Why I Won’t Divulge my Trade Secrets and Why Gift Design Can/Should be Intellectual Property

Why I Won’t Divulge my Trade Secrets and Why Gift Design Can/Should be Intellectual Property

Posted by Brittney Frick on Mar 26th 2018

Good afternoon y’all!

I wanted to touch on a subject that has come up several times over the years with some of my followers.

I’m a small business (as many of you are). So small in fact that Southern Grown Vintage is 99.9% a one-woman show (until I have an IT glitch and then I call in the Husband-Calvary). In the 2.5 years that SGV has been in business I have spent (on average) 10 hours a week researching packaging options and new products while trying to make my business more lean and efficient. This means I’ve spent roughly 1,300 hours in the last couple of years perfecting my gift designs and building a business my clients appreciate and rely on for their overall client experience. Research, design, negotiating, procurement, sourcing, inventory management, website management, order fulfillment, shipping, finance…those are all done by little ole me. My custom gifting pricing is low because I don’t have a staff and overhead to support. I have done a significant amount of research on the industry, the business, and specifically my competition. I know that I offer a niche – AFFORDABLE customization for small business creatives.

So, when I get a message that says, “That crate/box is so pretty, where do you source your packaging?” I get a bit perturbed and will not give you my direct source.

To me, that’s like:

  • Asking a baker what her recipe is (hire him/her to make it!)
  • Asking a photographer what ISO and aperture they used for a specific photo, where they took it, and at what time of day so they can recreate it themselves (take their class if they offer it or hire them!)
  • Asking a planner what negotiated deals/relationships she has with local venues (hire him/her to use their influence and experience!)
  • Asking a florist where they get their wholesale flowers or vases/displays (hire him/her and rent their inventory!)

Asking for trade secrets discounts all the hours, research, planning, preparation and negotiating we have done to get where we are. I don’t have the technical skill to master photography (which is why I hire a photographer for EVERYTHING), I order birthday/anniversary/wedding cakes and I don’t ask how they made it, I order my arrangements/boutonnieres through a florist …. I 100% believe in shopping small and shopping local. It's always more expensive, but I know that money is going to a small business that’s supporting themselves, putting their kids through dance/sports/music etc, and usually making just enough to make ends meet while fulfilling their dream of being a small business owner. That's why when I source from other small businesses I always credit and tag them in my posts: photographers, calligraphers, floral designers, stylists/planners, etc. It matters!

This is also why I won't remove any and all references to my business if you are asking me to ship directly to your clients. Your personal message and card obviously are the first thing your client will see when they open their gift; but there will always be my business card at the very bottom. Asking me to remove it and put your business's return address on the shipping label is like posting a professional photo of a wedding cake on Instagram and saying you made it and photographed it. That's plagiarism. I know the client gifting business is a fairly new trade, but plagiarism does exist.

I honestly hope this little post doesn’t come off as rude or like I’m having a hissy fit (and if so then let's call it pregnancy hormones!). I want folks to understand and appreciate the value that that Southern Grown Vintage adds; and 99.9% of you do! I often receive the sweetest messages from my clients about how happy their clients are and what I relief I provide to them by not having to make/send gifts themselves. That's what I'm here for and those messages absolutely make my day!

I really just want folks to understand why I politely decline when I receive a request of, “I love those XYZs you use, where do you source them?” or when I simply respond with, “you can buy them from me!” Because you can :) 

Photo by Mariah Freeman Photography

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