Current legal issue with Siizu official - October 2019

I'm currently facing the frustrating situation that a retailer that used to carry my jewelry, Siizu, is knocking off multiple earrings and necklaces that I designed. 

This all started in the fall of 2018 when I was contacted by Kay Wen, the owner of Siizu. (I'm a jewelry designer, my company name is Clouds and Ladders.) Kay asked me if I would sell my jewelry at her store in NYC on consignment. I don't normally sell my jewelry on consignment. However, Kay was very persuasive, claiming that her business was based on ethical, sustainable, and conscientious - principles that are important to me as well. So I agreed to try out consigning my jewelry in her SoHo store for a few months.

Kay opened a second location of Siizu in Brooklyn at Canal Street Market in November 2018, and I agreed to also consign my work at the new store as well. The shipment of $2,000 worth of jewelry that I sent  for the Brooklyn location was returned to me damaged, with the notation "No Longer at this Address." I contacted Kay - she had moved without providing me the new address. The checks that were supposed to be sent monthly were not coming. When I emailed her I didn't get a response. Finally in March of 2019 Kay responded to my emails, apologizing that she had been in China and would mail the checks she owed, and wanted to know if I could send more jewelry.

At this point, I decided it was too stressful to continue working with Siizu. Moving without providing me the address, not sending the payments owed to me, and not responding to emails for weeks at a time were combining to cause me unnecessary stress. Since I live in California, there is no easy way to go to the stores to find out what's happening. Kay let me know that she was busy and having a difficult time keeping up with everything in her business, and that she understood and accepted my decision. I also understood her situation, and let her know I would consider working with her again once she was more organized, wishing her luck.

Flash forward to September 2019: I was contacted by another jewelry designer who had seen pictures of earrings that Siizu was selling that looked nearly identical to mine. I looked on Kay's Siizu Official Instagram and found that she was selling multiple knock-offs of my work, as well as another designer, Sibelia Buenos Aires. I knew Sibelia's designs because she and I had both participated in a trunk show at SFMOMA in Spring 2019. 

I contacted the designer of Sibelia jewelry and she contacted Kay who removed the Sibelia knock-off designs from IG and Siizu's website immediately. However, it was clear from the emails sent between me and Kay, Kay did not agree to remove the designs copied from mine. She stated that she didn't realize the freelance designer she had hired had copied my work. This was highly suspicious since the descriptions of the earrings on Siizu's website were taken directly from Cloudsandladders.com (see photo).

Kay offered to hire me to continue to design her line of jewelry that was copied from me, because she had already "invested money into buying the supplies" and had fired the freelancer for copying my designs. Not only am I already too busy running my own business, I remembered that she was a nightmare to work with: poor communication, didn't pay me on time, and moved without telling me, causing thousands of dollars worth of my jewelry to risk being lost. 

Due to these experiences, I decided that working with Kay any further would be a poor business decision. I let her know that, as well as my plan to seek legal counsel to address her egregious behavior if she didn't stop selling the knock-offs of my work.

I have yet to receive a response, and as of October 2019, I am seeking the counsel of a lawyer.

I'm writing this as a warning for others who may be considering working with Kay/Siizu:

If you are a designer, I would be wary of working with Siizu because she may copy your hard work without credit.

If you are a retailer, blogger, etc, seeking sustainable, ethical fashions, I would recommend looking elsewhere for a business that truly is ethical and conscientious. If you scratch the surface of her green-washed claims, you may be surprised what you find.

Siizu (left) vs Clouds and Ladders (right)

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IMAGES, TEXT, AND DESIGNS COPYRIGHT 2019 KATHERINE JOSEPH

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