someone else’s face to make a buck” and I strive to always follow her example.
Your ethics matter. As an artist, at the end of the day, all you have is your integrity. Never compromise that.
Addendum: After I pointed out to her explicitly that she was using the name with which I had furnished her for my product, she said she would change the name of hers. Well, she did. From “Fortuna” to “Fortunas.” That’s right, she added an ‘s.’ Her conduct thus far has been in such bad faith, I can’t even bring myself to be properly shocked. Integrity fail.
Editor’s note: it has come to my attention that the seller in question has received one email about this. I am removing identifying information as of 9pm EST 7/22/09. I appreciate the support, but I would like to make sure all correspondence to her on this topic remains straighforward and blunt, but in no way malicious or hateful. With all things in magic, what goes around comes around, and I’d rather not a heaping helping of angry spite splat my windshield anytime soon, you know? Please do NOT contact this seller about this matter. Thank you.
Small edits and clarifications have been made to this post, and I heretofore swear that any facts I have presented here, both past and present, are true.