Posts tagged ‘sales’

Support Small Businesses This Holiday Season!

Shop small, it's a big deal!

Why Shop Small?

I know November has just started, but I want to put a bug in your ear. When you are making your plans for holiday shopping, consider supporting a small business this year!

  • Small businesses reinvest in their communities through job opportunities and sales tax revenue which can support schools and other local improvements, often on things you use every day like roads and parks.
  • Some businesses specialize in handcrafted items that can make for unique and memorable gifts.
  • When you support a small business, you’re supporting someone’s hard work and dream, allowing them to continue doing what they love!

What is Small Business Saturday?

Right after Thanksgiving, Americans hit the stores to kick off the holiday shopping season with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In the middle of those two days is Small Business Saturday which started in 2010 and is gaining momentum. This year, it falls on November 29, 2014. Many small businesses will participate with special events and sales. Added bonus – you can avoid the chaos of the larger retailers!

What Does This Mean for Kimchi Kawaii?

Even though I don’t have a traditional brick and mortar store, I will still be celebrating both Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday with special deals in my Storenvy shop*.

  • I’m planning on doing a one day deal on Small Business Saturday so stay tuned! To keep up to date, like my Facebook page which has the most current updates.
  • This year, I’m participating in the Storenvy Cyber Monday sale. Kimchi Kawaii, along with participating Storenvy shopkeepers will be offering 30% off shop-wide on December 1st.

So in your holiday shopping plans, I hope you remember to support at least one small business this season. It really is a big deal to us!

*Kimchi Kawaii also sells on Redbubble and Zazzle and I’m pretty sure they will be running deals this weekend as well, but I don’t have control over what the discounts are. Another reason to follow the Facebook page as I’ll be updating there when I find out. 🙂

November 5, 2014 at 12:04 pm Leave a comment

How Not to Use a Trademark: Zazzle Says No Pi

Huh, two blog posts from me in a span of 30 hours – yeah, that’s totally rare. But I wanted to write about an experience I had tonight and some disappointment I have in Zazzle right now.

Originally, I was going to take a much needed night off after all the prep for FanimeCon that had happened in the weeks prior. I went in to check my business email to make sure there was nothing pressing and saw a message from Zazzle’s content review team telling me that one of my designs was infringing on a trademark. I am very careful about trademarks as I have a registered one myself and yeah, no one likes to put in hard work on something only to end up on the wrong end of a cease and desist.

The offending image was my ‘I Like Pi’ design, pictured here.

Kimchi Kawaii pi pun design.

Kimchi Kawaii pi pun design.

Apparently, Pi Productions Corp. notified Zazzle that they own the exclusive trademark on the symbol pi and demanded all apparel be taken down immediately. Zazzle complied and began to remove sellers’ designs off their site and sending out the email notifications. And that’s when their forums went crazy.

They supplied the trademark filing number in the email and a search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) shows that yes, this company does have a trademark on file for pi. BUT – ‘The mark consists of the pi mathematical symbol followed by a period’ (copied and pasted from the USPTO’s site).

Trademarks are pretty specific as they are identifiers of a brand. Usually, an application goes through a pretty lengthy process of approval to make sure it is not too similar to another mark out there, so I’m a bit baffled as to how this one got through because it just seems too common and vague to really stand out as a distinctive mark. Granted, trademark law is a rather murky, confusing ocean to swim in and I’m not an IP lawyer, but it still seems a bit…wrong.

And what’s really grand about the whole thing, this guy has no product that anyone can find. So right now, he just looks like he’s being a squatter, like those people who go in and buy up domain names and then offer to sell them to people who actually want to use the URL for a legit business other than just being greedy.

Which in my opinion makes him a bit of a jerk.

The pi symbol seen so often in math books is a Greek letter. As far as I know, you can’t trademark a letter. As many people have said in the forums, that would be like McDonald’s saying they own the letter ‘M’ and banning everyone from using it. McDonald’s does use the ‘M’ as a trademark, but it’s a specific style, those golden arches everyone loves or hates, not just the letter itself.

What is really disappointing is that Zazzle has started to universally pull all designs with the pi symbol in it. I don’t know about you, but most of us don’t couple the symbol with the period as indicated in the trademark file so Zazzle doesn’t really have any grounds to be doing this. So are they going to pull or ban Greek organizations like fraternities or sororities from making shirts on their site if they have pi in their letters?

Sure, the guy filed the infringement claim with Zazzle, but you would think that a big company like Zazzle would also have a team of IP experts who could really assess if this is a legit claim or not. If there aren’t any checkpoints in place or someone saying ‘Hold up, this sounds a bit iffy’, really, what’s to protect sellers from the next person who comes through and says they own exclusive rights to say, the number 10?

Zazzlers’ are pretty frustrated right now and I agree. Granted some of the designs were mostly text based, but I’m sure some, like mine have some design elements that required a lot more time in creation than just figuring out how to type π on your keyboard (that’s option+p for you Mac people, lol). So the design work is erased. The time spent loading it into the shop is also gone. The time promoting it has turned into nothing. And something that a lot of people are forgetting about – if your design is an older one, you’re losing all that link history that’s built up and could have been directing traffic to your site and hopefully sales.

A few months ago, I went through and started a clean up of my shop – deleting older designs that were done in my rather newbie Illustrator phase. Kimchi Kawaii has been around for over 5 years now, so there’s definitely been improvement. I wanted to remove clutter and make the shop more easy to get around for customers. I work a full time job meaning I do my business work in the evenings so that night, I only deleted a small handful. It’s a good thing I didn’t have a ton of time!

Sales with my Zazzle shop had been going pretty well and growing each year. Shortly after my initial declutter, they started to taper off and stagnate. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong until something in the back of my head said ‘link history, u ruined it’. I asked my web designer if that was something legit or just a myth and he kinda looked at me like I had killed a puppy. I think he really wanted to face palm, but is too polite to do so. But yes, he said, in a few clicks, I had erased some of my oldest link histories and yes, that was most likely the reason traffic (and sales) had slowed to a crawl. He made me promise to not get that itchy delete finger again.

All this to say, my pi design was one of my older ones that I actually liked and now Zazzle has taken the shirt option away and all it’s link history. As far as I can tell, they are not reinstating peoples’ designs, instead telling everyone they can file a counter claim which honestly, how many of us have the resources to do that? One of the few saving graces is that Pi Productions only filed for a trademark in the apparel category so they can’t really touch my other stuff like mugs, laptop cases, etc., but shirts are usually my best selling items so yeah, not a happy camper.

I really hope that Zazzle reviews their policies on infringement claims and doesn’t do this knee jerk removal of all things related. I know that they are protecting their butts from a trademark/copyright suit, but they are also running the risk of angering their users which generate the content that brings in the money for them. What if enough users decide that they are suffering enough financial loss to file a suit of their own? A little fact checking and careful examination could have saved everyone a lot of headache and resentment.

Bad form, Zazzle. Bad form.

P.S. – ironically, this all comes just after I had scheduled my review of Zazzle for my print on demand series which will post on Tuesday, June 3rd. I still like their design tools and all, but this has put a bit of a dent into my warm feelings towards them.

P.P.S. – I heard in the forums that this guy is also demanding a sweep of Cafe Press, the other big print on demand site. Ugh.

 

May 29, 2014 at 7:33 am 12 comments

Didja Know….

…that Kimchi Kawaii has an email address that I check daily? In both shops, there are so many product options to put designs on that in the name of time (and sanity) I often select what I think is the most popular or what fits the design best. If you see a design that you really like and want on an item that it currently is not on, just send me an email letting me know what design and what product you would like to see it on. So that I am not a starving artist, I work a full time job in the day so please allow about a one day turn around to process requests.

In Zazzle: click on the ‘Send Message’ link

In Cafe Press: click on the ‘Learn More’ link on the right hand side. Email address is at the bottom of my bio.

October 20, 2010 at 5:04 am Leave a comment

Trying Not to Worry

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately with my shops. Sales seem to have dried up like a pond in the desert. I was kind of afraid that updating both my shops was going to have this effect. A while back, I mentioned how I had to re-upload and update all my Kimchi Kawaii designs to have the signature on them that was missing. I could kick myself for all the things I think of AFTER the fact. If only I was actually trained in thinking like a marketing person and was more pro-active. Anyway, was worried that updating the designs was erasing their link history (how many times they had been viewed). More views mean it ranks higher and is shown farther up in search results. Then I got a Zazzle seller newsletter that was talking about that and kind of confirmed my suspicion. I feel like around this time last year, sales started picking up after the usual summer lull. This year, I log in and find an empty inbox with no sales posted from either shop. I’m trying not to be discouraged. I know the economy is bad and that the holiday shopping season really hasn’t hit full swing. The design updates needed to be done, I just wish I had thought about it earlier. I am feeling like I just set myself back by 2 years. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens after Thanksgiving.

October 15, 2010 at 4:44 am Leave a comment

New Name, Same Art

I’m still on Cafe Press, just under a new name (for those of you who knew it by Soy Happy). The new name is Kimchi Kawaii, which actually I think will work out better. Yes, I know that not everyone knows what ‘kawaii’ means, but I think that those who do, are the type of people who may like my stuff – hopefully! Maybe this will help me hone in on my target demographic. My stuff is Japanese pop art inspired, thus the kawaii part, but where does the kimchi come in? I was born in Daegu, South Korea, so I liked being able to tie in the Korean heritage a bit. Plus, I just liked how it sounded all together 🙂 If you want to see the art and judge for yourself if it truly is ‘kawaii’ the link is http://www.cafepress.com/kimchikawaii.

The shop is plugging along. Back in June, Cafe Press announced that they were changing their search engine – the way it searched things. Supposedly, it is to weed out the repetitious art and bring more focus on to the original stuff. Believe me, I was a bit discouraged once when I did a search for one of my designs and found it on page 13 after about 6 pages of some clip art cupcake that had ‘Johnny is turning 1’, ‘Anna is turning 1’, ‘Peter is turning 1’, etc. etc. Each of these names had an entry!! Drove me crazy. No wonder my stuff was languishing in Anonymous Land. I was skeptical about this search thing at first. Internet business is a bit of a hit and miss I’m finding. On the one hand, you have the advantage of not having to pay rent for a physical building, but on the flip side, you don’t have said physical building to catch passerby’s attention. I am at the whim of search engines and put my designs in there and just hope that I put in the right tags and that they actually show in the marketplace (hopefully, before page 22). However, I’ve been noticing a slow increase in sales to random strangers which means that my stuff IS showing up. Since the economy still stinks here in America, I can only think that the search engines are actually doing what they promised. Makes up for the lousy marketplace commission policy of 10% – almost….

July 21, 2009 at 4:30 am Leave a comment


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