One of the biggest challenges of being in the business of handcrafted items is this : if your work is good and it sells good, you’re bound to get duped by copycats. It used to bother me that a merchant in my regular event keeps on copying my work. Everytime I put something new out there and the crowd loves it, trust on her to scout and have the same thing the next week. While I understand that all artists get inspiration from the already existing work of others, it is quite something else when a merchant in exactly the same event who deliberately scouts your booth does it.
But there is something to learn from and be grateful for in this experience. One day a customer came to my booth to check my items, proceeded to check the items of the dupe merchant, went back to me and said, “Yours has a much better quality than hers. It’s obvious that it’s not ordinary work.” After days of having doubts about myself, I was deeply touched by her simple act of complimenting my work and her kindness, and became much more inspired to continue doing what I love.
I realized that while many things can be copied and ripped off, good design included, no one can dupe good taste, passion, and hard work. When you do something with your own bare hands and you pour your soul into it, that’s YOU. When you fly things in from halfway around the world to get your hands on the finest materials, that’s YOU. When you spend precious seconds criticizing every detail of the work that you just did, just to make sure that everything is right and looks right, that’s YOU.
I realized that on that day, that beautiful lady was not seeing a nice pair of tassel earrings. She was seeing a portion me. A part of my soul in every detail of my work. Soulmade.
So, I am writing this to reach out to all artists, craftsmen, and passionate thinkers out there. Bear this mind, you beautiful soul.
Your work is YOU.
There is no substitute for it. So keep going and do what you love best. Where there is passion, there is always good work.