Sunday, 23 February 2014

Plagiarism Begins at Home

Looking at the amount of copying that goes on with big companies these days got me thinking, the most recent being Louise Verity of Bookishly and M&S. I met Louise at a trade fair a few years back I remember the buzz around her work and I also remember seeing very similar prints to hers not long after at small fairs and markets. For a start, if its the copy seen and taken to the high street they might think its ok because its not someones living its a hobby.

The in-house designers presumably think that they can get away with taking an image from someone hidden on Etsy or a similar market place and they’ll never be found out meanwhile the bosses at the top would have no idea that any theft has gone on. Groups like ACID are there to protect the little people but what about the markets and groups out there. How many times have you been to a market and seen really REALLY similar designs or items? Surely the organisers have an obligation to step in?

I realise how hard it must be, I can see how close knit designer maker groups are but if you’re not going to fight for what’s right then how can you expect the big boys to play fair? I ran a couple of markets and if I had seen something similar and to the same audience, I would at least say something and depending on the case ask them to leave. How many times have we been to fairs and markets and said "oh that looks like.... " it might well be that that person was copied but if they were asked they could tell you and you could say something about it. Why do we leave it till it reaches the high street?! I've had similar things to mine on the high street I know exactly what happened but it does't bother me anywhere near as much as when someone on the same level does it.

I’m a huge fan of designer maker groups don’t get me wrong, but I do think that whoever the organisers are have a right to step in when they see a member copy or at a market – they should either ask for the items to be removed or for the maker to leave; if you don't you quite honestly are worse than the big companies because the ones that make the decisions have no idea what's going on. 

If you can’t look after each other, I can’t see how you expect anyone else to. 

Large companies, why can't you give people jobs that have ideas there are lots of us that have ideas oozing out of every blinking pore and have no brain space to even look at other peoples work. 

As for sellers, well if you can't come up with your own ideas you are just sales people not designers not artists I don't fall into that bracket that much I know.

Some of you might know that this is close to my heart and life traumatising and no that's not an exaggeration - theft of an idea is theft. I wrote this post well over a year ago and never posted it because I didn't want to upset people that I love to bits that run markets but when your life and child are affected then honestly I can't care if honesty upsets. 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hogwarts and all.

I'm not a mad Harry Potter fan at all, I read the books seen the films but couldn't tell you one Death Eater from another and yet really wanted to go to the Warner Studios tour in Watford.

It just so happened that we've been reading Toby the first couple of books and he's getting slightly obsessed by the world of Potter. So for my birthday yesterday we got to go. I was a bit 'crikey that's expensive' when we ordered them £30 for adults and £22 for kids and in my head I had an idea of what it would be like. Our time slot was 4pm so I figured 2 hours and we'll be home before 8pm - nope. If you do go the train to Watford Junction and bus is so so easy and does get you in the mood for it. I think you start getting the picture when you arrive and see the size of the place but I was still sure we'd be home by 8.

We must have got that at 2.30 so spent lots of time in the shop before, pretty much there's the shop (which has heaps) and the not overly exciting cafe you then start queuing about 10 mins before your time slot. Really well done in terms of keeping the long line of Potter obsessives happy and occupied so it didn't feel long. It was nothing like I'd imagined - and well worth every penny. I assumed it was going to be a guided tour around sets etc - nope. I really could see why it was worth it even if you had no clue about the films - from a design/art view it was amazing. The props, sets and costume inspired me no end - if you had no idea what went into making a film of this sort then this is an eye opener. Far from exposing the wands and showing you the reality it only made the series more magical.

yes, Butterbeer... an odd Tizer kinda drink with a vanilla cream topping... although I did like it.

Be afraid...

The card models and drawings were just breathtaking

ah yes, the shop....

that be the great hall


more props!!

Scabbers! it was animal actors week so dotted around were some of the furry faces

Wand combat!

"Toby do you want your photo taken with Hedwig?" - yes
"Hedwig do you want your photo taken with Toby?"- I've never seen an owl shake his head so much (hence the laughing from Toby)

Would I recommend the tour - oh yeah!
  • If you do go I would say get as early a slot as you can... what time did we finish? 8.30pm in the end and got home at 10. 
  • When you go through to the holding room head at the end are three doors that go to the next bit - aim for the one on the far left which takes you to the front row of the screen room so first to go to the Great Hall. 
  • The green screen photos/videos are worth doing even if you don't end up in buying them.
  • Toby really enjoyed doing the wand combat bit so worth a bit of a queue.
  • We missed bits in the first stage because we went out and onto the next then didn't go back so do it all before you go outside for the Butterbeer and Privet Drive photo.
  • Really spend time looking at the pre drawings and artwork in the next stage - just incredible.
  • You will probably want a wand by the time you leave and enter the shop. After doing lots of wand window shopping the ones they have are better for the price £25 (heck keep the box and ebay it once they're done) 
  • The uniform cardigans and jumpers are cheaper in Harrods Harry Potter shop and are the same (£69 there £34 in Harrods) but everything else was exclusive to the WBS so if you want it get it because you can't else where .... well apart from ebay!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Brit-on, Brit-off?

Well after many ramblings with other makers, manufacturers and buyers I'm none the wiser. All Tobyboo products are made in the UK and I think I go on about it enough but what customers aren't aware of is that some products are 'finished' in the UK for example a china mug could be imported but be decorated here, or textile items could just have final touches put on. All fine if the customer knows and can weigh up the cost because with most items it will be more expensive if it's made  fully over here.

But, does it matter to the customer anymore? Do people really care about the origins or just want the cheapest option? I went up to see my potters in Stoke with Caroline from the marvellous Design Mould who also uses UK made pieces and neither of us can compete price wise with imported/UK decorated products. I can only jabber what I think which is I grew up with British made good around me and took it for granted I'd visualise factories (mainly 'up norf'). When the news that Kinky Knickers went into administration my heart sank - the idea of factories reopening and jobs being created for skilled persons over here was suddenly a dream again. I started using companies in this country not only because I felt it important to support local trade but practically it was easier - to go and see where they're made and meet directly who's working with you; then the carrot is dangled because they could get imported pieces and in an almost secret way you could convince yourself it was all done here for a fraction of the price. I didn't go for the carrot - to see places that had thriving industries broken made me want to support local trade even more.... I'm rambling again - the point is - does the consumer care? 

When you pick up a piece and you see UK or Britain somewhere on the tag does it influence buying and if so do you read it fully? I was at the V&A shop yesterday and found myself reading every blinkin' tag. I think even if 99% said they didn't care where it was made it wouldn't affect my decision, I'd still opt for UK made - but would effect sales. UK made products pretty much will always be more expensive but 9 times out of 10 better I salute brands like Cabbages and Roses I treasure pieces from them, and it's a lovely guilt-free feeling wearing something you know wasn't made in a sweatshop! Maybe it's just me that can't touch Primark out of principle - I tried it once - peer pressure n all "go on, there's some good stuff in there imagine the savings" well it ended up in the charity shop. And trust me money is an issue - I don't have it, my brain thinks I do so yes I should think cheaper but there's always a but.....? 

So, does anyone really care? anyone? The effort Mary Portas & co put into driving enthusiasm back into localism only to have it thrown back in her face was hideous. We're a strange patriotic (but only when we feel like it) kinda country - if anyone's read the Lorax.... the Once-ler springs to mind.


Hoorah and just because it's my birthday week and too many new things are happening in the world of Tobyboo pretty much EVERYTHING is on sale!
Grab them now folks, when they're gone they're gone!


Monday, 10 February 2014