I was a trader at a big event in Cape Town in February. In advance of the event, I read through the list of stallholders. Two other people would be selling hats, one as a reseller of mass-produced straw hats and fedoras, and one as a crafter selling her own makes.
During setting-up time, I introduced myself to the crafter and said I’d looked for her website or facebook page to view her stuff, but couldn’t find anything. She said she doesn’t advertise at all because she’s already so swamped with orders that she wouldn’t be able to cope if more people saw her products. Knowing the kinds of difficulties that a small hand-made production business faces, as I do, I was amazed and impressed by this. I couldn’t wait to see her hats, and thought perhaps I could even learn something from her.
The event opened, and I beetled off to ‘network’ as soon as I could. As I approached the row of stalls on the other side of the park, I saw a display of animal novelty hats and hoodies that I recognised from a school event last year, which stood out for their uniformity and unmistakable mass-produced nature and low prices. They are also readily available at various pavement stalls around Cape Town and in the Chinese shops. So, no problem – you can buy and sell what you like. Good for you (and you’ll see below, I do it myself sometimes). — but it turns out that this was my fellow crafter! I greeted her and said something along the lines of wow, you’ve got quite a range here – are these the ones you make yourself? And she said Yes. And looked away.
I’m so mad that someone does this. Claiming cheap imports as your own work is – what? fraud? or just a big fat stupid insulting lie? And I don’t understand why someone would do this. There’s nothing illegal in being a reseller of hats, after all. For a big event, working on my own, I’m not able to produce enough stock by my own hand. I buy in about 30% of my stock, and either modify it by adding handmade flowers or a band or a crochet trim, or resell it as it is. If I haven’t made an entire item myself, I don’t put my label on it and pretend to have made it. I don’t not put a label on an item and pretend it’s my own work. I point out which my own handmade items are, and which are not – and, frankly, the difference is very evident !!
I wrote this post a good few weeks ago, and was going through draft posts when I came across it and got all riled up again and decided to publish it. I’m trying to work out why I actually care about this – presumably Imported-Animal-Hat Woman wants people to think she is a creative genius, and what do I care if she is or isn’t? People are still buying my hats and asking for special orders. There’s enough work to go around. Am I so morally above reproach that someone else’s lie rocks and jolts the foundations of my innately faultless nature? Um….no, hardly!! hahaha Is it because she’s just stupid and thinks everyone else is as well? Aha, could be that.
Okay, rant over. F is for fraud, by the way, not the four-letter word beginning with F and ending with K. But that too.