RIVERVIEW, Fla. -- What started out as a way to make some extra money, quickly turned into a full time business for stay-at-home mom Bre Perez, who opened her online clothing store Creek Baby Company two years ago.
- Owner of Bay area business finds her products are being sold on other sites
- Also finds pictures of her daughter modeling her clothes on those sites
- Bre Perez, who owns Creek Baby Company, is trying to protect her company's online images, have them removed from other sites
"I was up until 4am this morning working on orders to get out," Perez said, while working on her sewing machine.
Perez said her style inspiration for the little girls clothing line is her own 3-year-old daughter Nyla.
"It started off to just feed my Starbucks addiction and then it just kind of boomed and took off," Perez said.
So much so, that Perez claims she is now the victim of copy cats: Companies that mass produce clothing overseas and sell them at a lower cost online to consumers here in the U.S.
In pointing at the pictures on alternate web sites, Perez pointed out pictures of her daughter modeling the very clothes she manufactures.
"My picture is next to their reproduced product. This was at the Florida State Fair," said Perez, while pointing out photos identical to ones she has on her website.
Not only were the designs the same as Perez's, but the websites are also using photos of Perez's daughter Nyla, without her permission.
"To wake up one morning and see that my product is being mass produced using my daughter's picture is hard to get over," said Perez who, along with three other mothers, hand make every item she sells.
To find out if Perez is protected legally, Spectrum Bay News 9 consulted a Tampa patent and trademark attorney Bill Larson.
"There is very little protection for clothing," Larson said. "Exceptions may include a uniform or costume that goes above and beyond everyday wear."
But while Perez may not be able to copyright her designs, Larson said she can copyright her photographs. Still, filing a lawsuit with an overseas company is not easy. Larson said the most effective way to have your photographs removed from a mass retailer's website is copyright them and then make the request through that company's own website.
"Many companies now have what's called an intellectual property dispute form on their website," Larson said. "If you register your photos, the site will take them down. However, it can really become what I like to call a game of wack-a-mole."
A temporary fix Perez has experienced first hand. The shop owner said she has done that for some of her photographs but, as soon as one is taken down, she finds another posted elsewhere.
Perez said she is now left trying to spread awareness to online shoppers, in the hope that they will seek out the original small shops when it comes to making purchases.
"I want them to realize that Creek Baby, there's a mama behind it," said Perez. "One that works 12 hours all through the night to get those items made and shipped out to you."
For more information on Perez's online shop, click on the link Creek Baby Co.
Spectrum Bay News 9 tried to contact staff at both AliExpress.com and Wish.com but have yet to hear back.