Losing at Monopoly

I spend the weekend thinking so many great thoughts for blogging, then the week starts over and I sit here wondering what all those ideas were. Someone really ought to start keeping notes — not me though, it's hard to write notes while paddling a canoe.


After technically having my Etsy shop account for two years, I finally started "stocking the shelves" so-to-speak a few months ago. I've been very shy about the Etsy shop and have done very little to promote it. Which has led to all sorts of self-analysis that I could go on and on about and that would be easily relatable to the nail biz as well ... but not easy to keep short and sweet.


Instead, I will touch on the subject of originality just a tad: I have agreed to participate in a small, local holiday boutique this season where I will attempt to make my first million selling various jewelry and accessories I have painstakingly adorned with what most of us recognize as nail art.


I started making these things four or five years ago now when my interest in mastering 3-D nail art designs exceeded my clients' interest in wearing — or paying for — them. I figured if I couldn't do nail art on nails, I'd take it to a more cooperative canvas. Since then I have created quite a nice little sideline selling rings and stuff to clients who are eager to buy the same art on a ring that they don't want to wear on their nails.


It was just a matter of time before I opened an Etsy shop.


So I was combing the forums there a few weeks ago for any helpful advice and info I could get about participating in this upcoming boutique when I found a thread that kept me from doing anything more productive for the amount of time it took to read through 18 "pages" of replies.


Turns out crafters really hate competition. I mean, what else do you call it? There was so much discussion about other crafters who do the same, or similar, things. And while I guess it does suck to have your competition blatantly walk up to you, scrutinize your work while you watch, and then flat out admit they are planning on stealing your designs ... well ... isn't that what I've been up against for the last 20 years?


How many nail techs are on my website every day, looking at my nail art so that they can reproduce the designs? How many nail techs see one of my clients' nails and commit the design to memory so they can do it themselves? I have no control over this. And I'd be out of my ever-lovin’ mind if I thought for a minute that I could hope to be the only nail tech in town for any length of time!


No. All I can do is work my butt off to do what I do better than any other nail tech. At least any other nail tech I'm in direct competition with. Because I can't control how many people are out there, doing the same thing I do, competing for a share of the same market.


I've been noticing this thinking starting to creep into our industry too; this notion that we own whatever we do or think and that we have a reasonable expectation that no one else will "take" it and use it for themselves.


I understand patents and copyrights — to an extent — but how long do you think you should be able to paint over Scrabble tiles before someone else does the same thing? It's funny how many industries we expect to be competitive: clothing designers, car manufacturers, nail polish manufacturers, magazine publishers, cell phone service providers — even salon jobs; I don't think any of us thought we invented doing nails — but when we are the ones who came up with an idea first, man do we expect to keep it for ourselves.


Sorry folks, your designs are out there to be copied. You can't prevent others from competing against you, all you can do is make sure no one can beat you.

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