Saturday, August 6, 2011

Creative Thievery

After seeing a lot of cake bunting popping up all over the web lately, I put 'cake bunting' into the search engine on etsy, and found myself getting really upset about the amount of shops which have copied my idea and are making a profit with it.

One of the funny things about it all is that the term 'cake bunting' never even existed before I came up with it, and now it's an actual THING. I find that pretty amusing. It's even a Martha Stewart item now.

What I don't find amusing is that there are so many people who would simply snatch up my idea and copy it to make money. There is something about it that really hurts.

I remember the first shop that began selling copies of my cake bunting a while back. I wrote to this shop owner, saying that I hoped she would stick to the original items in her shop and leave cake bunting to me. I said I was sure she could come up with creative ideas on her own, and didn't have to steal mine. She never wrote back and has cake buntings as one of her main items now. This just baffles me.

Now there are too many shops offering cake bunting to count, and I've accepted the fact that the concept of cake bunting just doesn't belong to me anymore. It's become something much bigger and there is no way I can really stop anyone from making a profit with it.

My shop has been closed for a while now and I do miss it. Shipping actually DOUBLED right when I put my shop on vacation, which means I would no longer be able to offer free international shipping like I used to unless I come up with some creative solution on how to package it. I've wondered if I will re-open my shop once we're settled in with the baby. And then another part of me thinks, If there are so many copies flooding etsy, what's the point in opening my shop again?

On the phone with my mom yesterday, she said, "You'll come up with some other great idea and open a shop with that. Creative people always have new ideas."

Still, the thought of leaving cake bunting behind for other people to claim and make money with makes me a bit sad. I was so excited about it in the beginning, and was so pleased when other people were excited about it, too. What a feeling it was, to open up shop with a few designs, and have people and blogs celebrate it and recognize what a fun and pretty new thing it was.

Looking back on my very first cake bunting and thinking of how the idea has's really amazing and I am genuinely happy that the idea has become so loved and popular.

If only there wasn't so much creative thievery out there.

Has this or something like it ever happened to you? How did you handle it?


  1. Oh, Im so sorry :( that is terrible and I know its very frustrating. Alas, this does happen in the crafting world. I have many crafting friends, and unfortunately, sooner or later we all get a taste of the ugliness of people's uncreativity and unthoughtfulness. I know a girl who had someone come to her home to learn a craft and then turn around and copy all her items and set up at the same craft shows. But what I DO know is, like your mom said, if someone is just leaching onto other's creativity, they ultimately have no staying power. How can you run an artistic and creative business with no real artistry or passion? I think people can pick up on the fact when others dont have real soul behind their work.

    I hate to see you give up on something you love, but you will continue to grow. You also have the clout to declare yourself 'the original cake bunting artist.' Take heart! And keep creating!

  2. So sorry to hear that about your crafting friend. I wonder about people who copy like that....what is their thought process? Do they think what they are doing is at all wrong?
    Thanks for the words of encouragement. I know I will continue to be creative somehow...just wondering in what way that will be! :)

  3. Oh many mean spirited people around. I have seen many instances in Bloglsnd of people being ruthlessly copied (sometimes by really big companies like Claire's Accessories) & I guess because they are small then there is the feeling of 'what are you going to do about it??' You have the moral high ground & also the (small) satisfaction of knowing that your idea was such a good one that it's worth copying. I'll never buy it from anyone else, that's for sure. And you have now, in Raffi, created soemthing TOTALLY unique that can never be copied, ever. When the time's right, you'll come back to Etsy, all guns blazing. Sorry that you've been upset. I'm thrilled to have a Kiki LaRue original & best Cake Bunting tucked away (it's Mum's birthday soon...yay!!) Love you xoxo

  4. It's an unfortunate side-effect of blogging: people will copy your ideas, your original work and words you coined, whatever (in the current issue of VOGUE an original painting by Carol Gillott of Paris Breakfasts was used to illustrate an article, just like that!). People are literally mining blogs and websites for ideas, pirating whatever they can get their hands on.
    A friend of mine who is making original jewelry told me that the moment somebody puts a new design on the web, it is being copied.

  5. Rachel, you are absolutely right about Raffi being my best creation. :) Ramon told me not to be bitter and I know that's true. It was just upsetting to see all this cake bunting today on etsy!

    Merisi: I'm sure you're right. Once you share something on the web, it's open to being copied. I need to learn not to be sensitive about it, or militant about protecting it!

  6. Wow, I had no idea cake bunting came from you, how neat!! Too bad you couldn't claim it someway? I guess you should be flattered but I do understand how upset you must be too. But we all know who really invented this and I'm sure you will come up with another idea worth stealing! lol So sorry!!

  7. Hi Dawn! I am proud to say I bought on of your first cake buntings that you sold on etsy...and I still have the four leaf clover you sent with it. The bunting adorns all my little treats and always makes me smile. I just had twin girls and cannot wait to use it on all the treats I make for them in the years to come. There might be copies out there, but you are a true original.

  8. Hi Dawn,
    I love your cake bunting and when I looked at all the ones on offer on Etsy at the beginning of the year it was one of yours that I bought. Everyone who saw it loved it and it's been put away very carefully for future use.
    I've had a few of my pillow designs copied on Etsy which does upset me but there's nothing I can do about it. It is upsetting as people only see a finished product and copy it exactly - they don't see the sketchbooks with draft after draft of how you want the pillow to look. One Etsy seller recently copied two of my pillows exactly - I did e-mail her and point out that we are all inspired by others but I'd prefer not to have my designs copied exactly and I asked her to remove them from her store which she did although she never actually replied to my message.
    I hope you do re-open your shop when you are ready as I want another one from you!
    Good luck with your pregnancy,

  9. You will have to brand yours 'the ORIGINAL cake bunting' when you open your shop again.
    Unless you can go down the suing route, you can only smile and be proud that your idea has taken off so well. Try to see it as a great success, rather than thievery. Cheers.

  10. Yes, I was thinking the exact same thing as Joy. Brand yours "the Original". I think you have a right to be upset. So many times artists take a backseat to the financial end of things and that's not right or fair. Would be great if you could get some publicity from this.... like an article about what happened, which could also showcase other items of yours. You are truly talented, Dawn, and I'm not just saying that.

    Susan (Branch) talks about a lot of magazines that focus on artists, crafts, etc., maybe one of them might be interested in telling your story. It involves a lot of issues that others are facing on the web and would get your name out there.

    Good luck,

  11. Hi Dawn, boy am I glad that I got an ORIGINAL one of a kind cake bunting from you last September. I remember admiring it so much and allowing myself to buy it for my own birthday party. I cherish it, and I'm sure all the other customers that you have had cherish theirs too.
    It's hard not to take things like "creative thievery" too personal. You have put your heart and soul into an original idea and people out there are stealing it.
    Unfortunately you friend Merisi is so right...once it;s out there, it's there for the taking. Picasso was famous for stealing other artist's ideas and claiming them to be his own. I can only imagine how furious those artists would have been.
    I think your buntings are still the sweetest ones out there. Just sayin'. xoxo

  12. Hey hun,

    When you first came up with it - did you look around to see if it could be found anywhere else? I know it is hindsight but I would have patented it immediately. Something to think about for future creative ideas perhaps... It sucks but it is the only way I can think of to avoid such thievery. xxx

  13. Unfortunately creative ideas are copied often and, unless you have some kind of patent on it, you cannot do a thing about it. I have done crafts for many years and some of my creative ideas were copied. I like to look at it as a compliment of my creativity. Gotta see things in a different light to avoid becoming bitter or angry.

  14. I have seen your idea popping up on wedding blogs in the last several months, too! What a shame, and how deeply frustrating.

    You might seriously want to consult a copyright attorney and have them send a ceasse and desist letter -- the fact that probably many of the copycats are in the USA and you are abroad might complicate things, but international creations are covered by USA copyright. Artists and designers do work hard to protect their ideas, and your creation is just as original and artistic as any t-shirt design or armchair that cannot be legally copied. And etsy does supposedly help artists to defend their work:

  15. I totally understand. Paper garland in general has boomed over the past couple years since I started selling it on Etsy. And I know statements like this can come across as pretty subjective but I also believe I was the first (or certainly one of the first) to start selling the idea on Etsy. Product revenue soared that season and now there are soooooo many paper garlands sold on Etsy, in retail stores etc... BUT I can't get too discouraged because since when does the world look at an idea and say, "Oh well I can't do that because that IDEA is taken..." Some people blatantly copy the hell out of everyone else's work while others build upon ideas. This process of building upon other ideas is a healthy step deeply rooted in the creative process and it's too bad that other take it to such a negative level.

    I understand how you feel but your Mom is right! Innovative and creative people ALWAYS think of new ideas. For me, it's give me more motivation develop my ideas enough so that my products are very difficult to copy. You're very talented—don't get too discouraged!

  16. Oh yes Dawn, it does feel awful. You try to tell yourself to be "flattered" but that's hard to do, I never feel flattered, I feel hurt. There's one author out there who seriously copied my handwriting -- and it's my own handwriting! I have an idea . . . email me at . . . xoxo

  17. each time i see them, i know you started it. i wish i would have had the chance to buy one from you. maybe after baby is born. don't give up. your readers are right, deem it the original...



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