An exclusive with Mia, designer and creative director of Tribes of Kin. Mia took time out to explain her devastating experience with infringement. The last time we conversed, we dove into the brand, Mia shared her creative process and inspiration. Mia also taught us about a unique print, the Kente print.
The Kente print is native to the Akan ethnic group of South Ghana. The original kind is a hand-woven fabric that was worn by royalty on special occasions. It has since been adopted by other west African countries and is the best known of all African textiles. – Mia
The passion for Tribes of Kin and her art is evident. I was truly inspired by Mia and her devotion to the African culture . Months after our interview, a shook up disturbed the Kin world. Miss… has allegedly duplicated Tribes of Kin design by using the infamous Kente print, a print Mia used years earlier.
Mia is speaking up and giving some advice to upcoming designers on how to prevent infringement.
How did you discover that your design/pattern was allegedly duplicated?
I discovered my designs were duplicated when one of my models alerted me on Instagram when they saw the pictures of @miss… the person who stole my designs.
How did you feel?
I felt devastated and crushed.
Did this situation discourage you from continuing to design?
Initially, I was discouraged but I thought to myself, if I give up then she wins.
What inspired or motivated you to continue?
I realized that she copied me so she was inspired by me and my designs. She can steal my designs but she will never steal my talent and that she cannot succeed based on copying others.
Did the brand that allegedly duplicated your work reach out to you?
No, the brand that stole my designs never reached out to me. I reached out to her and she didn’t respond.
Did you notice any significant changes in your sales or media presence?
Yes, I noticed a drop in sales because she was selling it for less than I was selling mine. Customers sent me links to her shop requesting I lower my price.
Do you believe you could have done anything to prevent this from happening?
I don’t believe I could have done anything to prevent it. Although I did report her shop to Etsy for copyright infringement violation but nothing was done about it.
Are you going to use a different pattern in your design for now on?
I will continue using the Kente fabric, it is my signature design.
What advice do you have for designers to prevent infringement and the copycats?
My only advice for those who find themselves in this situation is to work harder and become more creative and eventually it will pay off.
How should designers approach a devastating situation like this one?
Designers in this situation should out the copycat and shame them publicly.
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