I’m sitting here shaking because I’m so upset at myself. I let myself get emotionally manipulated, I let my guard down, and it happened again.
You know, there’s the kind of hurt that happens when a company does unethical things to you, and then there’s the kind of guttural blow that sucks the air out of your lungs when a human you forgave, betrays you again.
After the first time SHEIN copied my Pirouette Skort design back in Jan 2023, I was reached out to by their team after all of you guys went crazy on them. For weeks, they kept asking me if I could get on a call because their US President, George Chiao, wanted to personally talk to me.
First, let’s dissect this message:
Eventually, when they agreed to the agenda I wanted to speak on, I hopped on a Zoom call with George on Feb 22, 2023. He came off very personable, very friendly, and even though he didn’t apologize for what SHEIN did, he told me a story about how his daughter was a Blogilates fan and how she came rushing into his room when the 1st violation happened, screaming “WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO CASSEY???” I always have a soft spot for fans. He did such a good job of calming me down that I walked out of that conversation having major respect for the way he eloquently handled this PR crisis. As a result, I decided to cool it on my SHEIN posts.
He got exactly what he wanted.
Looking back with clarity now, I am so disappointed in myself. George did a great job of playing to my sensitivity and he made me feel bad for him. I fell for the daughter story and when he said it hurt him when people made mean comments about his company, I weirdly softened and let my guard down. In a twisted way, I chose NOT to share the conversation below with you guys because of the way he made me feel like HE was the victim.
But now that a second violation has happened, THERE IS NO HOLDING BACK.
Here’s exactly what we talked about:
1️⃣ George said SHEIN didn’t steal my design. He said over and over again that SHEIN is just like Amazon and that they have no idea if their sellers are selling stolen designs. He said SHEIN is just a marketplace.
2️⃣ When asked how I could prevent SHEIN from stealing my designs again, he said in the future all I have to do is submit my design to SHEIN BEFORE it goes live on POPFLEX and then my design will enter a database of “DO NOT COPY.” From there his buyers will know not to purchase anything that looks like my design. (Umm what?? Why would I EVER do this??).
3️⃣ In the same convo he said “You know that what we’re doing isn’t illegal right?,” making it sound like SHEIN’s actions were ethical and that he was doing me a solid by taking down my skort design from their website.
4️⃣ When I asked him what happened to the units that weren’t sold, he said “They were probably donated or destroyed.”
Probably? Shouldn’t he know? Or were they just sold on a different country’s SHEIN website?
5️⃣ When I asked him how many skorts were sold, he said “Not that many.” He said that SHEIN is a truly sustainable company because they test low units of new designs, and only if they sell well, will they manufacture in larger quantities. In a follow-up email, I asked him for the exact quantity sold and he said 28, in which he tried to pay me for the sales and I did not accept.
IS THERE ANY TRUTH TO THIS?
I am very wary of this low number because if 28 was truly the number of my copycat skorts ever sold, why would they manufacture this again? From the latest lawsuit against SHEIN (3 graphic designers are suing for copyright infringement and also claiming a RICO violation), I read the 52-page case. I found this excerpt written by SHEIN themselves about how they use algorithms to determine customer interest:
So, first off, the 100-200 units thing checks off with what George told me.
Secondly, let’s talk about the 2nd paragraph. Clearly, my skort wouldn’t have been reproduced if the first small run wasn’t successful. I do not think they only sold 28 units of my skort. I do not think those skort units were ever donated or destroyed, and were sold on a different country’s SHEIN website to determine their popularity.
What alarms me is that if there was already a first violation on my design, shouldn’t it have been added to the “DO NOT COPY” database? If they really had this database, I wouldn’t be here writing this post!
Additionally, I think if someone forgot to put my skort design in the database, the algorithm picked up my viral video AGAIN and this all happened AGAIN
The ignorant, uneducated, confidence.
Do not throw around words like “patent”, “trademark”, and “copyright” when you are NOT an IP lawyer and when you have zero idea what you are talking about, and then proceed to blame me for being a victim.
For the record, I have spent countless hours reading fashion law, talking to several lawyers to get different perspectives, while also strategizing with my legal team to see what can be done in my current situation and what can be done to prevent Shein and other shady business from stealing POPFLEX designs in the future. Lawyers aren’t cheap and this situation has set me back tens of thousands of dollars in getting copyrights, cease and desist letters, and just wrapping my head around the whole situation.
I saw some comments saying that Blogilates is a “big brand” and talking to me as if SHEIN and I are the same…I would just like to remind everyone that SHEIN is valued at $66 BILLION, and I am over here with a tiny 20-person team. Like, thanks for thinking I’m big (???) but the truth is, I am still a small business no matter what you think of me. And any BILLION dollar business taking advantage of a small business is a TRASH COMPANY.
WHAT DO WE DO?
Sorry for all the complaining. When I am upset, I have to write everything out because it helps me process my feelings. I want to thank everyone who has commented on my IG. It has been healing to hear your support and to see your re-stories as I deal with this situation for the second time.
Here are some actionable steps you can take:
1️⃣ Share this post. The more people we can make aware of the problem, the better.
2️⃣ Please stop buying from SHEIN. Choosing to spend your dollars elsewhere is the best way to take a stand. For those who say they can’t afford anything else…you have many options. I grew up with Vietnamese immigrant parents who taught me how to save money by shopping the CLEARANCE section of Ross, Marshalls, TJ MAXX etc. I also shopped swap meets, sample sales, and never bought anything full price.
3️⃣ Hold influencers accountable! Comment on influencers’ posts – you know, the ones that are doing SHEIN Hauls or the ones being paid to talk about SHEIN! Be nice, don’t berate, just educate them. If we can stop one of them, that means we are saving hundreds of thousands of followers from buying from SHEIN.
PS: For those of you asking when the Pirouette Skort will restock, it’s crazy timing, but it’s actually THIS WEEK. Some colors have already trickled back in. Here’s the link. The skort goes from XXS-3X and the shorts under are anti-cameltoe!