Open letter to the unauthorized shop selling yarns under our name in China
We are living in such an interconnected world that it is hard to keep something hidden , even if it happens someplace very far away where the language barriers make everything harder. Even so, yesterday I found out that our yarns are presented on the Chinese market by a shop that it is not our official partner shop. The yarns were made available in an online shop after our official partner in China made public that they will represent Moeke Yarns in the country. A bit before that announcement, also by accident, I found out that one of the Dutch shops received a large order from China. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it was just some kind of cosmic justice that put all the pieces in place for me to find out about this scheme.
After I found out the address of the shop (which I will not share publicly because they do not deserve any kind of publicity and extra traffic) I took a look at their offer. I felt violated and taken advantage of. Upset and angry. They used photos from me, from other shops, and even from designers that developed patterns for our yarns. They were selling kits to the Bright sweater by Junko Okamoto. Without asking permission to use the photos. Using our names and our work for their profit. And with the same price as the prices set by our official partner shop in China.
When I got my anger under control and I started to analyze the situation, two questions came to mind. First, how can they have the same prices as the official shop and second, what can I do to stop them. About their prices, this is puzzling me. If they bought the yarns from other shops, they paid the retail price (in Europe, about 10E for 100gr of our Moeke Yarns Elena), then the shipping costs and then the import taxes which in China are around 30%. But their price was still around 16E for 100 gr. Businesswise, this does not make sense. Is it possible that these yarns they were presenting as Moeke Yarns are counterfeits? This idea and the consequences for the Chinese knitters who would buy them made me even more angry…
So, what can I do to stop these practices that are from my point of view unethical and that harm our official partner shop and potentially also our name among the honest Chinese crafters?
First of all, yesterday I made clear on social media that we do not support and agree with these kinds of practices! I do not know who is behind this shop, I don’t know their story. Maybe they think that this is acceptable. It is not! Not acceptable to represent a company when you did not purchase the products directly from that company. Not acceptable to use photos without asking permission. Not acceptable to use images of designs in order to promote the sales of the yarns without asking permission from the designers.
Second, I already started to contact other yarns companies that maybe, just like me, do not know that this shop is selling their yarns. One of the companies I contacted yesterday confirmed that they are in the same situation. We are not the only ones taken advantage of.
Third, I will contact all our official shops and I will ask them to not sell to China, especially when big orders come in. I am counting on their business ethnics to stop this kind of unfair competition to our official partner shop in the country. And then I will contact the electronic shopping platform where the shop operates and ask to remove the photos that are used without permission.
I will end this post with a bit of positivity in this situation that is so upsetting to us. First of all, seeing all the encouraging and supporting comments and the shares on Instagram, it really warmed my heart. I am so thankful for this amazing community! I truly believe that our strength is the community, our ability to stand together and not accept this kind of bullying and unethical business practices. The more we spread the word and encourage people to be aware and support the honest businesses, the more we will all benefit. This case happened in China. But who is to say that it cannot happen in another country also? I want to ask you to keep in mind that bad and good people live everywhere and the ones that suffer most from these practices are the good people that try to run their business in an ethnical manner.
And a small victory: at the time when I wrote this blogpost (10 AM, December 3), our yarns were not present anymore in this unauthorized shop. But photos of designs by Junko and others as well as photos taken from Instagram from the community who so kindly shares them, they were still present.