The plan is for this post to be short and sweet but if you saw my Instagram stories the other day (now highlighted under Copying) then you will know that short and sweet really isn't my jam but I will try I promise!
I like to help people I really really do, it has been the most surprising part of setting up Oh Wonder - the teaching and mentoring of others who want to start calligraphy as a hobby or sometimes as a business is not something I expected and yet one of the most enjoyable parts. It is the reason I teach workshops and why I loved writing a book. I put pretty much every part of my knowledge into that book (I mean I had to to reach that many pages!) so I really really don't mind sharing knowledge.
However I get a lot of messages asking me outright - where did you get this, where did you get that and a lot of the time it isn't even sweetened with a hello how are you?! and that kinda upsets me. Firstly because I spent A LOT of time researching materials and tools at the beginning and I still do. I do not have all the answers and sometimes I get a client come to me with a wild and amazing idea that I have no idea how to do, so I sit on my laptop and research everything I can and then I try a load of different pens or inks or whatever out until I find the answer, it is kinda part of the fun! And secondly a lot of the time these people have their own businesses doing the same thing that I do and it seems like they are just trying to copy me which hurts a lot because as anyone who is creative knows…our ideas, services and products are our babies. It is important to not think just because there is someone out there doing the thing that you want to you and you follow them on the internet, that you get to skip the trial and error stage of making something.
I have only been outright copied once before (although there have been a couple of a bit close for comfort moments) and it was with my baubles. Someone started doing ceramic personalised baubles, which is annoying but fine - I do not own the idea, lots of people do them, but the kick in the teeth was that i spent AGES choosing colours and making mine different and she just went and did them in EXACTLY the same colours that I had. I mean come on. At least pick different colours. A friend of mine pointed them out to me and I knew that I had been following this person but suddenly I couldn't find her….oh because she blocked me. Funny that. Thankfully I have the most amazing industry friends who have my back and let me know about the copying. I then let her know (through my other secret squirrel Instagram account / the one where I post all the pics of my kid) I knew and whilst I had no way of really stopping her I hoped that she would rethink her offering in a way that made in unique.
The thing we live in a world where EVERYTHING is on the internet. We are influenced by so many things (the gorgeous Zoe from The Golden Letter wrote an excellent post on this here) and it sometimes gets a bit foggy knowing where your inspiration came from, but there is a difference between using something as an inspiration and full on copying (and yes just changing the colour does still mean you copied it). It is important to sit back and ask yourself the question, do you really want your business to be a copy of someone elses? Or do you want to take things slowly, take a step back and go through the learning and exploration stage that we all did to create a unique business that fits you like a glove? I promise you the latter will bring you a lot more happiness, satisfaction and clients that are perfect for you.