Go Flailing, Yelling, and Stumbling in the Direction of Your Dreams

A few hours after my last post I realized it was actually Monday when I posted it so I was technically on schedule, LOL. Welcome to my brain, you guys!

I didn’t play many games this week (aside from Roblox omg lol), so today’s post is going to be about our week’s accomplishments. Those are more important anyway, right? I really hope that the week went well for you, and I’d love to hear if there’s anything that made you especially happy or proud of yourself this week, big or small. Drop a comment!

At some point mid-week I got tired of my hair and chopped it with craft scissors – don’t worry, this is a totally typical thing for me. Last year I bleached my long dark brown hair to platinum blonde, basically annihilating it.

6 months of my hair in 2018

Although I’ve cut and trimmed it a lot since then, the ends were still very scratchy and I was just done with it. I started cutting and my daughter heard, turned around and was like, “Omg, you’re gonna regret that.” So far so good, I think.

The two things I’m most proud of this week are related to graphics. I applied to be a contracted designer for a cute little company and created some samples, which was a little different and a tad more challenging than creating for myself (which is all I’ve ever done) because everything pretty much had to be from scratch. These images are meant to be wrapped around tin cans.

I’m not by any means a graphic designer, but I really enjoy making things so hopefully they like them. I haven’t heard back from them yet.

Then today I made my first cutesy little animation (it’s just a .gif so not a huge production) and I am so in love with how it turned out. It’s an edit of my business logo, which got a brighter, happier makeover for spring this week.

I watched it for a long time earlier and my son just came in as I was typing this and said, “Why are you still watching that?” I am so judged by my spawn, haha. I think next I want to make the necklace a bit bigger so it can be seen when the image is sized down, but I didn’t want to start with anything huge because that’s just overwhelming! Lol.

And that’s all my news this week. Again, I’d love to hear yours. If you didn’t have a good week, I hope that next week brings better things your way, I really do. It always gets better, and I’m living proof.

Thank you for reading <3 Take care.

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Roadblox?

I’m a terrible, horrible person who didn’t blog yesterday or follow my PATH TO RIGHTEOUSNESS from the post in which I talked about doing what I plan to do. I don’t know if I’m more embarrassed about that or the fact that one of the reasons I didn’t blog is because I was playing Roblox. Have you guys played Roblox? My kids were playing it one day and as a joke I joined them. But then the joke

got

serious.

Anyway, I think I like it because, much like the sims, it’s a sort of mindless way to spend time. If you haven’t checked the game out for yourself or you want to see some posts about what I’m up to in that, let me know because there are some STORIES I could tell.

To be fair, I did start a post a few days ago, it’s just still sitting in my drafts.

BUT for the sake of future Starla, I just made the rule RIGHT NOW that even if I make my best efforts to post and don’t, I’m not going to dwell on it. This is still more posts than I make when I’m not trying, so it’s okay! It’s Tuesday and I’m posting off schedule, I’m so wild. So crazy.

Here is a picture of some random try-hard doodles I worked on this evening. Imagine me presenting it to you like this:

Welp, here's the art
Doodling helps art, or so I'm told...

Here’s to tomorrow’s post! Take care, everyone <3

Additional Note:

This post sat here for a minute while I went downstairs and while I was down there I realized that my desire to read Harry Potter started off as a joke too. I was grounded for, like, an entire summer and as a joke I asked my mom to get me the Harry Potter books to pass the time. This brilliant woman went to the store that week and brought home all 4 (that were out at the time). Then, well, I’m sure you can guess what happened.

I’m sensing a pattern here… I should joke less 😂

How I Became Disenchanted by Harry Potter

I went back and forth about whether I want to share this little story or not, mostly because it’s something I still feel a bit of bitterness about and I want to inform more than rant, but ultimately I decided it’s a nice learning experience for those of us who create things. A cautionary tale, if you will.

As I’ve mentioned, I started my own company in October 2018. Initially, I set out to create jewelry inspired by fandoms (gaming, books, movies, etc.) because I’ve had tons of ideas stashed in my mind for a very long time and this was an excellent opportunity to get them out. I’m sure many of you can relate: our ideas never end.

Excited to get started, I jumped in (admittedly without doing much research beforehand), starting an Etsy shop and creating my first five pieces. Each piece was inspired by my favorite franchise of all time: Harry Potter, of course.

There were some pieces that were pretty literal in their interpretations, like a pendant with a quote by Ron Weasley on it, Hedwig in her cage, or this keychain:

Originally called “The Dark Mark”

Then there were some that were more abstract or loosely based, such as a piece featuring pink ombre floral beads inspired by Hermione’s Yule Ball gown in Goblet of Fire, or the necklace below – this is important, and you’ll see why in a second.

Originally called “The Invisibility Cloak”

The Invisibility Cloak was immediately my favorite piece, and also my first two sales (because my friends are awesome and supportive).

As a relatively new seller on Etsy and as someone who has only ever used or had any connection with Etsy when I’m looking for handcrafted fandom-style items, I didn’t think much about what I was calling these items or how I was tagging them, except that I tagged them to ensure they would be found on the site by those who would enjoy them. If you do a search on Etsy for “Harry Potter” you get hundreds of thousands of items as a result, and I wanted to make sure I was one of them. Because Potterheads unite! Or something.

Once I had my Etsy shop up and running, I set out to talk about my stuff and let people know it exists, as many sellers do. Because The Invisibility Cloak was my favorite, it was the main piece I excitedly threw around all over the place. I was so thrilled for this new adventure and I needed EVERYONE to know it.

One night, in giddiness-fueled impulse, I decided I wanted J.K. Rowling to see the necklace, so I tweeted at her (because Twitter is her favorite haunt and all). It said something along the lines of, “I made this necklace, loosely based on Harry’s invisibility cloak! What do you think?” It included a picture and a link to its Etsy listing.

But, uh, I guess that’s where I made a mistake.

I had heard things – not so great things – about JKR and her team, and how they’re pretty crazy about copyrights (and $$$). Disney as well. But I never really took it too seriously. People like to exaggerate, right? JKR is a creator; she understands inspiration. Literally shit-tons of things have been inspired by her work, just as she was inspired by others when she created it. But, haha… this is where my opinion changed.

A week after this tweet was sent, I got an email from Etsy saying the Invisibility Cloak necklace was taken down due to copyright claims by Warner Bros and was not to be put back up.

It would help if they responded to emails.

You guys. My very abstract interpretation of a magical object in a book series, a necklace which sat amongst other more literal Harry Potter listings, was totally ripping off the franchise.

Now, I understand the basics of copyright and ownership, intellectual property and the like. I would never intentionally rip off someone else’s work, and I fully support and respect creators in that regard. But this felt so ridiculous. It felt petty, in a way? And I didn’t understand, especially when it seemed as if they’d only targeted it because of the tweet. They didn’t even take the time to look at the rest of my shop and see all the other Harry Potter themed items. It felt like I’d said, “Hey, JKR, what do you think of my work?!” and she’d responded with, “That’s mine. Goodbye.” Except with less words and through a legal team.

Etsy gave me the option to email Warner Bros. I’ll be honest, initially I was really hurt, so I didn’t email them right away. I wanted to do my best to figure out how to fix the situation and not make it worse by getting all emotional because I’d only had my shop for a week and felt like it was already doomed. When I did email them, I politely asked what I needed to change and expressed my apologies for being mistaken in thinking what I was doing was fine. It was very much a tail-between-the-legs email that Starla From The Past, who had serious pride issues, would have scoffed at.

They didn’t reply, so I did my own research in the meantime and found that, essentially, it’s expected that creators who have made products inspired by specific fandoms should not use tags or titles specific to that fandom unless they have license to do so. You can use tags and titles that hint at what it’s supposed to represent, like a generic cereal meant to be similar to Cap’n Crunch. A notebook featuring Hermione Granger, for example, cannot depict a Hogwarts crest or her name, but a notebook featuring a bushy haired girl in a witch hat and a school uniform can be titled Brightest Witch Notebook. Something like that. Maybe they’d still get you for using “Brightest Witch.” I really don’t know.

After another week of silence on their end, I decided this wasn’t even worth it. My shop was meant to be fun, and a place where I can try to make myself feel useful after the year I’d been through, so – pardon me, but – fuck them. I sent another email to Warner Bros, and this time I wasn’t as nice. I mentioned that, number one, instead of shutting down an item completely, they could have sent a warning or some sort of message to indicate it wasn’t appropriate. Number two, they should shift their focus to shops under the “Harry Potter” search on Etsy that are making thousands of sales off of images, fonts, and characters literally ripped from the books or movies before targeting a very new and small shop. Number three, I don’t think JKR owns exclusive rights to the term “invisibility cloak” anyway. And I probably added more sarcasm to finish off with a flourish. As respectfully as possible.

Having said what I felt I needed to, I removed all associations with Harry Potter from my shop and started fresh. To this date, I still haven’t heard from Warner Bros and the necklace still sits deactivated in my shop. The Invisibility Cloak necklace has moved to my new site and is now called Multicolored Hematite Arrow Bib Statement Necklace, which, yes, is utterly boring, but I find now that it’s worth it to represent myself and not what I thought something else was.

All in all, I’m thankful that I learned this lesson early on from a creator/business perspective, but as a fan it still gets to me sometimes. The one thing that really changed throughout this process is that when I see Harry Potter merchandise now, I keep walking. I think that’s what disappoints me the most. The magic is gone.

What do you think? Should Warner Bros have a system of notifying creators prior to shutting them down? Was I being dramatic? LOL, probably. Feel free to share your honest opinions if you’d like.

Thank you for reading <3

New Year, New Content!

Hi, everyone! Welcome to 2019, and to my first blog post of the new year. I’m thrilled to jump into all the wonderful things I want to talk about and do and play, but for this first post I thought I would share with you a little piece of what 2018 brought into my life.

I spent a huge amount of 2018 not doing too well. I was ill and suffering from major depression, so my bed and I had a lot of quality time together. I had to quit a job I had once been extremely good at due to my health, then tried to work a much simpler job and unfortunately got laid off for missing too many days – once again, due to my health. It was good times, as you can imagine.

But the last few months of the year were some of the best, and because of these and tons of support I received from friends and loved ones, I was able to pull myself out of my hole and finish the year stronger than I had been. Overall this made 2018 a wonderful year for me.

The biggest change for me in 2018 was in the beginning of October, when I launched a new handcrafted jewelry and creative business called Intricate Disarray. It’s been such an exciting adventure so far – sometimes scary, of course – and I’ve learned and grown a ton as an entrepreneur since I began.

I’ve set up a workspace where I can create and think and write and work, and I sit here every day, happily working away on many projects. I can’t wait to see where it goes and what I’m able to accomplish with it.

Intricate Disarray

Being my own boss has given me the control and purpose I needed in my life, because there’s nothing worse than needing to work to survive and not being able to because of the demands and expectations of someone else. It has taken the edge off of the hopelessness that comes along with chronic illness, and I’m truly thankful to be able to do this.

Plus, working my own hours gives me the opportunity to write here and interact with all of you. Bonus!

I would love to hear about your 2018, good or bad, if you’d like to share. Did you try anything new, go somewhere exciting, or find something that made you happy? I truly hope that whatever 2018 did to you, you have entered 2019 with a happy heart and a positive outlook. One of the biggest lessons I learned this past year is that no matter the situation, there’s always hope. You just have to fight through. And I hope to pass this message along to anyone who needs it.

Thank you for reading, and see you next time! <3