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Dazed Magazine Interview featuring AJ
“How Shein got away with daylight robbery in 2021”
llustration by Marija Marc, Article by Kish
Text Excerpt from article:
22-year-old AJ, who’s behind sustainable brand Run & Follow, faced similar questions after she resorted to TikTok to share that Shein copied her uniquely modular Big City Button Down shirt . “A lot of people tried to invalidate me and I saw people claim that my design was also unoriginal, but I developed this two years ago, and spent hours researching it to make sure it was an original design.” Shein created three variations of the original shirt (which retails for $145) that ranged from $6–$16. However, what really made this a “slap in the face” was that she’d been in contact with the company for years prior. Run & Follow started as a personal fashion blog, and Shein reached out to AJ to be an ambassador for the company in exchange for product in 2017.
“I knew Shein was a shady brand from the start – even before they started to get media attention – but I eventually learned that their products were so cheap because Shein shops directly from the factories so there’s no real markup or overheads. That’s how I kind of justified working with them at first.” But disorganised emails and eventually understanding the company’s environmental impact led AJ to sever the relationship in 2019 – though Shein continued to reach out hoping to rekindle the ambassador relationship.
Besides her design being stolen, what stuck with AJ is one comment. “It said something like, ‘Thanks for telling me when I can buy your design cheaper.’ We spent hours picking the fabric. We did wrinkle tests. We even found snaps from a small family-owned company here in the US. It was a year of work I did with no financial backing, just my own finances. They sell three versions for $8. How do you compete with that?” She eventually consulted with a lawyer who focuses on patents, but quickly learned that it’s almost impossible to patent a design, since the requirements are restrictive, and the process is prohibitively expensive and time-consuming.
Product Feature in Issue AH "Crystal Clear"
Check Mate Top by Run & Follow
Dear, Citrus Diaries Podcast
S1 E11: The Small Business Dream w/ AJ
Episode Description: This week I’m welcoming my good friend AJ onto the podcast to talk about her business Run and Follow, a sustainability-focused clothing brand. We get into her experience as a small business owner, staying optimistic, how to work through life changes, conscious thinking, the pit of consumption, and what it means to be a sustainability-focused business in 2021. New episodes every Tuesday at 9 am EST. PS this is the amazing b&w patchwork top I was gushing over!
Find our Collaborations with various creatives HERE.