Thursday, February 5, 2009

Is imitation flattering?

Where do original ideas come from? Aren’t all new ideas inspired by something? At Admiral Road we have always prided ourselves on our original blanket designs. There is something very satisfying about putting something out into the world that was never there before you made it. Sure, we’re influenced by external factors: The success of the films ‘March of the Penguins’ and ‘Happy Feet’ led us to consider a penguin-themed blanket. But we’ve always put our own stamp on our ideas.

In the world of mompreneurs, we’ve seen imitation run rampant. You wouldn’t believe the things we’ve seen women do to one another. We ourselves have been imitated by other small businesses more times than I can count. (I know! The cut-throat world of baby blankets – who knew?) Our designs have been imitated. We’ve also had content from our web site knocked off many times. Heck, we’ve had to take legal action against a competitor!

But what happens when a big fish gets into the small pond? We recently learned of mass-market retailer who ripped off a mompreneur friend of ours – a children’s dress design. Same unique fabric, same style, same cut. The mass retailer was selling the dress for one-sixth of her retail price.

Where does the mass retailer get its ideas from? Aren’t there teams of designers sitting around designing new things?

I’ve always been a total cheapskate when it comes to my kids’ bibs. Drooling infants can necessitate a staggering number of bib changes in a single day. Five bibs for $1.99 at Ikea – that’s right up my alley. Not all the Ikea bibs lasted for the third kid, however, so I was thrilled when I recently found the good, wipeable kind at this same dress-design-ripping-off mass retailer (3 for $10!) It wasn’t until I got home and took apart the packaging that one of the bibs caught my eye. It looked…familiar. Why, that reminds me an awful lot of our sheep blanket! The sheep, the grass, the fence – those are the same three elements on our blanket. Now that sheep looks a little different, but the grass is a similar green. And my, the shape of that fence is….

Did a big fish imitate a little fish? Maybe not. But maybe….

You be the judge.

Admiral Road has been making personalized blankets since 2002.

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