Fashion mega-giant Shein stole my artwork, I'm going to blog the whole thing, so you can see what happens when massive retail giants worth billions of dollars steals from Independent artists.
I hope I win, I really like Nigel the frog, and he definitely doesn't want to hang out on Shein's website.
In fact, I really don't want to be associated with them at all, a quick Google of their name brings up hundreds of articles talking about sweatshops and manufacturing processes that damage the environment.
If you know Sugar & Sloth you know that all our clothing is manufactured with strict environmental guidelines, sweatshop-free and certified Vegan.
Day 1 - Oh no, Nigel!
A little bit of a sick feeling crept over me when I saw the message,
"Did you know your work is on Shein?".
Oh lord, hoping it was a mistake, I clicked on the link, and saw one of my oldest pals, Nigel the Frog grinning at me under the Shein logo.
"Nigel, what have they done to you?"
Actually, they hadn't done anything to Nigel, they'd not even bothered to change a single detail. Shein had just lifted his image and plonked it on their website.
I could certainly charge a lot less for my work if I just copied and pasted from Google images.
Instead, I spend hours creating new and fresh designs, drawn by hand then recreated digitally using Adobe Illustrator. All my art is produced in small batches and quality-checked within an inch of its life.
My phone buzzed a lot more that day, the Shein sticker must be popular as it was being shared around social media, which lead to more messages, and a lot of people thinking I was even working with Shein.
"Oh wow, I saw your work on Shein, Congratulations!"
Eeek, no, I would never work with a company that has such shady practices as Shein. Please don't associate Sugar & Sloth with them!
Sadly this ain't my first rodeo, and Sugar & Sloth has had quite a few instances of copyright infringement. Up until now it's been much smaller companies, we shoot off a Cease and Desist, chase the compensation, and that would be the end of it.
But something stopped me trotting out the standard letter, this was a billion-dollar company, with, no doubt, a huge swanky legal department. I had to not get this wrong, one wrong move and I could lose Nigel forever.
So I stayed calm (ok, I didn't, but you weren't there - you don't know). And contacted a solicitor to make sure our Cease and Desist letter was bulletproof.
Day 2 - Battle with the Bots
Sadly solicitors take time, AND it was the weekend.
I could see there were already hundreds of reviews on Nigel, and he was selling fast, so I decided to reach out to Shein to see if they would act like decent human beings and remove the artwork.
At first I tried their website and found a lonely little email address hidden away. I popped off an email, and oh no - got an auto-reply back telling me not to email then again.
Instead my options were online chat (currently not working) or creating a ticket, for which I need an order number (haha job on Shein).
Next I tried to reach out via Social Media.
Reaching out via Social Media did not go well...
Day 3 - I'm not alone, that sucks.
Research day, I decided to do some digging into Shein as I still needed a way to contact them when my solicitor was finished.
And woah, I didn't actually need to 'dig' at all, just typing Shein and Art Theft into Google brought up HUNDREDS of small businesses like me, that had been blatantly ripped off my Shein.
Were there any happy endings? That's a bit harder to find, and that's when I decided to document the whole journey for everyone to see, right here.
Day 4 - I'm not alone, that sucks.
Hurrah, I have a cease and desist letter, approved by a solicitor!
Currently, I have spent more in legal fees than I've ever earned from Nigel, but I am stubborn AF. I have also read about artists that did nothing, and then the Shein version of the design was soon copied by others, as well as bought and resold by other companies, so I see it can quickly get out of hand if we let it slide.
I can also see the product reviews on Shein going up day by day, which is my only way to gauge how much he is selling.
And the majority of purchases do not result in a review at all, so there are probably heaps more sales. Don't worry Nigel, I'm coming!
I was also able to find an email address, not via Shein, but posted on a Reddit forum about Shein's history with art theft.
Of course, it makes sense they would need a dedicated email address for all their Art Theft LOL.
I sent the letter!
Ok, this is quickly turning into the world's longest blog post, so find part 2 here.