a post about sharing.
I had had some recent issues with people copying "my" work and it bugged me. I realized that the best way to defeat that annoyance was to just get over it and give permission to people to use any tutorial I write at will to create and make and do to their hearts content. And I meant it. Any tutorial I post here is a gift from me to you. I hope they inspire you to make a million and one wonderful things...that lead to other wonderful things and on and on.
Any tutorial I post here is something that I will refer to as "free candy bowl" items.
Let me explain.
Let's say I owned a brick and mortar store. Set in the downtown of the place you live. Filled with one of a kind things that you can't find anywhere else because I made them myself from my own patterns and processes. Say in that store, near that checkout counter I kept a bowl of candy. All sorts of little candies that I kept there for my customers to have and sample for free. No strings attached...just there for you, if you come in my shop...whether you buy anything or not they are there for you. They are there just because I love my customers and I like to give a little something back.
Say you came in my shop and thought...well she is giving away candy, so she won't mind if I take a thing or two off the shelves. Since she IS giving that candy away and all. That should be OK. You don't ask if this is OK...you just do it. Lots of people do it. Repeatedly.
No one would think twice if I confronted the thief or even called the cops. Right? What if it was a Christian based business? Still perfectly normal to call the cops and confront the thief, right?
Since I wrote that post some time ago, a lot has changed. My business has grown and changed. I am always trying to improve things and have made many changes, some seen and some unseen. The biggest change or event is that I have gained a copyright on my hohos. In all of their shapes and forms. A legal outright protection from anyone taking my idea and running with it.
Why did I do this with my hohos and nothing else? Because honestly, most of the items I make are "candy bowl" type items that I have merely put my touch on...pillows, Christmas ornaments, signs, bags, flowers, dresses, etc. Items that are all made in a million different ways by a million different people. My hohos are different. They are an idea that sprung from my mind and created by an idea that I have not seen elsewhere. Just like a song is specific to a songwriter or a painting is specific to an artist...these hohos are specific to me. I did not create them from looking at someone else's tutorial. I did not use anyone else's pattern nor did I glean inspiration from a stuffed animal in my boys' collection. The hoho is specific to ME. Hohos are NOT "candy bowl" items.
I get emails all the time from people looking out for me about bloggers and etsy shops selling items identical to my hohos. So identical that it is clear that they saw mine and duplicated it. And yes I DO, kindly inform them of my copyright and ask that they please stop. And usually I get a kind response back...telling me that they are embarrassed to have done what they've done and they apologize. And I move on and so do they. And I think part of why that usually goes so smoothly is that I am suddenly a HUMAN being to them, with feelings and no longer some vague figure on the internet. I approach them as kindly as I can with a hurt heart. Bottom line is, stealing is wrong.
Because let me tell you, it's not about someone selling one of my items and making money from it. Though, if anyone is going to have a toy line with Mattel or Fisher Price with MY hohos it will be me. No, more than the money, it's the dishonestly that goes along with it. It genuinely hurts my feelings that someone would take my idea and try to pass it off as their own. They wouldn't do that to their best friend but the anonymity of the internet oftentimes makes it easier to do things that we wouldn't otherwise do to "real" people. Some will say that it is accidental...but if you read my blog and frequent my shop...you will not convince me that you fell into your sewing machine and out came a hoho that looks just like mine.
And I am not greedy. People HAVE written to ask me if they could make a few to give as gifts...people with NO blogs or anything...NO WAY for me to know that they have done it other than them volunteering the information and treating me they way they would their friend...and I have given my blessing.
This business is MY livelihood. I hope to continue to grow it and grow it until maybe one day I HAVE a brick and mortal store. If I have to stop a thief THEN I will. And I maintain the right to do that now. I won't go into the Christian side of this too much...because honestly, I think it's terribly naive to think that because I love Jesus, that means you can walk all over me and have me do nothing to stop it. Will I still be kind to you? Yes. Will I be respectful and gracious? Yes. Will I do my best to ensure that HOW I handle myself will not bring myself or my family shame? Yes. Will I stop people from stealing what is mine? You bet. Will I fail at all of these things sometimes? Yes. But I don't feel that I need to defend myself much here because the great Defender will take care of it. I will just do my best to ensure that my actions bring Him honor.
In the meantime, I would love for everyone to keep in mind that if you are reading a blog, any blog, that there is a REAL person behind it. There is a real person behind every unique item for sale. There is a REAL person behind this blog. There is a real person behind my hohos. I am a mom and a wife and a sibling to many. I am kind and loving to others...I am generous with time and resources. I love Jesus. My feelings get hurt. I cry. I laugh until I nearly pass out. I love Starbucks and fabric. I forget to respond to emails. I love to bake. I have fat pants. I worry about all the same things ANY woman worries about like feeding my family well or screwing up my children or if anyone noticed me wearing a shirt with someone elses snot on it. I just want to be treated with respect and honesty.
And I bet the same is true for any mommy blogger and shop owner, brick and mortar or internet.
I can speak up for myself AND love Jesus too.