This week, I’m interviewing Danielle Chalson from Makewise Designs. Danielle is a knitting designer, as well as an intellectual property lawyer. Danielle can be found online on Ravelry (as makewise, on her designer page, and in the Makewise Designs group), her website, and Twitter.
Key points from this episode:
- Develop an intellectual property mindset.
- Take advantage of free and low cost resources.
- Review your contract.
- Speak to an attorney when appropriate.
- Postpone a rush to judgement.
- Treat your business as a business.
Danielle operates Makewise Designs as a part-time business and doesn’t currently plan to expand to full time. She self-publishes her (mostly) knitting patterns and designs for magazines a freelance basis. Danielle is also an intellectual property lawyer.Develop an intellectual property mindset
When interacting with another business or customer, ask yourself if you are doing anything that may impact on their rights, as well as if they are doing anything that may impact on your rights. If you approach business interactions with this mindset, you may anticipate and prevent problems.Take advantage of free and low cost resources
Danielle suggests these free informational resources for U.S. based businesses:
Danielle also mentioned several free and low cost organizations that may be able to advise indies about their intellectual property rights, or refer them appropriately:
- Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, an organization that provides “arts-related legal aid and educational programs about the legal and business issues that affect artist and arts organizations” in New York.
- Freelancers Union, a national organization that provides insurance and other services to self-employed people.
- The local Better Business Bureau may be able to refer you to a lawyer that has experience working with freelancers, home based businesses, or indie businesses.
Danielle recognizes that often indies receive contracts from companies they freelance for and are not always the initiator of a contract. She recommends reviewing the contract carefully to consider:
- Possible areas for negotiation, including compensation and timelines.
- Assignment or transfer of ownership. Danielle says, “the more rights you assign away, the less control you retain.”
- Term (how long the contract lasts).
- Breach provisions.
- Errors or differences from an initial/prior conversation or agreement.
If you approach the contract with the intellectual property mindset and review the contract carefully, you can frame any questions or concerns you have in a way that isn’t confrontational or combative and benefits both parties.Speak to an attorney when appropriate
Most indies prefer to take a do-it-yourself approach to as many business operations as possible. While hiring an attorney may be the right choice in a variety of situations, Danielle suggests that you consider obtaining legal representation when dealing with a much larger company that is likely to have a team of lawyers; when you begin hiring employees for the first time; or when your business has been confronted with an intellectual property or contract issue that you haven’t been able to resolve it on your own.Postpone a rush to judgement
Some seeming violations are misunderstandings or related to poor communication. Danielle advises taking a deep breath and trying to stay calm before engaging the other party. At the same time, she mentioned the importance of keeping notes with dates: what is the other person/business doing, how long has it been going on, and how widespread is the problem? What communications have you initiated and how have they been received? If you still can’t resolve the issue, consider seeking legal advice.
This same approach can be helpful if other indies (or their fans) are leveling accusations at you.Treat your business as a business
Danielle recommends understanding the business implications of your work in yarn industry while still keeping in touch with your creativity. If you treat the business end as a business and understand your own rights and responsibilities, your confidence will grow. You will feel more comfortable negotiating contacts, dealing with violations, and staying level headed if you are on the receiving end of an accusation of intellectual property violation.Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Danielle! If you enjoyed this episode
The Creative Yarn Entrepreneur Show is no longer broadcasting. Episodes are available as a service to the yarn community. This episode originally aired in September, 2014. Be aware that content may be outdated.
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