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My take on sharing what you know.

Rainbow yarn
{Jess’s Yarn, from the dye day we had ages ago… she taught me how to dye yarn from food colouring.}

Something has been on my mind lately. Its started with someone i know purposefully not sharing her methods of making a product so not to encourage competition of someone else making the same product and selling it like she does. Then someone else I know has started saying the same thing.  THIS is such a controversial topic! I can see both sides very clearly, understand both reasoning’s completely. In fact I wanted to NOT think about it, not to care and to leave them to it. But not saying what i think may be slightly dishonest, because ya know what, i care about this..not a whole lot, but enough to mull over it for a bit. I hope this provokes discussion amongst us.

For sharing: Sharing knowledge helps open you up to other people sharing with you. By talking about it with someone you may come to, or they may suggest, other ways of creating that you had never thought of. Because you came to this in the essence of sharing and you are taking a new tilt on it, selling or benefiting from this knowledge should never been seen as stealing, unless it is a total rip off (which by the way… NOOooo total rips offs are BAD).

Not for sharing: You have worked hard and long on your method. You are attached to it, feel special because you own it, its almost part of you, giving you that much needed boost of confidence when you thought of it, perfected it. Then you start to sell this product, even make enough for a living off it. Through hard work and branding this product is largely associated with you. If you share someone else may move in and steal potential sales and revenue that YOU worked hard to create. In a nutshell you made the market for this product, who are they to take some of it off you?

Ok so see my dilemmas?

My take: FIRST I think by sharing something it is up to the other person to have discretion enough not to copy your product and sell it, how they could I have no idea.. but it happens. Overall sharing is amazing. I have taught web design, design and sewing, knitting ect.. I love doing this. I think passing stuff on is the best way for the industry to grow, to gain new perspectives and insights on how to do what you are doing.

I was listening to a podcast interview on Creative Thursday, Marisa was talking to Amber Dusik (Woodmouse) about her crafty business. Amber’s opinions were that copying happens but doesn’t stick because the copier is not passionate about what they are doing, you are. You need passion to stick with it and make it work. Also that similar products to yours are inevitable because if you can sell your product there is a market and if there is a market you WILL get competition. Use it to kick your ass into gear and make your stuff better or just come up with something new.

By introducing other people into the mix, you could grow your industry and your product, they might not copy you but come up with something different that inspires you to think of something else.

A bit on how i think the creative process can work: If a person creates a handmade product to sell (esp a crafty product) where do you think that person came up with that product as an idea?  Entirely from their own brain? Or did someone do something similar and put it out there, and that person thought , “mmm i could make that it looks like fun”, they then started to make it, change it add new tilts and in the end came up with something new. I think this is way more common than us creatives like to think.

One of my favourite teaching experiences was a short stint at the polytech taking over someone when he and his wife had a new bubs. I got to teach a whole bunch of different classes/age groups at different stages in their design degree or foundation studies. What these people came up with in terms of design takes, blew my mind, their creativity had no limits, it was so good! The many different variations on the one brief was very cool.

If you open yourself up to sharing what you do, then you also open yourself up to gaining knowledge from others. You never know what can come of your sharing your knowledge with others. Whole new markets may be opened up for you by an idea being planted by you, growing and changing in someone else’s brain and then some new thing is there for you to use and benifit from.

My conclusion, sharing is good, it contributes to the world and its knowledge. Without it we would not know the best way to do what we do. For the knowledge shared with you was the foundation from which you worked from.

This is my opinion everyone is entitled to their own… its certainly talked about alot and I want to talk about it too!

3 Comments on "My take on sharing what you know."

  • A very interesting, thought provoking topic! Oh and beautiful wool 😛

  • Millie says

    Very interesting post Simone. I agree, sharing makes the world go round – especially within the creative community!

    I do think though, it’s important to consider the difference between sharing a skill set and sharing the instructions or pattern to recreate a design/product.

    Millie x

  • Joseph says

    Sharing is cool!

    If you get a reputation of not sharing others are less likely to want to help you.

    In addition I do not think there very many who can say there product or idea is completely original.

    It is only fair to try and give back at least as much as you take.