Recently, a great article about taxidermy jewelry and accessories was posted on the Coilhouse Blog. The article featured three amazing, praise worthy artists: Disce Mori, Custom Creature Taxidermy, and Purevile. All of whom I love!!! The comment forum that followed was a positive dialog between people that I respect and admire like Jessica Joslin, Suzanne of Wurtzeltod...In that forum another designer, "Loved to Death" was highly recommended. Just then my blood began to boil and I followed up with a very emotional but Not Unwarranted Response. I'd like to take the opportunity to apologize AGAIN to Zoetica and the Coilhouse staff, and any of those offended. It wasn't my intention to dirty the otherwise positive comment forum. Looking back, I realize it was inappropriate to air my grievences torward Loved to Death in that Forum.
However, this is NOT an apology to Loved to Death. And I'd actually like to take a moment to clearly explain my views and opinions about this matter. I opened my shop on Etsy about a year ago. It was a way to test the marketplace before I actually launch my website. Little did I know how many wonderful friends I'd make! It's been a very rewarding experience. I work very hard to offer items that are unique to my shop and to Etsy, whether they are handmade or antiques. Perhaps then, you might understand why I was upset when another shop opened on Etsy offering items so similar to my own. When Loved to Death opened their shop (April 2008) with their Taxidermy Mice Dioramas, I was excited at first to see what else they would be offering. I had long since been coveting the Taxidermy Mice Dioramas of Jeanie M for D.L. & Co. Now Jeanie M. wasn't the first to display taxidermy in this manner, but inspired by 16th-19th centuries, Victorian grotesque and anthropomorphic taxidermy art. Jeanie WAS however the FIRST person revision the anthropomorphic mice of Walter Potter and succesfully bring these Modern Interpretations to the marketplace. Douglas Little offered them to the mainstream through his Gothic Couture design house D.L. & Co, which at the time was being sold exclusively at Barney's NYC.
Meanwhile, in my own shop I had successsfully sold several Vintage Grouse Claw Brooches. I'm a huge fan of taxidermy jewelry that adorned traditional costumes of cultures across the globe. Being a student and Teacher of the Occult Sciences I'm particularly interested in the Supernatural powers that these talismans allegedly possess. I have worked with Chicken feet for many many years, creating Voodoo inspired protection amulets. When I came across a dead Crow for the first time I didn't think twice about pulling several tail feathers from it. As you know, I ended up making jewelry with the feet. (I live across the from a large city park. Humboldt Park is a sanctuary to many species of plants, birds and animals...complete with a lagoon.) I was very excited to offer my Crow Amulets in my Etsy shop. Each one sold immediatly...and I was sent many requests of when I'd have more! Since the feet I used were found...I had no idea when more would become available to me. At that time Loved to Death saved me in their favorites. This was in May...less than one month later, Loved to Death launched their Taxidermy accessories line (June 2008) with two items. Below you can see my jewelry pictured on the left and theirs on the right.
I was flooded with a myriad of emotions...the designs were so similar and no other seller on Etsy was offering Taxidermy jewelry. Shortly after that, I recieved a Myspace friend request from them with a backhanded compliment on my bird foot design. I politely accepted their "friend request" but honestly exspressed my concern about the items they were selling, admitting I was quite disheartened at first by the fact that they were creating items unique to my shop and to Etsy. I also said that I had since gotten over it and I wished them good luck in their endeavors in spite of the way I was feeling. However, I was still suspicous of their motives...I knew they were just being friendly because they wanted to tap into my social network and use my comment section as AD space. Moving on to August, I went about business as usual... I was excited to introduce my Black Forest Relic Collections to my shop. I listed an antique ornamental medal meant to be worn on the coat, AGAIN...less than a month later on Sep 6th to be exact they recreated a similar design and added it to their own collection. Also in August, I listed an AMAZING antique hunting charm...a partial skull with little teeth and fangs. It was part of a set I offered. I was really excited to have it available...a unique treasure from 1870's! And AGAIN, Loved to Death quickly sourced out the materials, recreated the piece and added it to their "signature" collection...again this was less than one month later!!!! See pics below...LTD's knock offs shown on the right.
The similarities are uncanny, don't you think? Again LTD recreated these items in less than 1 month's time and added them to their collection. I was furious...at this point! I disregarded any thoughts of this all being coincidental. I immediatly attempted to contact my "friends" on MySpace. But alas, the cowards had already deleted me...I sent them a message anyway, confronting them about the issue. That didn't go very well to say the least...they went on to offer a hoof pendant. I've sold various antique hoofs successfully in my shops. Again, here's a pic to illustrate my point.
During all of this I met an Amazing Designer who's couture taxidermy jewelry line is in it's 4th season. It's being sold in the most prestigious curiosity shops such as Urban Flower and Gold Bug. She's a great person and has worked very hard for recognition in our community and the marketplace. As it turns out, much of their line is knocked-off from her original designs including their bio which was copied almost verbatim from her old website! She was grief stricken about the whole thing. She said she'd prefer that her business name not be mentioned in the same sentence as Loved to Death, so I will leave her name out of this blog, respectively.
I thought however, this situation should be aired out publicly because they might copy YOU next...they have no shame! They have already ripped off soo many. Out of all of these artists, including myself, not one claims the ideas to be their own. Everyone sites the Victorian era, Cabinets of Curiosity, Wunderkammer, Circus Sideshows, ect... as sources of inspiration. All of these people work hard to bring fresh ideas to the modern marketplace. Julia deVille for example has her signature mouse trophy pin. She was the first to bring this idea forth into the modern marketplace...it's one of her signature pieces. It's an awesome idea! I could easily copy this design...or those of other artists. I could easily source out jewelry findings and mice and mass produce the design my own. But I don't do this out of respect for other people's hard work. Loved to Death doesn't care though! Check out their cheap knock off on the right...and they have the nerve to make statements like "This is truly one of a kind piece" or "This is a very unique detailed piece from Loved To Death" They are trying to bank on and brand other people's ideas. I also spoke to Julia who was already aware of the matter and she is pissed!
I know this happens in business all the time...but as I explained to Loved to Death "This is not Starbuck's vs. Seattle's Best or McDonald's vs. Burger King were talking about here....this is a small community of artists...have some respect!" Which brings me to my next point...they have no respect for their customers either.
They state "All animal parts in our jewelry and accessories line come from recycled sources and have all been professionally preserved.No animal has EVER been killed for use in our work." Recycled, really? No, the fact of the matter is that the animals and birds they use are bred in captivity for the sole purpose of being sold to human consumers…labs, pet stores, ect. The ones that don’t make it are skinned or freeze dried and sold as curios to places like Necromance, the Bone Room, or the many online sources. And that's just fine... but I wouldn’t sell such items to my customers and then state “No animal has EVER been killed for use in our work” That's downright misleading! People who deeply take to heart the welfare of animals would not want to purchase their jewelry if they knew the TRUTH. People who who are concerned with the ethics of animals are careful consumers who take all facts into consideration before consuming products in the marketplace...by not stating the facts you are not allowing them to make a decision based on truth, and that in my opinion is a violation of consumer rights!
So there it is...I won't be speaking of this matter again. So for all the questions I got regarding my statement on the Coilhouse blog forum, I think this about covers it!