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Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery!

13th November 2019

Or is it? This quote has been said to me many times in the past few days following my recent discovery. 

A client purchased a small item from me, constructed from my usual fabrics, a good quality British tweed and one of my signature William Morris Liberty cotton linings. Imagine my surprise when I find said product appears to have been deconstructed and married with other materials and then passed off as this “former” clients work. 

I was so stunned at first that I thought I might be imagining it, after all there is honour amongst small businesses, right? So I sent the link to my husband, who confirmed what my eyes were telling me, and as he pointed out to me, not just this item, but also my way of writing, my marketing tricks, and other items too. I don’t often rant about business, I don’t think it’s professional, but this has tipped me over the edge. So I took to my personal social media, and posted that my little business seemed to arrived, as I was being copied. The support I received was overwhelming with the same message coming from everyone, hold your head up, keep dong what you’re doing and lead the way. If someone is copying you, you won, right?

The words of Kurt Cobain spring to mind. 

Do your own thing. 

Others own their own thing. 

If you copy too much, you'll find yourself in late night cocktail lounge cover band limbo”.

This starts me thinking about why we imitate, why we copy, why we plagiarise others.

We learn this as infants, we are not automatically gifted with the power of speech, the ability to hold a knife and fork or our skill in writing our own name. As a child we imitate our peers, our parents, our surroundings. 

We grow up in Scotland, we sound, act and appear different to a child from Sweden or Switzerland.

We copy, we imitate, learn our times table by rote, learn the alphabet (with a “zed not a zee”). Our surroundings and our early years shape who we are, how we sound and what we learn. 

So that’s fine and dandy as a child however we grow, we learn and we travel and those differences stay with us, after all they are the very essence of our uniqueness. 

We assimilate other cultures, we expand our learning, we add to our experiences and hopefully our uniqueness grows. If we embrace this journey we develop an identity that stands us apart, if we do not, we remain children. So my question would be, why do people think it’s acceptable? It’s especially prevalent in small, craft style businesses. Do these people have no moral code? Do they not even realise they’re doing it?

I have recently been asked if I would make a copy of an item I own, bought from a fellow trader, it niggled me, so I asked this person if they would make one for me, instead of me trying to imitate them. This was totally the right thing to do, and because I have approached this the right way, it’ll hopefully be the start of a very successful collaboration. Watch this space.

So whilst I immerse myself in looking at Trademarks, and Intellectual Property articles, I shall leave you with this thought. Be who you are, be true to yourself, stop trying to be someone else, someone you’re not, in all parts of your life, as only if you do this will you be truly happy.

Love, light, tweed and happiness.

Pam xx

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