I was musing this morning and realised that the statement I made on the second to last post, was in fact brought home with a thud by the post before this!
“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.”
How so? Well let’s look at it a bit shall we. Some years ago I took a break from making silver jewellery and was making beaded jewellery. I shopped around all over looking for the best value beads that I could find. I was trying to make very affordable but beautiful items that could sell for a cheap price. I went on ebay, I went all over. At that time I was looking for ‘tibetan silver’
I came across a site in China that sold for a very very good price the loveliest of beads. I bought them in bulk, as I knew many had, and used them in my jewellery (and also sold them as supplies). Yep, so who in the beaded market hasn’t done that?, either from ebay or some other site, but a bead with a lot of detail for a dollar or two.
Right, so where did that design come from? See this is the rub. To design, create, finish, market and sell a product takes a lot of time and effort, we all know that. To sell online takes an inordinate amount of effort, sometimes you question whether it is worth it for the returns (see previous posts).
Now imagine – you are poor, you want to make money, you have a skill of being able to recreate things? What do you do? Go to the original designer and ask if you can licence their product? Unlikely that they will say yes! So what you do, as we have all seen, is look at the item, copy it in a much cheaper material / fabric and sell it. If you are able to save money by not having to design, not having to take the photos, not having to translate or even create descriptions so much the better, more profit for you. Make one as similar as you can, maybe even buy one and then make a caste, then you can remake as many times as you like that item for a fraction of the cost, oh yeah and pay your workers a fraction of a decent salary as well.
One of the items that this company has copied of mine, I was able to get hold of their quotation for buying 50 and 100. They quoted between $3 and $4!! (It costs me at least 18 times that in materials alone). (Trust me if they were silver I’d buy from them myself!!) So, the only way that can be is if they are mass produced using a casting and some ghastly alloy, and the operator was being paid peanuts.
That must be the answer for all those things that we like to buy cheaply, all the clothes that we buy in Primark / Wallmart, all that stuff available at the market, those cheap earrings, that copy copy fake Gucci bag, same principle.
As I said before, if the skirt that I bought over 40 years ago costs the same as today, when my salary has multiplied by a gadzillion, something somewhere is very wrong, and this is where it has gone wrong, allowing ourselves to fool ourselves into thinking that it is possible to buy that item for such a stupid price, a price that we know very well in our heart of hearts does not cover design, creation, materials, marketing, a profit for the seller and a living wage. One or more of those requirements is going to go out of the window. Well, looks like it’s the design, material and the living wage, cos you can bet your bottom dollar that the profit is still there for someone.
So, yes I am royally pissed off with my design, photos and the rest of it being stolen, but somehow in my heart, I can’t get too angry about it, I, in many ways, feel I deserve it a little bit, its my wake up call, maybe it should be all our ‘in the west’ wake up call, these beautiful beads, this lovely skirt, that fab bag, those lovely leather boots, how can they be created for such a low price? They can’t, someone somewhere is paying the price, and now it’s hitting home who.
A great read from Time magazine here
Of course the implications for sellers of handmade goods online is this, which is very worrying, will a buyer who sees the item listed often with the original details of the shop some how believe that they are buying from that shop? Is there a chance of the originators reputation being rubbished? but also is the problem with google searches. Since February Google have changed the way they work the searches, and doubled up copy drops way down in the rankings, so with one fell swoop, these copyers have slightly ruined our google rankings, as well as nicked our stuff!