You may follow them on Instagram and shop their cute styles. The small shop community is booming thanks to social media, giving many moms a family friendly alternative to the 9-5 office life. Pretty cool, right? Well it may surprise you to learn that some of that hard work is now being undermined by big companies mass producing the original designs. I caught up with the owner of Creek Baby Co., who is facing this very problem. I put together a piece on it for work and wanted to share some of what I learned here on the blog as well. Think of it as a modern day spin on the old slogan “shop local.” Now, the message is to “shop small!”
What started out as a way to make some extra money, quickly turned into a full time business for stay-at-home mom Bre Perez, who opened her online clothing store Creek Baby Company two years ago.
“I was up until 4am this morning working on orders to get out,” Perez said, while working on her sewing machine.Perez said her style inspiration for her little girls clothing line is her own 3-year-old daughter Nyla.
“It started off to just feed my Starbucks addiction and then it just kind of boomed and took off,” Perez said.
So much so, that Perez claims she is now the victim of copy cats: companies that mass produce clothing overseas and sell them at a lower cost online to consumers here in the U.S.
I stopped by Perez’s home studio, where she pulled up some of those websites, including AliExpress.com and Wish.com.
“As you can see, my picture is next to their reproduced product. This was at the Florida State Fair,” said Perez, while pointing out photos identical to ones she has on her website.
Not only were the designs the same as Perez’s, but the websites are also using photos of Perez’s daughter Nyla, without her permission.
“To wake up one morning and see that my product is being mass produced using my daughter’s picture is hard to get over,” said Perez who, along with three other mothers, hand makes every item she sells.
To find out if Perez is protected legally, I checked in with Tampa patent and trademark attorney Bill Larson.
“There is very little protection for clothing,” Larson said. “Exceptions may include a uniform or costume that goes above and beyond everyday wear.”
But while Perez may not be able to copyright her designs, Larson said she can copyright her photographs. Still, filing a lawsuit with an overseas company is not easy. Larson said the most effective way to have your photographs removed from a mass retailer’s website is copyright them and then make the request through that company’s website.
“Many companies now have what’s called an intellectual property dispute form on their website,” Larson said. “If you register your photos, the site will take them down. However, it can really become what I like to call a game of wack-a-mole.”
It’s a temporary fix Perez said she has already tried. Perez said as soon as she gets one photograph taken down, she finds another one posted elsewhere.
Now, the small business owner said she is left trying to spread awareness, in the hopes online shoppers will seek out the original small shop when it comes to making purchases.
“I want them to realize that Creek Baby, there’s a mama behind it,” said Perez. “One that works 12 hours all through the night to get those items made and shipped out to you.”
For more information on Perez’s online shop, click on the link Creek Baby Co.
Worth noting, I tried to contact representatives at both AlliExpress.com and Wish.com, but have yet to hear back.