The Da Vinci Case Brand Story ~
HOW IT ALL STARTED....
I have been making and selling my artwork as prints and gifts at my Artist Etsy Shop since 2007. I had this "pie-in-the-sky" dream of being a full time artist someday. In 2010 I found myself frustrated with my blackberry work phone I had from the ad agency job I worked at the time. I could not find any cool artsy cases for it! Being an artist, this seemed like a problem I needed to solve. I started working with a US device skin company called Decal Girl to license my artwork for vinyl decals for phones, laptops and other devices. At the time they unfortunately didn't make hard cases. This started me on a journey to explore manufacturing and sublimation technologies to make durable hard phone cases with high resolution artwork.
By 2011 I had posted my first hard cases for the iPhone 3 and iPhone 4 featuring my Buddha and floral artwork to my Etsy shop. They instantly sold! Soon, my shop was overwhelmed with cases and case requests, but my art prints and other accessories where just buried as Etsy only allowed a handful of product sections. I knew I needed to spin the cases off into their own brand to be able to accommodate the growing number of models I wanted to make cases for and give my art prints and other items a chance to be seen.
In 2012 I filled my basement studio with sublimation presses, printers and computers. I trademarked the name Da Vinci Case and opened a second etsy shop of the same name featuring iPhone and Samsung Galaxy Cases with my artwork. Later that year I launched my stand alone website www.DaVinciCase.com and then I quit my day job!
HOW AMAZON.COM NEARLY DESTROYED DA VINCI CASE
So I finally was a full-time artist thanks primarily to one product - iPhone cases. This product category was growing fast with lots of competition. I didn't mind so much as I knew I was the only one with MY ARTWORK. That unfortunately changed. I had been approached by an Amazon.com product account manager that encouraged me to begin selling my cases at Amazon. I agreed and initially it went really well. I had hundreds of cases in their catalog featuring my copyrighted artwork. I was shipping large amounts from my studio to Amazon warehouses to take advantage of the FBA services. I was selling thousands of cases via Amazon a year. All was pretty good for a couple of years. I was proud to be an Amazon seller at the time.
In 2015 AMAZON CHANGED FOR THE WORSE. They began actively courting Chinese sellers into their marketplace. I went from seeing one or two pirated pieces of my artwork on products to HUNDREDS of products a month. Their system allowed anyone to attach themselves to my product listings and say they also sold Da Vinci Cases. Attempts to get help from Amazon were met with extreme resistance. They might remove a counterfeit after a lot of back and forth, but it would pop back up again within days by the same seller under a new name and by and new counterfeiters. They basically just took low res screen captures of my artwork to make whatever product they wanted. By the end of 2015 my sales were down more than 50%. My popularity on Amazon had made me a counterfeit / copyright infringement target and nearly destroyed my business. Amazon was of no help in policing their site for counterfeits. I couldn't sue anyone even though I had registered copyrights and trademarks as China doesn't recognize intellectual property rights and Amazon is protected from any liability under the ancient US "Safe Harbor" copyright laws written in the 90s. All I could do is limit my exposure, so we ended all direct sales via Amazon's website on December 31st, 2015.
RE-INVENTING THE ARTIST & DA VINCI CASE
The big downside of art copyright infringements and counterfeit products is that it steals income from the small businesses and artists that can't afford the loss. In 2016 I found myself with no money to reinvest into my device case business - Amazon sent it all to Beijing. I could no longer afford the thousands of dollars it took to tool up for each new phone model to be produced in my studio. This started my latest quest to find quality manufacturers in the USA that could print and ship not just my phone cases, but also a wide variety of quality home accessory items that could be drop-shipped from my artist website. I still produce many case models directly in my studio, but I now must rely on outside help and smaller profit margins to make the latest models. It's a work in progress, but so far Da Vinci Case has survived without sacrificing quality and the new Fusion Idol website represents my efforts into moving into direct sales of American made home accessories with my artwork. I'm pretty proud of the progress I've made in less than a year. I'm still here - creating cool cases and fighting the bad guys!