When You Wish Upon a Star . . .

wishingstarsMany of you will remember that, during a studio tour last Fall, I fell in love – with glass. It was a grand passion and I went nuts, bought a kiln two weeks later, and jumped in with both feet (not into the kiln), but into the creation of beautiful sparkly things.

The thing about me is that, no matter the medium, my monkey mind starts swinging from idea trees, and I come up with new and unusual “product” ideas. It’s what I do. I think this comes from all my years in marketing and retailing, but who really knows where ideas come from? Not me.

Shortly after I started creating kiln glass, it was shortly before Christmas, and I needed to stock the gallery with wonderful gifts.

So, I came up with the idea of the “Wish Dish”.

wdmidnight1Now, in the kiln glass world, dresser plates are common – you know – the ones you can dump your jewelry or change into at night. Just one more mindless activity in our day. Ho-hum.

But, to me, any oft-repeated mindless activity like that is fodder for some mindful ritual. So, I came up with the idea that it would be a good time for making wishes (enforcing intentions is a more practical way of saying that, I guess). The more we pay attention to something, the more likely it will “come true”, as they say.

So, I made up a little card about that . . .

wishdishcopy

And included it with every Wish Dish. Punched a star out of the corner of the card too – just for extra specialness.

I also decided to combine Sterling Silver with the glass to create my stars for wishing upon. This combo was not very common in the glass world. Still isn’t.

So, all told, I had a pretty unique and unusual product.

And, it sold like crazy because it was a perfect gift idea for anyone – man, woman, child – even dogs and cats, who ALWAYS wish there was something in their dish.

I could hardly keep up.

We have sold Wish Dishes all this year in the new gallery too.

“Where is she going with this?”, you are wondering.

Well, lots of our gallery customers are tourists, and they want to be able to buy more Wish Dishes and other stuff from home.

There is clamoring for an e-commerce site for the gallery.

Creating such a thing doesn’t sound that easy, but it’s even more complicated than it sounds – for many reasons that I may talk about someday.

But one of those reasons, I will talk about today . . .

Putting original work online for the world to see – and copy.

YIKES!!!

Up to now, this post has been about me, but it just became about all of us, didn’t it?

The truth is that the internet is a giant paradise for copycats.

And it concerns artists who put their work online.

Now, I have created original ideas all my life (and yes, there ARE such things as original ideas. The people who say there aren’t are usually copycats, justifying their behavior.)

And I’ve been copied all my life.

But, it was more difficult to do. Someone had to come along and visit my gallery, and then, unless they bought something (they never do), they could walk away with only their momentary observation to work from.

Unless they tried taking pictures or making notes. Yes, people actually do that, but we usually caught them and cut it short.

But, the internet is a WHOLE different ballgame. When you put something on Etsy, let’s say, you’ve got all kinds of description and photos galore that people can walk off with . . . and copy.

Nobody could copy Sheer Heaven, as hard as they tried, and nobody can copy my painting or teaching style because they are NOT me, and their efforts won’t be anything like my work.

But a fine craft like glass or jewelry is different. The parts are out there, and if you share your ideas on how to put them together, you are probably going to see your ideas coming back at you from other people.

So, what to do? It’s a complicated question. You have to weigh the gains and losses.

You can keep your work off the internet, and keep your sales limited.

Or you can go for the benefit of the exposure and higher sales, knowing the risk you take of competing with your own product being made by somebody else.

I am really interested in your thoughts on this subject.

Meanwhile, I went ahead and did it – I opened an Etsy shop for the gallery:

http://etsy.com/shop/wowgallery

I can only put my own work there because that’s the Etsy rule, but lots of things in our gallery ARE my work, so it’s a good start on the e-commerce thing.

Please visit and see what you think. There is lots more to come, but I managed to get a few things on there to look at. I am starting with some of our best sellers.

A brand new shop on Etsy needs some traffic to get on the radar, so your visit will help even if it is not a shopping visit this time.

Wonder how long before there will be some other “Wish Dishes” competing with mine?

19 thoughts on “When You Wish Upon a Star . . .

  1. Casey

    Just visited your Etsy shop and loved all the variations of your Wish Dish, but especially like the clear with wide undulating streaks of blue. Maybe after my SS check comes in!

  2. Jerrie

    It’s about time Jess! You have to look at copycats this way…it’s the BEST form of flattery!
    Get some dichro slide paper & punch /cut designs for fusing onto your glass….turns out beautiful. I did spider charms that way.

  3. jeanne from Austin

    Great beginning, jessica! I love all the things you put in the shop.

    Thoughts on copycats, or rather, their rightful name—thieves: Can you be satisfied with having some anger/frustration/stress but selling more? Or would you rather have fewer negative feelings—and fewer sales? I have been thinking of opening an Etsy shop myself and have had the same thoughts about thieves.

  4. jessica Post author

    Thanks, everyone – fr comments and purchases. Great to make sales my very first day!

    I will try the dichroic slide, Jerrie – thanks for the tip – looks like fun.

    Jeanne – I think it’s a tall order but the best thing would be to get the sales and handle anything else with minimum anger and stress, knowing that “your” customers would not buy from someone else anyway.
    Easier said than done, of course.

  5. Timaree

    Your
    Site looks great. Your jewelry will be easier to copycat than the dishes probably. It’s a shame people can’t just do their own thing but yes, there will probably be some copycats soon.

    I have a question. Actually two. Are your dishes food safe? And can you do baby pink or pastel teal?

    I once did a craft fair and had no sales. I did have people taking notes and drawing my stuff while standing two feet from the table though. I didn’t know what to do about it at the time. They weren’t going to buy and I didn’t feel it’d be productive to say anything but that’s the last craft fair I ever did. I am hoping you have much more luck than I did!

  6. jessica Post author

    HI Timaree,

    Yes, all my glass is food safe and thanks for mentioning that.

    As for pale pink and pale teal – let me check the glass store and get back to you on that. I have a done transparent pale teal but the stars did not show up as well.

    I assume you mean opaque glass?

  7. jeanne from Austin

    jessica, for what it’s worth, Kim on everythingetsy.com shares a lot of information about Etsy shops. (As well as blogging.) Her tips and suggestions have helped me a lot in my quest. And I got a book, How to Sell Your Crafts Online, by Derrick Sutton, which is mostly about selling on Etsy. Some of it is beginner level, but you might get some helpful information.

  8. llynnda

    love the idea, always love what you do, was ready to pull out the wallet and then noticed “only ships within the United States”.
    Will this change or will it always be like this.
    Llynnda

  9. jessica Post author

    HI Llynda,
    I don’t want it to be like that. I sell Sheer Heaven worldwide. What has me stymied is the cost of shipping for boxes internationally. I am working on getting more info – maybe those sources Jeanne suggested will tell me something.

  10. Nan

    Hi Jessica,
    I visited your Etsy site and it looks GREAT! I tried to select you as a favorite, but the site wanted my online identity, my first born son, and numerous other intimate details. This is my take on online copying. People can copy your technique, but they can’t capture the special essence or heart or spirit that goes into an individual’s artwork. Yes, your work could be outsourced, but that is a totally different market anyway. So get your creative energy out there, and it will come back to you. Etsy is not really any different than Pinterest, or having a blog or website. It is just a way to reach more audiences and recognition, and hopefully get more sales. I think it will come back to you.

  11. Menno

    Hello Jessica,

    I understand the point you are making but my view is a little different.

    First off you are right, it is not nice/correct to copy someones idea and make money from that. But it will happen. Look at the music industry. Fighting piracy, although it is in their right, will give the music industry a bad name. While something like spotify has reduced music piracy a great deal in a Scandinavian country according to research. Changing the business model may be more fruitful than fighting for your right.

    Copying an item you see on the internet and selling it for profit is not something I see as flattery. I see it as: “I have no idea what to sell and that seems to sell well, lets try selling that myself.”

    I pin a lot on pinterest, not to replicate but to inspire, to modify, to use as stepping stones to the next idea. And I may or may not make something similar for personal use. That is not your problem, but that is what I see as flattery.

    To me ideas come easily, but doing something with it is what I lack. Other people are doers but don’t generate ideas easily. Does that make it okay for them to use ideas from others? NO. But it will happen, and it will cost you a lot of grey hairs (worries) fighting it. Since you are a creative soul, maybe it would be worth your while to think about other business models. After you are done with a bestselling product sell the building instructions with a reseller license. I don’t now.

    The thing is: if you have a bestseller that will be copied and starts to sell less, you can ditch it for another new and exclusive product.

    Kevin Kelly mentions a business model of a thousand loyal fans. Which you may have adopted (kind of) already. You have a loyal, and presumably quite large, following online. If they have bought one of your products they will not by the same one again. Unless maybe as a gift. But they will buy a new product.

    So maybe redirecting your energy in a different direction may yield better rewards.

    Just my two cents, or is it so much that I should call it a dime.

  12. Michelle

    Go you ! Dazed and amazed ….love the work ! I use to be stressed about copycats but then realized it pushed me to keep creating and moving forward… Looking back, some of my best designs came that way. Love your etsy shop ! Eyeing a pair of your earrings !

  13. jessica Post author

    Good to hear from you. Menno. Your advice is excellent and I have been following it all my life. If I develop any more business models, I may go nuts, but I have always had the thought that I will just dance faster than they can, and they won’t be able to keep up! Getting inspiration from other artists is what it’s all about, but when all is said and done, something “inspired” should be very different than the inspiration.

  14. Timaree

    Opaque would be wonderful but whichever. My daughter loves the magic in life and she also loves pale colors with pink and teal being her favorites. This dish could sit in her kitchen or living areas in her home with the right colors. I’m thinking of Christmas if possible but not absolutely necessary!

  15. Marrianna

    Regarding International shipping: Ebay has a deal where a seller can sell to an overseas buyer but the item ships to a location in the USA and is then sent on its merry way. Surely there is something available like that via Etsy. But then by now you may have done all the research on International shipping.

    The shop looks great and I’m thinking it is way better than doing craft shows – which are in abundance right now getting ready for the holidays. Been there, done that, don’t want to do that again.

    If you are looking for more sales, the Instagram market is growing. There is a free video or podcast on CreativeLive tomorrow and for 2 more days by Sue Zimmerman. You can find her on YouTube for free, also. I’m going to listen to the CreativeLive deal at 10 am Wednesday. I’ll forward the information.

  16. Therese

    Congratulations on the Etsy site!! You have a good following and will likely retain them by giving them a way to buy your products online. You have very creative ideas and that feeds your soul so go for it!! You will be able to stay ahead of them and because you will be the first and you are connected to your customer base you will do well.

    Therese

  17. Denise dineen

    Would adding the words, in different type and font size, “the original” Wish Dish separate your work from copycats?

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