Sunday, 29 May 2011

When blatant copying is not flattery

So what you can see on the bottom is what made me spit my tea out all over my desk this afternoon!
I was doing a search (as you do) to see if my items had been syndicated by etsy, and to see where they came on a search. The peapod cufflinks are always a good one to check as there are almost no others around. You can imagine how shocked I was to see this site in China selling silver pea pod cufflinks, made in China, minimum order 30 pairs! MINE!!! If you look closely you can see that there is nothing that hasn't been copied, not a single thing left out, even... (this is the funny bit) my copywrite statement

On further checking, I could see many many many, (maybe all of them) other etsy seller cufflinks. I posted a post in the etsy forums and I have to say was blown away by the support and suggestions from the other sellers.
(etsy forum link)
I have linked the pictures to the relevant sites so you can check it out for yourself (and if you are a cufflink seller I suggest you do, you may well find your items there.)

So what is it? I have no idea, it seems that if you follow the links to twitter or facebook you start getting led a right song and dance and keep finding yourself on yet another site (same colours and logos, slightly different version of the name) always selling rip off items that they don't make. Is it a scam site just waiting for the money to come in? will they get on and make them up quickly if they get an order? Who knows. I wrote to the Huffington Post to see if they wanted to do the story and am waiting to hear back. I also (;-) wrote to the site and asked for a quote for 50 pairs, and am waiting to hear.
So, looks like I have been 'syndicated' after all, just not in the way I was hoping. I'm sure I will be adding to this story in due course, but this is as much info as I have at the moment. Would love to hear your comments.

This lovely person fineheart has written a much better worded post on her blog - do have a look

Since Saturday: They took down my description and just had the photos. Then a very badly written description went back up. Then when I checked today (Wednesday 1/6/11)the original description was back up minus my details. I'm so mad I could spit, it's like they are just sticking the finger up. I wrote on Saturday to htem, again on Sunday, then again on Monday and then my lovely Chinese friend gave me some further information, and I wrote giving them 3 days to take it down before I reported them to the Chinese Government department dealing with this sort of thing. And since that letter they have put back the original description, so they are obviously not going to do anything.
The worst thing in all of this is that I wrote to etsy administration asking for help, as did many of the other sellers affected. Did we hear anything? did we bollocks, not until tonight when they shut the thread down, because some daft tart mentionned another shop on etsy - suddenly we are 'calling out' and that's that. Not one single word of help, comment or advice from admin, I am so shocked. Etsy has been good to me in the past, I have sold many many items on there, but I have made the mistake of seeing it as a community, whereas it's obviously not, the other lovely lovely sellers are great, but when you need help?

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Come on people - time to re assess

It's been bugging me for a while and I have to say something now.
I saw a post in the forums on Etsy the other day
'people need to price their things more realistically - they are too expensive'

Okay fine, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but ....
on the whole the items on etsy, the handmade items, not the resellers who are sourcing their bits from the third world, are mainly underpricing themselves.
I have reevaluted my pricing structure three times now, and still I find I'm at near enough zero at the end of each month once I have taken into account supplies, packaging, tools, bits and pieces, paper, ink, electricity, fees, postage, equipment etc etc, and that has not taken into account my time.

I today got the shock of my life when I went to buy some silver wire. As I've said before, the price of silver has gone through the roof, and for me to make the ring that I wanted with the stuff that I bought, using the pricing structure that I do, would mean I would have to sell said simple bloody stacker ring for about £40. Yeah right, and there are stacker rings on etsy selling for $10. (Sure they are not the same thickness, and so not as expensive to make). People are selling items for cost plus a dollar or two. Items that take maybe an hour to make, when you take into account all the steps, from the cutting, soldering, sanding, polishing, tumbling, buffing, and that is the simplest ring you can make.

Now look, I look for bargains, I like things as cheap as the next person, but when something is handmade, there are other factors to take into account, like the making!!

People, can we just get things in perspective. When I was 12 (roughly 40 years ago), I bought a school skirt for 4 (lets forget the currency, it will make sense anyway) . My father at that time was earning 8 a week. Our house had cost 8,000. A few years later I left school and started work and earned 12 for a week. A couple of years after I bought a pair of boots for 17.
Today, I earn more than 12 an hour. That house now costs 150,000 - yet I can still buy a skirt for 5 and I could still find a crappy pair of boots for about 20. The only way that is possible is because some poor soul in some third world country is living a life of subsistance for $1 a day or in some cases a week. When I got married over 30 years ago a television cost 100. I bought a television last year for 150.
So, when someone in the west makes something with their hands, why are we expecting them to accept the same wage as a third world person?
For myself, I use silver. Silver will last a lifetime, what I make could well last a person their entire lifetime and if they like it could be an heirloom, I spend a lot of time making sure it has a finish that is worthy of it and expect it to look good for a long time. I take a lot of care and maybe spend longer than necessary on making it as good as possible. However, I live in the west and have to pay for a house that costs a small fortune, pay fuel charges that 20 years ago would have made people choke with laughter in scorn. So, no, I will not be dropping my prices. If someone wants to buy something that has been slaved over by some poor wretch, who will work 20 hours a day, 7 days a week and live on a bowl of rice if they are lucky, in order for it to be 'cheap', that is fine by me, but I am not that person. I slave over my things as well, but when I buy something, something that I really like, I know that I will forget how much it cost the minute I put it on, and will value it for itself, and be happy that I have found something that is unique. I make my items as economically as I can, I certainly don't charge an hourly rate, but my items and the other items I see on handmade sites in general are very fairly, sometimes too fairly priced, and I think it's high time all of us realised that there is a price to pay for 'cheap' often in human terms, and that skirt for 5 and crappy pair of boots for 20, should really not be on our high street, not now that we belong to a global village, we should all take responsibility for what cost these things really have in the big picture.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

A collection of beautiful things by stunning artistic types!

Just felt like doing a treasury of my favourite things on etsy - enjoy!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Finally - My Hallmark!! (or sponsor's mark)

Okay, so this doesn't look that impressive, but hey - I am very very proud of it. It cost me about £180 ($280) to get it registered!!

Here in the UK, you can not by law sell anything made in silver that weighs more than 7.78 grams unless it is hallmarked by one of the four assay offices in the UK.

Online of course, you can sell what you want to outside of UK, but I have plenty of items that I have only been able to sell to outside the UK and not to the UK. Mainly it's the larger rings and chunky pendants, but they have been available just not UK side.

So the process goes like this a little: You have to register a stamp, this can be with your initials. You start by thinking 'oh that will be great I'll make a word', then you realise each letter costs about £40 and quickly come down to just the minimum initials.
You then choose the type of stamp, swan neck (for rings) or straight and where you would like it kept (either with you or at one of the halls).

It them takes about 3 or so weeks to be ready.
You eventually get sent a bunch of paperwork which almost tells you how to get your stuff stamped ;-) The more you send off the cheaper, so you don't really do one or two things at a time, and sending off a whole bunch is quite worrying! But there is a minimum charge, so even though I sent off 12 initial pieces I still had to pay the minimum charge. But you send no money. They get in touch and after you have registered you can check on line to find out how much you owe, and then pay online. A few days later (it is a quick turnaround) your lovely items arrive home with their new little marks.
When I say little marks trust me they are really small, I couldn't find them to start!
So, I then discovered it has been mooted by the government to do away with this tradition. At the moment it is in the discussion stage. I have to say I hope they don't do away with it. The point being, anything you buy in England that has this stamp on it, has had the tiniest piece scraped off and tested for quality so you know when you hand over your money, that this is truly authentic. I have bought things abroad, where the sales person has told me it is real and I have paid over my hard earned money, and later got home and found it wasn't. It's just one of those quirky British traditions that I really like - and anyhow, I've paid over all that money now!!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Widest Range of Silver Peapod Jewellery on the Net

As I was falling asleep the other night it suddenly dawned on me that.. as far as I can tell I have the widest range of silver pea pods available online now. I have searched and searched, and while others do have a few pendants, or earrings, no one else has pendants, charms (with three different types of attachment , earrings( three different types), cufflinks (two different styles), rings and charm bracelets, always available in twos and threes and always open to commissions.

See what this means, if I'm not mistaken, is the widest range in the world. Me - Sue - Sue from somethingxtraspecial has the 'est' in the world. Of course I haven't been all over the world and verified this, but my avid research online appears to back it up. So, I am jolly pleased with that. Thought I'd share!!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

New arrivals in the pea pod family

These are the latest editions in my pea pod range. I originally put leverbacks on the pea pods as a friend always asked for them, however, someone recently asked for hooks, thinking they would be smaller and it seemed daft that I hadn't put studs on them before. So, along with the rings, which are just the cutest things, made to order of course, I have added studs and hooks to my earrings.