I have been waiting on the right moment to post this. I never like making a huge deal out of something that might die out eventually. But things are only getting worse in the world of copying. So, today is the day. I can’t take it anymore. And it’s not just an emotional thing – The anger has become a physical thing.
A few weeks ago, something happened that has never happened to me before.
After I took my late night shower, I stepped out and felt something on my leg. I ran my fingers against it and discovered a whole clump of hair just stuck to my back thigh. I’ve never had that much hair fall out like that before, but I thought maybe that was it for this shower. But then when I went to brush it, another clump the same size fell out. That’s when I got really scared. Something was wrong. The next morning when I woke up, I discovered another clump of hair on the bathroom floor. 3 clumps in less than 7 hours.
I usually don’t feel my stress, as I am someone who blocks pain and keeps going when it comes to hardships. But this time, my body was not allowing it.
In evaluating the first 4 months of this year, it has been…a lot.
–> A stolen design by THE biggest fast fashion company in the entire world.
–> A whole stolen truck full of my tote bags that was never fully recovered.
–> Other brands stealing my videos to advertise their own stuff.
–> Fitness brands stealing my transformation to sell their own programs.
I finally hit some type of a wall, which honestly I didn’t think was possible. And that’s when my hair started falling out.
“Imitation is a form of flattery” is what people try to tell me when my designs and my hard work get stolen. But no. You’ll never understand it until it happens to you.
Imitation is a form of robbery.
I am writing this blog post because I need to vent and also so that I have a record of everything that these offenders have done to me.
So, you ready? Let’s dive in.
Remember when this happened?
So many of you guys reposted my post, and because of that, Shein eventually removed the POPFLEX copycat Pirouette skort from their site. I am lucky and privileged to have an audience that backs me up and will FIGHT alongside me. (Forever grateful for you!!)
Throughout all of this, I have learned a lot about fashion law and how hard it is to protect my designs. However, it’s not impossible.
One of you guys alerted your lawyer friends who reached out to me to explain how my skort may actually be copyrightable because of the way I designed it. I honestly didn’t think it was possible. But guess what?
On February 28th, 2023 the United States Copyright Office granted me an official copyright registration for the design of my Pirouette Skort!!!
There are more unique designs I have in the works that I think will likely be copied (I just know it, like how I knew the Pirouette Skort would be copied), so because of this entire experience, I will work proactively to protect my babies in advance.
With that said, protection only goes as far as the money I have to fight anyone in the court of law. The giants know this, so that’s why so many of them just do whatever they want. They know smaller, independent designers could never afford to battle them in legal fees.
All I can say is thank goodness for the court of social media.
HALARA, THE NEXT SHEIN:
Over the past few weeks you guys have been BOMBARDING Me in the DMs with this Halara pink skort ad.
I have been avoiding talking about them because I was just hoping they’d go away, but unfortunately they are like those annoying gnats that just won’t leave you alone.
There isn’t much info at all on Halara because the media LOVES focusing on making Shein their favorite fast fashion villain. However, I can tell you that when I stumbled across their site in 2020, I already knew this was the Shein of activewear. How?
Things like tacky site design and graphics. I mean, why does this spin wheel thing look like it’s made for a 6 year-old’s bday party? Why is there a stock dog and cat photoshopped onto this photo of a jogger? Why are the product titles so long, as if this were an Amazon listing?
I mean, the signs were clear that this was a “brand” with no soul. It just screams fast fashion gamification.
The prices aren’t as low as Shein, and I think that is strategic. I truly believe that they mark up their products a lot to avoid being called a fast fashion company, even though they are.
In 2021, the Beijing News reported that Halara raised $100 Million in funding from investors including Capital Today, Sequoia, IDG, Hike Capital, and 5Y Capital. The outlet also described Halara as a “fast-fashion outbound e-commerce brand” that was founded in 2020. The company is operated by HK DFS Limited and is based out of Hong Kong. I personally have never bought from Halara but I have friends who have, and they said their package took a couple weeks to get to them because it was shipping directly from China. Quality seems to be generally ok but not great for the price.
So, here we are.
I tried to give you a chance. I tried to give us space. But I know you know who I am and I know you’ve been watching me. Let’s start with when I first saw you across the room.
In October 2021, I posted a leggings video that went viral (nearly 4 Million views), and this was the first time I ever tried putting a bottle in my pocket. I was actually surprised that it fit! I hadn’t seen anyone do it before.
Fast forward to August 2022, I got this ad on my IG and it was Halara putting a bottle in their leggings pocket. At first when I saw it, I kinda chuckled and I was like oh wow POPFLEX is big enough to be noticed by Halara!?
But then, things weren’t so funny anymore.
In September 2022, I released my Crisscross Hourglass skort design in this light pink color and filmed myself twirling in my bedroom at a very specific thighs-up angle, wearing a white sports bra on a white background. It got over 3 million views. Fast forward to February 2023, I got a Halara ad of a pink skort being twirled in and filmed at the EXACT SAME ANGLE of my video, using a model with my body type, wearing a white sports bra, in a room with a white background!!!
I am going to be very honest here. I know a bunch of you guys wrote me and called out Halara for stealing my design and the thing is – that is not even what I am mad about. Even though these designs are very similar, unfortunately, I don’t think the design elements on this skort would be considered unique enough to protect. I consider my Pirouette Skort very unique and that is why I fought to copyright it, and won the copyright.
What I am FUMING about is that Halara saw my video, saw how viral it went, decided to film a video copying the brand aesthetic of my video, then targeted my audience with this ad, and then DELIBERATELY created customer confusion, which is why I got an influx of DMs over this pink skort ad!!! They targeted you guys ON PURPOSE! Oh yeah, and I bet they sold sooooo many skorts with this copycat video, just given how many times this single ad was delivered to me personally.
With over $100 million in funding, Halara couldn’t even even hire a marketing company to film some ads with their own aesthetic. So they had to go steal mine? I see you. You’re the Shein of fast fashion and I predict that you’ll be the next thief to copy my designs, just like you did with Outdoor Voices.
And you know what makes me extra mad? Halara has only received positive press for being a dupe brand.
But why are we as a society celebrating dupes?
Dupes are literally copycats of the original that someone else had to work hard to create. Shein duped my skort. Halara duped OV’s dress. The dupe brand doesn’t have to spend any time in product development or take any risk creating something new. They just see success and copy it, for free. Oh how lovely to be a dupe brand.
Be careful where you buy from guys. Please do not support these fast fashion giants that steal from the creativity and hard work of others. Currently there is no information on their supply chain but I bet that once comes out, it’ll bring a lot of things to light.
TIKTOK LEAVES ME TO FEND FOR MYSELF:
More reasons my my hair is falling out. There’s been a whole situation on TikTok and no one working on the platform is able to help me. Other brands are stealing videos and using them as ads that link to their own products!!???
Again, you guys were the first to alert me.
Great. More customer confusion from some pathetic brand called “Celestes?” The weird thing is that you can’t click on their profile. I even tried searching the account. It does not exist. I think these accounts only exist to be ad accounts that link to products so that’s why these brands don’t care. They don’t have to act with any integrity because they don’t have a real social media presence to upkeep. No consumers to keep them accountable.
Oh wait but it doesn’t stop there. Let’s meet some more culprits because I want to ensure I have an internet record of all of these offenders.
There were a few stolen videos from “Esmee Leeuwerik”…
A few stolen videos from from “Yogabarbie”…
“High waist pocket yoga pants” put some ugly green thing over my video to hide my original text…
Ah and then this one is my favorite bc they actually went the extra mile to screen shot the exact comments from you guys on MY VIDEO (nearly 25 million views) to paste on their video. Sharkbarbie, your parents really taught you how to be an overachiever huh?
The other thing is that back in Summer and Fall 2022, I filled out really tedious copyright infringement forms on TikTok to get these videos taken down (1 form for 1 video, and there are A LOT OF VIDEOS) and it still has not been taken down. Why is that TikTok? Why is it easier for someone to steal my videos than it is for me to get illegal use of my videos on your platform taken down?
Probably because advertisers pay. And money speaks louder.
THE LIES OF THE FITNESS INDUSTRY:
You know, I never actually imagined people would stoop this low, but here we are.
Love how you guys are watching out for me.
Here’s that screenshot blown up because you must read this email from Club Pilates Fort Lee. I could not EVEN when I read the last line…
“Here are some REAL pilates members results”!!??????
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!??? YOU THINK THAT WOULDN’T GET BACK TO ME? And to do that to another fellow Pilates instructor? I hate this so much. Sure, just take my results from my 90 Day Journey and use it to lure people into buying your program that apparently doesn’t even work bc you had to use pictures you found on the internet to fake progress pics. Yeah, that’s how you run an honest business. All my respect is lost for you Club Pilates. Forever.
Oh and just for funsies.
Another one. On Facebook.
Oh. What solution did I use to lose 10 lbs in 15 days without doing any additional diet or exercise, hmm High Protein Foods? HMM I’d love to know.
I can’t even right now. I am fuming. That up there took MONTHS of hard work, YEARS of overcoming an unhealthy mindset, and – ugh – I am tired of explaining myself. This. All of this is disgusting and I hate it here.
What makes my blood boil even more is the amount of innocent people who will be deceived…who will have their hard-earned money lured out of their hands because these shady businesses are willing to do anything for money. They don’t care if they burn you. They don’t care if they hurt you. They just want your money and will steal and lie to get it.
So, is imitation a form of flattery?
No. Imitation is a form of robbery. ESPECIALLY when you imitate and you can’t even improve on what I’ve done. Then why did you do it?! You are just a sad, sad pathetic excuse of a brand.
I am so tired of creating things, only to be robbed, over and over again. Right now, I am trying to find some sense of balance in my life, but there isn’t any. I’m trying to manage the rapid growth of a fully self-funded business while dealing with all of these crazies.
Anyway, it’s 1:07am and it’s time to go to bed. I do feel a little better after writing this all out. Thank you for reading all the way to the end. And thank you for always watching out for me.