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 Economic / big business
 Cafepress is $(^#%!^& the people who built it

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
eepster Posted - 04/23/2009 : 12:12:38 AM
Many of you have noticed that I have cafepress shops. I specifically opened one where I put all my knitting designs b/c I get so inspired here.

I make my money at cafepress. while it isn't our families sole source of income, it is what I use to pay for christmas and DS's music lessons. I have worked hard for three years building my shop and inventory. My income has been steadily growing at cafepress, I put in a lot of time and effort to grow it. I was even hoping by next christmas I might be making enough to get an advertisement for my shop full of knitting t-shirts.

This afternoon cafepress sent out an email simply announcing that they would no longer allow the designers to set their own markups in the market place. They were simply going to set a single very low commission for all designs.

This new low commission would mean that most of the designers, who have worked for years making cafepress a success, will be taking pay cuts between 50% and 90%.

As I stated before, I do not rely on cafepress to live, but many many designers do. They started with cafepress when it was nothing, worked hard on nights and weekend to build it up. They toiled and invested in advertising. When they finally started to make a real living they quit their day jobs to devote themselves full time to cafepress.

Last christmas they eliminated our volume bonuses, but said we could make up for the money by raising our markups. Now they have taken away our markups and are giving us a pittance.

.." "
12   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
hbdee Posted - 10/24/2010 : 9:00:02 PM
Jen--I've never bought from CafePress so nobody's losing any money off me, but I'd like to comment on your signature owl, He's adorable! Obviously if you can put that much personality into a few typed symbols, you have great talent. I never paid any attention to owls until last year, when my daughter started college at Bryn Mawr. Their totem is an owl. Owls are on the school crest. They have beautiful life-sized, hand-carved mahogany owls at each landing of the Rockefeller dorm staircase, built in 1903. Last year a bunch of non-college yahoos showed up to party--Rockefeller girls were not even involved--and the owls were all stolen.

Eventually, all but one were returned. One was broken. Now I see owls everywhere & am collecting them here & there for my daughter & her roommate, assigned together last year, together again this year by choice. They would appreciate your owl, too! Good luck to you.

Molly Bygolly Posted - 10/23/2010 : 08:07:42 AM
So whatever became of Cafe Press?

I see that apparently there now exists a clothing line called, "Cafepress Sucks," LOL, so I suspect that this story did not have a good ending.

I'm pretty confused -- WHY did Cafepress seek to offend and antagonize its own customers???

Very peculiar how many online businesses work, isn't it?

Where did the artists who used to design for Cafepress wind up, where are they all nowadays?
lella Posted - 04/25/2009 : 8:12:24 PM
Stolen designs is right. They were paying you a commission on your design from the beginning, right? Then they don't own that design, you just allowed them to use a copy of it, per shirt. I'd read the articles of engagement thoroughly, though.

Gosh that really sucks. I looked around the little shops but never bought anything from them, so my boycott won't mean much. But I hope you find somewhere to move your things and quickly. That is so unbelievably bad business. They must be out of their minds to think that any of you would stay.

My Blog @ Zippiknits
Knitting@ Flicker
purlgin Posted - 04/25/2009 : 07:21:30 AM
Their behavior is really outrageous. I hope it works out for you. I took a look at your shop -- nice stuff. Your sock knitter shirt alone looks like it could be a big hit. There seem to be a lot of online yarn shops that specialize in sock knitting. Maybe you could sell it to (or through) them. I can imagine a fun gift kit -- sock yarn, a pattern, and one of your buttons (or shirts). Good luck to you.
eepster Posted - 04/25/2009 : 12:25:54 AM
Yes we can pack up and leave, and if they haven't changed their minds by May 31, I will. There are competition sites I ca go to.

It just kills me to start over after I spent 3 years building my shops at cafepress.

Thanks for listening to my non-knitting related plight.

Etsy is great, they just charge twenty cents per listing.

.." "
Cafepress designers on strike,
Boycott Cafepress
GFTC Posted - 04/23/2009 : 5:45:06 PM
That is amazing. Do you own the rights to your designs if you want to pack up and leave CafePress? Does CafePress have competition that the designers can go to and set up again? Were there any written contracts that the designers can use to protect their rights?

We've seen this happen with ebay, now CafePress. I wonder how Etsy deals with all this.

my knitting photos on Flickr or Ravelry
Bethany Posted - 04/23/2009 : 4:40:58 PM
Man, that sucks.


Although the one time I got a t-shirt from them, I found it sturdy but not that soft. I admit that was some years ago, though.
dschmidt Posted - 04/23/2009 : 3:53:09 PM
Once again designers are threatened by distributors. I know Annie Modesitt has urged knitting designers to stand up for fair pay and practices. This sounds very similar. I won't buy from Cafepress now.

Donna in VA

The Honor Roll? It's easier here than in school. Scroll up to "Want to Make Betty Happy?" and be an Honor Roll member.
eepster Posted - 04/23/2009 : 3:31:34 PM
Sorry GFTC, I should have explained better.

The way cafepress had been working was, they provided products that were printable and the service of printing designs on those products. Designers created images that could be printed on said products. Designers, known as Shopkeeper on cafepress, ran stores (which we pay for if we want to have more than one of each product, and more than a basic set up) and also made their designs available in a larger group store known as the marketplace.

Designers/shopkeepers were responsible for setting their designs up on products organizing their shops (which we pay fees for) advertising our shops (which many of us have put a lot of time and money into.)

Cafepress charges a fee for printing on a product. The designer/shopkeeper charged a separate fee for the use of the design. So, if you want to buy a white t-shirt with a picture of a poodle on it from cafe press you had the choice of looking through shops and the market place and finding a photo you liked and buying that or providing your own poodle photo. If you provided your own photo, you would pay $20 for cafepress to print it on a t-shirt. However, if there was a designer that had a great photo of a poodle that you though was wonderful, then you would pay the designer $2, $3, $4 or $5 and cafepress would charge you $20 to print it on a t-shirt. The designer/shopkeeper was allowed to choose how much they wanted to charge for their work (photo, drawing, saying, etc.)

Cafepress now wants to offer our designs on t-shirts for free, and give us a very small "commission" when they sell a shirt with our designs on them. So after June, when you go to cafepress and want a t-shirt with a photo of a poodle on it, you can use your own photo and pay $22 for cafepress to print it on a shirt, or you can pick a "free" design from the huge database of stolen designs that cafepress amassed from it's loyal designer/shopkeeper partners, who have paid fees to cafepress for years. Cafepress will give the designer a "commission" of 10% which depending on the product can amount to anything from $2 to less than $0.20.

The specific amount paid to the designer/shopkeeper will vary obviously, and for many of my product that are just simple saying on a t-shirt that sell well, it will amount to just under minimum wage. However, for more complicated and specialized designs it will mean that I might receive less than a dollar for every hour put into bringing it to market. This isn't even looking at covering the cost of paying shop fees.

Creating and uploading the designs, maintaining and advertising the store all costs designers both time and overhead. On top of spending time sitting at the computer drawing, typing, arranging, etc we also need to have computers with large memories and fast processors, expensive graphics software, peripherals such as cameras, highspeed internet connections, etc. We attended seminars that cafepress set up, where they encouraged us to advertise and drive business to them.

We designer/shopkeepers all invested time, equipment, advertising, shop fees, etc because we felt we owned our shops and our designs. We had an agreement with cafepress that they were our partners in this enterprise.

.." "
GFTC Posted - 04/23/2009 : 05:24:40 AM
Originally posted by eepster
......they would no longer allow the designers to set their own markups in the market place. They were simply going to set a single very low commission for all designs.

This new low commission would mean that most of the designers, who have worked for years making cafepress a success, will be taking pay cuts between 50% and 90%.

My entire experience w/cafe press is buying 2 mugs so I don't know how it works for the seller but I don't understand exactly what you are saying. Do they set the price for the item? Weren't you paying a commission before? Isn't a "very low" commission a good thing? What do you mean by not allowing you to set your own markup?

What I do understand is the gist of what you are saying. I've seen it happen many times with clothing designers. They come up with a line and give it to a rep that has a popular showroom representing many lines. This new line takes off and when the rep gets it placed in the big stores and develops a real following the designer takes away the line and opens a corporate showroom. The rep never gets to reap the real rewards.

my knitting photos on Flickr or Ravelry
Chemcats Posted - 04/23/2009 : 03:45:34 AM
Cafepress made a terrible mistake. Yes, the shops are going to take a hit, but nothing like Cafepress will when the shops and artist leave. There are a lot of alternatives, but it will hurt the incomes for a while. Damn, Jen, I am sorry to hear this. I hope your strike works!

I know a lot of fiber folks were hurt when eBay changed their "business practices" and it seems that they grouped around a few well known sellers who then turned their group efforts into successful on-line businesses.

They are trying to take advantage of your hard work and it sucks.

eepster Posted - 04/23/2009 : 12:14:40 AM
BTW: please don't actually buy anything from those shops right now, us designers are sort of on strike.

.." "

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