Originality is celebrated.
The world is always waiting for the next big thing: the next trend, invention, fashion or celebrity. For example, Simone Biles now has four gymnastics moves named after her. It is amazing to see creative minds get the credit for their work.
Sometimes that credit is stolen.
Who created Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Tennessee whiskey? Did you think of Jack Daniels?
The story goes like this: Jack Daniels was close friends with a man named Dan Call. Call was a distiller who taught Daniels everything he knew about running a whiskey still. After being taught, Daniels developed the famous Old No. 7 recipe.
That is the story that was told for years, but it is not the truth.
The truth is that a man named Nearis Green developed the recipe. For years, Green never received the credit for the iconic recipe because he was a slave owned by Dan Call. According to People Magazine, this fact was well known amongst Lynchburg, Tennessee natives and whiskey historians. The Jack Daniels company made no effort to inform the general public until its company’s 150th anniversary when they did this in the form of an advertising campaign.
Another example is Wally Amos. Wally Amos is the name and face behind the Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies. In 1975, Amos started the Famous Amos brand with the investment help of Marvin Gaye and Helen Reddy. His company flourished, and he even received the Presidential Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence from President Ronald Reagan.
This success was rather short-lived.
Within the span of 10 years, the company had lost tremendous amounts of money. While the company was losing money, several investors stepped in taking more and more of the company while adding no real value. He ended up losing his company, his house and the rights to use his own name and likeness. Amos finally regained some control of his original company in 1999.
Fashion Nova, the popular clothing brand, was founded in 2006. Since then, they have been accused of stealing their designs from up-and-coming influencers and designers, some of whom are black. For example, Luci Wilden, founder of the London based Knots and Vibes, started to design and sell crochet dresses in 2017.
Two years later, Wilder saw an exact replica of her dress being sold by Fashion Nova, according to Revelist.com.
Stories like this are one of the many unfortunate consequences of the capitalist society that we live in.
The drive to acquire as much revenue as possible leads to the theft of original content and ideas.
This is also why up and coming influencers and creators have a difficult time gaining success and notoriety in their perspective fields.
We can only hope that eventually, these designers get their credit in a timelier manner than Nearis Green and Wally Amos.