Thursday, December 5, 2013

End of an Etsy Era....

So, if you follow me on Facebook, you know already that my Etsy shops have been shut down. I have been an Etsy seller in one form or another since 2008. I went from being in the hole for 2 years to making what I considered a decent income for a mom who just likes to make things! I was a totally legal seller with my LLC, Tax ID's, a CPA, the whole she-bang. I founded and run the Etsy team Handmade Louisiana. I've made a tremendous amount of friends from being on Etsy and that I will never regret.

But my time on Etsy is over. Over the years, I have had a couple of 'trademark infringements' filed against me by a couple of companies like Hello Kitty and Eric Carle. I was new and unaware I could fight back with the first sale doctrine concerning licensed fabrics. So they sat as hits on my Etsy account and I thought nothing of it as my business grew to be one of the top badge reel shops on Etsy with the most badge reels available at one point of 900 listings.

A couple of years back the battle over the local phrase "Who Dat" raged here as the man who claims to own the trademark fought local stores over use of the word. Long story short, for you non-locals, Who Dat is a battle cry for our beloved New Orleans Saints but also a general greeting, salute, joyful shout and more, used a lot in life in southern Louisiana. Who Dat dates back to the 1700s and possibly earlier. But this man trademarked the phrase in the 80s when he was involved in a song (a horrible song) about the Saints. Decades passed and he never gave a care about his trademark until the Saints won the Superbowl in 2009. Suddenly, he cared about his trademark.

I thought the matter had been laid to rest when the parties he sued settled in 2012 and a judge said, "Who Dat belongs to the people." It never even dawned on me this was still an issue. So I was surprised (and ticked) when I found he had filed a complaint against several of my items. Honestly, I'd forgotten about several of them, (did I mention the 900 listings?) So I sent "the man" a not so pleasant email, but I fixed the listings and thought the matter was over.

Nope. He apparently found more listings on my shop, this time, he claimed you could not even use the words "who dat" in a TAG on Etsy. (Tags are descriptive words you use to help people find your items.) He's even gone so far as to say you cannot use just "dat" or "who" in a Saints related item!?? So if your item was a black and gold fleur de lis, I couldn't use any form of "who dat" in a tag, even if it didn't appear on the listing or item. I should have checked all my items for Who Dat, and I thought I got them all, but apparently I missed a couple out of the 900 listings.

So what does Etsy do? Not contact me about it, not say, "Hey, you have one more shot and we close you down" or "Check your items please", etc. Nope. I go to ship my orders and I find a closed shop. I got an email of legal-ease and a closed shop. Not just one closed shop, but TWO closed shops. I also had SeauxComfy on Etsy, a crochet shop that NEVER had any infringements against it, SHUT DOWN.

Needless to say, I was very upset. At the jerk trying to steal Who Dat from the people, at Etsy for their lack of support. At myself for fighting back, because I'm thinking if I'd not fought back to Sal, he'd have maybe left me be. I scoffed at his offer of licensing with him and made it clear I NEVER want to do business with him. (He didn't offer me a nifty form to fill out to turn into Etsy to show I won't use Who Dat as a tag, yet he offered it to other sellers. Hmmm I wonder why? Oh right, I stood up to him.)

I quickly let go of my anger at Sal because it became clear he is a desperate man clinging to the last little business he has left. Apparently in the 30 years he's owned this trademark he's made 350k on it, and spent a lot of that on court. That is NOT a great record of business, for those not familiar with sales. It's incredibly sad.

But I was more mad at Etsy. For having spent 5 years putting up with their total lack of seller support, their continuing to allow foreign resellers while shutting down true handmade shops (like mine.), and for putting up with their muting of people who dare speak out in forums. Etsy is a shell of what it started out as. Greed took over the true love and purpose of handmade for them, I fear. Just in my badge reels shops alone since 2010 I have paid Etsy almost 3k in fees. Now, I made my sales, but paid them roughly 20% of my sales for years. I'm not even counting the other Etsy shops I had over the years until I found my niche with the badge reels. So apparently $3,000 isn't enough to warrant a real discussion to see if I truly was at fault.

Apparently Etsy has no spine and cannot even remotely defend their sellers and will cave to threats, no questions asked. So I am done. I am done spending any more money with them. I will pay up my fees and then be gone. Unfortunately this also means I will no longer be buying on Etsy. So if you are an Etsy seller, I will find another way to purchase from you, but I will not purchase on Etsy.

I'm sad to see this part of my life end, as it's been such a HUGE part for the past five years. But creativity need not be confined to a little piece of the interwebs....I am still going to create. I am not getting rid of my badge reel making supplies. In good time I will reorganize and start over on another site.

I had been toying with the idea of taking a break for a little while now. I am now homeschooling my children, much earlier than I had ever planned to. It really had become difficult to homeschool, run a home, run a business, spend time on bible study, with friends, and sleep! Life had gotten too hectic. I had been in angst trying to make a decision about my business, so I suppose God decided to help me make the decision!!

I'm sad it's over, I recognize how awesome my customers have been over the years and how fun it has been to share my work with others, hopefully bringing a little smile to their face during their work day. But my babies will only be little for awhile, and when they're bigger and more self sufficient in their schooling, I can reexamine my game plan and perhaps start a new.

In the meantime, you can contact me via the Facebook page or if you need a badge reel or two. It'll take time to get my photos back in order, but I will do that in time. If you need crochet items, you can also contact me there. I am taking custom crochet orders via email or facebook for now. This situation will not crush my dreams of running my own business, but it does delay them some. In the end however, it's for the benefit of my children AND my sanity! If that's not worth it....I don't know what is!!

I thank you all, my friends, customers, colleagues, and most importantly my family and God for sticking with me all this time, being there through the ups and downs, and for supporting handmade! You are NOT forgotten!

Much love,

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