Well, Amigas, I have to say that the past week has been full. Full of work, anticipation, activities, stress, concern, disbelief and outrage. Some of this was related to my daughter's last days of classes and our excitement that summer has arrived with new opportunities. The stress was mostly mine - worry over how to keep my kids busy and enriched. But I am looking forward to some of the neat ideas we have had (more in a later post.)
Unfortunately, the latter emotions in the above list revolve around one of my friends and a colleague in the Latin baby business world.
I have been in the business of designer children's wear for Hispanic families for about three and a half years now. Those of us who are forging a path through this relatively untapped market know each other or are, at least, aware of each other's existence and are familiar with their products. I like to think that most of us are willing to collaborate and help each other out from time to time, and I have worked together with many of my fellow business women. And I am happy to say that I am even pretty good friends with one in particular.
Carrie Ferguson Weir is the co-owner of Los Pollitos Dicen (The Little Chicks Say), a beautiful designer line of children's T-shirts. Her line is based on the Latino nursery rhyme of the same name and perfectly captures the essence of Hispanic childhood with its adorable designs. Carrie and Oscar, who also started their line about three years ago, have worked tremendously hard to create a high-quality and ORIGINAL product that is a big hit with Latino families. In fact, I am hoping to carry LPD in my boutique this summer.
We chat or email weekly (at least) and have even collaborated on a few projects. I am extremely fond of Carrie and I respect her greatly because I know the struggles and challenges she goes through as an entrepreneurial mom. I was not surprised when she wrote to tell me of another line of baby tees that has suddenly appeared on the market. However, I was completely aghast when I saw the products, because, with the exception of a few minor details, they look exactly like LPD. From a distance, the colors and even the design appear to be the same. Upon closer examination, however, the similarities and differences are obvious. The artwork is not on the same level, and instead of little chicks, the theme is some other type of baby bird. But a few of the designs are remarkably similar to LPD's. Even the font is the same (Seriously, sister, even the font??)
The other crazy thing is that Carrie finds out about this copycat from the other vendors and visitors at the Cuba Nostalgia in Miami. Within a matter of hours, she is getting text messages, emails and calls of alarm. Friends and customers wanting to express their outrage and warning LPD about the imposter. The past two years, Carrie has set up a booth at Cuba Nostalgia, but decided not to this year. Does she regret it? Probably!
Now, I don't know about you, but I would certainly be embarrassed to death if the whole world knew I had copied someone else's idea - que vergüenza! -even if it was accidental. And this was no accident. From various reports, the owner seemed completely aware of LPD and showed no remorse or embarassment. But who on earth would steal someone's idea and then set up a booth at THE SAME festival?!?
Only a quackpot.
They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery (which is what I told Carrie), but this whole thing makes me really sad because I so strongly believe in supporting other female entrepreneurs - especially Latinas. I try not to worry too much about other Spanish baby businesses that seem to be popping up out of the woodwork lately. It's a huge country with hundreds of thousands of Latinos in it. I don't expect to corner the market or monopolize the country with my fantastico line of baby products (although it is magnifico!), and I doubt they will either. However, I do expect all the players to ethically play the game and respect each other's ideas and hard work. Am I being unreasonable?
So don't be scammed, Amigas! And if you want to show your support or are simply looking for an ORIGINAL piece of quality, designer's children's wear, visit Los Pollitos Dicen here. Or you can wait and buy some of their great products from Latin Baby later this summer (wink!)
Hopefully, this will be my one and only negative posting on Mi Cielito Lindo - though certainly well deserved.
Un abrazo fuerte a todos --- and have a great Memorial Day!