Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Low Point

Still hanging in with me?  Ok, good.  A lot of you are probably wondering what brought on my multi-day rant.  While these thoughts have been mulling around in my head for months now, I had a moment this past weekend that cemented my need to get them out in the open.  My gut was telling me that it was time.

Last weekend, I was looking on Etsy for supplies for new products I'm designing in my head.  One search lead to another, which in turn lead to another one.  Eventually, I happened to stumble across an Etsy shop selling ear hats.  I decided to check it out, and what I saw left me speechlesss, angry and upset.  One of the few items in their shop was a design almost identical to my Anna ear hat.

No one else has been making ear hats like mine at all.  I'm very aware of the ear hat market.  Everyone and their uncle is making ear headbands, but ear hats are harder to find. One shop makes felted designs with painted images.  A few paint the ear hats that Disney sells.  But no one else has designed there's in a similar way to me, until now.

Ok, let me be honest, the Anna ear hat is not just similar, it's pretty much identical to my design.  It's one of those situations where you know there's no way the seller came up with that design without seeing my design first.  It would be one thing if it was similar but a little bit different.  This is the same, down to the gold edging of the center of the bow.  It has the same pom poms, the same layered design of the cloak.  And the exact same back.  It's my Anna design- except she's charging twice as much for it.

I'm furious.  The more I look at it, the more angry I become.  It's a complete slap in the face.  This accidental discovery stopped me in my tracks and took the wind out of my sails.  That's why I've taken time out of my incredibly busy month to address my grievances the past few days.  I'm relieved to get all of my thoughts out.  And for those of you who have stuck by me this week, I am forever grateful.

The rational part of my brain tells me that I shouldn't be that surprised.  I have a pretty successful shop.  It's not the most successful.  I'm not rolling in money.  I don't have hundreds of sales.  I don't make thousands upon thousands of dollars.  But I'm very happy with how well my shop is doing.  And I'm sure others have taken notice.

I'm proud of the designs I've created.  It's something beautiful when you create something from what was once nothing but a pile of supplies.  I love the design process and making my ideas come to life.  I've got so many ideas, sketches, lists, and designs.  Happily Ever Hatter might be a few years old, but I still feel like this is only scratching the surface.  This is just the beginning.

My sales and reviews speak for themselves.  I've had so many wonderful customers and experiences with them.  They've shared pictures with me.  They tell me how much fun my designs added to their Disney trips.  Those stories always make my day.

I have a successful Facebook and Instagram presence.  Sometimes I get discouraged with my relatively small following on Instagram.  Compared to some of the other ear shops, a little over 200 isn't much, especially when they're in the thousands.  But, my shop also hasn't been on Instagram as long.  I haven't posted as many photos and I don't use it as much as I should.  However, I have 710 fans on Facebook.  I'm so proud of that.  I gain new "fans" all the time.  I wish I knew how they found me.  Every time I see another "like" I smile and remind myself that I built something from nothing.

I'm exploring new designs all the time.  I'm not able to make new designs as often as I'd like, but hopefully that will change soon.  Once we're completely settled into our house, I'm hoping I'll have more free time.  I've got supplies for at least 10 new designs. I'd love to explore those.  Some I've been dreaming of making for years now.

Eliot and I are also incredibly proud of our IllusionEars line.  They're so different and original.   And the sky is the limit with the potential designs.  We've got a lot of new designs we'll be releasing soon.  We just have to finish all the orders from my travel agent friends between now and our trip.  Once we're back from Walt Disney World, Happily Ever Hatter is going to launch a ton of original IllusionEars designs.

Plus, Happily Ever Hatter isn't the only thing I've got up my sleeve.  I've hinted at a few other business ideas over the past few months.  One of them is actually coming to fruition sooner than I thought.  (I've got a package for one of those ideas that is scheduled for delivery tomorrow!!!)  I'm so excited about this new opportunity.  I'm definitely exploring a few other businesses with less saturated markets.  Hopefully I'll be able to share more about that with you all soon!

For the most part, running a business is something I love.  This... this I don't love so much. I guess I can say I've officially had my first experience with someone making something just like mine.  Days have passed and I'm still upset, but I'm not as upset as I was.  (That's probably mostly because my rational brain has finally won out.)  Plus, I've got a lot of ideas that I'll be rolling out soon.  Now, I'm more motivated than ever.

And for those of you wondering, I did look into my options with Etsy.  I will not be pursuing them at the moment- especially since they encourage one shop to contact another.  I'm not planning to get into the middle of that.  I'm not going to call out the shop publicly, or on Instagram, or in other methods.  I've decided to try and take the high road and to let my designs, number of sales, and customer reviews speak for themselves.  If things eventually get out of hand, I will reevaluate my plan if necessary.

The other day I mentioned that if someone wants to copy something I've made for their own personal use, who am I to stop them?  I said that after I had seen this on Etsy- and I still stand by it.  You open yourself up to people copying you when you post a photo of your product online.  That's just how it goes.  I've seen my ear hat designs on a ton of peoples' DIY Pinterest boards.  You want to try to make one for yourself because you think mine costs too much?  Great!  Go for it!  I won't stop you.  It's when others use my ideas for their own profit that I have a problem.

So, tomorrow is another day.  I've got all weekend set aside to work on ear orders.  I've made myself a few new designs for our trip.  I'm hoping I'll have time to design a few more.  At this point, I'm really ready to roll.  This past week was not the highlight of Happily Ever Hatter's year, but hopefully it will be the low point.  And if that's what this is, then I'm going to make sure this weekend will make up for it!  °o°

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