No matter if you’re brand new on your scene or you’ve been in your industry years what you bring to the table is unique. You have a set of skills and a vision unlike any other. People may have similar ideas, they may be parallel in your logic, but you will forever and always be unique. That’s what I quite like about life. Nobody has the identical journey.
Your experiences and choices in life will never ever be the same as somebody else, on occasions, some experiences may mirror your path, but they will never, ever, be the same.
So what do you when you stumble upon somebody who is imitating you? It might be copying the clothing you wear, buying the same make up that you’ve just posted on Instagram. It might be, if you’re a blogger, they are copying your content. A business owner taking all your ideas that make up your unique selling point.
Whatever it is that they’re imitating, there’s only one thing to do. You stand up loudly and proudly and you applaud them!
Are you mad? Applaud them? But….but….they’ve copied my hard work!
The answer is yes, you applaud them. Darling, they’re letting you know that THEY ARE YOUR BIGGEST FANS!
Let me tell you all a story that I don’t often share. Just a little over five years ago at the age of 20 whilst I was still at University studying Business Management I found myself in a crazy whirlwind and opened a gorgeous dog boutique in my home town of Whitley Bay. It was called Ziggy Chews after my little Jack Russell and I had people travel from miles around to visit, I featured in all of the dog magazines and I was well known in the pet trade for this Harrod’s Style approach to shopping for your dogs.
I sold Swarovski embellished collars, holistic pet food, sumptuous beds that would give you serious envy, bowls to match your kitchen instead of sticking out as an awful eyesight. I still get people to this day telling me how much they adored my shop and it always used to be the busiest shop on the street but with this success and concept unlike anything around came some bizarre people.
The people who didn’t clap when I was winning.
It was the people who didn’t clap when I was winning were the people that I kept my eye on. One lady in particular springs to mind thinking about. I remember her coming into the shop weekly to shop for her dogs and to just have a chat (people just loved to come to chat) but then all of a sudden she stopped coming in and she began acting weird on Facebook, I mean she was desperate for me to accept her friend request months before then she blocked me..
I took a stroll to a well-known market in our area one weekend and there she was, standing at her stall selling a small selection of the brands I had in my store. The items nobody around were stocking, the items that I had spent weeks and weeks researching and trialling to ensure they were a perfect fit, the items that I loved and she was just flogging them like a piece of junk at a car boot stall.
I remember looking her dead in the eye in disbelief and turning the other way and heading home. I cried and cried to my Mum, I was absolutely devastated.
This then followed with the pet shops in the area catching on, starting to stock similar items to the items I was stocking, some of them slandering me daily and making up the most ridiculous lies I’ve ever heard in my life. This young girl, an award-winning entrepreneur was having to endure the abuse and pathetic behaviour from grown ‘men’ and ‘women’, yet they were trying to source my suppliers and stock my products and slash the prices, but I knew better than a price war. Price isn’t anything when the service is everything.
As the months and years passed more and more shops just like mine began to appear, some even using my terminology and even the same colour branding as I had for Ziggy Chews, but you know what…they were always just like my shop they never exceeded it, they never were different because they tried to imitate it.
Reflecting back I was devastated, people were making a living from my concept, from my idea. My Mum, who’s done an amazing job of bringing me up, who’s been the most supportive and caring person who I could ever wish for taught me the greatest lesson I could learn from this situation. Imitation is the highest form of flattery.
If it wasn’t for my gumption and grit, my determination and desire to go against the norm then I wouldn’t have changed the face of how the pet industry in North Tyneside and some of the surrounding areas are today, I wouldn’t have instilled entrepreneurial spirit into the lives of people who would never usually have the desire to open a business. I wouldn’t have inspired these people to choose a different path in life and change their lives forever.
It may seem egotistical for me to make these claims but the knock on effect my business had on these people who imitated my concept, their lives would be very different today.
My Mum taught me that these people are often your biggest fans, simply because they believe what you’re doing is a great idea after all they believe it’s that great that they want to do it themselves too! On the surface they may appear aloof, rude and like they’re you’re ‘haters’ – can’t believe I’ve just used that Americanism! But deep down though they are cheering you on because they want you to play your next move, so they can follow suit. It’s like a game of chess. Luckily for me, my Dad once bought me chess teacher, unfortunately for the imitators I hate chess, but I’m bloody good at it! CHECKMATE.
I stand up and applaud these people, though, even today. I even stand up and applaud you now, the imitator of my ideas for Elle Blonde, the content and my future plans that has compelled me to write this today. Yes, well done, you’ve flipped this from me inspiring you, to you inspiring me.
I hold no grudges or anger like I did that day at the market, it no longer upsets me and it shouldn’t upset you too if you are facing the ordeal of discovering you have an imitator if somebody loves your ideas that much to want to emulate them applaud yourself. You are amazing. You are inspirational and most of all keep doing what you’re doing! Just remember you have the next move, use it wisely.