How Woolworths really operates!

18 Oct

Fair warning: This isn’t going to be a happy post, because what’s happened has left me very, very sad.

It’s not easy being a designer, and even less easy being a small, independent designer. You’re constantly having to find a balance between paying your bills, and being true to your art. For most designers, being approached by a big retail chain would sound like a dream come true. Right?


I was approached by the buying head of homeware at Woolworths at the beginning of 2013. (For those of you outside SA, Woolworths is the equivalent of Marks & Spencer or Macy’s.)

A meeting was set up to meet the buying head and another homeware buyer, to discuss having some of my Touchee Feelee range form part of Woolworth’s new “artisan” range. I took samples of all my work to the meeting, and was asked if they could hold on to them to show certain samples to their manager. (When I agreed, they reminded me, however, that I would have to collect them later as they had limited space in their office. It’s been more than 7 months, and I’m still trying to get my samples back.)

I was asked my wholesale prices, and as soon as I mentioned the first number, the atmosphere went from friendly chat to hardball in a matter of seconds. I was told very bluntly that “they will never go for that.” OK, we’re negotiating. I can deal with it. After they attempted to butter me up by promising me a feature in Taste Magazine, I left behind a few items printed with my hummingbird painting.

hummingbird in acrylic

The hummingbird painting I did in 2012 painted from a photograph by R.W. Scott .


mark1 copy

Touchee Feelee’s Hummingbird cushion

A few days later, I received an email with an offer. They wanted me to provide printed panels of fabric for napkins and cushions, (which they would then make up themselves), both printed with my hummingbird, as they had a blue and green colourway coming up. The offer was…let’s just say that to call it ridiculous would be an insult to ridiculous things. The quantities weren’t even enough to justify wholesale pricing, and my profit per item would have been in the single digits. In a phone call shortly thereafter, the buyer tried to convince me that I was in fact making money if I looked at the figures a certain way. I may not be a mathematician, but I know how to work out my profits. This felt like another strong-arm tactic to me.

Ultimately, I decided to go through with it because of the exposure. We had one meeting after the other to decide on fabric samples (as if I made the items in pure linen like I usually do, I would basically be paying out of my own pocket); and about 5 meetings in the buyer very casually says “I’d prefer to drop the napkins.” Fine, just the cushions it is. I’m not really losing money, since I wasn’t really making any either.

At this point, the buyer became increasingly insistent on finding out my cost price. Anyone in any kind of business knows that that’s the kind of information you never, ever share. After I spent some time dancing around the question, the buyer was getting irritated at which point I was treated to a selection of horror stories about how other local designers had refused to share their cost price and had consequently had their ranges or designs cut.

The design community is small. I don’t know all of you personally, but I know enough of you by name; and yes, she mentioned you. I know now that I’m not the only person to have gone through this, and it makes me wonder why none of you ever shared your stories before. That’s why I’m doing this now. I’m not the first to be treated this way, and unless someone says something, I certainly won’t be the last.

Eventually, we agreed on two different fabrics and I was asked to provide six sample panels three of each fabric). I provided these panels within two weeks. And then?

Then, I was given the silent treatment for two months. None of my emails were answered and phone calls were denied. Then, out of the blue, an email that said they had made the cushions up. Two out of the six samples were returned to me. As for the other four cushions? Woolworths had “…retained the samples for consideration for input later in the year.”

A few days later, another email arrived: “I am afraid very unlikely we will be going ahead with any new designs.”

This was already upsetting news, after the amount of time and energy I’d poured into the project. It was, however, about to get worse.

Just over a week later, I was browsing through Woolworths in Cavendish Square, when I found this:


After doing a rather violent double take, I had a closer look. Same size cushion (60cm x 40cm)? Check. Near identical hummingbird design (with what looks like the Wikipedia entry on hummingbirds pasted into the background)? Check. Same fabric? Check.

And, conveniently, it was now part of the W Collection.

(Fun fact: If that text is in fact from Wikipedia, Wiki requires attribution on all commercial use of their text. You’d be correct in assuming Woolies did no such thing.)

I have since asked, repeatedly, for the last of my samples to be returned, but have as yet not received them back. That is the least of my worries, however. I’m more concerned over what I see as a case of thinly veiled plagiarism.

If I were to play devil’s advocate, I could say that yes, they’ve changed the design slightly. I could concede that pictures of hummingbirds tend to largely look alike. I might even agree that under some very loose definitions of art or design, they had done their own painting. But, the facts stack up too much on the opposite side for me to allow it.

Given what you know about my meetings, about the time frame, and about what’s happened since, can you look at these two pictures and honestly say that Woolworths came up with this exact cushion design on their own?


It’s my belief that my designs were sent to a another manufacturer and adapted. This is common in all areas of retail. What I didn’t realise was that it’s also now apparently common practice to treat independent designers in this way. It seems the only thing that Woolworths learnt from the recent Frankie’s debacle, was how to disguise their plagiarism.

I saw samples from several other designers in the buyer’s office, and have reached out to them personally. Fellow designers, I know that it’s all too tempting to sit back and take this sort of treatment either out of fear that a big chain will shut you out, or out of hope that it’ll pay off in the long run.

But, I’m asking I’m – begging for you to stop. We have to stand up for ourselves, and our community, or things like this will keep happening.

I’m well aware of the risk I’m taking by publishing this, but I’ve decided to go ahead with it regardless. My claims aren’t unfounded.

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See my own Hummingbird cushion here:



248 Responses to “How Woolworths really operates!”

  1. justicesacorruption December 10, 2017 at 19:25 #

    Who is going to stand together on opening the can of worms of corruption at Woolworths?
    I will share ALL my information but please come forward if you have similar experience as this artist. This was not the first time this happened with artists.
    Woolworths had 10yrs to get their GBJ model ready with ethical values but they failed the consumer and shareholders, Their operations is as bad if not worse than Gupta’s and Steinhoff.


  2. justicesacorruption December 10, 2017 at 19:16 #

    You are soooo correct but it is not easy to get them to book (law) as the kingpin is an ex employee and he uses the envelope model so money move around and he is the preferred supplier in Woolworths


  3. justicesacorruption December 10, 2017 at 19:13 #

    The artists cushions was manufactured in cape town


  4. wilfnussey October 6, 2017 at 16:02 #

    Why do you independent designers not get together and form a registered, legal professional body as do lawyers, doctors, engineers, pilots, journalists, botanists and many other professionals which you can use jointly to sue when some bastard business treats you like WW has done to so many of you. It would cost you very little individually to be a member and there are plenty of you in SA. There are many statutory bodies the law can use such as the competition, copyright and other bodies, some of which are mentioned in all these responses. WW is very precious about its upper class image and if information like this became public it would suffer, and rightly so.


  5. Westley Kirsten September 18, 2017 at 15:44 #

    another company doing the same is DISCHEM.
    This is why they’re own brand grows so fast…


  6. Mezzanine (@m3zza9) September 18, 2017 at 11:27 #

    I had the same thing happen to me, but in the audio world. Created some jingles for a brand, which they paid for. They then asked if I had any “rough takes” as they were looking for ideas for their sister brand. They promptly went on to have one for the rough ideas we came up with rerecorded in a different voice, which then became their official jingle. Technically both the copywriter (who was also the voice artist) & I are entitled to royalties. They just stopped replying to me and went silent.
    I was a kid, they were a corporation.


  7. wendy7906 September 5, 2016 at 11:06 #

    Woolworths has always operated in a dog eat dog manner. They portray to be such a A list company in the media but the truth is behind the scenes they use anf abuse. Not only will they rip you off but they have racist work ethics. Before the government got involved they use to pay staff below the belt. Many of their Designer’s had quit. The problem is that nobody has complained to the retail governing body. or someone has been bribed.


  8. Isis Limor July 15, 2015 at 11:03 #

    I love this … “When we approached Ms Roets, we did so, as we saw so much talent in her. We asked her to come in and show us her range, which she did. We viewed a wide range of her work, one of which was a hummingbird. It just so happened that in August 2012, we had already commissioned a Durban supplier, Republic Umbrella, to do a hummingbird design, which we signed off in November 2012, before we had even meet Ms Roets. We have all the documents that proved we designed the cushion before meeting her.”

    How on earth do they explain the similarity in colour and design if this is the case. Very unconvincing, there is just too much similarity and its obvious the final design was “influenced” (used lightly) by your Hummingbird. The tail strokes are a dead giveaway.

    If its any consolation, they lost the unique, bespoke artisan like feel your cushions had and have produced something that would fit right in at Mr Price.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Michelle Schaefer de Nysschen January 11, 2015 at 19:48 #

    PUBLIC ! WARNING ABOUT WOOLWORTHS ! A Note of General INTEREST Global about Woolworths South Africa, a sister company, colleague and associate of variously Marks & Spencer, Country Road and David Jones;- Woolworths FS unlawfully deducted money from my bank acc and I was in jeopardy of arrest after someone there maliciously encoded my credit card (in good standing and safely in my purse) as “stolen” as a gesture to victimise me in reply to a valid Woolworths complaint. An identified Woolworths employee from CEO office met me in public place in official capacity, swore at me by means of language defined as inappropriate in the RSA Criminal Procedure Act, and told me individual clients are unimportant to firm (quote verbatim – “we make millions every day, we can afford to lose clients”) – I have nothing good to say about Woolworths and I have sent satellite social media broadcasts to all affiliates of an international organisation and underground network I belong to to say : BOYCOTT David Jones, Country Road, M&S, and EACH and EVERY associate of WOOLWORTHS worldwide! Ethical and caring handling of consumer prized? PUBLISHED IN PURSUANCE OF MY PRESS FREEDOMS AFTER SEVERE TRAUMA at hands of this firm – without prejudice to my rights in toto Under advisement


  10. faheemo1 November 4, 2013 at 16:57 #

    This is obvious corruption, the comments on this page prove that Woolworths has done it before and will do it in the future.

    If Woolworths claims that the design was done by supplier in Durban, wouldn’t it be rather strange that they would show interest in an obviously similar design?

    Also, it was just a matter of a month after they claimed they signed off a deal with with a supplier in Durban, so obviously they wouldn’t show interest in a similar design, and go to the extent of price negotiations.

    A point that could be noted too, is that why did the cushion covers only reach the stores after Touchee Feelee was consulted, perhaps November 2012 was a date too convieniently chosen?

    Besides if they had already signed of a deal for cushion covers in 2012, why were they still meeting prospective suppliers?

    It is also way too coincidental that 2 very very similar designs, of the same size, and on the same fabric can be sumbitted at all, and that too over such a short period of time.

    Also why were the designs rejected only after samples were submitted?
    Before that it seemed that they were certainly intrested in the designs.

    There is definitely a strong case against Woolworths. I do hope justice will be achieved.


  11. mel wobbe (@melwobbe) October 31, 2013 at 11:16 #

    I say simply,let’s all stop shopping at Woolworths,let’s stick to our morals,and not provide them eith the muscle,we the consumer give them
    This is another horrific story,about buyers,not experienced,and without ethics.
    Little sheep,without any ideas themselves,treating,people like dirt
    Please do not ever shop there again,I will never shop there again
    Then let’s see how the buyer survives
    The Chinese only do what they are asked to do,WOOLWORTHS PRETTY POOR BEHAVIOUR


  12. Richard Hills October 30, 2013 at 20:44 #

    They did the same to Frankie’s Lemonade and lost in court!


  13. Victoria Romburgh October 30, 2013 at 10:20 #

    I am VERY sorry (but to be honest, not surprised) to hear about your situation. This needs to stop. Its criminal! Us independent designers need to stick together and continue to build our consumer relationship which totally opposite from that of the retailers. Consumer consciousness is growing and it is through sticking to the our truth in ‘honest creating’ (and Speaking out like you have done) that more and more consumers will start to seek out direct links to designer-makers and avoid large retailers (operating with unethical business practices) when purchasing bespoke, ethically produced, heart felt, real design. Wishing you all the best.


  14. Burgert Adriaan Potgieter October 29, 2013 at 09:46 #

    I Shared it to S A Business Directory. Serious publicity there.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. lebomukansi October 26, 2013 at 06:38 #

    Reblogged this on Inventors Kitchen Blog space and commented:
    What do you think about the new Woolies plagiarism debacle. Leave your comments below.


  16. Deon Fialkov (@777productions) October 23, 2013 at 19:09 #

    Very interesting to read … quite a hectic debacle to deal with …

    Good luck …

    I may even reblog this …


  17. Melody McClure October 23, 2013 at 14:51 #

    I think this is shocking. It is not just the Woolworths brand that has acted very badly but the buyers themselves. I wonder what sort of people they are to do this. They have no pride in doing their jobs as it is easier to take from others. I really hope they remember the wheel turns, we may not always see it but it does. I trust the Woolworths management start to clean up their acts as South African shoppers are becoming aware of these practices and we will stop using your shops.


  18. kaeleer October 23, 2013 at 11:26 #

    I have reblogged this onto with the following statement:

    “In case y’all are wondering why I have a been in my bonnet about Woolworths, let me explain:

    South African consumers are, arguably, the most misled in the world. Everything, from food labels to the content of our advertising, is frequently shown to be inaccurate. Discerning consumers therefore are drawn to businesses which they believe they can trust, who they believe honestly care about them, their health, and the environment. When a company, like Woolworths, creates a brand predicated upon these values, I think we’re entitled to expect them to live up to it and we are entitled to question them when we feel that they are not.

    The hummingbird scandal is not just about theft of a design. It goes to the heart of one of Woolworths’ slogans : that it is proudly South African and supports local small businesses. Quite apart from the debatable legal question of whether that design was copied, a number of other factual issues have arisen, and I, as a consumer, want clarity on them. Some of these facts have been admitted by Woolworths (like the fact that they retained the designs, like the fact that they were slow to respond to emails and phone calls). Other issues have been skirted. The wikipedia text, for instance. Woolworths at first denied that they had copied it verbatim, instead arguing that it was “adapted”. Now they deny that Wikipedia own the text, even though their licencing agreement with their contributors clearly states that they do.

    There is also the question of how much profit Woolworths allows small businesses to make, when they do business with Woolworths. I have repeatedly asked this question, because I am astonished at the markups they make on products manufactured by rural communities, because I think it goes to the heart of their claim that they “support” local business. Is that what they are doing? Or are they creating a one-sided relationship.

    The thing is, if Woolworths is not honest about this, then how do we trust that they are honest about their other claims? How “organic” is their produce? How can we trust their labels?

    If you don’t think this is important, that’s fine. I do, because I want to be an informed consumer so that I can exercise my choices wisely and well.”


  19. kaeleer October 23, 2013 at 11:24 #

    Reblogged this on Loud Mouthed Chick and commented:
    In case y’all are wondering why I have a been in my bonnet about Woolworths, let me explain:

    South African consumers are, arguably, the most misled in the world. Everything, from food labels to the content of our advertising, is frequently shown to be inaccurate. Discerning consumers therefore are drawn to businesses which they believe they can trust, who they believe honestly care about them, their health, and the environment. When a company, like Woolworths, creates a brand predicated upon these values, I think we’re entitled to expect them to live up to it and we are entitled to question them when we feel that they are not.

    The hummingbird scandal is not just about theft of a design. It goes to the heart of one of Woolworths’ slogans : that it is proudly South African and supports local small businesses. Quite apart from the debatable legal question of whether that design was copied, a number of other factual issues have arisen, and I, as a consumer, want clarity on them. Some of these facts have been admitted by Woolworths (like the fact that they retained the designs, like the fact that they were slow to respond to emails and phone calls). Other issues have been skirted. The wikipedia text, for instance. Woolworths at first denied that they had copied it verbatim, instead arguing that it was “adapted”. Now they deny that Wikipedia own the text, even though their licencing agreement with their contributors clearly states that they do.

    There is also the question of how much profit Woolworths allows small businesses to make, when they do business with Woolworths. I have repeatedly asked this question, because I am astonished at the markups they make on products manufactured by rural communities, because I think it goes to the heart of their claim that they “support” local business. Is that what they are doing? Or are they creating a one-sided relationship.

    The thing is, if Woolworths is not honest about this, then how do we trust that they are honest about their other claims? How “organic” is their produce? How can we trust their labels?

    If you don’t think this is important, that’s fine. I do, because I want to be an informed consumer so that I can exercise my choices wisely and well.


  20. Sacksinthecity October 22, 2013 at 16:31 #

    Instead of litigating against WW (who have deeper pockets than you, and could drag this out in court for ages) I would possibly explore relief through the competition commission ( ) This appears to be a copyright infringement, and may also be theft of her work and design. So might not be anti-competitive in the strict sense of the word. But won’t do any harm to put in a complaint though, especially if you can get the support of other designers (which appears to be the case per many comments to your blog). This is the cheapest option, and a complaint to the Competition Commission costs no more than the written work and research – and if anything could rattle the cages of WW, so at least some kind of moral victory of sort if they bite. The Comp Comm website also refers to this website ” ProBono.Org is a non-governmental organisation that links members of the public to lawyers for a free consultation and legal advice on competition law issues in deserving circumstances. ”
    Good luck!


  21. Monique Robinson October 22, 2013 at 16:16 #

    DO YOU THINK THERE IS ANY CHANCE that Spoor & Fisher deal with WW intellectual property issues – read this article … somehow it seems to be overprotective of the giant we are all slowly but surely losing respect for …. mine was lost well over a year ago and after much hackling with them they eventually removed their Proudly South African logo and simultaneously removed me off their FB page. I insisted that they prove how they could possibly be PSA and they got super irritated with me … you simply cant lie like that …consumers are not fools and their merchandise is riddled with ”Made in China” – what an insult to all of us.


  22. lilyrainbow October 21, 2013 at 22:53 #

    I am going to have a look in my local M&S here in the UK – im sure ive seen these cushion covers there, will check it out


  23. Derek Jones October 21, 2013 at 22:12 #

    Woolworths came back to me over the complaint I made to them on behalf of Euodia
    see below and the mail I have sent to them. I am interested to see if they respond further.

    Hello Anita thanks for your response.
    If WW had already signed off on that design why were you
    asking Euodia Roets to do more humming bird designs?
    Perhaps that was on oversight in your company?

    She did designs, samples and amendments at your offices request
    and has not received proper compensation for her work.

    It is not her fault that you had already signed off the design earlier.
    If its true that you had developed that design earlier you could have
    admitted that you briefed her in error and compensated her for her work.
    Had you done so all of this negative press would not have happened.

    I also do not like the fact that you are still pretending you are in the right.
    Obfuscation is the tactic of government departments these days and it seems you
    are following suit.
    Still unconvinced with your answer and a little
    more disappointed in your company if that’s possible.

    Derek Jones.

    On 2013/10/21 6:23 PM, “Anita Scott” wrote:

    Dear Derek

    Thank you for your mail and for coming directly to Woolworths, we do appreciate this. I will ensure Brett has sight of your mail and my response.

    Firstly, our customers are important to us and we do care about how this reflects on Woolworths and how our customers feel. I have been working for this business for 20 years and can honestly say that it saddens me to see how things can be blown so out of proportion, when there is so much good intention.

    We pride ourselves in our quality and service, the work we do in our community and around sustainability.

    I do understand why you may be feeling this way, If I could perhaps explain and give clarity to the initial statement:

    We have learnt so much from the Frankie’s debacle, which is why we keep documented proof of everything.

    When we approached Ms Roets, we did so, as we saw so much talent in her. We asked her to come in and show us her range, which she did. We viewed a wide range of her work, one of which was a hummingbird. It just so happened that in August 2012, we had already commissioned a Durban supplier, Republic Umbrella, to do a hummingbird design, which we signed off in November 2012, before we had even meet Ms Roets. We have all the documents that proved we designed the cushion before meeting her. We have contacted her and asked her to meet with us so we can show her these. Our door is open when she is ready.

    We have over 1000 product lines developed by homeware each year. We have 40 local designers who produce about 400 pieces. We also have 17 artist in our artisanal programme, which is a tiny part of our business, but we do support artists if it makes commercial sense for the artist and WW. These negotiations do take time, and we had not concluded our talks with her.

    Please be assured that we take these allegations very seriously and are doing what we can to meet with her.

    I hope this helps in giving clarity on the matter?

    Kind regards


  24. Jesse Breytenbach (@jezzeprints) October 21, 2013 at 20:51 #

    Sorry to read about your horrible experience! I think there are two issues here: independents working with big retailers, and copying.

    It’s hard not to feel flattered when a big company expresses an interest in your work, and try to please them. Unfortunately, letting them beat your price down in exchange for exposure is never a real deal. (Unless they’re going to put your name and contact details on the product, the ‘exposure’ is pretty hard to quantify.) Indie designer/makers can never compete with big retailers on price; the best you could probably hope for is that they’d pay you what they pay their in-house designers, and on a single design, I’d bet that’s not much. The two industries are structured completely differently.

    As for copying, I’m not sure there’s enough education about copying in local design schools. It feels as if most of the discussion around this happens on blogs. Students should graduate with a very very clear understanding of copyright issues, instead of having to learn about it when they’re copied or accused of copying. My work has been copied, and I’ve had to do my own research to find out where I stood. (Clearly a direct copy:

    It is very difficult to prove that someone has stolen your idea. If someone has made an identical copy of your work and is selling it, passing your work off as their own and thereby depriving you of income, you have grounds for complaint. But unfortunately ideas are tricky to copyright, only actual physical work can be. (Patents are not the same as copyright, as some of the commenters seem to think.)

    It’s really a very horrible feeling to see an idea similar to yours produced by someone else, and I sympathise, but I don’t think you could prove that WW copied you directly, or are trying to pass off your work under another name. I’m also sorry that they strung you along the way they did, knowing, I suspect, that they can dazzle us with the prospect of exposure. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so easy for them if South African consumers didn’t expect to pay rock-bottom prices for ‘artisinal’ work – or were more cynical about how ‘artisinal’ products in a chainstore could possibly be.

    Probably the best thing to do would be for you to chalk the whole thing up to bitter experience; you create lovely original work, while the copycats will always be one step behind you, trying to catch up.

    Keep making stuff that’s so completely you that no-one would dare copy it.


  25. Emma Elizabeth Wilson October 21, 2013 at 19:07 #

    Just heard about this from my cousin in SA who linked this on facebook. I think this is absolutely appalling and it makes me glad that Woolworths went out of business here if this is the way they treat people. (I’m in the UK). It’s plagiarism pure and simple and I bet if anyone copied the design from them then they’d come down on them like a ton of bricks.


  26. Annemarie Viljoen October 21, 2013 at 17:45 #

    HI . as a small business owner I’ve learnt that many big businesses in South Africa are completely unscrupulous when dealing with small suppliers. They request loads of information from you, and then decide to “develop their own product”. The fact that it looks exactly like yours, is completely irrelevant. I have learnt to always withhold key information, even if it may be a deal breaker.
    My advice is to get a good lawyer with a conscience. They will try drag it out as long as possible as they have in-house legal counsel. But if you persevere, you will succeed eventually


  27. Alicia Smit (@SmittysCSI) October 21, 2013 at 14:35 #

    Over the past 2 years I have come to realise that WW has absolutely no values at all. From recruitment policies to supplier relationships.
    Such a shame they don’t consider all of their stakeholders as their customers, they’ve certainly lost my advocacy.


  28. Zelmé Kimble October 21, 2013 at 14:10 #

    Brett Kaplan – You did not respond to the ISSUE with HER!!! So typical to just make a vague statement like that expecting people to shut up now. I think the best thing to do is to spread the word and have all local artists decline meetings with them. Don’t put yourselves in a situation like this and give them the finger at the same time.


  29. Zelmé Kimble October 21, 2013 at 14:04 #

    Where is woolworths’ (with a lowercase ‘w’) response?


  30. the vegan style revivalist October 21, 2013 at 12:57 #

    Well done for speaking up! You certainly have grounds to take this further. So sad that Woolies aren’t doing good by their wonderful home-grown talent.


  31. SueTurnbull Botha October 21, 2013 at 12:39 #

    Woolworths has systematically wiped out dozens of South African companies over the years. They make themselves indispensable to the supplier, and then screw them on price until they go belly-up. I’ve seen it happen over and over. Specially in the local clothing manufacturing plants…….. I would HATE to be a supplier to Woolworths. Also, the difference between what they buy for and what they sell for, is iniquitous. And they PRETEND to care.


  32. Riana Zaayman October 21, 2013 at 12:00 #

    “Our hummingbird design was finalised with a Durban supplier mid-November 2012″. I would love to hear who this Durban supplier is and if proof of this could be supplied: name of designer, copies of signed documents with dates and photos of artwork?


  33. Scal October 21, 2013 at 10:14 #

    It is appalling that Artisans don’t have the respect of huge corporations who go out and steal ideas because they aren’t creative enough to come up with their own , I’m sure there is someone out there who is willing to take this case on as it seems its not one but many large corporations spread over many industries , definitely get a couple similar cases together and take Woolworths on. There are a few watchdog’s out there that can help look for past cases that took on large corporations and see the outcome , Intellectual property theft is a major worry in South Africa and its time to take a stand against Conglomerate Bullies .


  34. Edó Mostert October 21, 2013 at 10:08 #

    They did exactly the same thing with designs from School children a few years ago, never giving credit OR even sending a mini check. They simply used the ideas of teenagers taking part in that Woolworths Design competition without any acclaim. They should be stopped, somehow and by someone with lots of money!


  35. Hestie BG October 21, 2013 at 10:01 #

    Euodia, I’m so glad you’re standing up for yourself and other artists!

    It’s an absolute shame that big companies treat the “smaller guy” like this – being a freelancer I’ve had my fair share of thinly veiled plagiarism when it comes to work sent in and then appearing in publications with a few changes before one even receives feedback.

    Good luck with this battle – don’t give up xx


  36. nooblett October 21, 2013 at 10:00 #

    Weak response. I think Woolworths is quite crass in their response lacking in any real reason as to why this is a direct copy. If Woolworths are keeping up with trends on their home department why do the other departments look so stale compared to the rest of the world who they so openly make reference to.
    Brett Kaplan should have been more upfront in responding to the actual letter she wrote and not be on the defence. No one cares about 17 other artists that you are probably paying nothing for to commission their work. We want answers!

    Why was she led to believe her work would be used when you yourself know full well the kind of figures that can and cannot work for Woolworths?
    Why were her calls not returned?
    Why was her work kept for months on end?

    I feel like this is a classic case of thievery whereby being on the defence and pushing the knowledge of already helping other ‘local talents’ might help their cause. BUT NO! We still need answers!
    This kind of thing is really a shame in society and can cause people like Euodia to lose out on Valuable income.

    Even though you copyright your work you don’t expect a company like Woolworths to do this. I think a boycott the home section is necessary. Who knows how many other local talent they have plagiarised.


  37. Christie Collier-Mann October 21, 2013 at 08:37 #

    For every person who wonders what the big fuss about a hummingbird is, perhaps this example will help you to understand the point here (no birds involved whatsoever)

    You’re a baker and you’ve just made lion cookies for a friend for her twin baby shower. One of the buyers for Woolies is at the shower and LOVES your lion cookies so they ask you to come in and show them your work. You have a meeting, they say wow, we love them but we need to show our boss so you leave 12 cookies with them. A few days later you get an email saying your cookies are too expensive, can you drop your price so you work out the figures and even though you will only make R1 for a cookie that actually costs you R5 to make, you agree because YOUR cookies will be stocked at Woolworths. The buyer says to you ok, make us 3 different kinds, vanilla, choc-chip and banana so you make more cookies in different flavours and deliver them to the buyers. You don’t hear anything for nearly two months even though you email them constantly. Suddenly all the banana cookies are returned to you but they keep the vanilla and choc-chip and say we’ve kept them for consideration for later in the year. A week later you get an email saying we’re so sorry but it’s unlikely that we will be launching any new cookie ranges this year. You’re disappointed as anyone would be in the situation BUT then you go into your local woolies a week or so later and what do you see?

    You see a brand new lion cookie in the biscuit isle. It’s iced almost like yours but instead of a plastic icing face, it’s been piped on and the shape is round instead of a flower shape like yours. The packaging also has a red and white circus tent just like yours but it’s slightly different. It’s not your design but it’s just too similar to be a co-incidence.

    How would you feel?

    There are hundreds of lion biscuits on Pinterest, say some people, how can you say Woolworth stole your cookie design?
    Look at what I found on Google, they post – it’s a pic of a lion cookie, did you ask permission to “copy” it from the original baker even though hers was a pressed biscuit and yours is actually an iced biscuit (but they are both lion biscuits.)

    You can’t because as they say, there are hundreds if not thousands of lion cookies out there on the internet and none of them are 100% original BUT you can be peeved at the way you have been treated and at Woolworths stealing your idea.
    Especially when they make a statement saying Oh but we had already signed off the Lion Cookie in November 2012 and Lion Cookies are everywhere, they are a current trend!
    And the CEO makes a public statement saying we planned Lion Cookies months before we met her but neglects to explain why you had so many meetings, had to supply samples and why they kept the samples.

    Now do you understand?


  38. rpmx2 October 21, 2013 at 07:01 #

    You have grounds to take them to court. This is infringement of copyright, and I would seriously consult a lawyer.


  39. Chicagolandia (@chicagolandia) October 21, 2013 at 06:28 #

    That’s appalling that they would treat your work with such little regard.
    Would definitely take them to court over this, theft of intellectual property is a real crime.


  40. Stuart Davies October 21, 2013 at 00:33 #

    Thank you so much for standing up to the “man” in one of his many forms in our world. Perhaps not the same people but the same scenario happened to my mother and I; she breeds dogs and I dabble in a little photography. A few years ago, one of my my photos of her dogs crossed the eyes of a marketing person from a world known dog food brand, Pedigree; they then traced it back to my mother and asked if it would be possible to have a shoot done with a model and this particular beautiful animal; they discussed finance and rights to images (and copies we would receive) as with your situation it was not nearly what it should fairly be but as exposure goes and sharing of the beauty this world creates she decided to go with it. A few months later they contacted us and arranged for us to do the shoot; which we did and I presume the photos were lovely; once this was done we were told that the x department would contact us about the finance and the copies of pictures. A year later nothing had come, so we figured they had just decided to not use the pics and said oh well. Low and behold I am driving on the highway and what do I see; a huge billboard advertising another well known brand of food; Bobtail, which I presume is either owned by the same people or are marketed by the same company. On this advertisement was this gorgeous blonde who I’d met at the shoot and helped with building a rapport with our dog; smiling and in her arms our dog Adagio; though his rich red and black marking had been changed to a light brown and coat slightly airbrushed but his face is so distinct that I would never miss it. We proceeded to see this billboards around pretoria, cape town and johannesburg; as well as on the bags of food in pretty much every large grocery store in the country… We were so excited that he had made his mark, but at the same time so disappointed that people could use other people and animals in such a way. We followed it up with an email and phone calls, not asking for money or recognition merely for a copy of some of the pictures but no answer ever came… Here’s a photo of our friend, perhaps you will recognize him in his true light ( Thank you again for standing up to this, not just for yourself or even designers as a whole but for the very principle of the matter; people are no longer honorable where it counts and they quite frankly do not care, it is time for change and time we stop allowing the corporate giants thinking they can just do as they please. I would love one of YOUR hummingbird cushions, and look forward to seeing and LOVING more of your beautiful work, thank you for creating 🙂 and good luck!


  41. Valerie Horn October 20, 2013 at 22:04 #

    Take them to court that’s the only way to stop them from doing this again.


  42. Frank Teixeira October 20, 2013 at 21:22 #

    Unite South Africa….unite…the world is losing it’s morals in pursuit of profit….unite. Woolworths should respond – we deserve clarity.


  43. Saskia (1=2) October 20, 2013 at 21:16 #

    Unbelievably awful story. Thanks for your courage in speaking out. Unfortunately an all-too-common situation, but I’ve not heard of a retailer brazenly requesting samples to work from! Have you read about Lisa Congdon’s similar situation, involving a large wholesaler, in the US?


  44. Tony Dovale October 20, 2013 at 19:59 #

    Hi Euodia… a classic case of GREEDERSHIP prevailing. No ethics, no morals, no integrity or truth. I will use this example in my leadership workshops and talks to highlight the avarice and greedy behaviors of GREEDERS as opposed to real leaders.

    I’m also creating a CD set for global resale. I’ll tell this greedership story in there to… Thanks for making this kind of treachery visible.


    Tony Dovale


  45. Shaun October 20, 2013 at 19:09 #

    Euodia, I commend you for standing up for your rights.

    One request, this practice is perpetrated by real people hiding behind the anonymity of a corporate. It is they who should be shamed in the most public manner. Only the fear of exposure before family and friends would make them thing twice.

    Take this to Noseweek and they will go for the individuals involved.


  46. Janis Lister October 20, 2013 at 19:03 #

    I have first hand knowledge that the fashion buyers for Woolworths attend fashion shows in Europe as well as buying samples from stores in Europe. These samples are “damaged” in some way so no customs is paid on entry to SA. These are then submitted to the selection panel for the new season’s fashions. Fabric is chosen and then the whole range is made in China. Nowhere does made in China appear on their labels. As an aside, all Waterford Crystal is now made in China too. The most effective protest would be for a mass boycott of Woolworths.


  47. Lara Price Wepener October 20, 2013 at 18:00 #

    I would honesty sue – you have more than enough proof – this happened in Cape Town. There are some very good attorneys who deal with trademark in Cape Town. Suggest you contact them. Woolies should pay you out for this! You gave them your price and they took your design!


  48. susanhayden October 20, 2013 at 16:30 #

    Disgusting and totally unethical. I hate that store. Will boycott them for sure from now on. Bastards.


  49. Robert Van Der Feyst October 20, 2013 at 16:24 #

    Uncool! Well done for standing up.


  50. Keith Gough October 20, 2013 at 15:07 #

    A couple of years ago, we submitted samples of a butlers tray, a coffee table and bed pedestals.All this at the request of the WW buyer, who had final input on design. The pricing structure was agreed upon before submission. The samples were accepted, and in fact the compliments were glowing.. After four months of patient waiting, interspersed with a few lovely email, we were asked to come and fetch my samples. In their arrogance, they never even took off the waybills showing that it had been shipped to China and back. 3 months later, the Chinese versions were selling like hotcakes,


  51. Ashmash Blue October 20, 2013 at 14:45 #

    I am sick to my stomach,dnt know what to say 😦 this is not far,and yes I doubted ur story but with such similar resposes,I am official upset with them


  52. Monica Spate October 20, 2013 at 13:38 #

    The design they chose to use in the end looks horrible and like a child made it.


  53. Gail Sorour Nel October 20, 2013 at 10:55 #

    The same thing happened to a friend of mine a while back. she went for meetings to Woolworths re hooded animal baby towels. Nothing came of it and a few weeks later the exact copies were in all the shops.


  54. David Grove October 20, 2013 at 10:52 #

    Woolworths is a mass retailer. Mass retailers do not give a rats arse about design, art, ethics or the environment, all they want is your money. People, If you have standards, and I hope you do, then please deal with small, personalised sources where ever possible.


  55. Sue Charlton October 20, 2013 at 10:47 #

    Reblogged this on suecharltondotcom and commented:
    Many of the giant retailers are lulled into a state of monopoly thinking that small artist’s/designers won’t take them on. Silly. I did that with my music and won.


  56. SidevieW October 20, 2013 at 07:39 #

    Your design is lovely. Time foryou to have them printed and made up, sell them to the more classy furniture and accessory places for yourself.


  57. chateauonthehill October 20, 2013 at 04:15 #

    That is absolutely appalling! It’s time to expose them to the media and on to the courts file your lawsuit.


  58. Stuart Keir October 20, 2013 at 01:55 #

    Instead of this first in the public space, I would suggest a legal challenge after taking some advice to determine the strength of your case. Some firms may accept to take the case on a no win/ no fee basis, especially given the size and influence of the company. Even the department of trade and industry may be willing to apply some pressure for compensation.

    Lastly, I know its art but when it comes to designs taken to mass retailers you should obtain some form of legal protection for the source matter. An agreement signed by Woolworths stating that they will not replicate your work, a trademark or copywright. Such protection would provide strong grounds for a legal challenge if not prevent a retailer from such replication entirely.

    I would only take it to the public space after the failure of the above.


  59. Leslie Kleinsmith October 20, 2013 at 01:28 #

    Get Wikipedia to support you and screw Woolworths right back !!!! You are obviously sitting on a gold mine, that is why they stole you idea. There has to be a lawyer who would just love to fight this case. Please….., just do it already !!!!! I beg you !!!!!!!


  60. Marita Nell October 19, 2013 at 18:56 #

    Totally ridiculous , you go after them! This is not a first for Woolworths! And then they have the audacity to claim they support local, blah blah blah!


  61. Arrie Swanepoel October 19, 2013 at 18:17 #

    I all ready don’t shop at Wollies…..looks like will carry on.


  62. optie October 19, 2013 at 18:15 #

    Reblogged this on walkingoneggshellsdotcom and commented:
    Once again the Big Boys are bullying the smaller suppliers. I am reblogging this because we all need to know how Woolworths deal with their suppliers. That bit of homeware you fancy could have been acquired by devious and unethical means. I am not suggesting you boycott Woolworths, just be aware of how they operate.


  63. Nechama Joselowitz Keynan October 19, 2013 at 17:27 #

    Go to the press and sue them


  64. Leeupoort Vakansies October 19, 2013 at 17:00 #

    Woolworths, you will never see me or my family again!!!


  65. Ahmed Manjoo October 19, 2013 at 16:34 #

    You should consider starting a price war and distribute your products at all competing retail stores i.e. Mr Price Home, @ Home etc. and trump the b#st#rds.What’s concerning is feedback from Woolies , even if they did not believe u had the capacity to serve them or if your pricing was not feasible they should have brought you closure. The least you can do is to raise this with them to determine what actually went down otherwise Deborah Patta or Carte Blanche may very well be interested in this story. U r never small nor too big to be held accountable – There’s always a card you can play.


  66. thula jewellery (@hellothula) October 19, 2013 at 16:14 #

    I am also a HelloPretty designer Euodia, I hear about this through Hello Pretty – on their FB page, I cant this believe this has happened and Im so sorry this has happened to you.
    Thank you so much for your courage in speaking out and making this public knowledge.
    I will tweet blog and Facebook about it aswell..

    I am quite content running my business independently but often dream about having my jewellery stocked in a big store like woolworths.
    After reading your story and after some thought I think that would so nice in theory but at the end of the day all they want is to squeeze as much money out of your product – and hope they can get away with giving the designer as little as possible. In your case they will just use your ideas and design and not give you anything on top of it!


  67. Johann En Yolanda Gerber October 19, 2013 at 14:55 #

    I am done buying at Woolies, if this is how they operate… Thanks for sharing this with us.


  68. David Ash October 19, 2013 at 14:35 #

    This just goes to show how the big boys do what ever they can to ride roughshod over smaller people and companies. This is without doubt a copy of your design almost exactly, but most certainly in spirit.
    I come to SA a lot and an unhappy to say that my wife and I both shop extensively in Woolworth’s there. I will definitely give this second thoughts now, I believed them to be an ethical company, which now appears not to be the case.
    Do you have any legal redress against them in SA? if you do I am sure that it would be expensive to follow up, which is what I expect these people count upon.
    Your design is beautiful and I am sorry for the way you have been treated in this matter.


  69. blessedintulbagh October 19, 2013 at 14:06 #

    Absolutely shocking behaviour. I have reblogged it. I do hope that you get justice. I would definitely try and take legal action against them seeing as how I see that Frankie got his justice. Good luck. I never shop at Woolies and will never either.


  70. Shana Van Rijswijk Fugard October 19, 2013 at 14:04 #

    Your hummingbird is beautiful!! Very sad that WW behaves like that, but I am not surprised!


  71. andrejvvza October 19, 2013 at 13:56 #

    If a company many people look up to, don’t show integrity in these times of fraud and corruption, there is no more hope left for us. If this is true, and Woolworths, only you will truely know, its disgusting and very sad.


  72. Dee Zinger October 19, 2013 at 12:26 #

    Typical – I won’t work for SA companies anymore, they are full of disrespect and a lack of professionalism.

    This isn’t the first complaint I’ve heard about woolies, a potter I knew was given the runaround and ended up losing a lot of money.

    Creatives, keep away.

    Btw, that thing they produced doesn’t look nice.


  73. Fleur (@fleurush) October 19, 2013 at 12:23 #

    Woolworths at it AGAIN?


  74. Mike Cope October 19, 2013 at 11:38 #

    I hope that this adverse publicity costs Woolworths more than they made by ripping you off. I for one will avoid them where possible.


  75. akismet-b3cd2abf0590f72e596859ea9669a7fe October 19, 2013 at 11:18 #

    Terrible story, and I’d like to offer a bit of advice gained from my experience… I’m not in design, but I do work in a similar environment that requires I supply clients with my intellectual property for their commercial exploitation. I’ve had my ideas used without permission by big companies in the past, which is why I now precede every meeting by getting prospective clients to sign a non-disclosure / non circumvention agreement. If necessary, I send it through to them so their legal department can check it out beforehand. It’s no guarantee that they won’t try steal your ideas and push you aside with corporate lawyers, but it’s also a big deterrent – I’ve found they’re a lot easier to deal with when you have things in writing.

    A proper NDA may cost a bit to draw up initially, but it can be reused each time you present to a new client, so it pays for itself in the end.


  76. Elsa Kruger October 19, 2013 at 11:10 #



  77. Debbie Simms October 19, 2013 at 11:04 #

    So much for their ‘socially responsible’ citizenship positioning – their hummingbird a definite copy of your far more beautiful one. Big mass market design looks to all manner of sources for inspiration, but for them to engage with you in this process – and then blatantly use your design anyway, with no compensation is fraudulent and shameful. Sies on you Woolworths, where are those ethics you beat your drum so loudly about now?


  78. Hannah B'nana October 19, 2013 at 10:45 #

    not cool, woolies!


  79. Quentin Du Plooy October 19, 2013 at 10:44 #

    I produced a homeware range in 2002 which I presented at the SARCDA show.
    Lo and behold the range was reproduced in Woolworths 6months later. If not in detail certainly in spirit. It’s outrageous.
    The unfortunate truth is that few ofvthese issues can be followed through because…well so few ideas are truly origional and we call copy. Inadvertently perhaps, but copy nonetheless.
    Lovely as your cushion is.


  80. davidrobertlewis October 19, 2013 at 10:38 #

    This is par for the course in Cape Town. Big Money and Big Dealers who would rather rip the small businessperson or artisan entrepreneur off, not willing to spend any money but willing to go the trouble of copying you. A non-disclosure agreement signed between both parties could have protected you and prevented this, but under the copyright act you have no legal remedy, since your original design decision, trend setting though it may be, is not copyrightable or patentable and does not enjoy legal protection. I’ve been there, watching in horror as once staid gallerists stuck in neat picture frames, poached formats, programmes, and line-ups, signing up artists who had been part of the Mau Mau Collective who when it came to money showed no loyalty whatsoever. Corporations rule the roost. The only way around this is to enter into mutual contracts or agreements that rule out this kind of parasitic behaviour, but then its difficult to negotiate such deals unless you the one offering the money. So we stuck in a vacuum with missing enabling legislation and/or resources. It would be interesting to raise this idea of providing legal resources and funds to protect young designers in the run up to 2014 design capital. Its not about owning designs per se, its about preventing the big corporates from poaching and stifling creativity and innovation. I guess it comes down to forming syndicates which at least can get your original design decisions to market before the big guns shoot you. Thank you for posting this, it verifies everything we always knew about how Woolies operates.


  81. pearson (@MisterP69) October 19, 2013 at 10:35 #

    Let’s us leave aside for the moment that practically every single image of the hummingbird ever taken is the same image. Hummingbirds don’t ride bicycles, swing from trapezes or swim in the ocean like dogs or monkeys.
    A picture of a hummingbird can NEVER be original. Therefore all comments about “copyright” are ignorant and moot.
    The (typically) vile behaviour of Woolworths lies in the fact that their staff are too lazy and stupid to conceptualise and develop this work themselves. They essentially lured a “contractor” in to do the work under false pretenses knowing full well that the “contractor” was not going to be paid for her work. This is probably common practice at Woolworths and all the other mega corporate pigs in SA and internationally.
    Woolworths buyers are vile creatures, they have had a reputation of porcine behaviour for DECADES.
    South Africans are also to blame. They ALWAYS choose price over quality. They will always support a large corporate instead of the small guy next door to Pick n’ Pay and who pays a higher rent per square than Pick n Pay.
    And another thing, every one of those complaints about Woolworths better be from somebody who has, no pirate software on their computer, no downloaded music, no pirate copies of any movies, no knock off of designer handbags or Rolexes or other intellectual property….Oh? a touch of the hypocrite then or is it only wrong when certain parties do it?
    Support the small business man, NOT the corporates.


  82. Bridge Builder October 19, 2013 at 10:16 #

    Unbelievable. In General, copyright does not seem to be taken very serious in this nation. Always hold on to your originals even if that makes you look harsh. I had a newspaper use my anti-drug poster (photograph, design, slogan all by me) without even a reference to my authorship over it – they never asked. An over-enthusiastic youth from our church had copied it from my face book!!!! Figures. ..


  83. Tori Stowe October 19, 2013 at 10:07 #

    Interesting and not surprising at all! We have had dealings with several large retailers and simply walked away when we felt our heads were being pressed hard to the table. Life is too short to bother with these bullies. Thank you for putting this out there and thus encouraging people to buy from us little guys.


  84. Meeghan Norwitz October 19, 2013 at 09:57 #

    Well done for standing up!! get all the facts though, I love your design it is pure and true and beautiful and remember LIFE always balances!!! Love and blessings


  85. Eric Pretorius October 19, 2013 at 09:54 #

    This should be brought to the attention of organisations like “Carte Blanche” and “Noseweek” as they have the resources and motivation to expose these practices to a much wider audience.

    It is in the publics interest to know if the organisations we are buying from are ethical. I know that my support of WW has declined since the Frankie debacle and now I need to consider if I should sell my WW shares as well.

    Sounds drastic but how else can we impact their behaviour.


  86. Superspy Sleuth October 19, 2013 at 09:39 #



  87. Kronk (@iKronk) October 19, 2013 at 09:30 #

    The lesson here and for some of the folks commenting is get agreements in WRITING. Try avoid having too many verbal exchanges like meetings or phone calls, rather use email to keep track of what both parties agree on. If you have to go to meetings, always request a status update in writing after the meeting. Never leave samples anywhere, does not matter how nice the people are or how good their coffee is. My experience with my overseas clients has taught me to demand a written agreement or contract upfront. Most SA companies don’t want to go through the hassle, and to some extent neither do the designers, but this complacency at the start of a job, is exactly how a situation like yours happens. I am in no way being unsympathetic to what has happened here, as it is a straight up case of intellectual property theft.

    I feel a lot of SA designers/creatives are largely uneducated about copyright or safe guarding their intellectual property. By having more creatives like you speak out and show them how it actually is in the real world, the better and smarter they will be. Just unfortunate, you had to go down this road to learn this lesson.


  88. Jacqueline de Geus October 19, 2013 at 09:29 #

    I can completely relate to this post. I was asked to design a range of product packaging for one of their main suppliers of gift packaging. I was invited in for a meeting to discuss work, after which I was sure they were trying to glean information off of me from my previous extensive experience with other major local retailers. They gave me a project to work on, never accepted the price I quoted and at the last minute (2 days before deadline) suddenly desperately needed the work to be done. I refused to work without a deposit, which was eventually reluctantly paid. After working non-stop around the clock, the head of design, praised my work, and thank me for all the designs. The managing director however, complained that I had totally missed the mark and refused to pay me the rest of the fee. We are still missing our last payment. After working with retail design for many years, I know for a fact that many original designs are slightly changed so as not to be ‘copied’. and the bigger the company, the more they do this. Who knows what really happened to my designs in the end!


  89. Quentin Leeds October 19, 2013 at 09:27 #

    Hi Euodia, I am very disappointed that you have been treated so badly by one of our large retailers.

    Unfortunately, whether you are a large manufacturer or a small designer, our large retailers are only interested in their own profit and survival. I worked for a large bakery group and we suffered at the hands of their rude and ruthless buyers. We analysed our profitability of these large retailers versus our general trade customers and realised that we were very dependent on the large retailers. We changed our strategy to grow our general trade and thereby reduce our dependence on retailers.

    This story just illustrates that even large companies, who have to deal with large retailers, try not to. We in South Africa are in a market where the large retailers rule, led by Pick and Pay. These companies will tell the public that they are the consumers friend, they are reducing their prices for them and negotiate lowest prices for them. Nonsense.

    A few years ago I consulted at a large FMCG company whose products represent a large percentage of products in the large retailers. They were subjected to the same disdain by them. I suggested that they could break the power of the large retailers, or at least one of them, by withdrawing their products from their stores together with a mass media campaign exposing the truth within the industry for all consumers. As you can imagine they did not bite because their major worldwide competitor had just flexed their muscles in South Africa and they feared the backlash.

    It is time that someone, a large supplier or an individual, takes on these large bully retailers.

    We’ll done so far Euodia, and others in the same position either go for more profitable business or if you have to work with the large retailers reduce your dependency on them as much as possible. And the large suppliers, stop perpetuating the same cycle of cow-towing to the large retailers and put the consumer’s and small supplier’s needs first.

    Liked by 1 person

  90. Ryan White October 19, 2013 at 09:12 #

    This is sad and horrible that it happened , but there is a lesson out of this . Stick together independent designers instead of going to corporate companies to ” get exposure ” or make money , they will always come out on top . you will always lose


  91. Coenie W. Kukkuk October 19, 2013 at 08:37 #

    Sue them – as easy as that. And you do have a case btw (practicing attorney here).


  92. June Hanna October 19, 2013 at 08:04 #

    I shall definitely share this. I am regarding Woolworths in a different light and that is not positive.


  93. Isabella Jansen Van Nieuwenhuizen October 19, 2013 at 07:33 #

    Just read Woolworths’ response.
    Why on earth would Woolworths start negotiations for your artwork/design if they’ve already finalised with another supplier?
    Sorry Woolworths, it doesn’t add up.


  94. Jacques Tarica October 19, 2013 at 06:27 #

    Easy way to avoid this happening – you walk in with a simple confidentiality agreement protecting the idea, design etc and ask them to sign it BEFORE you start talking. I see Woolies state that their final product / design was finalized with a Durban designer a few months before they started talking to Euodia – sounds like the Woolies right hand doesn’t know what the Woolies left hand is doing!!


  95. blessingmpofu October 19, 2013 at 04:12 #

    Reblogged this on Blessing Mpofu and commented:
    If it went down like how Eudia says it went down, it’s rather sad. I guess it also becomes a catalyst for reviewing my buying habits all round


  96. Shirley Bisschoff October 19, 2013 at 02:01 #

    I’ve followed your work for awhile and am horrified at what has happened to you. That being said, I have known several people burnt by them, with regards to packaging designs (I’m a Graphic Designer). I am really tired of the big guys hurting small business. Your design was actually 1 000 times better than the blatant copy that they put out. I remember them being sponsors for Design Indaba and telling us how supportive they were of local work. I was saddened by their treatment of Frankie’s, and I don’t think they have learnt their lesson. Actions certainly speak louder than words. I hope you get a satisfactory outcome from this and Woolworths learns to respect SA artists and craftsmen.


  97. Bennie Schoonraad October 19, 2013 at 01:24 #

    Let this go around a billion times by sharing this type of thing with the world…Disgrace!!!


  98. Jonothan Rawson October 19, 2013 at 00:40 #

    Hey guys. Please help us stand behind local businesses like ‘Touchee Feelee’ by joining and sharing this cool petition that’s been set up.


  99. nanciswell October 19, 2013 at 00:16 #

    Unbelievably coincidence.. In the 70s I made cushions with the same painted theme.. I did flowers .. handpainted… as a center on the cushion.. I had them for sale in the smaller artsy shops around town.. I later saw my exact idea at the big department store in my city !!! I had no recourse as it was not patented ..

    Do you have the original documentation with a picture of your work? I think you have a good case for a law suit on your side ..


  100. Sonja Breet October 19, 2013 at 00:09 #

    Time for David to stand up against Goliath. Woolworths not the only perpetrator…many come to mind. Independent workers and entrepreneurs, across all industries, unite against abuse!


  101. Rita Fernandes Venter October 18, 2013 at 23:40 #

    They do that stuff all the time! You spend huge money on R&D and they have your product copied in China. Yeah right, they finalized their design in 2012? Why all the meetings then? Shocker.
    Btw, all those of you carping about the copyright of the pic, that is not the point! The humming bird range that is on their shelves was not conceived by them or any other supplier.


  102. Adriaan Joubert (@AdriaanJoubert) October 18, 2013 at 23:36 #

    I always wonder why some products are so much more expensive at Woolworths than the exact same products are at other stores like Pick and Pay. Take for example Lindt chocolate slabs, Nescafé Gold and olive oil. I have been shopping at both stores for a couple of years and Woolworths never disappoints in being consistently more expensive in identical products that probably arrived in the same container at the same harbour.

    Who knows, maybe Woolworths truck them around the country before unloading, thereby increasing the cost of these goods. Or, they are simply taking the higher LSMs for a big fat ride.

    Some say well, Woolworths is always cleaner (everybody knows it smells like dead rat corpse under the Pick and Pay freezers) and most people know that Pick and Pay mistreat and underpay their workers, but I’m sure the extra margins WHL add to their sales go far beyond covering this.


  103. Fiona Gray October 18, 2013 at 23:33 #

    I am a South African and I work as a production manager in a top packaging agency in London. I purchase and negotiate with Illustrators etc when commissioning work for our clients- Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, M&S etc… Retail is cut throat. They have margins they need to meet and they are crazy tight. They will squeeze you in any way possible. To have their name on your CV is appealing and they know it- this is the bargaining/squeeze chip- it is the industry. It is actually not Woolies who pay for the design but the suppliers- remember this- it is the suppliers and Woolies who negotiate the set payment fees. Woolies just co-ordinate it.

    They are in the wrong for using exact text from wiki but the redrawn bird does not exactly mimic your specific brush technique/ illustration. Therefore legally they are covered. Often packaging has to illustrate fruit/veg. How many ways can you draw a strawberry? It is the style/technique that dictates the plagiarism.

    Best advise- create a website for viewing and sampling your style and portfolio. You should have copy of your portfolio not originals. And best of all sign up with international agencies who will show case your work internationally. There are better bigger brands than SA brands. You will definitely deal with much more professional individuals and there will be contracts set in place before the commencement of work. The agency will also deal with all the legalities too if this is not your forfe.

    Hope this helps:)


  104. Merlene Anne Sharrock October 18, 2013 at 23:22 #

    Carte Blanche will sort them out!!! Made in China! Woolworth’s has treated us like fools for long enough! China! I ask you!!!! Do they have to use slave labour, so they can meet their profit margin after all the fraud that takes place…. I never used to check my slip, always believing that Woolies would never be corrupt. I had a loaf of bread, the price of R26 at the top of my list that I was charged for! that I never had in my possession. My teller obviously wanted a lovely healthy loaf, that day, after months of emailing I got a R50.00 voucher, with no explanation of how this happened.


  105. Tracy Shelver- Moffett October 18, 2013 at 22:26 #

    this the ultimate insult – woolworths is an over-priced store – that i will no longer set foot in. “woolies” – – i am done.


  106. JD Haasbroek October 18, 2013 at 21:56 #

    I don’t understand these comments about the designer stealing from a photographer. Hummingbirds look and fly the same the world over.

    This is about materials, applying an image to a cushion and design. And meetings and time.

    I guess you just can’t trust a company that sells coconut chippings at R29.99 for a tub as small as my ball-sack.

    Unfortunately we aren’t going to get anywhere with this unless we make a stand, park up and walk that extra few miles to buy good steak from our local butcher and clothes from the Chinese, as that seems where Woolworths is doing most of their business. Or try a local shop for local people. There is still some value out there.

    I was ashamed to see the amount of Woolworths products in my fridge. Oven-baked chips. Damn, I’ll peel potatoes from here in.

    And please all, stop using that endearing trite little “Woollies” name even when criticising. It makes them sound like a teddy bear company.


  107. Dani Kae October 18, 2013 at 21:07 #

    This is so bad of Woolworths. Your intellectual property remains yours and you should fight this out in court that a percentage of their profits of the hummingbird image belongs rightfully to you. If I were you, I’d take them to court or settle out of court. Get yourself a lawyer my girl !!! <<>> Inspirado para Empaderer>>>


  108. Travis Anderson October 18, 2013 at 20:53 #

    Hello Racing Jason Loeve, I’m the founder and owner of Iron Fist clothing, I’ve never worked with you or do recall you submitting artwork. Please contact me on and I’ll gladly address your claim. We do not support or practice plagiarism, we support pure creativity.


  109. Phillip Bruwer October 18, 2013 at 20:26 #

    Easy as Woolies pie… Sue them for plagiarism – you have the proof!!! Neil them…


  110. nicoledholgate October 18, 2013 at 19:54 #

    Sorry to hear that this happened to you.

    I worked for a major manufacturer of women’s clothing for four years as a designer. Our main client was Woolwoths and I can tell you first hand that the majority of work that I did for them was direct copies of other designers’ work. I was told to create the same prints, but with slightly different elements (33% change is considered safe) to avoid copyright infringement. Yes. This is how they work.

    I also had the incredible displeasure of dealing directly with their buyers. I can honestly say that in all the time I dealt with them, I only met two decent people. The majority of the buyers suffer from massive ego, are rude and dismissive. We were once kept waiting for an hour past a meeting time and the buyer, who was a very arrogant 20 something year old girl did not even have the courtesy to apologise. I was totally shocked at her behavior.

    On another occasion, I drove from our office to theirs to hand deliver an artwork to the dress buyer so that she could sign it off and avoid missing her own deadline and she swore at me. Once again. Shocked.

    I ended up resigning and starting my own business and have only dealt with polite professionals since then… Give or take a couple of difficult clients. Still, it is good to see that this is not the norm. In the world of Woolworths, however, it seems to be.

    I know first hand of a designer who went to them with a brilliant proposal for a clothing range. He was granted an interview with one of the heads of one or another department. The proposal went well. They thought the idea was great. And then the head actually asked what they needed said designer for when they could run with the idea themselves. This was in front of him. He was so disappointed that he discontinued the work on the range.

    I love their food even if if is unhealthy. Having said that I’m sure that they have left a bad taste in numerous people’s mouths after seeing them work from up close. Their stores are great. But their manners and ethics could do with some serious management and a good deal of discipline – in the original meaning which is to teach.

    Don’t give up. Your print was infinitely more beautiful.


  111. Ryan Fortune October 18, 2013 at 19:45 #

    It’s happening all over the world right now. Hope you can get some relief.


  112. Johann Van Schalkwyk October 18, 2013 at 19:44 #

    What Woolworths did was abusing the artist by getting her expend a lot of time and effort to essentially do the whole design project for them, then pass all the details she supplied on to a copy cat who could do the job much cheaper because he/she didn’t put any effort into the design at.
    On their website Woolworths claims that they finalised the hummingbird design in Nov 2012 with another supplier. The question then is why did they get into serious discussions, to the extent of 5 meetings, with Euodia Roets in the beginning of 2013. They are obviously lying to cover their tracks and save their skins.


  113. Jenna Zetisky October 18, 2013 at 19:39 #

    Good for you for speaking out! I’m a designer and artist myself and this story upsets me. Your hummingbird is beautiful and I understand that you had that photo as a reference but I think you’ve enhanced it and added your own style to it enough that it’s your own. We all need references. That’s disgusting and very unprofessional the way they treated you and the design they went with is a cheap and tacky knockoff of your beautiful artwork. Keep creating, staying true to yourself and I hope you find the right people to do business with in the future who value and appreciate your clear talents.


  114. Zelmé Kimble October 18, 2013 at 19:36 #

    If Woolworths already had “their” hummingbird design finalized in November 2012 “Our hummingbird design was finalised with a Durban supplier mid-November 2012, while Euodia Roets met with our Artisan representative in early 2013.” – why did they request to, and then meet with Euodia Roets, several times, re HER hummingbird design? Yes, the hummingbird has been done before by other artists – I never heard Euodia claiming copyright (?!?) BUT Woolworths inquired about Euodia’s hummingbird design – HERS. Woolworths is a rip off giant money making machine from start to end. Keep fighting this.


  115. Barbara Riche October 18, 2013 at 19:23 #

    Unfortunately I have been studying how to sell my art without having it stolen. The sad thing is, in the US it is perfectly legal for them to do what they did. NOT ethical by a long shot, but as long as they change only 20% of the original art. they can do as they wish. Like I say, not even ethical or Godly, but legal at least in the US. So, for those who made read this….don’t ever leave your art behind without written signed instructions about the copyright. And if you art is wonderful (like your beautiful hummingbird) you can bet that someone is going to try to copy most of it. For instance there are many Kincaid “look alikes” but they just don’t measure up to his original.


  116. Leonora Bentley October 18, 2013 at 19:00 #

    I’d just shared a post on my wall about Woolworth’s selling GMO maize and soon after read this dreadful story. Good on you for exposing this theft of your work Euodia; I hope this goes viral to expose the uncontained greed of these corporate bullies. Shame on you Woolworths!


  117. Garrick Tippett October 18, 2013 at 18:50 #

    I had a film script stolen where they simply changed the main character from a boy to a girl I have heard this time and time again.They know you cant sue them they just have it adjourned until you go broke, or you just go away because mostly all you own is your time,,Find another idea and pitch to someone who is powerful and has had a similarly rough time in the past with Woolworths and have them back you with say Kmart just for example,Someone who says it’s no skin of my nose if I recommend you or I recomend this,.I bet that is someone who can negotiate with them have reputations so they wont want to cheat and lose the skin of their nose.People who struggled with this to get where they may remember being screwed over and help.I got funding for a theatre company using this approach.


  118. Lisha Du Plessis October 18, 2013 at 18:45 #

    Plagiarism is a serious crime and big businesses bullying smaller ones are extremely unethical and not uplifting to the socio-economy especially in SA. This has to stop. I propose a boycott taking effect immediately and also, tip for future small designers. Never leave your design samples with them, ever. Only take them to meetings and don’t leave them with the companies and never give them any chance or gap to exploit you.


  119. Tania Bosch October 18, 2013 at 18:40 #

    They ‘knock-off’ big brands too – Soviet Fashion 😉


  120. Shannon McLaughlin October 18, 2013 at 18:29 #

    My advice is don’t sell out to corporates. You’re just another drop in the ocean to them. I totally understand how crap it is to have your ideas ripped off (even though your painting looks identical to that copyrighted image everyone else is mentioning), and even though Woolies used your idea, they did change it, and there’s probably nothing you can do about it. Because they’re Woolies. And it looks shit. It’s a second grade version and it will attract second grade buyers. Learn from it, let it be, and go make more art.


  121. Casey-Jeanne Walters October 18, 2013 at 18:17 #

    This makes me so furious! And this is not the first time I have heard of large retailers exploiting young and local talent, and more so, stealing their designs and concepts. It is utterly disgusting!

    In saying that, someone once told me after a rather similar situation happened to me, those people that steal your ideas and concepts? They will never steal your identity and they will always be one step behind!


  122. Sarah Autanza Blair October 18, 2013 at 18:08 #

    If I have not heard this happen one, I have heard it a hundred times. This is the chain stores favourite move. I personally know 2 very talented people, who had the same done to them. They corporate giants have no soul, therefore they are as creative as blind dog with a paint brush. They see something, and the want it. They have numerous meetings, usually ask for small order with promises of hundreds of thousands units to come. They screw you for price so that can make a huge profit but dazzle the poor person with numbers. They usually then hope on a plane to China, ask them to duplicate them and then cancel the order with the original artist. Woolworths, had better watch out, they have had quite a lot of bad publicity lately. A similar story that springs to mind, is the person in Durban who try to sell them his Original Old fashioned Ginger Beer, they copied him so badly and Woolworths saw their butts in Court. TIme to boycott these greedy corporate giants.


  123. Mpumelelo Ncwadi October 18, 2013 at 17:49 #

    Back in 1996, I returned to South Africa from the USA where I studied and lived in Austin Texas, Throughout my stay in the US, I used a range of skin care products from a North Carolina based company called Burts Bees. A few years after my return to SA, I went back to the US to ask Burts Bees if I could sell their products in South Africa. They gave me samples and said they might consider a deal if I can prove that there is a market.

    Upon my return I went to Woolworths to showcase the products. The gentleman on the other side of the desk (who told me he was a divisional boss) told me that the products were too expensive for the South African consumer. He asked me to live behind one pack so that he can show his colleagues. Months passed without any further feedback.

    To my horror, one day my wife called me from Woolworths at the Waterfront in Cape Town and asked me to come over and see for myself. A small range of Burts Bees skin care products were on display. The very same products, months earlier, I was told they are unaffordable.

    I was sick to the stomach and very angry. When I went back to Woolworths to enquire, someone met me by the Head Office turnstiles next to the door to inform me that the BOSS was not available to talk to me and to let me know that one of their buyers came across the products during a business visit to Canada and the USA.

    Although I am not a Christian, I said AMEN to that loud and clear.

    Sorry my sister


  124. Megan Wallace October 18, 2013 at 17:47 #

    So some of you say a hummingbird is a hummingbird. You’re right. I’m a designer too. We all draw our inspiration from somewhere. Closely compare Euodia’s hummingbird to the WW cushion cover. That’s too close! What is also not right is that Woolworths’ buyers would exploit the process and ideas of a designer to come up with an identical product. Look at all the similarities in details that were discussed during the negotiations. Before hearing their side of the story, but having heard yours, I would think that Woolworths just used you to skim ideas off Euodia. Having been in a similar situation myself, you have my sympathy, and my admiration for speaking up. Unfortunately I can’t support you by not shopping at Woolworths, I already don’t!


  125. James David Butterworth October 18, 2013 at 17:43 #

    frankly I never go to woolies simply because everything of theirs is hideously overpriced.


  126. Jurgen Doom October 18, 2013 at 17:41 #

    It’s indeed just terrible to experience this. I personally would write this off to experience and carry on. Good luck girl, many people believe you and support you, but beware of the David and Goliath battle …


  127. Nelia Kennedy October 18, 2013 at 17:38 #

    Your design is much prettier


  128. Greer Hopkins October 18, 2013 at 17:37 #

    Woolworths does it again. One would think they would have learnt from the Frankies fiasco but yet it appears business as usual. An utterly despicable act.


  129. Paul Carter October 18, 2013 at 17:36 #

    How easy to hit the reply button and troll. I think you’ve missed the point. It is about big business taking advantage of the individual and not being held to account for their actions. Whether they copied the design or not is a secondary and probably unwinnable argument.


  130. Nicole Zulman-Sarembock October 18, 2013 at 17:36 #

    Euodia, someone commented that Woolworths wrote on their fb page that they’re taking the allegations very seriously & are looking into it & have contacted you to meet with them. If this is so & you aren’t happy with the outcome, I had another thought. Perhaps you should think about telling your story to Carte Blanche They will get answers & it won’t be good exposure for Woolies so they will have to make sure they make right with you if they don’t want any more negative publicity!


  131. Jana Smit October 18, 2013 at 17:34 #

    Your hummingbird has two wings (overflowing each other) if I am interpreting your design correctly, and Woolies’ only has one wing. The person who stole your idea obviously has no comprehension of what art is. He/she couldn’t even copy you in a good manner.

    However, their final product does not look that similar to yours, just the basic pose of the bird itself.

    Still, it was you who gave them the idea.

    They are sly. You should be more careful*


  132. Rob Lith October 18, 2013 at 17:28 #

    Indeed – it is in fact from Wikipedia –


  133. TARRYN (@TARRYN84) October 18, 2013 at 17:27 #



  134. sjamers (@sjamers) October 18, 2013 at 17:26 #

    Good for you, I also have a small business and I have heard the same from people I know- it happened to them as well, don’t go to Woolworths with a product,because they steal the idea and source the exact same product themselves after telling you they are not interested.


  135. Stewart Lott October 18, 2013 at 17:20 #

    Sorry to have to tell you that it is not just designers that get the short end from WW. I worked for them 20 years ago, and even then they were sending farmers into penury by driving their fresh produce prices through the floor, demanding that ONLY WW was supplied, to the point where, after a while, they found a new supplier and dropped the faithful farmer. By that time, they had no other customers left, had spent fortunes on setting up their lines to suit WW. I know of at least one farmer in Camperdown, Durbs, who died from the stress.

    But, that doesn’t mean that people like yourself should just bend over and take it. Glad to see you’re kicking up the dust on this. It is unlikely that you would beat them in court – you’d probably go broke first – but their already battered image can be further tarnished! If enough of this is exposed, they will eventually have to rethink their MO. I wish you all the best, and don’t let up!


  136. Ian Woodiwiss October 18, 2013 at 17:05 #

    Don’t get me wrong, I love this country, but sadly, as in all things South African, we’ll say well done, go get ’em. Then get into a huge 4×4 to nip 2 blocks away, and stroll into Woolies to do the shopping. We’ll even complain to the teller that the rung up price doesn’t match the shelf price. And you, as always, will be left to fight alone. Personally, I’ve never liked Woolies, and certainly never been into one since Frankies. It’s a small stand, but its made nonetheless. Wonder if anyone else will change their habits to suit their outrage? Sterkte, girl. Prevail.


  137. Heather Jeanne Dittmar October 18, 2013 at 17:01 #

    You have to do something about this! When I heard Frankies won their court case I shouted with glee in my car. Woolworths is taking advantage of the creativity and knowledge of all of us. We should all support one another in building a stronger RSA. We all support Woolworths so they should support us … you would think that they could afford the best designers around with the prices they charge……


  138. Perine Pretorius October 18, 2013 at 16:52 #

    Well done for taking a stand not only for yourself but for all designers!!
    Good luck and don’t back down!!


  139. Kahe Hands October 18, 2013 at 16:45 #

    This is certainly not the first, NOR the last, regrettably. Almost ALL the small providers has the same story. They submit their products Woolies who then do a product review, they squeeze you on price, so much so that you reject the offer and before you know it something identical appears on their shelves! Aren’t you as South Africans just so fed up with this? When will we all wake up…. really!?


  140. Kalliope Amorphous October 18, 2013 at 16:44 #

    FYI since I reblogged your post, I have received about 60 individual hits from South Africa and they just keep coming. Guess this company is interested in what you have to say. Too bad they aren’t as hypervigilant about the rights of artists.


  141. Chantal Gounden October 18, 2013 at 16:40 #

    Well done on naming and shaming, all the very best.


  142. Wendy Van Blerk October 18, 2013 at 16:38 #

    Take your case to the public protector. I certainly would. It wont cost you anything and you may as well fight fire with fire !!!


  143. Clint (@Clint_ZA) October 18, 2013 at 16:36 #

    Woolworths claims in a response to a tweet I sent that they have been trying to get hold of you. They directed me to this link:


  144. Margot Stewart October 18, 2013 at 16:33 #

    Good on you for sharing your experience. I will pass it on. Usually, I love their stuff but i’m horrified to find out about their business practices. Without designers like you their goods will be just cheap rip offs from the Far East.


  145. tblstudiofood October 18, 2013 at 16:31 #

    Came across this post thanks to my friend who shared it on facebook. It is absolutely shocking that Woolworths uses these kinds of powerplay tactics. I’m so proud of you for having the courage to STAND UP. I support you! I think you should call 702 ( I know it sounds silly) but its worth a try.
    P.S Their cushion looks absolutely cheap and tacky compared to your beautiful, elegant cushion.

    All the best!!!


  146. Monique Robinson October 18, 2013 at 16:29 #

    Absolutely unacceptable. This is shocking and I hope that all designers will follow your example and stand up for yourselves – you do not deserve to be treated like this and no retailer has the right to make money out or your talent without paying you. I’ve posted this on my FB and hope that everyone else will do – it hopefully will encourage designers to speak out.


  147. okepne (@okepne) October 18, 2013 at 16:25 #

    They will take one of your designs, but what they can never take, is your talent. Don’t stop!


  148. Stefan Wagner October 18, 2013 at 16:19 #

    Euodia, this is outrageous, and you’re getting more and more support on Facebook where your blog has been being shared. Woolworth’s say on their Facebook page that they will contact you today. We’re hoping for the best solution!


  149. Laura Baasch (@LauraBaasch) October 18, 2013 at 16:18 #

    So let me get this straight…. you’ve copyrighted the use of all Hummingbird images?


  150. Love Mary J (@LoveMaryJ_) October 18, 2013 at 16:17 #

    so sorry to hear this. hoping something positive or piece of justice comes out of this in the long run.


  151. Beverley Gurugirl Burne October 18, 2013 at 16:16 #

    this sort of expose is well overdue. high five.


  152. WendyWill Kelly October 18, 2013 at 16:15 #

    Shame on Woolworths for not putting up their side of it. They are a multi zillion rand corporation and yet they can’t explain their behaviour? In this day and age the ethical thing to do is to respond to you, directly, immediately and explain themselves on each allegation you make in plain English. That way they will either bury you as a raving lunatic, or be held accountable for what they have done, say sorry, fix it and move on with their brand intact. It will be interesting to see their response in due course. Good luck and congrats on having the balls to take them on – if this is the case their ethics are seriously lacking and worthy of the public exposure.


  153. Tshengisile (@tshengeleng) October 18, 2013 at 16:10 #

    Your unfortunate story had to be told. As much as we think Karma affects one person think again all those who took from you more will be taken from them. #bloody woolworths# Taking my business somehwere else!!!


  154. Joy Evans (@Joy_Evans) October 18, 2013 at 16:08 #

    Well done on speaking up Euodia Roets. I have so much respect for you!I had a very similar experience with my product which Mr Price was on the verge of buying, even putting the order in. It’s sickening how these retail chains take advantage of small businesses’ expertise and skills, then copy it, without a single care in the world. Even when we are willing to sell a product at zero profit margin just to give the big retailer what they want and make THEM happy! Disgusting how they can still do this sort of thing, instead of helping to promote and encourage SMME’s, entrepreneurs and designers and just give them a chance, in our own country!!!!


  155. Felix Le Roux October 18, 2013 at 16:08 #

    Woolworths has values. It believes in sharing knowledge, skills and resources with others. It says so on a gigantic board in the store I frequent.
    Woolworths expect the same from you. You have no interest in mass production.
    It is clear from the start there is no business match made in heaven here.
    A pity you could not see it.


  156. Racing Jason Loeve October 18, 2013 at 16:08 #

    The same sort of thing happened to me when i was much younger, i used to supply iron fist clothing with my illustrations hoping i would get a name for myself in the design field and hoping to make some cash …… i was told my designs were not good enough but here is a few shirts for your effort.

    A few months later i notice a few people walking around malls with my design printed on caps, shirts and even shoes, when i looked into it i saw the designs where international.

    Tried to contact the guys at iron fist but never heard back for them.


  157. Kalliope Amorphous October 18, 2013 at 16:06 #

    Reblogged this on Kalliope Amorphous and commented:
    I have never reblogged anything before, but I want to share this with my readers, as it is a classic example of large companies exploiting artists. Please click to read the article and to support Euodia.


  158. Adriana Webb October 18, 2013 at 16:03 #

    I can’t believe they’re denying it. That design is way to close to yours. It is still wrong, since the original idea came from your design. It makes me sick that they’re trying to make you look bad. Stand you ground and like I said earlier, go to Carte Blanche.


  159. Kalliope Amorphous October 18, 2013 at 16:02 #

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your sharing this is absolutely vital, and I wish more artists would stand up against this type of exploitation. These giant companies think that art is just up for the taking; If they don’t want to pay to license it -they will just steal it.

    Exploitation of one artist is exploitation of all artists. I hope that justice is served for you.


  160. Jonathan Meyer (@jonathangmeyer) October 18, 2013 at 16:01 #



  161. Bruce Flyinghorse October 18, 2013 at 16:01 #

    Corporate bullies. Boycott.


  162. Leaza Tobias October 18, 2013 at 15:57 #

    i also learnt that lesson the hard way but now I use a large watermark of my logo, which is fairly complex on any “samples” that I might give out. There is absolutely no way that even a very talented designer would be able to remove it from the artwork and at least it protects my work to some degree. I hope that you are compensated in some way for this blatant plagiarism of your work.


  163. Bernie De Meyer October 18, 2013 at 15:55 #

    Woolworths continues to lie about their “healthy” alternative products, their “eco-friendliness” their non- GMO produce….this behaviour doesnt surprise me at all. Their “convenience meals” are nothing more than fast food (at double the price). Euodia I hope you get coverage in the media for this and I hope Woolworths continues to be shown up for it’s misrepresentation.


  164. James Michael McGregor Turner October 18, 2013 at 15:54 #

    Dude, it happens with code also. Its lank shitty. I feel your pain. They must make this right. Fight the good fight. I spammed all my designer mates with this shit. I hope you come right. Respect for naming and shaming


  165. Nicole Zulman-Sarembock October 18, 2013 at 15:52 #

    I am so sorry to hear this. The way many of these big fish operate is truly disgusting! People are usually afraid to take big companies on & so rather let it go & they are fully aware of this so they risk it. They also probably think small businesses & designers & the like can’t afford to take them on legally. Please take it further. I will most certainly post this on fb but you can find a lawyer that would be willing to go ahead & help you sue Woolies & agree to get paid after, once you have been paid out & get your samples back for you. Or at every law firm, there are lawyers that have to do a certain amount of pro-bono work, so definitely look into it & I wouldn’t be surprised if a whole lot of other would-be suppliers also come forward with their stories & possibly seek legal action. It’s not the first time I’ve heard of this happening. I’ve heard they also do this on their clothing side. I have no doubt your samples were given to another cheaper supplier to copy. It’s completely unacceptable!


  166. Justin Kemp October 18, 2013 at 15:49 #

    Not sure if you have seen this but on the Woolwirths Facebook page they have out this up

    “There’s an allegation at the moment re: the origin of a scatter cushion print image. Please be assured that we take this allegation very seriously and are reaching out to the complainant to meet with her today if possible.:

    You have the whole of SA design community behind you!


  167. Tracey Collier October 18, 2013 at 15:48 #

    I firmly believe that small business has no business doing business with big business, exactly because of the ‘sue us” attitude. They know they have you by the short and curlies.
    I was approached by them years ago and told them to take a hike. I did not need that stress for the pittance it would have meant.


  168. Paul Carter October 18, 2013 at 15:46 #

    Euodia, first I’d like to commend you on summoning the courage to post this. In the face of the power of big business the fear of being blacklisted and cut off from your livelihood is huge and keeps everyone from engaging in a long-overdue debate. You are most certainly not alone, and your ‘industry’ is most certainly not unique. As a freelance editor and author, I have experienced exactly the same abuse of power in the publishing industry. As I feel for that industry, I suspect that the only solution will be to mobilise a body that is empowered to speak on behalf of independent designers. As you so rightly point out, when people begin to share their stories and find commonality more and more poeple will speak up. Well done for leading the charge, best of luck!


  169. Jayson Hanekom October 18, 2013 at 15:44 #

    “I’m well aware of the risk I’m taking by publishing this” – Excuse me?? What risk?! The risk of them taking you to court? For what? Slander? False Stories? Woolies would be pretty stupid to take action against you for posting this. It is not like they have never done something like this before. If I were you, I would approach Frankies and ask them to please give you guidelines as to take on Woolies! I’m pretty sure they well understand your disappointment. Woolies steals other businesses ideas because they are too PATHETIC to come up with their own ranges! I bet those weeks that they gave you silent treatment was because they were waiting for pricing from other suppliers they sent your artwork to. Do not let this go, fight with all your heart for what is yours!


  170. Roelof Bezuidenhout October 18, 2013 at 15:43 #

    You should take this to the television program Carte Blanche.


  171. Darren Blair (@darren_blair01) October 18, 2013 at 15:39 #

    Really upsetting to hear – I guess Woolies will probably respond with “Do you have a Woolworths or Myschool Card”


  172. Adeline Levescot October 18, 2013 at 15:36 #

    So glad you’re posting this Euodia, so brave. It’s time for the “little guys” to take a stand.


  173. Savage October 18, 2013 at 15:35 #

    It’s great that this story will result in exposure for your brand, and I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way.


  174. capellett October 18, 2013 at 15:34 #

    Wow… this is terrible. I’m so sorry you went through this!


  175. Kristin Van Eck October 18, 2013 at 15:30 #

    Word of mouth is the best form of advertising! I am so sick of seeing big headed retailers like Woolworths taking advantage of young enthusiasts! I will spread the word Euodia. Don’t let your creativity be discouraged by this horrible experience. GOOD LUCK!


  176. Yasmin October 18, 2013 at 15:30 #

    Proudly South Africa, eh? I remember back after Sam died when Walmart had “Made in the USA” all over their stores… full of Chinese junk. Sounds like Woolies is heading in the same direction.

    Shame, and I thought I was doing fine by avoiding Game/Makro here in Joburg.


  177. Kelly McGillivray October 18, 2013 at 15:30 #

    Wow …my chilli relish: Kelly’s Revenge could go big with the right exposure, but it will go big on it’s own, might take me longer but at least it will still have integrity …..sad for anyone that is taken advantage of … your design work is beautiful.


  178. Judy Thorrington-Smith October 18, 2013 at 15:29 #

    Well done for standing up for yourself and the other designers. I would go to Carte Blanche if I were you.


  179. Marina Muhlberg-Smit October 18, 2013 at 15:28 #

    Thank you for sharing your story .. I will spread the word too .. disgraceful treatment .. Shame on you Woolies!


  180. Damien T (@Damien404) October 18, 2013 at 15:26 #

    just goes to show that in this day and age, you cant show anyone your birdy


  181. Helen Maister October 18, 2013 at 15:24 #

    Woolworths have said that they are “reaching out” to you today. Please let us know the outcome of your meeting with them.


  182. Yasmin October 18, 2013 at 15:24 #

    Reblogged this on AMLISA: American Muslim Living in South Africa and commented:
    I was just about to do a post on how great ordering online from Woolworths is here in South Africa, but after reading this I cannot support a company with such a lack of ethics. To be honest, I’d rather shop at Game, and those of you who know me from America know that I despise Walmart and its Evil Empire.


  183. Katie Borland October 18, 2013 at 15:22 #

    I had a similar experience with Woolies after giving them samples of my product – they had an identical one made in China. I did have some design protection and after a letter from my lawyer they came back with, basically, “sue us.” I don’t have the several hundred thousand rand it takes to do this but my lawyer advised articles just like this – the only thing we can do is embarrass them. If they even do get embarrassed by this… (probably not but at least articles like this make consumers more aware of who they are dealing with.) My incident was a couple of years ago and I am over it – in the end it didn’t really affect my sales – the only thing we can really do to protect ourselves is make sure your customers want one from you and not from them. Fuckers.


  184. Nerina Lee Mills October 18, 2013 at 15:19 #

    Terrible how small designers get abused by the big shots in the industry. I really do hope that this post of yours makes some waves!


  185. Adriana Webb October 18, 2013 at 15:13 #

    This is shocking! Grab the other designers and go to Carte Blanche.


  186. amatolianmountaindog October 18, 2013 at 15:10 #

    Shocking lack of morals, but that is what Woolworths has become, BIG business without any morals.


  187. Gareth (@CausticPop) October 18, 2013 at 15:06 #

    Why don’t you utilize non-disclosure agreements when giving them samples etc? (Not being accusatory, just wondering…)


  188. Michelle (@MichG1977) October 18, 2013 at 15:06 #

    It seems that this is the trend for Woolworths and besides the Frankies debarkle in 2011 (which they did not get away with), I also know of another example.

    Why be greedy? Why dont they reward the artist financially and launch the talent ( arent Woolies meant to be proudly South African?) – surely this is of mutual benefit to both parties? Do Woolworths truely think that these artists and competitive companies (usually a smaller outfit) are not going to realise they have been ripped off.

    I admire that you have taken this further and exposed them. Stand up for the work that you have poured your heart and soul into and the truth will prevail if you have all your facts in order. I wouldnt let this lie.

    Unproffessional, unethical and unfair.


  189. Olivia Honey (@LolaHoneyBuns) October 18, 2013 at 15:04 #

    hm, guess no more woolies shopping for me. makes me wonder what they do for those so called small farm owners…probably ripping them off too. i would rather not support this big corporate anymore. and not to worry, your article is getting exposure!


  190. James Wazowski Taylor October 18, 2013 at 15:03 #

    That really sucks Euodia, sorry to hear that man. That’ll make me think twice about being so keen to get my stuff into the big stores.

    I would have expected more from Woolworths, they should be leading the way in defending, promoting and protecting local design!

    This is why we don’t have a manufacturing industry to speak of in SA.


  191. Freshfire Studio (@FreshfireStudio) October 18, 2013 at 15:03 #

    Appalling. This is the same reason I refuse to be part of any further government tenders: Designers have to submit full concepts that only get passed on to preferred suppliers. No matter how many “copyright reserved” labels you add to your work, you will not be paid, credited or contracted.


  192. Gena Do Sacramento Orfali October 18, 2013 at 15:02 #

    I hadn’t even finished your story and was already thinking of the frankies debacle. So Sad!!! and unnecessary!


  193. MindPrint (@KlaraLoots) October 18, 2013 at 14:59 #

    As a creative and a local designer, I am shocked to read your story. I am also slightly nervous because I recently approached Woolworths with my products, and after a about two weeks they got back to me saying they were not interested…I am now wondering if my designs will now also be spotted on their products without my consent??

    I hope they don’t get away with this and finally learn how they need to treat designers – again, I’m very sorry to hear about your experience 😦


  194. Laurence Friedman October 18, 2013 at 14:59 #

    Yeah, Woolworths – like any other corporation – is only really interested in making as much profit as possible. If that means compromising ethics, a little fraud here and there… no problem. Woolies food is also not all it’s cracked up to be. Caught with there pants down with the chicken story and now selling high-GMO-content maize meal with no labelling! It’s amazing what clever marketing and sly advertising can do, hey ; )


  195. Christopher Mark V Lowe October 18, 2013 at 14:58 #

    You’ve received a lot of useful advice in the face of this completely unacceptable behaviour by Woolworths, so suffice for me to add my outrage and pledge support to you and others who are subject to this kind of theft.

    If we all speak up and speak out (and I will do my bit by sharing this post far and wide) we can expose this rot and stop it. Good luck!


  196. Maité-Anne Baverey October 18, 2013 at 14:58 #

    As far as I know South Africa being a member of the United Nations protects your work as a designer under what is called intellectual property law . Don’t let them get away with it .


  197. Diane Edwards October 18, 2013 at 14:56 #

    Woolworths have advised that they are going to contact you directly to deal with this!


  198. Willie Cloete October 18, 2013 at 14:56 #

    I left the design industry for the very reasons you mentioned in your article, my designs for a large money lending company were rejected just to feature months later in a slightly altered state after they pay another designer R2000 to redesign my stuff with alterations. I am not in the design industry anymore, but I think twice when approached by big companies in my new food based business now.


  199. Jane Makkink Bourne October 18, 2013 at 14:53 #

    This is outrageous – and also unlawful. You own the copyright to your art and Woolworths using it amounts to copyright infringement (even if they haven’t used the identical artwork and have made minor alterations). You should definitely consult a copyright attorney.


  200. Sol Bezuidenhout October 18, 2013 at 14:49 #

    This is a horrible story. You should however consider formally registering and time stamping your designs. Checkout . Its free as far as I know.


  201. bambooblossom October 18, 2013 at 14:48 #

    This is terrible. I don’t know why companies do this. I’m sure people would support them more if they were actually working with designers and small companies. Why even bother wasting your time if they’re just going to steal it anyway.


  202. Jessica Baker October 18, 2013 at 14:47 #

    This is so sad! Skilled people get payed — artist are skilled! gosh!


  203. Mariette Van Den Heever October 18, 2013 at 14:46 #

    This is scary, I just developed a new product, and will be seeing a big retail shop next week. Is there anything I can do to protect myself before I show them my product?


  204. Dori Moreno October 18, 2013 at 14:45 #

    Well done for posting this blog and bringing it out in the open. To everyone out there – the lesson is to buy directly from source and avoid the big guns!


  205. Anne-Michelle Baleta October 18, 2013 at 14:44 #

    I own a local jewellery brand. When I was first starting out about 6 years ago, a similar thing happened to me with another big local chain store.
    I was seduced by talk of BIG exposure, and after undergoing a similar process as yourself, I still have not received my designs back from them 6 years later!

    Reading this article today, I was overcome with a sense of pride and strength. Proud to be know alongside designers as youself, proud to be a small but successful, self made independent business, and proud to know that other designers around the country are standing up to the greedy careless ‘big fish’ out there too.

    So here’s to all my fellow young and inspired designers and entrepreneurs out there. Don’t be seduced by big talk. The only person who is going to make you succeed is you and your unique knowledge and belief in your own brand or product! You are your best advertisement, you are your best sales rep and you know your own worth! So own it!

    Antique Fusion Jewellery.


  206. Robert Hichens October 18, 2013 at 14:44 #

    Shared your post on my wall, I’m disgusted at the way you were treated, but not surprised. Hope you can get some justice…wish I was a lawyer, I’d sue their asses! My little token of resistance, I’ll boycott WW even more than I do now (mainly cos they’re just too effing expensive for struggling artists!)


  207. Irene K (@ireneismyname) October 18, 2013 at 14:42 #

    I hope you find yourself a freakin’ amazing lawyer and get this sorted. This is really not on!


  208. anton boon October 18, 2013 at 14:41 #

    Euodia, sorry to hear about your experience. You need to file a case of theft with your local police station regarding your samples that Woolworths refuses to return, or get a lawyer to send Woolworths a letter – I’m assuming SAPS still permits one to file theft cases 😉 Get an Intellectual Property Rights lawyer to send Woolworths a cease-and-desist letter regarding the copyright infringement. And get advice from the IP lawyer about any future approaches you may have with other retailers. I’d also suggest that where you do have discussions with retailers in future, that you record all conversations.


  209. Barnacles Creative (@Barnacles_C) October 18, 2013 at 14:40 #

    Thank you for speaking out! hopefully this will inspire others to do the same! South Africa has a serious problem not paying for and/or giving credit to actual creatives and instead go for the cheapest champ that’s probably just finished a 3 week adobe course. The real creatives are the ones getting totally screwed over by the people who love through titles around like ‘Creative’, when they should simple be called Sharks or professional email forwarders! Sorry to hear about this!


  210. Kenau Botha October 18, 2013 at 14:39 #

    I was approached by WW last year (for the Artisan range), and was rather disappointed at the time that the whole thing didnt happen. At the time I refused to budge (more) on my price, and also would not have made any profit, but thought it would be good exposure.

    The buyer just stopped communicating with me.
    Very abruptly without any explanation.

    At least I got my samples back.

    Whenever I look at the artisan pieces they sell, I have to ask myself how much the designer is actually getting out of it. I have heard other horror stories.

    I am keeping my product away from large chain/ retailers, and sticking to boutique stores.


  211. MR (@Nick_Frost) October 18, 2013 at 14:33 #

    This is an actual outrage. How you are keeping so composed about it is beyond me.


  212. Bryony October 18, 2013 at 14:31 #

    Why don’t those of you independents club together to hire a sh*t-hot lawyer to fight your case for you? You’d probably get more out of it that way… From all the stories out there, this seems like the only way big retailers like Woolies are going to learn to be more cautious.


  213. blackgems October 18, 2013 at 14:30 #

    Woolies has responded to all the Facebook shares of this post “We are aware of the blog post & are currently looking into it.” :-/


  214. Paula Sacco Howse October 18, 2013 at 14:29 #

    Woolworths did the same with Barrys bars – all those snack bars….. yip, stolen also. Its their operation methodology. I wonder if they give their staff classes on fraud and how to be nasty. I wonder how these people then go to sleep at night after a “good” day of ripping people off. They have sold their souls.


  215. lilianfairall October 18, 2013 at 14:26 #

    Reblogged this on by me with love and commented:
    How us designers are unethically treated. Very brave thing to do.

    xo L


  216. blackgems October 18, 2013 at 14:26 #

    Buy from the source – screw the corporations! Well done Euodia on sharing your experience.this is abuse of power and theft! I’ve shared this on Facebook with design friends


  217. Nikki Pietersen October 18, 2013 at 14:24 #

    I’ve shared this on Twitter and Facebook. How awful for you to be going through this. Well done for speaking out! I truly hope it prevents this happening to other designers out there.


  218. belindamountain October 18, 2013 at 14:22 #

    Really really sorry to hear this. What irritates me most is how Woolworths makes themselves out to be this ethical company who’s concerned about the environment and blahblahblah. And they think because you are small and they are vast that they can push you around. Am sharing your post in the hope that something can be done.


  219. Sam Marx October 18, 2013 at 14:19 #

    The only way that this will ever change is if every designer is aware of this and all support one another in this sort of a situation. Well done Euodia for coming out with this. Theft is never ok. If a smaller company did this to one of their things I’ve no doubt they wouldn’t stand for it.


  220. Carly Bongers October 18, 2013 at 14:17 #

    It is quite sad how major retailers rip off the small businesses. Exactly this will result in talented individuals hording their own work to avoid theft. Such events need to be publicised more often to make everyone aware. I applaud you, Euodia, for posting this.

    Refer back to 2011, Woolworths vs Frankies Ginger Beer:;jsessionid=7807DE4D787905991CC4223EEBC89FA5.present1.bdfm


  221. Leila Badsha (@ShopBowPeep) October 18, 2013 at 14:16 #

    Thanks for sharing your store. I had a similar experience with another big SA retailer. They didn’t copy my design but they wanted crazy terms and in the end nothing came out of the discussions. Its not fare and I hope they apologize to you.


  222. Mark Bradshaw October 18, 2013 at 14:06 #

    Hi Eoudia. I am afraid to say that your experience is not only unique to you and the ‘design’ industry.

    I have worked in multiple consumer goods companies who spend a considerable amount to develop (design) new products – be it cosmetics, new cereals etc. The retailer is quick to cotton onto top sellers and introduce their own private label at a lower cost, where they make more margin. They then market how great they are to bring the consumer a cheaper version and proudly distribute it right next to market leader on-shelf. Think how bizarre this is – I bring you a product to sell and make money profit but it is ok for you to copy this and compete with me in an environment where you own the voice with shoppers… I am surprised more big brands don’t just pull their products off shelf.

    Despite the knock off invariably being made from inferior materials the impact in the market is far greater. The brand is left spending all the money on research, design, development and marketing while the retailer makes all the profits. Think of all the jobs this impacts on and also the innovation in a category. This is what happened to you. In the end something has to give….

    I could go on, but to end it here lets just say I never buy home brands!


  223. Greg Husted October 18, 2013 at 14:03 #

    Cant say I am surprised. Woolworths has a disgusting record of plagiarism and cheap knock-offs. Granted all retailers will try take a short cut but what is disgusting about Woolworths is how they pretend to be so ethical and conscientious about their products and sustainable development etc. when in fact they are the least ethical of our big brand shops.


  224. siyafrica (@siyafrica) October 18, 2013 at 14:02 #

    Dude, this really sucks. It seems more and more that creative people are getting their ideas plagerised and appropriated by big corporations under the auspices of derivative work. It’s funny how anything a creative person does is up for grabs and is paid out in cents but when the sciences and commerce people come up with something barely original it’s considered sacrilege to copy.


  225. Ugene Nel October 18, 2013 at 13:40 #

    Woolworths and other retailers/Businesses must never get away with what’s actually “THEFT” Period!


  226. Nadia van der Mescht October 18, 2013 at 13:39 #

    Thank you for sharing your story! It is so terrible & disrespectful when people who should be leaders in the industry are failing us! It is so important that we all speak out & take a stand! Thanks for being brave! X


  227. Christie Collier-Mann October 18, 2013 at 13:29 #

    Just another example of how their “Proudly South African” act is such a farce.
    That design is so similar to yours, it’s funny.
    I would seriously consider visiting a lawyer and seeing if you can sue for damages. To agree to do business with you, then move the goal posts, then “borrow” your samples for much longer than was necessary, then to tell you that they have changed their mind and won’t be releasing any new designs and then to blatantly copy your idea and design for a new range, well that’s not completely ethical.

    I won’t be supporting them by buying anything other than the chocolate mousse because no one else makes it like they do.


  228. Chadd Pretorius October 18, 2013 at 13:16 #

    Shared on Woolies SA Facebook page! I think this is unacceptable! How are we, the future of SA, supposed to contribute to society when things like this happen. Utterly disgusted


  229. lilianfairall October 18, 2013 at 12:40 #

    Shared on Facebook and Twitter! They shouldn’t be able to get away with this! xox L


  230. Euodia Roets October 18, 2013 at 12:39 #

    I’m so sorry you had to go through that as well Cara, it’s just unacceptable.


  231. Cara Pedder October 18, 2013 at 12:37 #

    Something similar happened to me while i was studying design at Concept Interactive. Woolworths were invited to give us a live project with the promise that the winning design could be used as a product packaging and that we would be credited, etc…
    i presented my design in front of my peers, lecturers and the Woolies head of design. He completely shattered my hopes saying that it was a terrible composition and i recieved the lowest grade of my class.
    3 months later they had a blatant replica of my design on their product in stores. i was heartbroken at my low grade and felt so cheated. at the time i was so inexperienced that i didnt know how to confront the problem and i let it go, which i regret to this day.
    boo on woolies 😦


  232. Euodia Roets October 18, 2013 at 12:33 #

    Thanks so much Fathima, your support means a lot to me.


  233. Fathima K October 18, 2013 at 12:32 #

    This is awful and there’s SO much of it going on all over the world! You’re so right to name and shame them and stand up for our small community. Will be spreading the word wherever I can. They can’t get away with this.



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