Friday

{ SHAME on you TARGET - an Etsy Rip Off.. ; ( }

   I sit and type this post on the eve of Black Friday .. in fact, just one hour from when the Big hand meets the stroke of midnight. Crowds, swelling in front of automatic glass doors, sensors scanning warm bodies just outside the entry ..  but locked .. tick tock tick tock .. 

   One year it was an animal filled with beans (or were those tumbled plastic chips .. byproducts of China's injection molds??) Another year, talking-tickle-toys worth an elbow in the face for ... and now, a video game? A NEW phone !!!! 

   SoOoOoOoo much better than the last !! 

   Black Friday - what does that even mean? I asked myself this a while back .. Black? Haven't we demonized that color?? And weren't they trying to excite us? Not this time, it seems, we're brought right back into the corporate offices, and we talk their talk, calculated and cold. Do we care to know the history and etymology .. of any-thing we buy into? Black mold, Black lung, Black magic ... I think Princess-Pink Friday would've been a better fit - PINK, yes !! Or Snow White Friday ?? .. Bacon-wrapped Friday ??? 

   We'll .. it's a business term. Black. Out of the Red, they'll say, and into the Black. When you're in the red, as a company, you haven't yet made your nut for the season. But once you're in the Black, that's party time. Profit time. You've bought (lives) Low and sold (stuff) High .. or.. slightly high(er) .. millions and millions of times, and into the BLACK !! 

   Yes, while the rest of the country sinks deeper into plastic debt as we ride the hype-wave, buying gifts we can't afford for guilty people who do the same, until we crash into the rocks .. while texting on our new smartphone.  

   But that's not (really) what we're here to talk about .. 

   Let's talk about the China-Made ripoff candles that Target (hip, smiling, white-teeth Target) has on their shelves .. an original concept compliments of the husband/ wife team who started a craft on the wheels of their freedom wagon - a renovated 1975 Winnebago.


Here's our story, and the magical birth of our antique bottle-shaped beeswax candles ; ) 

(short bio video below)

   Pollen Arts was brought to you by two lovers who wanted to create and offer beauty and originality to this world, but like many others, had little time and less money to explore their curiosities ... so, we did what many people through history have done: shed the weights and chains - left things in the alley, sold stuff, boxed things, and distilled life to just the essential oils (bed, shower ((aka. a heated tea kettle)) ice chest, book shelf & music.) .. and it all fit snugly inside our automotive ark, "Miss Winnie".

   With this new freedom of time & far away from our insane LA rents (we quietly lived on city streets), we kicked the tires of our creative selves .. rusty & misfiring as they might have been from years of neglect. I hand wrote volumes in legal pads & juwels setup a sewing studio on an old chest beside the driver's seat and spread out across the dashboard. We sold copies of our twisted thriller on the Venice Beach boardwalk, and pieced together amazing miniature panoramas made from neighborhood-harvested pressed flowers (this project is still locked away.)   


   We didn't plan on making candles ... neither of us had any idea about this craft which has grown to bee a shared passion and way of life. But the inspiration came to us, as fate would have it, through mere chance .. because we were ready and waiting, and, as it turns out, wading ... in a tidepool .. off the coast of southern california ; ) 

   While exploring a local beach, plucking sea glass from the sand and harvesting purple seaweed (we'd incorporated dried and pressed sea life to the panoramas) .. juwels found a bottle. An antique bottle half buried in sand, and the rest is history. 

   We were the first to mold candles in the shapes of antique bottles, and people loVed it !! We cooked delicious pots of beeswax on the tiny stove in our rolling home, got a little press (etsy featured selled interview) .. and before long, we were sailing our wobbly land yacht across the scorching Arizona desert to a beautiful little mountain town where we're setup our very own candle studio ; ) 

   Now you know where we found this idea - our gift from the mermaids - and how we willed ourselves into The (our) American Dream ... and now let's talk about how Target found it. Well ... it's the same as above, that is, without all the work, sacrifice and faith ... without the serendipity, inspiration, loVe and excitement. They just saw it, wanted it, and took it away ... far, far away .. to Hong Kong in fact : (  


One.) If you're going to rip us off ... why not employ some of our brothers and sisters right here in the States to do the pouring? Do we not send enough jobs and money overseas?? ((Let's play a game .. go into Target and flip over 100 items and try to find 10 from America .. but choose wisely because the odds are not in your favor !!)

Two. ) Use Beeswax. Real Beeswax. Clean burning, honey-luscious Beeswax. Please don't dye chemical paraffin wax sickly yellow and scent "HONEY" just to look even more like our product and philosophy ... we don't want anyone tricked and tempted by our original shapes into taking home your little pillar of poison.. Just so you can sell cheap, and make your millions, pennies at a time, the world over ; (

Three. ) How many other independent artists have you knocked off and produced overseas? Do you have scouts surfing Etsy ... buying samples for your dirty "development" meetings? Are boxes sent to you hand stamped with LOVE ?? "Look, honey, we just sold something on etsy !!"



**Juwels - "Ah .. they can't even fit the stickers right !!" (But don't blame the factory workers, they probably have many other things on their minds .. like the 10,000 other pieces they have to make in the day so prices can stay LOW LOW, and so all else can seem expensive by that measure .. ; (

   Buy Less & Buy Quality .. they supply what we demand.


   The shame hangs on their heads .. no doubt, but the responsibility is ours, the consumers.. the Gods of this game they play. It's all for us - the smiling models, the the celebrities vying for eyes between commercial breaks filled with fast food, diet plans and happy pills. This is just one look behind the scenes of those shiny things that catch our eye ... you might not have thought there would be two sad people tucked away in the shadows, wondering .. 'can't they leave anything alone ?? Is nothing sacred?' 

   "Oh .. it happens all the time," people tell us, with no emotion at all. 

   This, too, is sad .. maybe the saddest of all. We understand the cancer of unchecked greed, how the human factor has died in big business .. but the apathy of, "oh yeah .. all the time .. " the acceptance of it. No fire. No bite. No protest ... how many other things are we willing to roll over for in this mess that we've helped create? 

   We try to keep it positive here at the Winnie Diaries, and in life in general, and we've avoided this post for that reason .. (it wasn't until I saw somebody post in a chat about Our candles, for the 3rd time, "Yeah - I saw these at Target!!" that we figured enough is enough. We've reached thousands with our grassroots interviews, and giveAways, but they've reached Millions .. it's their idea now unless we say something.) So this is our part .. a yip a sniffle and a squeal .. We're licking our paws now, and saying goodnight.

   Please pass this along, and Please-Please-Please buy American Made/ Handmade if you can ; )

   You have the Power ! ! ! 

 loVe, lOve, 

 -p&j   

    



21 comments:

  1. no one can steal the honey-drenched warmth you both portray. No one can take your story. No one can take your art. It is the magic between you and your shared love that makes your product so very different, not to mention the love you portray for the bees and the gifts they give. Maddening, yes. I'm so glad you told your story and explained these candles have nothing to do with you, that's so important!! I so wish you'd patented or trademarked your way of making the candles in some fashion so you could turn around and sue. Not that I"m into lawsuits, but I do love when corporate wrists are slapped for trying to steal a slice of someone else's pie and pretend they made the damn pie. What a brilliant response and blog to this issue. Well done! And I can't imagine chasing black friday.

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  2. Try adding your post to their customer reviews online? Direct REAL shoppers to the real deal?

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  3. I have been so blessed to have your amazing candles in my life,,, I do not even beging to understand the crazy world that is today - I can not understand why people have not understood how they are digging their own grave with their greed. I send Love, Light and Respect to you two and the sweet goats. Hugs and Blessings

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  4. Thanks friends !! Yes .. it's sad, and I know they can't hold a candle to our quality and positive energy (yes, they really do buzz with loVe straight out of the box !!)

    I will try pasting this on their reviews page - I think I've seen that before - many other unhappy people talking about injustice there .. and if anyone else has any other places they'd like to post this (etsy forums??) we'd love to spread the word ; )

    All loVe !!

    -p&j

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  5. So sad. I have noticed a few other online sellers making candles with bottles as molds as well. The Target candles "pale" in comparison. I've read that many artists on Etsy have been copied by chain stores such as Urban Outfitters.

    I don't think most consumers understand that the cheaper imported items they are buying have a direct and negative impact on American jobs and our economy in general. I do not shop at Wal-mart for many reasons, and then recently added Target to my list of stores to avoid.

    It feels right to shop at smaller locally owned businesses. When I shop online, I look for sellers who create their own handmade items. However, the new Etsy definition of what qualifies as handmade may muddy the handmade waters a bit.

    Sorry this has happened, and you are absolutely correct, "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing".

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  6. it's true that you can't protect a "thing" you have created, but you can protect your honesty, love, integrity, awesomeness and all the other wonderful things that go along with your handmade "product". there will always be people copying you and there is almost nothing you can do but write and talk about it...except there was that one guy, when i was doing wholesale craft fairs in the 1990's, he had actually patented and/or trademarked his handmade birdhouse which was shaped like a cat opening its mouth so that when a bird entered the house, it was entering a cat's mouth. so funny and one of those big places ripped him off and had them manufactured in china but he sued them and won because he had the patent. once in awhile the little guy or gal wins againts the huge corporation, but even corporations rip each other off like the reverse engineering of the IPhone by everyone else on the planet...i will always believe in artists and will look to the bright side and the goodness of people and will always support you and appreciate your integrity and the love you put into everything and there is no lawsuit that could ever make up for that pot o' gold.

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  7. I'm so glad to see this post. My steak coasters were ripped off by some company in China and a really crappy facsimile is being sold in Target. It hurts more than my feelings, but I must trust that customers will recognize the difference in quality, and that Target will ruin their reputation with these tactics. I know I don't shop there anymore - for this and other reasons.

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  8. You might not be able to blame Target; many times people from other countries like China will seek out our goods to copy, and then they market them back to the US. The buyers at the big retailers may be completely ignorant of the concept's origins. Patents are a good idea if you have something unique and copyable.

    Check your search stats and find how many people from other countries are checking your goods out but not buying.

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  9. Long before I became a chef, I owned a scuba shop. All was happy and well in my little world...then came the internet. I saw the end coming for my business because of the decisions that people were making. I offered my customers so much for free. Free beach dives on Sat & Sun's with an instructor and divemasters present (beach diving in NJ is the hardest place to dive). Come back from a FREE dive and use the wash/rinse basins, throw fresh caught fish on the grill I provided or dry your gear on the drying racks, Yes, I did these things not to gain business but because I felt my customers and students deserved a place to come and hang after a dive. PEOPLE LOVED IT. No other scuba shop did this, someone once told me my profits were being "washed" away by the amount of water I was giving away LOL. Still I loved that my place was unique and that I had built a family atmosphere. You didn't need to spend any money in my place or even get certified by me and still you were welcome. One of my REPS for U.S. Diver's was visiting once and watched as I took over an hour explaining the difference between masks to a customer and they didn't purchase it that day. When the customer left the REP said I hate those "cockroaches", people that EAT up your time and buy nothing. I hated that he had said that. Then the internet came full force, it was 1997 and I noticed more and more people were coming in to try stuff on, ask my professional opinion and take up hours of my time and buy nothing but show up the following weekend for my FREE guided dives in all new gear, the same gear they had tried on, Then they would brag at how they ordered it online and saved so much and got free shipping. It broke my heart but I knew if people didn't support me, a small business I was going to be eaten alive. I closed up the following year after 7 years. I had managed a shop since 1988 and bought them out in 1991. I was so brokenhearted, but knew it was what I had to do. I felt robbed by the BIG stores in NYC that were buying gear in amounts I couldn't begin to touch. Since they bought in such quantity, they were selling it for what I was buying it for, All the scuba companies didn't care, sell to whomever will buy. I lost faith in humanity. Then in 2007 I got a gift...leukemia. YUP...A HUGE GIFT. My faith in humanity was restored and my views of the world began to change. As Kris Carr once said when asked by Oprah why her cancer was a gift, she responded by saying "because it allows you to pull a dumpster up to your life and get rid of all the crap". I had been saying to everyone while in the hospital 6 weeks on a bone marrow wing that my cancer was a gift, I embraced it as I knew it was changing me. I called it a GIFT long before I had ever heard Kris say that. The way she explained it, was spot on. I should be dead, yet I am not. Those candles in target will wain away eventually, and P&J will still be going strong and so will Pollen Arts. Those candles at Target are a FAD for them (and ugly at that), They don't look like yours and I am sure they do not smell like your's. THEY ARE UGLY. I do not feed into the BLACK FRIDAY and I myself am so fed up with all the commercialism everywhere. I could go on and on...

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  10. One last thing...and I won't do this without your permission. I would like to print out copies of your candle pics and go to Target and post them on the shelves under these candles and have my paper say something like...buy from the original creators of these candles, MADE IN THE USA, from all natural real BEES WAX...support the real artists that created this idea POLLEN ARTS...if every one of us did this in the Target's near us, I bet it would make the news...leave it to your fans to do, as I am not sure it would be LEGAL for you guys to do it. This "burns" me up, no pun intended.

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    1. SMWVIRGO .. thanks for contributing !! Your heart is in the right place ; ) And what a beautiful view you have on life ! As far as the pictures .. I don't think I could stop you (or anyone else) from speaking up about this in their own way .. free will and all ; )

      loVe, loVe,

      -p&j

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  11. I'm just curious - have you guys written Target about it? This makes me so angry I can't even write straight.

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  12. Your candles look soooo much prettier anyways!

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  13. You can tell just by looking that the quality of your candles far surpasses their wimpy ones. I'm sorry this happened to you. :( Keep your chin up!

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  14. My guess is that Target bought these unawares from a manufacturer, who took your idea and ran with it. This is not the fault of the retailer, but the maker who sold it to them.

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    1. I'd love to believe that, but we've heard three other people on our facebook page with stories of Target ripoffs (including a young girl who was invited to come in and pitch the execs on her designs .. then later found them knocked off by Tgt) so I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt + the sticker up there reads "Target Brands Inc." .... and "Bell Mason" in the exact script as Ball Mason ?? I'm guessing they're aware that Ball is the largest canning company and still very much in operation .. they just seem a little scummy the more I hear about them. It's just the way of the world .. . ; (

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  15. Where can we get your candles. ..etsy? Sorry, I couldn't read entire article...I'm trying to buy home made and American made this year...

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    1. alOha !!

      Good for you ; ) You can get them at http://pollenarts.com .... or, right now, we have a 2nd's sale for 33% off way on the tab up there at the top of the page, "33% Off Stellar 2nd's Sale. Holiday Collection."

      loVe !!
      -p&j

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  16. Your candles are on my wish list for Christmas! Your's look way better than theirs anyway. I'm sorry you are facing this. If I'm going to buy a candle - it's going to be from you!!

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  17. Thanks for putting this out there! It's completely disturbing that large American corporations are stealing the ideas and designs of our American inventors, makers and designers. I recently discovered that the same thing happened to my friends at ModFire....

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203292811982429&set=a.1069873988441.2012016.1273850732&type=1&theater

    Shame on Target!

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