OH NO THEY DINNIT. COPYCATS. PART THREE.

So.... you have been ‘copied’. Or 'imitated'. Enough for you to feel a bit icky. Enough for you to feel a little used and abused. Enough to make you think... oh-feck.

What to do? Well. We are definately no experts. But we have been around the block a few times. And we haven’t always handled the 'copy' situation with dignity. Or grace. Or a sense of calm. Heck no.

We have had many a ermagawd-we-have-been-copied-feck-fecity-feck bitch fits. Heck yes.

We are talking mostly about small businesses copying small businesses. As we have said before... it is a grey area. A shit grey area. And if you have been copied by one of the 'mega-big-guys'.... well. Shit. We haven't. Phew. We have absolutely no idea how we would deal or cope with that. Shit Feck. No.

But for fellow small businesses... we can probably suggest not doing what we did.

We completely freaked out. Like freaky deaked out. Had total meltdowns. And thought we-are-so-useless-this-will-ruin-us-we-may-as-well-close-or-give-it-all-away-they-win-whinge-whine-blah-blugh-sad-sack-cry-baby feeling all sorry for ourselves. Yup. Nope. Don't do that.

Probably don't publicly call people out on it. That just looks nasty. A little bitter. And if you name and shame. Not the best move. Of course… we all want to shout from the rooftops ‘hey-everyone-this-is-the-dickhole-who-copied-me’. But in our experience, that achieves nothing. Really. And it's actually just bullying. Which isn't awesome either.

We can totally recommend taking a break. Stepping back. Assess the situation. Ask yourself… have you really been copied? Have you really been imitated? Or has someone moved in on your turf? In hindsight… a few of our ‘copy’ freak-outs may have been just that. Someone getting a little too close for comfort. A little too in our ‘zone’. And we freaked out that they might be better. And we would loose our mojo. And our customers.

Then there is something we never did but wish we had... actually contact the person you believe has copied your work. In private. With polite professional grace. Talk it out. Try and clear the air. It may not get you anywhere. You may not get a response. Or you may not get the response you hoped for. But at least you have maintained your dignity. Stood up for yourself. Stood up for your brand. Stood up for your work. And actually said something. We never ever contacted a copycat. We just bitched and moaned about it to everyone else. And cried. A lot. Oops.

Recently we were lucky enough to chat to a few fabulous small business owners about their own run in’s with copycats. It was great for us to hear other peeps perspectives on the whole copycat shizzle. To hear how they felt. How they reacted. How they moved on. Here is what one had to say…

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST REACTION WHEN YOU REALISED YOU HAD BEEN COPIED?
"I think I laughed out loud as it was so blatant! I felt threatened as I felt I could potentially loose sales to people who have flat out copied our work."

HOW DID YOU OR ARE YOU DEALING WITH IT?
"They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery but I think that's bullshit. This really riled me up... Not only is the product the same but also the design is a very poor imitation of an artist’s intellectual property. I hope people realise this when they see the product but I don't have that sort of control."

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MESSAGE TO COPYCATS OUT THERE?
"Stop and have a think. If you are worried that it might be too much the same as someone else's work then it probably is. I can understand that you can gather inspiration from other businesses and artists- we all do this... But to actually sit down and deliberately re create something that someone else has put time, effort and their own unique spin on is just wrong!

Also people share this sort of stuff- you may think that because you are smaller profile that you might get away with it... chances are that you won't and it will no doubt get back to the original creator.

We aren't inventing or reinventing the wheel - I get that there are unintentional similarities all over the place BUT if you are consciously stealing someone's ideas then you are always going to be on the back foot! Be innovative - make changes. You will feel so much better about yourself and what you have created."
 

We also had a few people contact us who believe they should be able to name and shame. That they should be able to vent publicly. And that's totally fine. We get it. And if that's really how you feel, then that is totally your choice. We admit, in the very beginning we did do that. Kind-of-sort-of. And for us... it didn't make us feel any better. We realised it isn’t our style. So we don't. And we won't. 

But to keep it fair... we did talk to someone who thinks they should be able to shout shout let it all out...

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST REACTION WHEN YOU REALISED YOU HAD BEEN COPIED?
"My first thought was...OMG WTF? Nothing fancy, just plain old shock. My heart was racing, blood boiling, I actually, in all honesty, felt physically sick. Then I went on a huge stalk fest of the copycats Instagram page and found THE photo. I had proof she knowingly copied. And I thought ‘She can't lie to me now, ha!’"

HOW DID YOU OR ARE YOU DEALING WITH IT?
"So, I approached her. Politely, and it got me nowhere. I stated facts, she fumbled, so I showed her the photo, and she lied. I then vented to and sought comfort in a few close friends. 

Now I see my product everywhere. I'll send the copier a message or comment on a photo. Nothing nasty. No name calling. Always diplomatic and to the point.

It is a vicious cycle. I stalk shops I think will copy, or friends will tell me about them. I get cranky, send a message, they lie/don't care, and I feel like shit. That's pretty much it and it sucks." 

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MESSAGE TO COPYCATS OUT THERE?
"I feel sorry for you. How sad it is that you feel it's ok to steal someone's work, and sell it as your own. You look desperate and are actually highlighting your inability to be creative, because all you can do is copy. Especially those one stop pop up shops. Grrrrr."

Here at Captain + Co. we honestly believe it helps just to chill. Walk away from the situation. At first. Don’t react straight away with anger. Or spite. Cool your jets. Chat to someone in your girl gang. Or in yo' mama circle. Someone you trust. And when you are calm with a clear head and a little perspective... or have stopped crying like a wounded baboon like we do... then make your next move.

That’s how we deal with it. Now. We have learnt from our mistakes. And know how to deal with it in the best way for us.

We try and not hold onto it. We try to breathe. Process. Vent. Move on.

If you can't always keep it original.
At least try to always keep it kind x

If you missed the first parts... you can read PART ONE HERE and PART TWO HERE.

AND PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT OT CONTACT US WITH YOUR THOUGHTS OR STORY OR ADVICE. WE LOVE FEEDBACK. GOOD BAD OR UGLY x