Small business owners have a deep passion for what they do, and their contributions to their local communities are invaluable. They create a sense of belonging and familiarity in their neighborhoods. Many of these small businesses take all of their time and effort to put into their craft to capitalize and gain a following. In Buffalo, NY (and surrounding areas) there are numerous small businesses that create items for local sports teams and do an incredible job at it. In fact, let's be honest, everyone is creating Bills items and there is enough room to play nice in the sandbox. However, there is a local company that has proven time and time again of stealing designs, harassing, and scamming local businesses. Ultimately, I want to create awareness and instill compassion as livelihoods are at stake. Not everyone will agree, but I have to stick up for myself, my original idea and profits taken. I curated this post to review the receipts, as they are not remorseful and are preying on local small businesses each day.
Most recently they did this to me. Prior to stealing the design, she reached out to me to wholesale the product in January 2023 (proof below). She then used that conversation we had to figure out a way to use my design as her own. I truly pride myself on being authentic and original. It’s a shame that I can produce the receipts to prove that she has not only done this to me but a handful of others. She has developed a script to contact small businesses with a desire to work together. However, in the end that is not the case.
Having a copy-cat lying deceitful business model with no guilt is wildly uncanny. I won't discredit the fact that they did build a successful business, as I did appreciate what they put out for sale. This is until I realized it was all smoke in mirrors; as the items on display were replicas of many local, small businesses. I must also mention that there were no threats made by myself or anyone for that matter when this happened as it is not that serious.
For better understanding I want to try and lay out a timeline. Below is the initial contact in January 2023, or as I like to call it the script! She uses this same "partnership" method to reel in the small businesses. The second photo is the time stamp, June 2022, is of my final product design. The third, is the launch November 2023 of their stolen, low-quality edition in which she turned off all commenting because she could not handle the truth. She knew what she was doing having JA's innocent mom in the video; I am sure she would not be impressed hearing the truth.
In school, we were told that copying is a form a flattery. I tried to think of it that way initially, but then the stories piled up. My inbox was flooded with small businesses telling their truths about their awful interactions with this company. The greed, reoccurring lies, and malicious behavior made me frustrated that this team is constantly getting away with trying to destroy other brands. Below are examples of them trolling and playing the victim.
Buffalo is known as the city of good neighbors, and I believe this is true in most cases. This brought many small reputable and hard-working businesses closer because we had one common issue: this company. These are just a few of the messages I received revealing similar interactions and proven distaste. The first screenshot is truly heartbreaking.
There is another recent example of dirty business conducted by this company that I need to bring to light. An upstanding small business, who upcycles gameday fits, unfortunately decided to partner with the company and sell her reworked items in their store. The company then took her original items to an overseas manufacturer to mass produced them and now pawn them off as their own.
I love and support my community and the many small businesses! Tampering with someone’s livelihood and original ideas is heartless and conniving. Sure, there are red, white and blue coats out there, however not like mine in this area. Quick side story, an overseas website was selling the coat I designed, even with the photo I took in my house on my carpet. A woman reached out to me upset and sent the photo of this imposter. Photo 1 is from my Etsy Shop, photo 2 is an overseas website, and the last photo is the product received after purchasing from that site.
Understanding what a business needs to be successful is something all small businesses think about yet may differ from person to person. Relationships, honesty and a reputable product is what I pride not only my small business on, but my everyday life. I am not in the business to take down another company, but I am creating awareness, and maybe one will take responsibility for their actions. Buffalo is a small community and we have to look out for each other.
Whether it's a local boutique or a cupcake bakery on the corner, these businesses rely on the loyalty of customers to keep their doors open. The support I have received for standing up for myself and others is overwhelming. At the end of the day, I will continue to work harder and block out the negativity as karma will prevail.