The Imitation Game
Please share this post if you believe in supporting Independent Artists, Small Businesses and products that are Ethically Made in USA:
Ahhhhh, well, what can I say? I wish I was writing you with better news … news about rainbows and unicorns and all the things that make the world a happy place. But alas, its a pretty grim day here in the Land of Rocking Eagles. You see, there is this “company” called Lotus Leggings ( I use the term company loosely because “criminals” would much better suffice what they actually are ) that decided that they would steal my artwork to make cheap replicas of my leggings in China. Then, to make matters worse, they had the audacity to market their knockoffs to their 1Million + social media audience (often using my photographs) ... thinking that they are above the law and any realm of human decency.
If you go to their website, you will see that it is riddled with fake/counterfeit merchandise, including 6 of my best selling designs. They are so blatant with their theft that it would be easy to assume that they’ve licensed the use of such iconic figures as DC’s Wonder Woman and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; however I can assure you that that is not the case. If they had the rights to use such artwork, then they wouldn’t have renamed the styles “Amazon Woman” and “Once upon a Time” leggings … and they absolutely have no permission to use my PIRATE GIRL, OCTOPUS, SEAHORSES, TENTACLES, SUGARSKULL or BUTTERFLIES, no matter how they chose to rename them.
Now, I could go on for days about how devastating this whole ordeal has been … about how my heart hit the floor the moment I saw my artwork pinned to the top of their “verified” Facebook page … about how Lotus Leggings immediately deleted every single comment and blocked every person who called them out for stealing from me ( I managed to snap +/- 50 screenshots, btw. click here to see them ) … about how I was able to get the “fake WERKSHOP” removed from their website only to have them immediately file a counter claim against me … about how I spoke to seven different attorneys between California, New York and Beijing and was told repeatedly that any legal action would be incredibly expensive and/or hopeless because “these Chinese counterfeiters are out of your jurisdiction and do not respect USA copyright laws.” …
… but instead, I want to share with you the best advice I was given during my frantic two week search to find legal counsel :
Focus and invest in “Appealing to the court of Public Opinion” … Educate your customers. Let people know what Lotus Leggings is doing and do your best to keep moving forward.
And with that, let me tell you a little about what makes Eagle Rock WERKSHOP® special and what sets us apart from these con-artists:
- All of our leggings are 100% Ethically produced in Los Angeles, CA. Here's a little breakdown of our design/production process:
- We start with only the absolute best Italian performance/triathlon fabric available.
- All of our artwork is 100% original and drawn in-house by myself and/or my graphic artist Harold (he and I make a great team, don'tcha think?) ... and any images we use for our leggings (photo-real, not illustrated) are either our own (or) manipulations of licensed photography.
- We print all of our fabric IN-HOUSE in our Los Angeles design studio ... we literally print every single piece of fabric ourselves!
- Each pair of leggings are sewn locally in Los Angeles using only licensed and transparent contractors who are compliant with ALL California Labor Laws. Literally every single person who has a hand in the creation of our leggings is earning a living wage. We can say with confidence that we are 100% SWEATSHOP FREE! (I also offer Health Insurance for my full-time employees which is a rarity for a business as small as Eagle Rock WERKSHOP®, especially in the apparel industry.)
- After the leggings are sewn, we bring them back to our studio for a rigorous quality control inspection: we truly care and do everything we can to make sure that your leggings get to you in absolute perfect condition - every time.
- We handle all of our own customer service and order fulfillment ... if you ever have a question (or) if anything should go wrong with your order: we are always just a quick email or live chat away.
- We donate a % of proceeds to charity every year. So far, we have made donations to: St Jude Research Center, Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and Mission Blue.
When I started Eagle Rock WERKSHOP®, I was working full time as a Design Director for a Men's Denim Company. Taking on such an intense "passion project" was all consuming. I would work for 8-10 hours during the day, drive an hour to get home and then continue working alone for another 8-10 hours every night. Weekends were my favorite because I was able to dedicate a solid 25-30 hours to WERKSHOP without interruption. It was excessive and resulted in the sacrifice of my entire social life, but I was a one-woman-show determined to turn my dream into a reality. In January of 2013, all of my hard work came to fruition when my initial kickstarter campaign came to a close: funding just over $94K and becoming the second most-successful womenswear campaign to be on the platform at the time of completion.
It took almost a year before I was able to properly move Eagle Rock WERKSHOP® out of my living room and into a legit design studio ... and then another six months before I set up payroll and officially hired my first employee. Now, after three years, Eagle Rock WERKSHOP® has grown into the company that I had always envisioned. It would be a dramatic understatement to say that my heart breaks every time I see an anonymous thief from the other side of the world steal something that I have worked SO hard for.
... and it pains me to have to say that Lotus Leggings is not the only "brand" stealing my artwork. We have found countless other "knock off" sellers on eBay, Amazon, TaoBoa, Alibaba and AliExpress. More often than not, they use my product images on their listings .. other times, they photoshop the product images like the examples below. ('cause it doesn't look weird at all when they face/swap my model, eh?).
The internet has become a dangerous place for consumers. Places like Amazon, eBay and Wal-Mart's third party marketplace have become virtual counterfeit swap-meets. You never really know what you're going to get.
There are absolutely NO Authorized Eagle Rock WERKSHOP® sellers on Amazon (or) eBay. All listings (whether they use my webshop/product images or not) are fake. Here is an example of fake WERKSHOP leggings that we found on Amazon:
The quickest way to spot a "fake" is to look at the waistband - most of the counterfeiters converted my one piece waistband into two. If you look closely at the images above, you can see that they've added a fake side seam on the waistband and airbrushed the one at center back away.
I first learned of "fake" WERKSHOP circulating in China just over a year ago, but didn't want to talk about it because I had just recovered from two serious blows that almost knocked me out of business while I was still operating out of my living room in Eagle Rock (see: A Love Letter to #TEAMWERKSHOP and Business is Business is Business) ... simply put, I didn't want to post another sad blog post. But time has passed and this whole situation is getting completely out of hand. Now that the counterfeit leggings have creeped into the USA market, I figured it was time to let the cat out of the bag.
I sincerely want to thank you for taking the time to read about all the stuff n' things goin' down over here in the Land of Rocking Eagles. While the news at hand is less than awesome, I can promise you that we will continue to move forward with optimism and hope for a brighter tomorrow. We have SO many exciting things on queue for 2017 and beyond and hope you join us for the ride!
And please, feel free to comment below and/or drop us a line anytime. We are always so happy to hear from members of #teamWERKSHOP.
With much love and gratitude,
Chriztina Marie (Tina Z) and the Eagle Rock WERKSHOP® Family (pictured below)
pictured above from right to left: JJ // Customer Service Guru. Alfredo // Production Manager. HUCK! // Fluffy Company Mascot and Best Friend. Me (Tina Z) // Owner/Founder/CEO/Designer, etc. Eric // Miscellaneous Helper Bay // Social Media Guru. Harold // Graphics
September 2019 UPDATE: Eagle Rock WERKSHOP currently sells on Amazon for the same prices available on werkshop.com - There are no other authorized WERKSHOP sellers on Amazon.
Also! Word on how horrible Lotus Leggings is has been spreading around. For more insight, peep this post by our friend Alex over at Schimiggy: https://schimiggy.
♥︎ Much love! Tina Z
disclaimer: the title of this blog, THE IMITATION GAME, was inspired the Academy Award winning movie presented by the Weinstein Company and directed by Morten Tyldum. Such a great movie! - if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend giving it a go. =) xoxoo, T