|Flaming baseball image courtesy ipadwallpaper.net|
...Although, a casual online acquaintance once emailed stating my design 'look' was now her New Look, and did so bluntly in an 'in - your - face' sort of way. She lives on another continent and we've neither met personally nor spoken to one another. The statement reminded me of high school baseball. Catchers sometimes trash - talk under their breath, trying to rattle the batter's concentration and confidence when they step up to the plate. I thought it an odd thing to write and briefly wondered if she'd been drunk at the time she sent the email. Later, I found out why she told me this.
Individuals trying to recreate another's gestalt have good intentions, and might be trying to teach themselves in the process. This is a historically documented, world wide method for students and apprentices in the arts and fine craft professions to learn new skills. Soon, most of them are making changes, tweaking, and morphing the work into their own vision.
Others may be talented enough to copy and manufacture, but lack design skill, the courage to experiment, or self discipline required for true creative work. So they take the work of other people. Not much we can do about that, realistically speaking. We live in a litigious society, but in most cases the offending individuals have so little, and court costs are so high and time consuming, its just not realistic or emotionally healthy to go after every offender. Also, you'll have to prove damages and document with tax returns and spread sheets exactly how much money this copycat has cost your income. QuickBooks anyone?
Most people encountered in this business are perfectly normal, pleasant, and have their own business to tend to. These are good people with integrity. They'll exchange a few pleasantries, ask a question or two, and that's that. In this blog, I'm not talking about customers or acquaintance/peer relationships with whom positive, professional information and emails are exchanged.
|Sometimes a good belly laugh is the best attitude|
The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker, addresses the importance of listening to instinct. Every woman should read this, because women (generally speaking) tend to stay in potentially harmful and negative situations despite instinctual misgiving, for fear of giving offense. We don't want to come across as rude or ignorant, nor alienate potential clients and customers and tolerate invasive,m offensive behaviors far longer than male counterparts, all because we don't want to misjudge, exhibit any sort of bias, or god forbid, insult the person who is harassing us. De Becker is discussing physical violence and con artists, but his basic research holds true for strangers approaching us via email or on social networks. In some industries, like the arts & design, the predators don't want to hurt us physically, but they're after something they imagine we have.
Envy and obsessive fixation can make some individuals invasive and passive aggressive. If a casual online peer/acquaintance seems to know a little too much about you or where you purchase your supplies, they might be stalking your online presence. If interaction leaves you wondering afterward what he/she meant by an odd remark, or feeling negative in some way, be vigilant.
A final note about the information that's available online to your competition, scammers, stalkers, nosy acquaintances, and people with far to much time on their hands.
Change your *Ebay and Paypal accounts to different alias, and don't tell anyone what it is. The person stalking my ebay account must have noticed that something she'd wanted had showed up in one of my necklaces. She'd have then checked the 'sold' listing to discover the auction winner/buyer, then compared some of my other Ebay purchases with elements used in necklaces I sell on Etsy. As a seller, she's privy to details in my history such as watched items, bids, what I was bidding on, the items, vendors, purchases and the amounts spent. When I began selling some beads on Ebay, a friend explained how this worked. The transparency is allowed by Ebay in an effort to deter repeat scamming. My friend explained how this woman ( who lives in the EU) was getting into my accounts, and we compared it with her own purchase history, now visible to me because I was a seller also.
Sure enough, withing a week or so of my purchase, the same purchase from the same vendor was showing up in her accounts. Within a few weeks, designs closely approximating my own, and radically different from her normal creative stream, began appearing on Etsy and Ebay. The entire episode felt invasive and more than a little creepy.
By changing an alias periodically, a stalker can't follow your purchases and use the information as a trail back to you or your accounts. Every detail of your purchase and selling history is openly available to sellers on Ebay. Even if you use a service like ESnipe, that bids anonymously on your behalf by a predetermined set of perimeters. After the auction is over, the item shows up as sold, with your Ebay alias listed as buyer/winner. I'm in the process of closing down my Ebay account for this reason - they have a 180 day waiting period before the entire account is officially closed.
I use opportunities like the above as ongoing education. Human nature doesn't change, and sooner or later we all run into the Trickster archetype. I hope what I share here will serve as a few more arrows in your quiver. A warrior observes. She learns the lay of the land, surveys the horizon, avoids traps and wandering troupes of bandits and brigands. She chooses her battles wisely.