“Did you find an awesome statue of Odin with a price too good to be true?” begins a recent entry at the Wyrd Designs blog.
The article focuses on a Ukrainian Pagan artist who sells on Etsy. Chinese copyists mass-produced his carved wooden statues in resin, along with others. (Those are the genuine works shown.)
But look at the stats on the knock-off site: the Norse statues in the last month sold 3 thousand units (cumulatively of the Odin, Thor, Freya or Loki statues), and they had over 14,000 shares across social media. It’s unclear if they’re only counting the 19 days of November so far, or if that’s sales in the last 30 days. If those stats are real (and not some engineered gimmick designed to get you to purchase), they sold around $60,000 -$69,000 gross profit (varying on if someone purchased one statue, or multiples where a bundle discount comes into play). Even taking into consideration they’d have out of pocket costs to manufacture the cheap knock offs, they’re probably pocketing between $40,000 -$55,000 in net profit in just one month (based on a typical 60-80% profit margins for mass manufactured goods). In a year if you had steady sustained sales, that’s around $480,000 – $660,000 net profit. Near half a million dollars, or more.. Money like that would be revolutionary for artists serving our community.
Three different business are selling those knock-offs on Amazon, for starters, plus they are on other e-commerce sites as well.
There is no immediate cure except to look carefully at the site and try to determine if you are dealing with a real artisan or not. The article suggests some ways of checking, particularly on Amazon, but you cannot always tell if an item was made in some Chinese knick-knack factory or not.
Some sites will have a section on their page dedicated to intellectual property concerns, like TEMU, which gives you the impression that they’re trying to operate ethically. But it’s set dressing, there’s no real accountability process in place at Temu. As an aside, Etsy tends to have solid options from legitimate artisans, though occasionally some knock-offs might infiltrate the service.
Oberon Zell has had to quash illegal reproductions of his Milennial Gaia statue a number of times, as I recall. This was back when he and his late wife, Morning Glory, operated their own crafts business, which now has new management.
If you want a blast from the past, I mentioned one of those Chinese “we’ll make anything” companies, King-Max Products, in this 2007 blog post about Pagan images at a New Age wholesale trade fair.
In a weird way, all this counterfeiting is a sign that Pagan images are becoming more recognizable and marketable, so I suppose you could feel kind of good about that.