Monday, March 21, 2011

Etsy Wig Drama-Rama Scandal o' 2011

I wasn't too sure if I wanted to post this here. To dedicate an entire post to something not-so-stellar, but I knew I owed it to all of you. Some of you already know this by now, but it seems that my previous (& current.. well, until the other day!) sponsors, Miss Violet Lace and Tiffany DeMichele are currently in some hot water. Turns out that they've been giving us all the run-around with their "handmade wig" ventures. Turns out those handmade wigs aren't so handmade after all. In fact, I'm not even sure where I should start with this. I guess anywhere is better than nowhere! Hang tight as I get through all of this... It will undoubtedly be a long one.

Miss Violet Lace (Krista, and her mother/business partner) took part in an interview, review, and giveaway in November of 2010 on LCH. The review included a YouTube video of me which ended up receiving thousands and thousands of views, and sales in her Etsy shop sky-rocketed. Many of my readers (all of you!) took my claims of praise and threw down some cold hard cash for her product. Many of you emailed me with your excitement for your purchase, questions about caring for it, and pictures of how they looked. I was overjoyed that so many of you decided to branch out and just give it a go! Afterall, I was brand new to the whole world myself.

In December I noticed another Etsy seller, MissDemented, all of a sudden had a shop facelift, began selling wigs (some of the same), and was overall copying everything MVL did. I only knew this because I had paid close attention to her Etsy beforehand. She wasn't selling any wigs at the time, and the whole aesthetic of her shop was different. Believe me when I say I spent a good 2-3 hours solid lurking and scoping and taking note of everything I saw. I was trying to decipher what was going on. I even emailed Susannah back and forth pretty frequently about it. Anyway, I contacted MVL and inquired about the girl. She seemed to be jacking her style, and I was curious as to why MD sold the very same wig that MVL sold, but for $15-$20 cheaper. It didn't make any sense that she'd buy from MVL to resell, so if these were truly handmade then something was up. I told MVL that I didn't care if she bought on Ebay to resell... I mean, that is retail. You buy something wholesale, mark it up and sell it under your brand. Everyone does it. But not under the guise of it being handcrafted. Even still, MVL assured me that she and her mother made every wig in-house and to order. I gave her the benefit of the doubt as she seemed to be a sweet girl with great business ethic.

Months pass and MVL and I do quite a bit of advertising together. I bought 2 more wigs (the lavender and one pink one to replace the one I had) and when I received them they were less-than-stellar quality. I promptly emailed her, showed pictures and told her my side. I told her I didn't feel as though they were the same quality of item that I had received in the past. Her customer service was phenomenal. I told her I didn't want to blog badly about her business and she allowed me to send them back, gave me a full refund, and then replaced the wigs once more. For free. She sent me another one (the Mermaid blonde one) to review on the blog this month as she was my Extra Large sponsor. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly.

In the meantime, another Etsy wig maker by the name of Tiffany DeMichel contacts me about taking out an ad. I remember Susannah having great things to say about her product so I oblige, but am quick to say that I will never compare two sellers of similar materials to each other. It's not my place to make those decisions for people, and she agreed. She sent me a wig to review/keep and then when she purchased the XL ad we did an interview and giveaway. Sales in her Etsy started to climb as more of my readers bought her product. She sent me another wig for March and then we discussed further collaborations.

Then I got some FormSpring stuff. Comments about the scandal with MVL and I was confused. I did some Googling and found THIS and THIS. Huh... looks like my initial thoughts in December were proving true. Except this time they had proof. Something that I never found aside from MD. I spent several hours just pouring through all of the findings. I was also quick to comment and make my stance known. While it took me almost a week to remove both girls from my sidebar, I had a reason for it.

I emailed MVL and told her that I didn't feel comfortable posting her interview or giveaway, and that I would not be doing the review either. I of course have screenshots of all of these conversations (even the December one) but didn't feel as though they were necessary to post here. She assured me that at the time of her November interview that every wig was handmade. But wait... I found wigs sold in her shop in October that are currently being sold on Ebay for a minute fraction of the price. I of course brought this up in my email to her but she evaded the question entirely. Offering no answer or reason for why that was the case, she simply said she was following Etsy's TOS agreement by "altering" the wigs before selling them. A simple snip here and there may be legal in Etsy's eyes, but the truth came down to this: She was scamming honest people out of their hard earned money.

Click to see full-size

This is money that people have worked for. These are people who think they are buying a quality, hand crafted item. These are people who support American made items, and independent businesses. When in reality they were just supporting greed and mass-produced cosplay wigs from Asia. I have no problem with them being cosplay wigs. In fact, I wouldn't have any problem with her reselling them... if she had been honest. The truth is MVL marketed her wigs in a way that was appealing to all of us. She put them on.. a real live person wearing them! Not a plastic mannequin head void of expression. I think we all would have felt confident in purchasing from her. But no, she had to go lie. She had to claim her product was handmade when it wasn't. She had to mark them up to an exorbitant price and take advantage of all of us.

But don't think she was alone. She was joined by MissDemented, and our other sponsor, Tiffany DeMichele. Tiffany's wigs were found in a different shop, but the same rule applied. To this day she denies it. I had her remove all of my photos from her listings, but she doesn't have the decency to email me back. She never admitted to her items not being handmade or them being resold. She markets her items on twitter as "handmade" but obviously that does not apply to all of her products. Per Etsy's TOS she is etsy-legal because she has "altered" something about them, though both wigs I have received are straight from the manufacturer with no alterations visible.

It took me a few days to take down their sponsorships because I wanted to ensure that I had all of my facts straight. I ordered a wig from one of their suppliers and it arrived to my house on Friday. Sure enough, it's an identical product. Guess how much I paid for it?! FIFTY CENTS! Exactly. I wanted to see it with my own eyes before I spouted off with libel.

MVL has been issuing partial refunds to those who contact her. So I urge you to send her a message, be it by email or through Etsy, and ask for compensation. MissDemented takes it to a whole new level by denying it to Ebay, Etsy, PayPal, all of her customers, etc. She will not admit to it, even though we've found her out. So many people are unaware of this, and I want all of you to know the truth. Tiffany DeMichele's shop is still up, so I urge you all to contact Etsy and demand her shop be investigated further. Especially if you purchased from her!

All of these women took advantage of us. They took advantage of our eagerness to try something new, They took advantage of my readership, and they took advantage of an opportunity to set themselves apart from other scam artists.

Please take a the time to read these links: Etsy Call Out, Miss Demented is Fake (also includes links and proof about Miss Violet Lace), and the original FormSpring which sprouted it all, JenCate.

If you read this all, kudos! I appreciate it. Again, I didn't want to take up all of your time with hullabaloo about wigs and scandals and nonsense, but considering you all have proven to be some of their best customers, you had a right to know. If you'd like to purchase these wigs still, please visit the Miss Demented is Fake link above and get the links to the shops that supply all of their goods! You'll be amazed at how cheap they really are! Don't let this spoil your appetite for having fun with your appearance. Or shopping online! There are plenty of honest people out there, and it's important that we give our patronage to those who are sincere in their work. And also important that we call out those who aren't! Happy Wiggin' Out! xo

PS; Please know that my loyalty is first and foremost with my readers. No one with money wanting to be a sponsor will change that. I chose to terminate all relations with these girls because I knew what they were doing was wrong. I will never promote, or tolerate, fraud or lies just in order to get paid.


Update: March 27, 2011: Tiffany DeMichele has contacted me informing me that Etsy contacted her regarding the legality of her Etsy shop. They have deemed that she is "altering" the wigs per Etsy's TOS Agreement, thus making her shop Etsy-legal. You can take this to mean whatever you choose, but if your'e interested in purchasing any of her "heat resistant curly" wigs then please visit EpicCosplay on Ebay where you can find each wig for a fraction of the price. I professionally retract my statement made that Tiffany procures her wigs from EBay. She has assured that is not the case though she refuses to cite where they are bought wholesale. She claims she never said they were handmade though her Twitter still reads "Handmade wigs and hair extensions". I urge each and every one of you to explore links given and decipher for yourself. Regardless of whether Tiffany DeMichele is in line with Etsy's Terms of Service or not, she still mislead people into believing all of her wigs were handmade when they were not.

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