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Message: 'Any idea what to say to custom...' with Replies

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  • Any idea what to say to customers who are blatant about their intent to steal your ideas? I've just come back from 2 days trading where I got mightily sick of hearing people say 'Oh, that's a brilliant idea, I'm going to pinch that'. I had one woman whip out a camera and say I'm just going to take a photo so I can remember how to do it! Obviously I don't want to be rude but I was pretty angry at the way people were so open about stealing my ideas. I felt like putting up a sign saying 'Free information point for the Creatively Deficient' Grrr.
    2 July '07 - 9.27am
  • It is deeply annoying to have people come up to you and start asking about exactly how you do things or stealing ideas. If some one is an interested customer, then they want to know a little of the process, but certainly not every thing. Luckily for me i make glass and ceramics, which can only be done with the use of an expensive kiln...something i point out subtly when explaining.
    What is it that you make? Could someone else copy the design and then start marketing it as their own fairly quickly?
    i would say you do need to keep an eye out, as even though many of the people nicking you ideas are probably never going to sell made items, there may be someone out there who will do.

    Are you a member of ACID? Perhaps displaying a sign showing you ae a member might put people of from copying designs, but also if someone seems to be asking a lot of questions without any real interest in purchasing, I would try not to mention too much. Why should you have to give away ides you have spet time any money producing just to have some one see it, steal it and make money off your back?

    It is a problem that one of my uni friends has - Becky Harle. She won the Craftman Award at Hatfield last year. She is constantly asked by other students and established makers about how she did her pieces. Why on earth should she tell them how it is done? Becky has developed a way of telling people something but not the really important info on how to do it.

    Unfortunately I feel that it will keep happening no matter what precautions you take. I have tried to expand my work into different areas to try an avoid relying too much on one design id some one appears making very similar work. There will of course be some cross-over this impossible to avoid but blatant copying is against the law. You as the maker of an original piece of work hold the copyright, its just trying to enforce it is difficult. There isn't much protection out there for us small makers.
    3 July '07 - 2.38pm
  • A really interesting thread. I too, remember having the same problem. Of course, I realised that saying it and doing it were two different things. However, you want to be on your guard and not give too much away. You will have to learn to live with it: it's better than being ignored isn't it?! I tried to stop the photographs by explaining it was original work and I didn't want it copied. However, this became more and more difficult with little phone cameras as I couldn't see photos being taken. I also pointed out that I had some excellent images on my website at www... I think a small sign would be appropiate (e.g. No Photography Allowed) as this would stop some of it and give you a reason to approach people who persisted. I remember saying to someone who was intent on photographing my work, that if I had £10 for every picture taken, then I would be very well off. This made her think about what she was doing (she didn't do it!).

    Unfortunately, you have to grin and bare it. If you hear similar comments again, why not try to use it to your advantage? They must like your work so you could ask them what they like and emphasise the difficult bits of your craft, the skills necessary to make the piece etc.

    You never know, you just might turn it into a sale if you can control the anger.

    5 July '07 - 11.51am
  • LH, 'grin and bare it'... I guess that would be where you smile, then moon at the people who are intent on copying your work!

    6 July '07 - 1.02pm
  • If I see a camera around, I make it quite clear that photos are not allowed. I am also careful to make sure I give some information about my work but not enough that someone can go off and do it themselves. I work in sea glass so am often asked "where do you collect your sea glass as I've like to have a go myself". Answer, with a wry smile: "on the beach!" - my husband calls it 'giving them one of [my] "looks"'. They get the point.
    I have also had my work copied and know how annoying it can be. Several years ago, I used to make card kumihimo kits which I sold for a few pounds. I found teachers bought them and then copied everything so that the kids could have a go, despite offering a discounted pack for schools. I even sold one to one lady and then found her 3 stalls from me at the next fair at the same venue selling the exact same thing - right down to the photocopied instruction sheet with my "c) [initials]" on the bottom of the page! She was undercutting my price so I made a fuss to the organiser and she left in a bit of a hurry. At the time I had not long started out and couldn't afford/didn't know what else to do. Perhaps this is something small businesses have to deal with and put up with?
    6 July '07 - 4.14pm
  • Yes I know what its like. We have people photographing and even scanning a video over our work but what can you do. I remember at Camden Lock Market where some of the designer clothing stalls had very large signs stating that photography was strictly prohibited and on one occasion a stall holder shouted quite loudly at someone who attempted to take some photos. We could take this approach but it is not easy if you have customers at your stall. Maybe a discreet sign and a polite word is the answer.
    11 July '07 - 8.48pm
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