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Design Vampires and other Goulish things

When we are in creative flow, we are one with our source energy and new ideas arise from within as we give birth to newness. It is our divine human nature to co-create; it is the one true human super power we possess.

Design Vampire: A person or thing that takes the creativity of others as his or her own. Struggling for vision and power they attempt to suck influence for financial gain from the original source.

There is something that has been lurking in the shadows; the dark underside of human creativity and it’s rampant at all levels and in every area of creativity and commerce. It has been said there is nothing new under the sun. I beg to differ, from my own personal experience I know that it is possible to create newly and on a daily basis. Our divine human birthright is to create. It is the one thing, that separates us from all other living beings. When we are truly in creative flow we are one with our source energy and new ideas, intuition from within arises as we give birth to newness. It is our very nature to co-create; it is the one true human super power we possess.

cindy ciskowski design studio fall 2018

On both sides of my family I was blessed to come from a lineage of creators. Growing up was taught how to create, a creativity that was always fostered and supported by the adults and teachers around me. My grandmother Adeline, took me under her wing and connected me to my ability to create. At seven, she taught me how to sew and imbued me with a deep passion for textiles, fashion and birthing beauty. I also have innate knowing of what is next. It’s a force, an intuitive knowing within me that arises on it's own will and it is my responsibility to acknowledge it and act on the information I receive. People often ask where did you study? I have no formal design education. Everything I know is born out of the guidance I experienced growing up, an incredible curiosity, a love for arts and travel, other cultures, and a passion for beauty while being connected to the source.

My 28 year career as a designer and entrepreneur has been filled with incredible wins and success and with that comes challenging lessons. These lessons have taught me to be wiser, more compassionate and have greater presence and hold my power. Drawing on my original passion for textiles and using what gives me personal pleasure, in 2010 I founded  House of Cindy. I leveraged the zeitgeist of the moment, imported mass produced products were losing favor in the marketplace. Clients wanted products with soul and integrity that were one of a kind and rare. This idea is what we built the  House of Cindy brand around. We create beautiful pillows and home decor from exotic, rare unusual vintage textiles and offer these in our collections. With the success of the new collection soon I was back exhibiting in nationwide tradeshows and furniture markets. Around the same time E commerce and Blogging began disrupting my entire industry. Etsy, Pinterest and Instagram soon followed lowering the barrier to enter the market place.

At the tradeshows other manufactures were asking where I sourced my textiles because they wanted to use them in their upholstery lines.This was just the beginning; if I had known how big the look I developed would be eight years later I would have marketed differently. Soon look alike copies were selling on Etsy and Instagram and all of a sudden it seemed like everyone decided they were pillow makers and copied the look. During this time, someone I considered to be a friend started making  pillows exactly like mine and selling them next to me in the tradeshow. I asked why did you do this? It was such a betrayal of trust and lacked integrity. Their response, “We had to! Everyone else is doing it”. A well known Los Angeles Interior designer used to send her assistant to our design studio to buy pillows and to spy on what we were creating next, soon they began making pillows themselves.

I began to hate the idea of supply chain transparency as a business model. Soon I stopped posting my new collections on social media and showed them exclusively at tradeshows. After awhile people said I was copying them! This was insane. No, I was not the first person to make vintage textile pillows but I was the first in my industry to build a home furnishings brand around it. After awhile all of this started to bother me and my ego mind was outraged, but I refused to be victimized by other people's actions and after all the best defense a creator has is to create newly. As a creator, if the external world sidetracks my attention it is a recipe for madness and it definitely stops the flow of new ideas. The key to creativity is focusing on a vision and acting on it. Where the intention goes, energy flows.

I am a big believer in self-inquiry and I questioned why was this happening. I asked myself if I took God's point of view what would I see? It was then I realized how much abundance was being created. People around the world were benefiting, textile makers from Africa, Asia, Mexico, Morocco and Guatemala were all gaining global favor and making sales by producing and selling the textiles, pillow insert suppliers, shipping companies, makers and sellers, my clients, an entire supply chain was enriched because I was co-creating from my source within. I was pleased with this answer. I liked vibrating in the field of abundance, helping different cultures, the artist and creators of the textiles and enriching their lives. I could see that god was using me for a greater purpose.

cindy traveling the deserts of morocco

Not long ago I received this inquiry.

“Hi Cindy, I just want to say how much I love the brand you’ve created. Your products are so beautifully curated and full of inspiration. I‘ve recently opened a new store. I am interested in traveling to Morocco and I am wondering if you can recommend places to go where I could curate a collection? Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated.”

Synchronistically, at the time, I was listening to  Clever podcast Ep. 70 with a interview with Madeline Weinrib saying she had closed down her company after 20 years because she was so widely copied that her company was no longer viable.

Can you imagine sending a letter like this to  Gucci? “Hi, Alessandro, I love what you have created at Gucci! Your vision and designs are inspirational. I want to curate a collection like yours! Can you please tell me where your factories and suppliers are located?” Of course I am not Gucci, but you get the idea.

Why do Design Vampires exist? I truly believe we live in a world of creation and not competition. Why are knock offs so rampant? Why do people steal and copy business ideas and endless other forms of creativity from others. Is it that people are lazy or uneducated? Or perhaps they live in a mindset of fear, lack and financial scarcity? Or maybe they lack self-esteem or the ability to concentrate long enough to bring something from the formless in to form. Perhaps no one is taught in school to use his or her creative mind, but just to copy. Joseph Campbell says, the majority of people never answer the call for adventure. It is too difficult, too daunting, and too uncomfortable.

The great Author Oscar Wilde's famous quote "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." is often misquoted what he said is "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness." The problem is mediocrity doesn't see greatness, they just see opportunity.

Whatever the reason, the saddest thing about stealing someone’s vision and selling it as your own, Is you will never know that lighting strike “Ahha moment” of discovery when a new idea is birthed from within you feels like. When you follow your intuition down the rabbit hole of creation to discover a storehouse of riches. It’s the most exhilarating and exciting feeling, connecting to source energy and allowing the energy to move your mind in the moment as you birth new thoughts and ideas. Bring beauty into form and marketing and selling it is so much fun. For me, it is my ultimate human expression, a grand glorious adventure and the result is  House of Cindy.

Cindy Ciskowski

When you copy, you miss out on being the hero in your own journey. After all copying is not creating, not even close. When you copy it is as though you expect someone else to breathe for you. The saddest thing is that a Design Vampire misses out by looking to the external world as their source is they never get to experience the true god given talent of being a human creator, one with unfolding creation of source energy with the ability to birth something new on to the planet. When one denies themself and the world of their own unique creative contribution that is solely theirs to give, everyone loses. 

We are designed for our dreams to come true and we are meant for greatness. While it is wonderful to be inspired by someone else's vision, resist the urge to copy and paste! Create Instead! Take the inspiration you recieve and spin it with your own unique creative vision, chart your own course and go on your own adventure.

When sharing images on Social Media honor other creators by tagging the source of the products and artists. If it’s a wholesale company you admire ask if you can carry their products in your store. If it’s another brand you like, offering to do a collab collection is a great idea. After all, a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. The more love and light we spread together the brighter our world will be.

Building a Brand is a long-term proposition it doesn’t happen in six months. It encompasses more than just traveling to one location to curate a look. Brands are built on the inspired visions of their creators and take many years to build by acting on that vision. Leveraging the zeitgeist of the moment is a good place to start but what is the ultimate destination? What is the "why" of the brand? Building a successful brand that is on purpose is the difference between building a million dollar brand and a billion dollar brand.

Joseph Campbell says “Follow your bliss don’t be afraid and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be." 

I hope this blog post elevates your consciousness and inspires you to dig deeper, to be adventurous, to go within and find your connection to your own unique creative source, honor it and live your wildest dreams. Even though Design Vampires will continue to exist, they will always be behind the game chasing after the creators.  

Happy Halloween and beware of the Design Vampires,

Peace and Blessings Cindy

*I birthed the idea of Design Vampire while listening to  Dandipani speak.