Truth In T-Shirt World

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

So today wasn't my best day.

It ended with a very unnecessary breakdown, complete with very unnecessary tears. Poor Chris had no idea what he was walking into after work.

Do you ever have such a frustratingly shitty day that all it takes is one final straw to send you over the edge into a tantrum more fitting for a toddler than an adult? And even as you're crying you know it's very self indulgent and ridiculous but you just continue on that crazy train anyway?

I did that today. I'm not proud of it. But it happened, so I have to own it.

This isn't intended as a "poor-me" post, but instead let's all laugh and point at how dramatic I get in my own world when I take things too personal and need to just take a breath and back the hell away for a second.



I don't want to go into too much detail regarding what sent me over, does it really even matter? I'm sure we all know it's t-shirt related. OH T-SHIRT LADY WOES. Why must life be oh so difficult in the land of rayon/poly/cotton shirts?

In short, someone who "borrowed" an idea from me is sending me less than pleasant emails and saying I can't own something when everyone else has decided to steal it as well. That's pretty much her logic. Everyone else has stolen it, so she can too.

There's a lot to more to the story that makes me 100 times angrier regarding principle and integrity as a small business owner, and me being taken for a fool because I was trying to be a good person and take someone's word for something and blah blah blah. But my voice of reason (Chris) and also some advice from Helene, suggested I leave out the details. And the screenshots.

But it's killing me. However deep down I know it's just my ego wanting to provide you details. It always is. My ego is bruised and it is NOT happy about it. It's shouting but but but but this isn't fair and I want to scream and complain, someone listen to my shouts!!!!

So here's the last thing(s) I'll say.

I get that the MARRIED AF t-shirt is completely ridiculous (and wonderful) and that's why I love it. I also know I didn't coin the term AF, but I do know that I was the first to put MARRIED AF on a shirt. And COZY AF.... -my ego wants to make sure you know this.



So when people take it and admit it's not their own but do it anyway, I get mad. And I've done everything I can to protect myself this time around by copyrighting this correctly- you can't copyright a phrase for a shirt, so this falls under an entire brand of things I am working on under the title MARRIED AF. (More to come on this at a later time.) So like any smart person, I copyrighted this title before anyone else could.

What it boils down to is that I'm just not cut out for t-shirt business. I can't handle people stealing others ideas like it's no big deal. I hold onto my own too tightly and I don't do well when I feel others start to grab them. I go into mama bear mode over my t-shirts because I am seriously a crazy T-Shirt Lady now. Art (or snapchat) has become real life.

I've let go of some of my others because I didn't have much of a choice in the end. The Talk Herbie To Me and the I Just Want To Hang With My Dog shirts are two of the biggest that have really caused me some stress this past year. I see the knock-offs everywhere now and I can't help but foam at the mouth when I do.

My frustration lies in the fact that I work my ass off to get my shirts out there. It doesn't just randomly happen. They don't just start getting traffic by chance, I've hustled hard to get them in front of the right people. But then it's a catch 22 because as soon as a shirt "takes off"every one else tries to grab it as their own.

Have I mentioned I care too much and probably make this a much bigger deal than I should?

It's just the nature of this business and I need to accept it, or I need to get out. Tuesday night tantrums don't help anything.

But I'll be damned if a good midnight blog post doesn't help. Oddly enough, I feel slightly better having written this. So thank you for listening (again and always) and thank you for being a supportive AF group of people. Man, I appreciate it.

Now perhaps it's time I try to sleep off the crazies. Tomorrow will be better.

35 comments:

  1. Two fist pounds for you lady! Keep your head up :)

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  2. People are dumb and I'm sorry they keep stealing your ideas and then being rude about it. I mean really? Post as many ranty posts as you want b/c we've got your back (if that helps) Internet hug!

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  3. You say you're making it a bigger deal than you should but honestly you should be pissed! Especially when the thief tries to justify it by some dumb-ass excuse. Everyone else is stealing it so she can too?! Who TF does that!?!? These aren't even my shirts and I'm mad about this...SMH. People are stupid!

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    1. What she said!!! I think you have the right to be PISSED.

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  4. they don't have your charm so you'll still beat um in the end. ;)

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  5. I'm pissed for you! You have every right to throw as many tantrums as you please!

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  6. I wasn't going to comment on this, but I will. Mostly because I feel your pain. My husband is an artist like you- except instead of t-shirt he makes HUGE steel carts that carry electronic equipment for marching bands and stuff. (It's complicated to explain... that's the watered down version. Google "Pageantry Innovations.") Anyway, we've worked our asses off for nearly 4 years; his products are nationwide and he is totally self-employed. Then last month we saw the EXACT SAME CART being use by a high school band- only we didn't make it. The guy that made it visited our trade show booth a year ago and acted all interested in my husband's product, then went home and welded the exact same thing (but not as top quality). "Pissed" doesn't even begin to cover it. Stay strong, friend. They can steal our products but they have shit creativity and they'll have to live with their inferiority for the rest of their stealing lives.

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    1. no . this is the absolute worst.!!! ugh. Im sorry!

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  7. Can you make "Angry AF" t-shirts? Because that's how I feel about this! I hope that other t-shirt person you spoke to wises up to their crummy business practices and has a change of heart. I can't believe someone would have the audacity to sell something on the grounds that "well other people are stealing it so why can't I?" Ridiculous.

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    1. she also sells shirts that say "KALE" so she's clearly not in the business of being original...

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  8. That's super frustrating... It's unfortunate that people can't come up with their own ideas and have to steal other people's ideas. But at least at the end of the day you can sit back and know that you're the creative one, and they're just hovering and waiting for you to come up with something else awesome!

    Alyssa

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  9. I've never had to experience anything quite to this extent, but I definitely know how frustrating it is to work really hard on something while someone else just breezes by, steals the idea, and takes the credit for it. It's especially frustrating when shirts like I Just Want To Hang With My Dog get sold by other people who are taking full profit, whereas you actually donate money towards a charity. Especially when you take note to use all local area shops to make your shirts because you believe in small business owners (since you are one), and ESPECIALLY when they admit they've taken the idea and respond with nothing but a "na na na boo boo" of sorts. Keep hustling, I know it's hard, but people do notice hard work and even thought it doesn't FEEL like it will pay off, karma always has it's way!

    Kate
    http://www.heyitskate.net

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  10. Taylor--I am in the t-shit (not a typo) biz too. I am just like you. Every time I come up with something good, it is immediately stolen and I get super pissed. But...let's face it--we are awesome and we sell shirts, so we should be thankful. Karma will catch up with Becky who probably doesn't even have good hair. Hope you have a better Wednesday!

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  11. The thing that I think people don't realize is when they steal it not only hurts you financially, it hurts you emotionally too. It's something you've created and you're proud of. And to take that away kind of takes away part of you. I know that sounds a bit dramatic but it's true. And I think so many of us can relate to this because we get to see this side of you. I know you think it's a tantrum but it's not. you are not blowing this out of the water. this is shitty.

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  12. I sincerely feel your pain. Years ago I created my "hangry" definition print - at the time there were two other listings on Etsy that came up when you looked up "hangry"... One a magnet, another a card that said "sorry for what I said when I was hungry". Fast forward three years later, there's 700 listings, most of which copy my print - it's fucking ridiculous how people straight up copy and steal and just don't care. You're allowed your tantrum, it's a shitty situation.

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  13. Ugh. Sorry people are so shitty!!

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  14. I'm so sorry to hear that! It's so frustrating to work so hard on something, only to have someone else blatantly and unapologetically steal it. It's not a tantrum, and it shouldn't be ridiculous to assume that others with act with at least some semblance of ethics. In short: those tshirt stealers are dumb AF. Just keep going! Hard work will always end up winning.

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  15. I cannot even imagine how frustrating this must be! It's obvious you work really hard, and you deserve the credit and the success. You're totally justified in being upset about it! Copy cats are lame. I don't even know why you would want to steal someone else's idea. I wouldn't get any joy out of selling something I had stolen. I'm rooting for you!

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  16. Since you live in Chicago, can't you hire a mobster to send her a message? Just kidding. Sorta.

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  17. You and I are very similar in easily bruised feelings and egos. But I truly believe in karma, in good juju, in being a better person. You always try to do what is right. That doesn't go unnoticed. You are genuine and that is most I mportant in this game of life. I know that doesn't pay the bills, but you know what's most important in life, right? Being able to look in the mirror and be happy with what you see.

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  18. Insane. I always go back to - I hate people. :) But, on another note, I guess you should feel somewhat AMAZING about yourself since people think your ideas are that amazing they steal them? I don't know, however, I say don't give up!

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  20. People are the worst... Regardless the other lady is obviously just a cheap knockoff and won't last too long... Also, kind of loving the URL name for this post!

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  21. Ugh, I'm so mad for you! The fact that people don't care about stealing someone else's creativity and passing it off as their own is just mind boggling.

    For what it's worth, I spend a lot of time on Instagram's explore page, and lately I've seen a bunch of your shirts and every one has been credited back to you. So for all the assholes copying you, there are some good ones trying to give you credit.

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    1. that does make me feel better :) thank you!

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  22. Small business owning is HARD AF; if we're rolling with that theme here. People just don't think, or care, and are incredible effing lazy. I could go on and on and on. They don't think that they're doing any thing wrong. And if it does happen to cross their mind they don't care. And they're too lazy to come up with an original idea on their own. They don't realize or care that you've worked hard on building your creativity and your brand. It's all intertwined. Now you've got me fired up!

    I hope it all works out and honestly, karma, it'll get those stealing bastards. Too harsh?

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  23. I'm sorry that you are going through this crap, it sucks. :( & you are allowed to breakdown from time to time, we all do it. So, I hope that today is a better day for you. Get on your new bike & do some riding to get a cup of coffee & a donut! :)

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  24. I really feel for you and what you're going through with this. I wouldn't have the stomach for it at all. I can't stand when people blatantly steal from others and try to act like it's no big deal and you should just get over it. That would make me so unbelievably angry I don't think I could function. The point is, I admire the fact that you are carrying on and still doing your thing.

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  25. I don't know if this helps at all, but it's nice as a customer to know that when I buy one of your shirts, it's the original idea/version. I've been giving more Etsy and indie shops the side-eye and trying to figure out if a shirt they're selling is original or a rip-off, and it's near impossible to track the actual original versions of a lot of popular designs/sayings.

    What I'm saying is, while it's totally frustrating for you, it's good that you're taking a stand like that because it's helping people get better informed.

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  26. Is there a way you can come up with a little identifying logo or brand so people know they have the authentic shirt? You know how other brands have a little horse or a little gator? Maybe have something that doesn't take away from the shirt's design, but makes it still identifiable. Once people know it belongs to a brand and that the originals are coming from you, that'll be something that they flock to. There will always be people who make knock-offs, but as of right now, if someone was just looking at the shirts, they don't know where they come from or how to differentiate between you and an imitator. Plus, logos are way easier to protect. They can maybe copy the phrases but they can't copy your logo!!!

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  27. Yes...what she said! Use a silhouette of Harlow as your logo.

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