Initially, I wasn’t going to post this today. I had planned to give you one more day before writing this. That was mostly at the urging of my mom, who is a MUCH nicer person that I am. “Maybe she doesn’t check her e-mail everyday,” my mom said. “Maybe she’s new in the business,” she said.
Yes, I was going to give you one more day.
That was until I got home last night and took an in-depth look at your website.
Let’s look together, shall we? Your website says that you have been “Serving the Coastal Bend & Valley areas of Texas since 2004…” Wow, that’s six years–one year longer than I’ve been in business! Reading on, I learn that you are the “owner of an award winning portfolio.” Award winning?! Sounds quite impressive!!
So you’ve been in business for six years, and have an award winning portfolio. I was anxious to see this amazing portfolio! Interestingly, when I clicked over to that section on your website, this is what I saw:
PRESENTATION OF OUR PORTFOLIO IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION – SO MANY PROJECTS & PICTURES RANGING FROM DRAWINGS TO SEASONAL DECOR… COME BACK & VISIT… YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS SHOWCASE!
Our current & past projects include: private residences; commercial projects; remodel selection & design; new construction selection for contractors & buyers; classroom decoration & space planning; party consultation & planning; prom planning & decorating; ranch estates & lodges; offices; furniture stores; showcase homes; redesign; staging; custom window treatments & design; & email consultation & interior planning in the surrounding areas of South Texas.
Darn. No portfolio. Seems strange after six years in business. It sure sounds like you’ve been busy! Well, surely there are pictures somewhere on your website, right?!
Wanting to learn more about this “award winning” interior designer who has been in business one year longer than I have, I clicked on your “About” section, where I found a nifty little digital “brochure”. Finally, there were pictures! I finally get to see pictures of your “award winning” rooms! This should be good.
It started off a little rough. I certainly would not have chosen this room for the front of a brochure advertising design services. But whatever. At least I could be certain that these were your designs, right? After all, in the bottom right corner, it says very plainly, “Design by”…
and then when the brochure is opened, there’s your business name with your name underneath. So we have “Design by”…YOU, right? Well, these are certainly better. I can’t help but wonder why you didn’t choose that living room for your front cover. It’s much more impressive.
Then I flipped to the next page. Now we’re getting somewhere!! I absolutely love the girl’s room on the left.
In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite rooms…
THAT I’VE EVER DESIGNED.
Yes, that’s my 2008 Waco Symphony Showhouse room, designed for a six-year-old girl named Chloe. Want to see the rest of the room? Those photos are on MY website, Kristi Linauer Interiors. Oh, silly me. You already knew that. You’ve clearly already BEEN to my website, haven’t you?
Okay, so you stole a photo from my website–one of my all-time favorite rooms I’ve ever designed–and put it in a brochure that says “Design by” you. Surely that’s the only one, right? Well, let’s take a look. What’s that tiny little photo in the middle of that same page?
Well, that’s a bathroom I decorated for one of my favorite clients named Jerry. I decorated almost her entire house, and had an absolute blast doing it.
Okay, so that’s two photos. Things aren’t looking so good here for you. What else do you have? Well, on the very next page, this little bathroom looks familiar.
Does that fabric look familiar at all? It should. It’s the same fabric used in the Symphony Designer Showhouse! Same project…same house…same little six-year-old girl named Chloe…attached bathroom.
Well, just one more page of your brochure left–just one more chance to show your work. What have you got? What’s your big, grand ending?
MY PARENTS’ BATHROOM!!!
The master bathroom that is in the house I grew up in…the house that my mom has lived in for about 40 years…the bathroom that was completely gutted and redesigned according to MY DESIGN PLAN.
Sad little thieving designer, on your website you say that you “can help with any question or concern” that I may have. Here’s a question: Besides the company name, your name, and your phone number, does anything in this brochure belong to you? You say on your website that “Design is my life and expertise…” Really? Do you have any real evidence of that? And given what we’ve seen, don’t you find it a bit silly that you have this on your website?
Seriously? Originality?! Perhaps a dictionary might be a useful tool for you in the future.
One more thing. You claim to be the “owner of an award winning portfolio.” I can’t help but wonder…do those awards belong to ME? Perhaps I should give you my mailing address, and you can forward my awards to me.
Sincerely ticked off,
P.S. I was almost finished with this blog post when I got your e-mail response where you said, “I am sorry, but on top of the slideshow I posted they were inspirational design photos.”
Well, no you didn’t. This slideshow was on the “About” page of your website, and nowhere on top of, or inside of this brochure did it say anything about “inspirational photos.” The brochure clearly said “Design by” and then your company name and your name.
Even if it did say “inspirational photos” somewhere in small print, you’ve been in business since 2003 (per your e-mail), and claim to have an award-winning portfolio!!! Why in the world would you think that potential clients have any interest at all in seeing “inspirational photos” that you’ve taken from the portfolios of other interior designers in a brochure advertising your interior design services that’s located in the “About” section of your website?!
The fact is that you knew what you were doing was wrong, misleading, and unethical. You just never thought you’d get caught. And when you did, you thought you could lie your way out of it. You’re sorry you offended me?! How about being sorry that you stole photos from my website–rooms that represent hours and hours of creativity and hard work–rooms that are essentially my artwork–and represented them as your own?!