On Copycats

on copy cats

Earlier today, I opened a package that entailed a product sample of our biggest and most blatant Tattly copycat. Seeing them online is one thing, holding the actual product in my hands, another. After a rollercoaster ride of emotions, I arrived at the sentiment expressed in the above animated gif. Team Tattly on the left. Copycat on the right.

Yup, we are better dancers.

44 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Miss Tattly,
    I’m a long-time fan…, but I’m actually sort of bummed with the amount of Tattly “ad-posts” that are showing up lately. I’m just sayin.

  2. Noted. I am sorry you feel like that Courtney.

  3. I love your attitude. You’re the best, Tina. Especially because while they’re still figuring out what to do with their Not-Tattlys, you’ll already be knee-deep in the next home run idea.

    Keep on keeping on.

  4. I know they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but there can be no match for Tattly! The new makers tattoo is incredible.

  5. Just to counter-balance Courtney’s comment, I have to say I feel the opposite – I’m quite happy seeing them. It’s nice to see what’s available.

  6. Tina, you don’t even have to bother yourself with the “others”. Tattly is hot and you know it.

    So. Just. Keep. Making.

  7. Thanks so much Ryan! So glad to hear that!

  8. i love seeing your creative genius mixed in with all the other wonderful things you share. keep it coming.

  9. As a longtime fan of Tattly and this blog, it saddens me to see imitators. I was at a childrenswear trade show in New York last month and they were giving away temporary tattoos by a company with a somewhat similar name and a design that seemed to be “inspired” by Tattly. I meant to let you know about it, actually! Anyway, keep up the dancing … you are a talented brand-builder!

  10. agree completely with Mom101. Your talents lie in innovative and forward-thinking creativity… it’s distracting and energy-sucking to be concerned about who’s following you, there will always be someone back there in the dust. And also: think how pitiful these people’s lives are; how can they possibly feel good about taking any of their copycat $ to the bank?? lucky to not have to live in their skin!

  11. ugh, I’m so sorry, Tina.

    a little bit ago you had a quote on here that I wrote down and taped to my computer screen because I need to tell it to myself over and over.


    don’t know if that works, but it was, “If my idea isn’t worth copying, then it’s not a very good idea.” – Nathan Kontny.

    chin up! they can’t steal your innovation and drive!

  12. Welcome to success. This is the first sign of a successful company: others are starting to copy your business model.

    My recommendation would be if they are blatantly coping the designs sold by your company get a lawyer and send some seise and desist letters.

    If they are just selling a similar product I think your in a better position to outsell them. Get some high profile designers that the generally public knows or get some celebrity endorsed designs out. From my experience it’s better to differentiate yourself from the competition through brand value than trying to compete to the lowest common denominator.

    Look at American Apparel. There are plenty of cheap knock off companies in China that are trying to replicate their success. Yet there will only be one American Apparel. The thing is people that buy the copy / knock off weren’t probably going to buy from you in first place.

  13. Sorry to hear that your idea is being ripped off. The price of success, I guess.

    Also, I personally enjoy your tattly posts. They always make me smile. Onwards.

  14. Tattly is aewsome!

  15. To Courtney, I’d point out that you can use the category filters so that you need never see another tattly post. It’s a little clunky (select everything else) but do-able.

    To Tina, rock on!

  16. I will accept no imitations. Your post was something I can relate to. I’m a photographer and there is someone blatantly trying to imitate my vision and my writing. Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery. It’s downright creepy. Thanks for being my favorite blog.

  17. >tom…agreed! but remember, american apparel rips off EVERYBODY! they do not have “original” design anywhere, and their product is poorly made w no life span. my point is people will believe what you tell/show them, unless they have time to be critical thinkers, which is uncommon regarding most people when they are buying t-shirts. that is all american apparel is…t-shirts sold via sex. maybe their advertising is provocative, but it is the only “original” thing about the company.(in comparison to other t-shirt co.’s (in america))

    re:tattly…protect your creativity/get a lawyer.

  18. I have been a long time reader of your blog and have loved it. But it just seems lately you have been very boastful about yourself and your products. Yes, it’s great to self promote, but you should also have a humbleness that I feel you used to have. I feel this post was unnecessary. It’s like your fishing for compliments or validation.

  19. I don’t think you are over-promoting yourself at all. I stop following blogs where I feel the only content is advertisement and I haven’t once been tempted to stop reading your blog. I enjoy it very much.

    I love the cute and graceful way you expressed your feelings about your competitor. It made me laugh. And I agree with those who say not to worry. It seems that if you are successful you WILL have imitators. But no one else can be you and if the copy too closely you can look into legal recourse. Have a great day.

  20. don’t know about others but i am curious at who the imitator is. A quick googling has yielding nothing. Not always the case, but competition can make you better.

    This is going to just venture in to personal opinion here. I have a bunch of tattlys from the HOW conference last year, and although they are fun, I can’t really see buying them otherwise. Maybe I am not in the right hip, designery crowd in the midwest, and to me they are priced out a little higher then something that last a couple days. Not going to lie and say you don’t have some great graphics, but yeah, just doesn’t work for me.

    In the end though, if the competitor seems to be making waves, make waves back. The “ORIGINAL” tattly sale and blow them out of the water. You have the designers and artists backing the brand and the market share.

  21. Tina,
    You’ve got the goods. No worries! Something like this is a gentle push to do even more amazing work. Your audience will not abandon you. Good luck–onward and upward!

  22. Tina.
    Thanks for the great blog.
    Do you think it’s wrong for them to imitate? If so, why? Isn’t Tattly a (very good) derivative of the temporary tattoos I used as a kid? Aren’t temporary tattoos derivatives of permanent tattoos, as well as various ancient body decorating traditions from around the world (India comes to mind in particular)? Aren’t many Tattly images inspired from other well known cultural images?

  23. Also, it’s interesting that for your copycat analogy, you used another person’s (I assume) animated gif, which is copied from a popular TV series, which was based on a popular cartoon.

  24. As one wise person once told me, once your stuff has been copied, “You know you’ve made it.” Doesn’t make it not suck, though. If the stuff is being imported, you can file your copyrights with US Customs and Border Protection, have it seized at the border and keep it out of the country.

  25. @Jim It’s one thing to imitate and being inspired, but when someone copies your product (packaging, branding, design) to the point that people think it’s us, that’s going a bit too far.

  26. Call a wah-mbulance? =) Or your lawyer. Regardless, I’m not sure how interested the design community is in hearing you simply bitch about copyright infringement.

    I suggest you document the process of what you do about it. That way, the community would learn something besides your personal struggles with a product that I, like others, feel you overpromote a bit anyways. As much as I dislike Tattly, I do feel honestly sorry that you have to go through this and hope you can protect your product.

    BTW, did James Brown rip off that little girl or did she rip off James Brown with those moves? Either way, that’s all I could think of when I saw her dancing was, “Hey! That’s the Godfather of Souls’ moves!!”

  27. Tina ,

    I am a frequent visitor of your site and i love it due to the quality & variety of the posts. Tattly inherits the same magic in all its products.keep doing , all the best.

  28. @Tina,
    Agreed!! Sorry, I hadn’t seen the other product. Thanks again.

  29. I love your blog. There I said it. I LOVE your blog.

    An example of the ripoff, possibly even with black censor bars to protect the identity of the offenders (and not give them any publicity), would be better than a ‘don’t feel bad about me, there are just people ripping off my business/designs, but I don’t REALLY care about it at all’ post.

    But I don’t ‘get’ Tattly. I know that I don’t ‘get’ it. I also know enough not to say it isn’t cool, neat, or designed well. I just don’t ‘get’ it. I have looked at them, and the numerous posts on SwissMiss, but no, I just don’t ‘get’ it.

    And therefore, from my POV, I don’t get the Tattly posts and, for me, they just get in the way. I would not have brought this up otherwise, but seeing as the topic has been breached, there it is.

    Have you turned off a longstanding fan? No. Am I going to boycott all of the other great content? No. Am I going to terrorize you until you stop cross-posting to pull SwissMiss traffic over to Tattly? Of course not.

    But I will look at the Tattly photo and quickly scroll past.

    Best of luck with Tattly and your other ventures.

  30. Out of curiosity I’ve searched for who you might be talking about and all I can find is this:

    http://www.dottinghill.com/ or

    Neither seem to be a copycat, and if neither of these is what you’re talking about, then they are impossible to find on the internet and don’t seem like much of a threat. It seems like everywhere I turn on the internet someone is promoting Tattly.

  31. I have enjoyed this blog for many years, but since tattly launched it seams like every 4th post on swiss miss is a tattly promotion. I think tattly is a cute designee gimmick on what I used to in my crackerjacks.

    stinks to be copied, but expected.

    still a fan, just a little less tattly please.

  32. Wait a minute, you mean there are other temporary tattoos out there? There are a lot of talented designers and illustrators out there, tons that aren’t in your circle, and they have every right to make their own tattoo stickers. Get over yourself.

  33. Keep dancing!! You inspire many!

  34. Hehehe, I hate to say I told ya so, Tina….but I told ya so.

    I commented a long time ago regarding your self-promoting of your Tattly company on your blog. You replied very cordially and for that I respect you. The majority of your content is thoughtful and interesting to the design community.

    But I hope you now see things with a fresh set of eyes now that you have continued to push your own personal agenda on your loyal audience. As I mentioned in the past – it’s your blog, you can post whatever you want. I just hope to see that unbiased standard reestablished and Tattly left for other outlets.

  35. The “own personal agenda” reference and ‘told you so’s’ seem to leave such a bad taste…

    Even the Tattly posts are thoughtful…just not my cup of tea.

    I WOULD like to see some Tattly designs with more of a Swiss-design bent (and no, not cows, although I like cows:). Maybe that could swing me.

  36. Tina, this is your blog. I say post what you want! The content is out there for those that choose to read it. Every post is not going to please or interest everyone and that is just a- okay. One could argue that you post too many things for or about kids or two many quotes or too many Creative Mornings. People will always find something to complain about. Sorry about the copycats, but unfortunately, when you have a good product, someone is bound to imitate it, though they could have at least changed their branding – there is no excuse for that.

  37. The comments in this post left me a bit speechless, but I felt the need to speak up.
    1. I was disappointed to read all the negativity, as it doesn’t feel productive. No one who said anything negative had the dared link to their website either. Everyone doesn’t have to love everything in the world, but constructive criticism is far more productive. Conversations are good, but some are more effective than others.
    2. As a designer who has recently go out to pursue my own projects, I appreciate and respect learning about the process from those who been there. Personally, I thought the way this issue was presented was very tactful. I’d much rather have information from a human with emotions, than a robot.
    3. It’s been established that Tattlys are not the only temporary tattoos in the world, the real issue at hand is the blatant ripping off of packaging, similarity in naming/logos, etc. I live in Europe, and I’ve seen what Tina is talking about. At times the designs are eerily similar. It’s disheartening if nothing else.
    4. In the current economy now more than ever it is important to be our own biggest cheerleaders. After teaching an online class I learned how much legwork you have to do to promote yourself. Channels of press don’t work the same way they used to, nor garner the sales they once did. The internet is over-saturated with information, and even if we post about our own projects there are not enough hours in the day to click/read everything. People must realize this is also part of our own livelihood. The awesome thing about Tattly is that Tina isn’t just promoting her product, she’s promoting the amazingly creative people behind the designs, and we’re exposed to their work at the same time. Yes, it’s under the guise of Tattly, but how much are you paying for your monthly swissmiss subscription? Oh yeah, it’s free. There is no contract that forces you to read posts that are not of interest to you. It’s totally ok for people to have different opinions too, otherwise the world would be pretty boring.
    5. For those who are not Tattly fans, it’s ok. But before you become a hater, I highly recommend putting one on. See the reactions you get, the random conversations you start from it, the smiles you get (strangers actually talk to you on the metro in Paris), and lighten up a little. Everything is going to be ok.

  38. I would love to see the copycats, even if their identity were obscured. I wouldn’t want to give a copycat FREE ADVERTISING either.

    But a side by side comparison, like the way Apple fanboys/girls unpackage their brand new Apple religious icons.

    Obfuscating black bands across appropriate branding (from the competitor, if they have any unique branding) but a teardown, open-up nonetheless.

    Thanks again for SwissMiss–daily!

  39. @Tina: If they’re copying specific artworks, that’s copyright violation. If they’re also copying your packaging, you can claim they are violating your ‘trade-dress’ as well. If your artists register their works with the copyright office in advance of publication and copying continues–you’ll be able to file for additional damages including legal fees. By filing with the copyright office there’s an additional public record on top of your artists existing copyright protections. Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, best to have one familiar with this area advise you.

  40. Be aware that sometimes they can do the same to you…over your own designs. And then you have to fight them on their terms…bad stuff.

  41. I worked for a Brooklyn based designer who’s designs were ripped off by a large retailer. I witnessed how painful it was for her at times almost as if something was stolen from her. So I can definitely sympathize. Don’t let it get you down. Instead allow it to push youth continue creating a superior product.

    And about all this “self promoting.” Why can’t you throw in a little self promotion? What’s really the harm? Every time you promote other designers I can’t even get my hands on it because it sells out so fast. I’d say its fair and absolutely expected you’d want to share what your work too!

  42. There is nothing worse than people copying designs and ripping off ideas. It can be such a personal thing when you create something yourself, so it is devastating to see some cheap knock off that someone has stolen from you!

  43. Outstanding post but I was wanting to know if you could write
    a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.

    Bless you!

  44. Hi Tina,
    Thanks for posting this copy cat posting.

    This posting sprang to mind this week when I came upon a small design firm “heavily borrowing” my tea towel design (my hand-printed vs their outsourced printing) ideas for their tea towels. Sigh. This person has rep firms, a HUGE stocklist,etc.,(and very Tattly-like temp tats she’s selling) so what’s a small-biz person like me to do? Any advice you could share? Thanks in advance!

    An added topic to explore: Folks using Etsy to harvest/poach ideas off of small biz owners on that site. Sigh.