Being an entrepreneur and doing what you love is exciting. But what if your passion, hard work and originality is constantly being imitated and stealing your business?
Well that is currently one of the issues popular Black jewelry designer, Rachel Stewart, is facing that is ultimately trying to put her out of business.
The North Carolina designer started Rachel Stewart Jewelry after being laid off of a job and wanted to find a means of supporting her family that she was more in control of.
She has now been creating original beautiful afrocentric pieces and selling them on her online shop for almost 8 years.
Her jewelry has spread like wildfire and has been featured in JET magazine as well as Essence and has been worn by Kim Coles, Nelly Furtado and Beyoncé’s all-female band, the Suga Mamas.
Unfortunately, e-commerce sites such as Alibaba and Aliexpress have gotten ahold of them as well. They are imitating her designs and selling them as their own. They’ve even gone so far as to taking the product images of the jewelry and models from her site and using them as well. I mean come on. Where’s the originality?!
Stewart gave an exclusive interview to The Root sharing her frustrations of her jewelry line being knocked off and how it is affecting her business. She stated that she was informed about the copied products and contacted the seller who then promised to take down the product if Stewart wouldn’t take any legal action against her. Only to find that days later she opened a separate shop with the copied designs posted again.
Although lawyers have offered legal help, pro-bono, Stewart struggles with the decision to pursue legally. There’s a lot of frustruations that come with it. “For every shop you successfully take down, there are five more still operating. It’s an almost impossible task”, said Stewart when asked about actions that can be taken.
She believes she may have to close her online shop eventually due to the fraudulent attack on her company, which is unfortunate.
Despite the unethical decisions of these companies, it is important to remember that we also have an obligation as consumers to support these hard working black owned businesses.
Remember that a lot of hard work goes into being original. Be mindful of what you are purchasing and from whom. You may be getting a “good deal” but at the expense of someone else.