Knitatude

Is it Competition or Do you Need to Calm your Tits?

Chantal Miyagishima

Being in a community of so many crafters means that there's bound to be two people that have the same great idea at the same time. After all there's only a certain amount of "original ideas" out there. I think we have this tenancy to jump down each others throats right away instead of looking at things from a positive side. Or a neutral one. Competition makes us crazy but we shouldn't let it. Here's my "positive" way to think about some good ol' competition.  I may get flack for this... but here goes.

If you ever find yourself getting angry, upset or feeling the push of another company "stealing" your ideas here are a few things to ask yourself before you engage with said company. Think of these as a way to take a step back and come from a different perspective and remind yourself to "calm yo tits". 

1. What makes this persons company/items so similar to yours? Are they using the same pattern, materials, branding, recipe as you are? Could this be by happenstance?

Essentially, why is this person making you nervous? If they are doing something similar in your field of expertise (take knitting as an example) then why are you scared? At first glance we see competition as someone jumping on our bandwagon and getting ready to tear us down. Is that why they popped up and began creating in the first place though? Did they specifically have our company in mind and maliciously come out to take our biz? No. I highly doubt it. There's no need to loose sleep over someone who has the same interests as you. Take a deep breath, take a step back and calm yo' tits. 

Example:

I like knitting but I'm not going to hate on everyone who loves knitting and happens to sell it at the same time even if they use the same stitch, style and yarn. Maybe those peeps could be my friends. We obviously have something in common! If they are using the same materials etc as you ask yourself if it's because they're easily accessible. That's what it could come down to. If it's something only you use and it's really hard to find then you can be more on the cautious side.

2. Are they identical. Like to the T identical?

I hear about copying all the time but when it comes down to the legal and lawyer-ing part in the arts and crafts world it is VERY hard to prove that anything is a copy or replica. Technically someone could see a photo of my pattern and recreate it but with a different amount of stitches and different size needles and it's technically not copying. Is it similar and inspired by my item? Yes. Does it bother me? Of course, but I can't do anything about it. Throw your hissy fit (I know I do) and then move on. You can't stop them from making and creating their own similar items. If I had this negative mentality I would have to get peeved at all the knitting generations before me... "Like.. how dare you make a scarf Grandma!? That's my idea." Sounds a little idiotic right? AKA calm yo tits.

3. Do they know about you/follow you on social media? Do they keep coming out with things similar to yours RIGHT after you launch something? Are they saying bad things about you?

OK, this one gets tough. If they know about you and are bad mouthing you (Who knows why. Maybe they feel insecure about you. What a novel thought and concept...) and your product then you need to step in. Don't full-force-it-go-in-for-the-kill type of message, but just send them a message stating that you have heard that there were words said about your company or that you feel your companies may have some very similar products that could negatively effect you both. Even though you both do similar products  reassure them that you don't want any animosity between your two companies. Even if this makes you grit your teeth it's easier to get bees with honey than vinegar and then you can have a civil conversation together. Note: No matter how nice this message comes across they are not going to be expecting it and are going to go into defensive mode. Whether they shut down and apologize straight away or put up the dukes for a fight - be ready to either outcome. Have a planned response for either option that does not include emotion. It's our human nature to protect ourselves so put yourself in the shoes of the receiving end before you send anything. If they loose their shit at you at least you'll know the ball's in their court and you can say that you tried. Who knows - they may even be able to help you and want to be pals. If they aren't being catty, no need to be catty first. Whooooo-sa my friends.

4. Are they just inspired by you?

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. My husband reminds me of this all the time. Does it peeve us off as makers? Yes, because we've toiled and cried and worked so hard to make something unique and something of our own, but we all have to start somewhere. Can you HONESTLY tell me that you haven't see one person doing what you are doing before you started and that your idea is 100% original? If you can I applaud you. Though I would speculate 98% of us out there can't say yes to this question. You were most likely inspired by someone else just like me. So... tame those ta-tas. If someone is making something similar to you it must mean they think it works. It practically endorses your product or service as a want or need.

5. Can you physically do anything about it and what will it achieve?

When I'm in bed and can't fall asleep at night because I'm thinking of how to solve all my random problems the first thing I ask myself is "Can you do anything about it right now?". The answer is usually no. Ask yourself the same question if you are having issues with a competitor. Can you stop them? How would you go about it and what would it achieve? Will they stop making it just because you asked? Will they get angry? Will they feel attacked and possibly do everything in spite of your company instead? (PS I've see it second hand and it's naaaaaasty!) What are you gaining and what are you loosing? You're probably going to loose more credibility and sleep by confronting them about stealing your biz without any cold hard facts and if your approach is wrong. Sometimes it's better to ignore and have a good nights sleep.

Mainly what I'm trying to get out of this blog post is to ask ourselves"Are they just competition?" and is that bad? Competition usually drives us to work harder, create more and think outside the box. If you had no competition it would awesome raking in the dolla dolla bills, but wouldn't it be boring as f*^k? Drilled down it comes to the fact that no idea is original so there's no need to get yourself into a tizzy. We live in the world of Pinterest and DIY which means people are making - which is a great thing. Support your fellow makers even if they are similar. I promise it will help you sleep better at night! *wink*