Expose Your Trade Secrets or I Will Shut Your Shop Down : Etsy Suspended My Shop

[ Update: People who follow me on Instagram know that whenever they ask me about the materials & methods I use to create my demi-couture accessories, I always answer their questions to the best of my ability. E.g. I let them know where I purchase my materials, give them links to good video tutorials, etc . . . But, there are a small number of things I want to keep to myself . . . the things I want to make sure that big companies and mass-producers won’t exploit ]

Just because I’m not a billionaire . . . (and) new at this business . . . should I set myself up to loose before I even begin?

(T)he fact that someone can snuff itwith a click of a button wrenches my heart . . .

(W)hoever has the most power wins. And smaller entities like me need to be faster, wiser, and more resilient to survive.

And yet, I’m not giving up. Till the very end. I will protect & nurture my Angelica Brigade till I am no longer able to do it anymore.

Here’s my story:

After hours of extensive research, I’m still certain that to this date (February 10, 2013), I still am the only person in this world who (can) produce this lightweight but sculptural chainmaille necklace.

angelica brigade angelicabrigade company website

And yet, Etsy says that unless I prove to that I am the person who create this necklace, I can no longer sell anything via Etsy.

I invented this style in December 2011, starting with this hand piece  . . .
(You can read about it in this blog post >>> http://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/one-of-my-best-works-this-year/ )


It wasn’t perfect, but I thought that the piece was my renaissance as a chainmaille artist. So, I dedicated hundreds of hours to improve and perfect the style.

Then, I thought that a matching necklace might be a good idea. And so, I created these pieces by improving the construction of the hand piece, and extended its length just so to create these necklaces: http://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/avant-garde-statement-necklace-by-joyzk-for-angelica-brigade/

avant garde maille necklace by joyz*k for Angelica Brigade

Here are a few pictures of myself and my workspace as I was creating the piece (as seen in that blog post):

IMG_2005 IMG_2034IMG_1990

That necklace, then, evolved into this piece (as written in the following blog post >>> http://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/another-avant-garde-maille-necklace/ )

Angelica Brigade avant garde maille necklace

And, as usual, I proudly show my readers that I do create this piece myself . . .


That necklace, then, evolved into a bolder hand piece (you can read more about it in this blog post >>> http://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/why-it-takes-me-8-hours-or-more-to-create-my-maille-jewelry/ )

And . . . per usual, I included some pictures of how I created the piece.



And, I kept on perfecting this technique . . .

You can read about them in these blog posts:

Do you notice how similar they look? They are just becoming bolder & better-constructed . . .


And . . . finally, I made this piece (which process I also blog about. You can read it in http://angelicabrigade.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/how-i-create-this-type-of-knotted-chainmaille-swarovski-statement-necklaces/ )

handmade jewelry statement necklace chainmaille jewellery chain maille chain mail chainmail knotted swarovski fancy stone black gold angelica brigade angelicabrigade etsy indie designer bold sculptural unusual unique

I defended myself to the best of my ability using numerous photographic evidence, including this one


And yet . . . they said that unless I show them how I twist the chain, where I connect the chain, et cetera, they will not let me to sell anything via Etsy . . .

To be honest . . . I am more than a little hurt :'(

I also feel more than a little offended.

Being falsely accused by an anonymous person . . . and then being forced to reveal many things I rather keep to myself (e.g. the sizes of the jump rings I used, the places I bought my supplies, etc etc) . . . And then forced to show my closely guarded secret . . .

Well . . . I am an owner of an extremely small business. My knowledge of how I constructed the piece is the only advantage I have. And, if I give that away, what will I have left?

Nothing . . .

An Etsy representative told me that whatever I tell them will remain confidential. And yet . . . if someone who is able to create chainmaille jewelry accidentally see the email . . . I don’t need to spell the consequences out to you, right?

Will Coca Cola & KFC tell other people their secret recipes? Are they allowed to keep their recipes secret?

How about me? Just because I’m not a billionaire . . . just because I’m new at this business . . . should I set myself up to loose before I even begin?

How about some justice? How about the right to not to act in a reckless manner?

And so . . . at this moment, I no longer sell my items via Etsy.

I told Etsy that I am going to need to think about this . . . that nothing but a signed & legalized document from Etsy will reassure me that this act of revealing all the trade secrets I have will never hurt me in the future.

I don’t think they’ll ever do that for me . . . The Etsy Integrity team member who handled my case did not respond to this matter when I brought the topic up.

So, here’s what I learned last week:

Etsy is a huge corporation, and I – a small-time newbie – am not valuable to them

and so . . . they shut me out.

I’m not a big loss to them and the fact that I am no longer sell anything via their online marketplace will not create any dent.

Well . . .

But life goes on . . .

And I will pick up the pieces and try to rebuild my small business which is as dear to me as an infant to his or her own birth mother.

Yes, Angelica Brigade is a very small business that doesn’t generate a lot of money, but it’s still my baby, and I love it so very much. I dedicated many sleepless days for it . . . And the fact that someone can snuff it with a click of a button wrenches my heart so much that even if this person revive it with another click of a button, it will never – ever – be the same again.

But, that’s how the world is I guess . . . whoever has the most power wins. And smaller entities like me need to be faster, wiser, and more resilient to survive.

And yet, I’m not giving up. Till the very end. I will protect & nurture my Angelica Brigade till I am no longer able to do it anymore.

And this is where I stand today.


14 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate says:

    I am very sorry that this has happened to you. Your creations are stunning and unique! Good on you for sticking up for yourself. I hope that this minor setback means a great new opportunity is waiting for you.

  2. dongrgic says:

    Awesome products. Don’t let it bring you down… remember Etsy is not the only service out there.. there are many others.. and this may be an opportunity in disguise for you to look for a larger market.
    Good luck.

    1. r4punz3ll3 says:

      Thank you!

      And, yes, it might very well be an opportunity in disguise. I’ve listed some of my handmade items in several different online markets the same day my Etsy shop was closed. I’m also in the process of opening my own web shop & finding more brick-and-mortar stores to sell my items to.

      It’s a lot of work, but it seems to be a good & constructive challenge.

      1. dongrgic says:

        It’s over used but I have to say…. Just Do It.

  3. I’m sorry to hear that happened to you. I’ve read several accounts of mass produced stuff being sold there and reported as not handmade and them not doing anything about it, but this is the first I’ve heard of an almost reversed situation. That should be worrisome to anyone who has or is thinking of starting an etsy store. I find your necklaces to be very unique and interesting. Actually, I can say yours is the first chainmail jewelery I’ve ever liked. Best of luck. I hope this situation leads you to a better outlet. Keep us posted.

    1. r4punz3ll3 says:

      I will~

      By the way, Etsy has been known for shutting handmade artists’ shops down because they fail to provide Etsy with detailed step-by-step photographic evidence that they created the items they sell in their Etsy shops themselves (within 5 days). I.e. Because they were unable to duplicate their one of a kind pieces (i.e. made using or embellished with rare vintage findings) . . . because they were unable to purchase the expensive materials they needed to create the photographic evidence (they usually asked their customers to provide them with downpayment so they could purchase the materials), etc . . .

      1. I’m going to give the things I said more thoughts & blog about it next week.

  4. Tanya says:

    There has got to be a way to combat Etsy’s ridiculous way of handeling this. In their attempt to maintain the “integrity” of the site, they’re also belittling and destroYing the very thing they’re trying to promote: small business talented artists! It’s a shame. I’m in the process of trying to prove myself to them right now, it’s awful and offensive.

    1. r4punz3ll3 says:

      Sorry to hear it ):
      Till now, I still can’t believe how high-handed they can be …

      Wishing you the best of luck.
      Let me know how it goes~

  5. Helen says:

    Watch this video and pass it explains the Wolf in Sheep’s clothing aka “Etsy” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53Hwl6Y9UWs

    This is the same story I keep on hearing. Etsy has been getting away with this for years. Now this has to stop and the only way to hurt them is make the Attorney General in their state make them comply to have a real telephone customer service team. Bombard the internet and get the Attorney General in New York to make Etsy comply or shut them down. This company has no telephone service they have thousands of sellers who my law have have the rights to speak to a real person about their livelihood. This company is even acting like a bank where they have their own payment processing and still no telephone customer team where you can ask a question about YOUR business the business you grew. Something sounds very fishy all the stories from sellers Etsy has damaged without a moments thought the so called integrity team asking for the in’s and out’s of a sellers business and then still giving them the big heave ho when all the information has been given.

    I have had the unfortunate dealings with Eliza on Etsy and I totally understand that this person is incompetent she was rude, arrogant and ignorant however the lack of customer service must be coming from the top otherwise this person would not have been allowed to address me the way she did without being reprimanded. I have a right as a customer to speak to a real person and for them to explain what is happening and how to resolve it. But all you get is a email answered whenever they feel like it and a person who is demeaning and not their to help you in any shape or form and not only that puts barriers in the way and makes it hard as possible for you.

    Bombard the Attorney General and ask him why he is letting this Multi Million company in his jurisdiction get away with such bad business practices. Name and shame that is the only way these faceless corporations ever learn by denting their pockets. Etsy your time is coming and I will laugh my arse off when you cowards have to face your customers with no more hiding behind your computer screens.

    File reports and ask others to do the same: http://www.ag.ny.gov/internet-bureau-online-complaint-form

    I can describe building a business on Etsy like building a house on sand it will eventually collapse because it’s build on a weak foundation.


    1. Thanks for sharing the video & the link with us, Helen!
      Asking the AG to do something about it is always a good start.
      But . . . we also need to ask the AG to require Etsy (and, better yet, the law enforcement) to penalize the people who maliciously sabotage their rivals’ businesses. Because . . . what these malicious people do amount to cyber bullying and criminal mischief. To their owners, online shops are as real as brick and mortal shops. Our losses (of money, time, effort, etc) are definitely real to us.

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