An Open Letter to the Imitator

February 19, 2014
Oh y'all! The last couple of weeks have been a journey! I have been extremely busy with the shop and preparing to speak at Stationery Academy (February 24-26!) and preparing to exhibit at the National Stationery Show! On top of the daily tasks of running my business, I've also had to deal with copy cats. It's been frustrating, to say the least but slowly I'm learning to work through it. I know its something that will continue to happen - it's just part of putting your work out into the world and dealing with mean people. Having my products stolen was hard enough but, then I had something even more precious than my Hey Y'all prints stolen from me. My branding. This was quite a slap in the face and below is my open letter to the imitator. 
Dear Imitator, 
While I know it is said, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" I assure you I am not flattered in the least. If I'm completely honest, I'm heartbroken and saddened and just downright angry. I guess I should start with how I know you were entirely too inspired by my branding and web design. Y'know, besides the fact it's just plain obvious. 
You were an Instagram follower of mine. Yes, as in past tense. I have now blocked you from my account because I no longer hope to inspire you. You would comment and like my images regularly and because I like to interact with my customers and followers, I followed you back. I didn't even know you or your business existed until then. I even went to your website when I saw you designed Wordpress themes because I thought that was cool. 
As you can imagine, I was pretty shocked when you recently posted a photo of your newly updated website. It looked very familiar in that little Instagram square and because I was on my computer I decided to get a better look. Tears pierced my eyes the second it all loaded. I felt sick as my eyes were directed to one detail after another that had me all over it. 
First, I noticed your new logo. I see you decided to go with the same calligrapher I did. That's great, she's fabulous and so easy to work with. It's awesome that you also went with a similar style as I did.  While I'm assuming you saw how beautiful my logo was and decided you wanted something equally as beautiful, there is something you don't know. There are reasons behind why I wanted a hand-lettered logo. This is something I had wanted since I started my business 5 years ago. I sell stationery. I am a cheerleader for the handwritten note. I incorporate many hand-lettered elements into my products. I didn't choose it because hand lettering is so in right now. In a year or two hand lettering won't be so "trendy" but guess what? I will still have a hand-lettered logo. Will you? 
Next, I see you love my color palette as much as I do. So much so, that you decided to use every single color. All 6 of them. What are the odds? Especially since many branding tips suggest you limit your color selections to 2 or 3. What I bet you didn't know is that I didn't just randomly pick those colors and put them together. I selected them from nature. I have a picture of a bouquet of flowers that I think is the most beautiful thing in the world. I love the way it makes me feel when I look at it and I wanted others to feel that great when they came across my shop and products. 
I wish it stopped there, but sadly it does not. Because I had checked your website out before, I know that the use of the butterfly is a new development. No, I'm not the first and I won't be the last to use a butterfly, but I didn't just use it because it's a cute icon. Did you know that my childhood bedroom was covered in hand painted (by my sweet mama) clouds and colorful butterflies? I've always had an attraction to them but now that I'm older, I love the symbolism they carry. I know I've been given this business to make a difference in the lives of others and I want it to be completely obvious why I do what I do. The butterfly helps me communicate that. What made you decide to add that element? 
Of course you didn't stop after copying my branding details. You carried it over into elements used in "your" web design. I'm not going to list them out one by one, because if you read this, you already know which one's I'm talking about. These details on their own probably wouldn't have sparked much of anything but together they make quite the case against you.  
It sucks to be copied in any way and I'm still learning how to deal with "designers" who have stolen my product designs to sell in their shops, but this instance cut me pretty deep. I can make new products but I can't re-brand myself every time someone decides to rip me off. When you stole my branding you stole part of who I am. You see, I didn't have the money to hire a big fancy team to develop my brand elements and website. It's been a long journey and each element has been built upon the last. I put my heart into each piece and nothing was selected by chance. It all has a purpose. I hate that you think it was OK to just use my ideas. Yes, I know my branding is fabulous. I love it more than anything. When I started on my DIY branding journey, I was bitter and jealous of everyone else who was able to hire someone to design their brand. Looking back now, I'm so happy I had to put on my big girl panties and figure it out for myself. 
At first I felt like because you have so easily incorporated my branding elements into your own, that it devalues what I have. But you know what? You will always be the imitator and for that, I am sad for you. I'm sure in a few months or maybe a year, you will change your identity again because this one isn't you. It's not based on anything other than the fact you loved what I have. You apparently don't know who you are or how you want your business to make others feel. 
This is the only form of contact I will try to make with you. You may see it and you may not, but if you do, I hope you see how wrong what you did truly is. I also hope that one day you will find your true style and identity because it really is a great feeling. 
Stephanie Creekmur


NSS 2014 | We're Headed to the Big Show!

February 6, 2014
If you follow our shop on Instagram (if you don't, I highly suggest you do - that's where you'll get every scoop first, my friends!) you already know this but for those of you who don't... We will be exhibiting at the National Stationery Show in New York City this May! I made the decision back in August shortly after returning from Stationery Academy! I am so honored to be exhibiting with the Stationery Academy booth with three other insanely talented ladies - Jennifer Faught of Something Detailed, Josie Parsley and Rachel Fraser of Fraser & Parsley and Amy Kinslow of Southern Fried Design Barn. Being able to have these ladies by my side and have the guidance of stationery queens Whitney English and Natalie Chang is more than I could ever ask for as a first time exhibitor! 

This journey has been one full of fear from the very start. I almost declined the opportunity because I was terrified and just couldn't imagine how I would pull it off. Then the idea that I was saying no to something because I was afraid of failure, scared me even more. I have never let fear dictate my life and I didn't intend to start then. It's probably the scariest thing I've ever jumped into head first but I know good things are coming - as well as a lot of hard work!

And incase you were wondering if you're the only person on the planet who Google's stupid questions, I'm here to tell you you're not alone. This is one of the first questions I searched for an answer to after signing up for NSS: "Is it paper suicide to take digitally printed products to the National Stationery Show?" See! We all do it! :)

I have been working away and have lots of new things in the works that I want to share with y'all but for now, mum's the word! I do hope to share more about my journey along the way and I am so excited for what's to come!