Jealousy in the Industry
Okay friends. Today I want to touch a bit on resilience.
Once upon a time, I created a clothing line to support my mission to #breakthestigma of cannabis users that would be sold in my gym Break the Stigma Fitness and online. This came about in early 2017 while in Colorado. I was very excited about this and sought out a photographer to shoot me in these shirts so I could start raising awareness for BtSF and could market them to the public.
To do this, I created a post in a Facebook women’s Colorado cannabis group page that said I was seeking a photographer to work with “trade for print” (meaning for their work, they will get credit to build their portfolio.) to incentivize this I had also just been interviewed with @thcmagazine and they wanted new shots of me so I explained in my post some of these shots would be printed in a magazine and of course credit would be given.
I quickly received a response from a woman who explained she did photography more of as a hobby, had never been published but wanted to build her profile. She stated she support my mission and wanted to work with me with the agreement it was a trade for shoot. I was ecstatic and we quickly met and did a shoot.
Those photos were great! They were published in THC magazine and because we only did one look that day we scheduled our next shoot to get me photographed in the other shirts.
We became friends and I introduced her to many individuals in the cannabis space. She started to get paying gigs, which was great! I knew this was the purpose of her working with me, and was happy to make those connections. This was the value I could bring her and was happy to get her exposure.
I revived the images from the clothing shoot soon after and started marketing my clothes. I was pretty overwhelmed during this time as I was also running BtSF and dealing with a lot in my personal life so I didn’t post these images as much as I would have liked, but I did post them and had them on my website.
Then she asked me to do a cannabis and flower milk bath photoshoot, Something that hadn’t been done until then. This sounded amazing and right up my ally, so I agreed. She explained she wanted it to take place at my home since I had the perfect bath for it. I obliged and we scheduled it for August 20th, 2017.
She asked another model who owned her own clothing line in the cannabis space to join in too which I was excited about. I was friends with her and looked forward to the magic we could all make. I even suggested another women do in the space who initially said yes, then backed out. I always enjoyed including as many people as I could.
We needed hair and makeup so the photographer posted in that same cannabis group I found her in that she was looking for a trade for print makeup and hair artist to collab on this shoot. This meant the artist would get images to market with instead of being paid. We quickly found an amazing artist who agreed to glam us out for this trade. We were all very excited.
At this point, I was under the impression this was going to be a trade for shoot with not just the hair and makeup squad, but the other model and myself as well, like all previous had been. Especially since the photographer never said otherwise.
Then, you can imagine my surprise when the photographer showed up the day of the shoot as I was finishing in hair and makeup with a contract in hand that forced me to give up all rights to the photos.
At this point, I had invested nearly $200 in clothes and breakfast for the squad and frankly I was excited to get these shots. I was shocked and confused since I had never signed a contract with her before nor did she tell me this was her plan.
She quickly said this was only a formality to ensure she owned the rights to the photos as it was her art and insisted we would be allowed to have the photos to promote our brands on social.
Not a problem I thought. I didn’t need to own the rights. I wasn’t looking to do anything but share them with the world via my social. So, I signed it, and in the excitement of the shoot never got a copy of this document for myself.
We did the shoot and killed it. The photographer edited one photo of me the next day posted it and it went viral. It was even picked up by Emerald Magazine for the cover of the October issue.
I was ecstatic. The photographer even sent me the actual image of the cover with my face on it! It was beautiful. The photographer even disclosed to me she sold the photo for money but didn’t offer me a cut (which I didn’t care about, it just says a lot about her character), I was just stoked for the exposure.
At this point her attitude got weird. A few days go by then she reached out and tells me she pulled the image from the October cover and stated she would no longer be working with that magazine. She stated this was because they had used an image of a guy who had a less than perfect smile on the cover of the September of 2017 issue. She stated she did not not want her art associated with a company that chooses less then perfect images.
I thought it was very odd, but I said that’s fine, whatever is clever. Do you boo!
Don’t get me wrong, I was sad, but I was trying my best to look on the positive side of things since in my mind I still had these images to promote with. At this time I was gaining a pretty big following, being interviewed all over the scene. So I thought to myself it wasn’t a complete loss. Not yet anyway.
A few weeks go by and I still hadn’t received any more images but I noticed the other model starting to post hers.
They looked great, no watermark on the photo and the photographer was tagged in the description. This is what was agreed to in a written chat by the three of us.
I reached out to the photographer then and asked her if she had any images available for me to use. She didn’t respond and a week later I sent the below email expressing my disappointment with the situation.
With that, she got back to me via text and sent over a file that included 14 images even tho we took many more. I wasn’t upset at this, just hoped more would come after all that work we put into it.
None of the images she sent had watermarks on them, however, a note in the file said I was not allowed to post them. I was upset about this and waited a week to reach back out. When I did I ask her if I could start posting them. She responded that yes, but I had to wait until she sent me new images with watermarks on them.
At this point, I reached out the other model and asked her if any of her other images had watermarks on them. I asked because none of the ones she had posted had watermarks so I was curious to learn if this was a new rule perhaps. She responded no, and that she had an entire file to choose from to post with without watermarks.
Clearly, this was just some new rule special to me.
After learning this, I told the photographer I wouldn’t be posting any photos with watermarks because we all agreed not to and she was clearly singling me out. Especially since we all agreed there would be no watermarks just before this. Check out this conversation we had just had about it.
She responded by saying I was not allowed to post any. And that was that.
I think it’s also fair to mention the makeup and hair artist has not been allowed to post and promote with the images either.
I asked her what I did to her to make her treat me this way and to this day I never got a response. But her friends do like to watch my profiles. Hey ya’ll!
Truth is, a few months later I did end up posting some on my Instagram and website, because; shit! I put in work too! I invested my time, money, energy and this was just wrong. How could she have changed her mind so drastically? And only for me? And without explanation? I had done nothing to this woman for her to treat me this way.
Soon after my website host was contacted and I was reported for copyright infringement. All images were taken down on my website and on social as well. She was even able to get the clothing line shoot we did taken down too and barred me from having access to it on the shared drive.
Since the images of the clothing line were also pulled and I no longer had access to them, I stopped advertising for my clothing brand and pushed it to the side until I could find a new photographer to trust and work with.
Then, I lost nearly all of the photoshop files of my shirt designs when my ex broke my computer. And I didn't just lose the designs, I couldn't make the shirts any longer since I had used my computer to make the designs with my graphics cutter then would press them myself at home. This was just a couple months after this shoot.
That sealed it. That’s when I completely pulled back on my dreams to get this clothing line up and out there.
I was heartbroken. This was an important revenue stream for my daughter and I but I was emotionally exhausted between losing the photoshop files, my computer and the pictures. So much time was wasted and I frankly had trouble wanting to find someone else to work with for fear of the same thing happening.
Then, as many of you know it was one thing after another with BtSF so my attention was focused on that.
I also think its funny to know the photographer started working with Emerald magazine and did multiple covers together. She ended up choosing an image from the other model in for the February Cover and even did a cannabis and fitness cover. Clearly she didn’t have the issues she expressed with me previous about working with them once I wasn’t in the picture.
BUT... GUESS WHAT?!?
I made it through all of that and I now have my clothing line LIVE and available to all my #chronicallyfit cannabis users who are out to #breakthestigma!
Twitch, being the amazing platform it is, allows streamers to create their own merch site. I was beyond excited when I found this out especially because there was a third issue holding me back from promoting and marketing my clothing line.
Initially, I was selling these shirts on my web site, www.fitcannabisgirl.com. However, I haven’t been able to sell anything from it since just after I was contacted about the milk bath images on my site. Due to square spaces’ relationship with the cannabis industry, they just don’t allow it once they are aware you have any relation in the industry. So, in the end, they discontinue my ability to receive any funds for goods or services.
So, once I saw how I could create a store via Twitch I was sold and have been staying up day and night since recreating the slogans on my new laptop.
To those who have been patiently waiting for this line, thank you SO much for your understanding and continued support. This sure has been one hell of a journey.
Even tho it had taken me a bit longer than I anticipated, I am beyond excited to share this with you.
If this blog has shown you anything I hope that it is to first and foremost, always get a contract to protect yourself, even if it is a trade for print agreement! And of course to stay resilient in your pursuit of happiness! Even if someone tries to halt your growth and you need to heal from said trauma, do, than rise back up. Because you deserve all the good things. We ALL deserve the good things, even this photographer. I really do wish her nothing but the best.
And please, stay tuned for my next blog that will showcase all my athleticwear designs!