When I was in wedding planning mode for myself and was trying to find something amazing for Greta to wear in our wedding photos, I stumbled upon Hello Hazel Co. Note: They are featured first in my blog post FURawst Yourselves AND Your Pets because I am so confident in the quality and craftsmanship of the products, similarly refining a niche for weddings and pets. Hello Hazel Co. also makes pet gear for other big life moments (i.e. “Big Sis” or “Big Bro” bandanas when the pawrents are expecting their first human child).
I knew when I started WedPets, I would have to feature Hello Hazel Co.’s pet gear. And of course, as a small business womentrepreneur with obviously similar passions, I would need to credit Hello Hazel Co. when my dog is featured in photos wearing her I DO TOO bandana! It’s a two-fold marketing move – I can attach my brand to hers in small ways. Her followers can potentially tap in to my business, and then any followers of mine can tap into hers. So it’s free advertising. I also reached out and asked Michelle (the designer – who is incredibly humble and kind) for express permission first just to make sure. I also got the opportunity to explain how I had scoured the internet for my wedding and then double-scoured for my business, and I knew that her products were hands-down the best in the biz. Whether it was her experience and years in the game, or her SEO skills, or her exclusivity, it was obvious within my research efforts that her label stood out from any others. I’m drawn to the look, but when you receive one for yourself (er, your dog), you know it’s made with quality materials and love. It doesn’t look homemade and it doesn’t look mass produced. The custom bandanas are special and unique and perfect.
But then something really weird happened just last week. Something that would be a total nightmare for a small business owner. Whether or not you know the ins and outs of becoming one, you can imagine that you wouldn’t want to ever steal someone else’s business model or intellectual property (or even be accused of it!), and you certainly wouldn’t want anyone to steal yours! The latter is what happened to Michelle. You can find her blog post and explanation about it here.
Michelle writes that she was furious, confused, and shocked. She decided to courageously write them. She expressed how she has been in the business since 2013, and she did her research to know that she wasn’t copying anyone else’s idea. The product, the look, and the words made for a rougher version of a Hello Hazel Co. original. What David’s Bridal posted on Instagram (which I saw with my own eyes due to it being a sponsored ad; and given my own search trends, it showed up in my personal and business account feed), I knew it was a clone of Michelle’s. Turns out, David’s Bridal was very apologetic to Michelle and seemed genuinely surprised by the accusation. They had outsourced and hadn’t done their research. Whoever was making the David’s Bridal bandanas tried to run with Michelle’s brain child, calling it their own for profit; and they needed to be stopped. That’s not okay. However, David’s Bridal did the right thing and that also deserves acknowledgment.
This is a big win for small business. The products that resemble Hello Hazel Co.’s have been removed from David Bridal’s website. Small businesses matter and we have to support each other! This happens more than it should, and we need to protect ourselves.
Collaboration > Competition.
Support small businesses.
Support each other.