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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Someone is Selling My Handmade Jewelry, Etsy Digital Downloads… Instant Tutorials, Yay! Also Minimalist Mountain Scene Necklaces

Misc Biz Info

I just updated my Etsy tutorials so customers get instant download (without having to wait for me to email them the file). This is a great feature, Etsy. Thank you! If you want info on it, click here.

Twice in the past week, I ran across someone on a forum bringing up the subject of their handcrafted jewelry being resold by a previous customer.

There are many scenarios this can take:
A) Previous customer needs cash so has to sell off some of their personal collection
B) Previous/current customer buys things from you and sells them to others
1) Mentioning that you made them
2) Not mentioning anything about who made them
3) Saying she/he made them her/himself
C) Someone uses your photos to “sell” items online. When they get a sale, they purchase your item and ship it immediately to THEIR customer (or they have you unwittingly drop-ship to their customer).

In scenario “C”, I see two things wrong. First, if he/she is selling your items for a profit, you aren’t charging enough to begin with. And second, this person is using your photos without your permission. That’s about it. On some selling sites, they may be breaking TOS (terms of service) by not actually having the product in the listing in their actual possession.

In scenario “A”, I don’t see much harm. Sometimes we have to part with things we love because we have unexpected bills. I just feel badly for the customer who has to sell off her collection/items.

In scenario “B1”, it’s cool that she/he mentions who made the pieces, but if she’s making money off of your jewelry, YOU AREN’T CHARGING ENOUGH.

In scenario “B2”, it’s her/his prerogative to give credit to the original maker of the jewelry. I really don’t take offense to someone reselling my jewelry and not mentioning that Laura Bracken made it. But again, this is a sign that I’M NOT CHARGING ENOUGH.

At this point, if the piece is selling for more and NOT being attached to an artist’s name, then you know for sure the sale price has nothing to do with brand. At this point it’s just about the materials and the design. And if she/he’s getting more than you did (with NO NAME attached as the maker), then YOU could have been getting those prices too. The only “unless” I’m going to use here is: unless you sold it when silver was $5 an ounce and silver is now $30 an ounce, etc. In that kind of case, yes, materials can appreciate in value over time without an artist’s name being involved.

In scenario “B3”, we have some uncoolness. People should not be selling other people’s work and saying it’s theirs. We still have the other factor, though… you’re not charging enough for your jewelry.

So here’s how I see it…

1) I’m not going to worry about people reselling my jewelry, other than to take note if they’re consistently making more than I am. At which point I need to rethink my pricing calculations.

2) If someone uses my photos without permission, I’m going to try to go legal on their ass (as much as I can without stupid expenditures, because at the end of the day I must choose my battles).

3) If someone sells my jewelry saying THEY made the pieces, I will probably do the same thing I did in #2.

How can I prevent most of these scenarios?

1) Price well.
2) Watermark online photos (I don’t do this because I’m not overly concerned about it at the moment)
3) Stamp my pieces with a maker’s mark.

These aren’t iron-clad solutions. They’re just things that you can try in order to prevent some of the scenarios you might not like.

The most important thing, though, to avoid having others selling your jewelry for more than you sold it for is for you to sell it for “the right price” in the first place.

The right price is a mythical creature, though, so you will have to make your pricing decisions based on factors that are important TO YOU and go from there. In other words, some people figure their own labor at $10/hr while others figure in $50/hr. Some people want a hobby and others what a profitable business.

Get serious about knowing what your skill level is by knowing your market inside and out. Always know your materials’ cost. And value your time and expertise.

Most of you already know I sell a pricing calculator (still only available for those with Excel… works on PC’s better than on Macs). I’m giving you my Etsy link because of the instant download thing.

I use my calculator on everything I make. But (as stated in the Excel file), I take into account things like not counting all the hours when I’m learning a new technique, changing my hourly wage based on if I did the work or if I subbed it out, etc.

I often have people say to me both:
“Why is this so expensive?”
“Your prices are too low!”

Only I know how long it took me to make something. Some of my items are experimental, some are like production work, some take weeks to finish, some required me to take expensive classes, etc. There are lots of factors that others don’t always know about in regards to what we make. I usually just smile and say, “Mm.”

Anyway, I’m sure any one of us could write a book on the subject, so I’ll get off my opinionated soapbox now.

Thanks for listening!

The Results

Here are three minimalist (you KNOW that’s one of my favorites) necklaces. Two in bronze and steel, the other in copper and steel. They’re stylized mountain scenes.

You can click on any jewelry photo to see if the piece is still available. To see everything that is currently available, click here.



  1. I must say that I agree with everything you said, Laura. And you said it well — very clear.

  2. Couldn't agree more about the price factor. Too many people are listing what probably *should* be their wholesale prices as retail.

    But as to the others: I totally agree with you on A1 - that customer bought directly from the maker, presumably at the asking price. For the purposes of this discussion, I'm also assuming their expectation was that the piece was sold to them as a personal item - NOT a resale item (wholesale) Once they take it home, the design is yours, but the physical item is theirs - they can resell the item to another party. In this private situation, it is pretty likely that the owner will be more than happy to mention the maker as incentive to a sale.

    But here is where this gets sticky - the maker does have the right to control the particulars of distribution before a sale - meaning that the item is not only physical, but intellectual property. Some states require people to state that they are resellers for that express reason. I have been advised that it is *not necessarily* a reseller's 'prerogative' to give credit or not - that is a contractual item to be decided at the time of sale.
    The method of distribution has direct affect on the maker's business - especially if their name is no longer attached to it. A whole lot of wholesale contracts carry the requirement of original labeling- The maker is licensing the buyer to distribute. (for argument's sake, let's assume that in B1, this was worked out contractually. - if so - YAY!!! Now go raise your prices...:-) )
    So displaying one's name after the sale needs to be worked out beforehand. This means that it is *at least* an ethical gray area and maybe a legal one to buy with intent to resell, but to fail to divulge that intent.

    So given the above, I am not much caring for B2 for a couple of reasons. Unless the maker granted the reseller license to remove their name, this seems like an attempt to pass off the work as theirs through a 'sin of omission' if you will. If their resale business name has the words 'originals' or 'designs' in it, as in 'Sally Mae's Originals' they are essentially guilty of B3. So B2 and B3 are essentially the same to me. Both of them are, to put it mildly, 'uncool'.

    I'm certainly not a lawyer, just parroting back my understanding of what mine said. Take it as you will. :-)
    I can see your main point, though. Let's go raise our prices! LOL :-)

  3. Agree with everything you have said. I have not had anyone (that I know of) try to resell my jewelry. I have started watermarking my pics though because I have found my pictures being used on other sites. Not that I really mind this, but I figure the watermark is an indirect means of linking back to me.
    Thanks for the post!

  4. Great Post Laura! Thanx! =)
    The Controversy of People Telling you that you should Up your Prices, but at the same Time People Telling you that you're too Expensive is always Food for Thought.
    I Think it's very Important for Artists to not Undervalue their Work, though at the same Time, not to Overvalue their Work. In Jewelry (as in any Art) it's always about Emotion, when you Evoke Emotion in a Customer: there's usually a Sale. =) Mx

  5. It is always best to water mark your pictures so that you can identify that it is your property. There are people who steal pictures and sadly for others they steal and even scam on people with the pictures of your items and that is scary. It might ruin your integrity as a seller too. Moreover, if you have resellers for your item, you can be clear to them that they can't use your pictures if you don't like. They can just take their own photos instead. -www.itevia.com

  6. This has been a dilemma since time in memorial, and not only with jewelry or with Etsy - trying to balance a fair and affordable selling price that will have your product sell and at the same time satisfy a reseller is not an easy thing to achieve.

    The key is to ensure the first one is as it should be and then make a firm decision on what is the lowest price you will accept for your item and that is your wholesale price - do not budge from either of these.

  7. People should not do that. It is not fair to original artist.


  8. I guess selling jewelries and claimed that it’s their design, that’s really not good. The attention of the “reseller” should be called. It is not right to claim something that is not really your own. It is somewhat similar to stealing, right?