Back in August of 2017 I stumbled upon a young woman in Utah that had recently changed the name of her Facebook business page to my exact business page name (a Facebook flaw if you ask me). I had a similar experience happen in 2013 with a young woman in Atlanta and politely asked her to change her name as well. The Atlanta woman’s name was not Chelsea and she ended up being accidentally tagged by a prominent wedding blog company in a Facebook post in which they were crediting her with my work. I asked her to change her name and she did.
However, in 2017 when I asked this Utah woman, whose name is literally Chelsea Mitchell, because she married a man named Levi Mitchell…don’t get me started on how the correlation to my Levi and I is just more than a little strange, none the less, she changed her name when she got married. – side note, when you have a successfully built brand, you don’t change the name of your company when you get married. You are far better off to leave your business and brand as is. Personal name change post marriage is a different story. When I discovered this, I asked that she do something to delineate her from myself because I had been in business operating under my name for quite sometime now. She responded and said she’d be happy to if I showed her my copyright, which I didn’t have at the time.
After that interaction, I proceeded to get my business name Trademarked™ as it has more teeth than a copy-write©. If you don’t know, my Levi is an attorney, but we had only been 7 months at the time and our relationship was still pretty new and I didn’t want him to think I was dating him for free legal advice, so I worked very hard and got Trademarked™ on my own. – Trademarks don’t happen overnight. You fill out forms, pay lots of dollars, and wait. Wait for it to be accepted or rejected – and if they reject it you don’t get your money back. It took an entire year for all the i’s to be dotted and t’s to be crossed. When I received my Trademark™ I shared the paperwork with this woman to prove I did indeed have it and she flat out refused to change anything.
I have spent the last several years fielding emails here and there that are meant for her and I had a strong feeling she was most likely receiving business that was meant to be mine. I have reached out periodically as these inquiries come in to ask her to please delineate her name a bit, by adding her location or something to the page and received no response. All of my fears were confirmed this weekend when I received an email from someone who thought they had hired me to photograph their wedding but indeed, had hired her. He and his wife got married in May of 2018 and in March of 2019 still had not received their images. Not only is this person stealing business, but they are also tarnishing my name and brand in the process.
Levi and I began searching for an attorney in Utah and then realized we have more power than we thought. I left a review on her Facebook page and went public with the fraudulent intentions and behavior. – In case I forgot to mention, she only has a Facebook page, no website, no blog, so when people google her, they find mostly me, but her Facebook page link is there too, so it looks as if she is me/vice versa. How advantageous for her, to be mistaken for an established photographer that has years of training and and education to back it up.
Within the hour, she responded and ask that I remove the review, and all of the sudden I had leverage in this situation that has mildly haunted me for 2 years. I can say that our names are no longer the same but I will forever check, given the repeat offenses I have had with people like her.
The email I received last Saturday.
The response I got after asking if he and his wife did/did not think they were hiring me.
I feel heartbroken as I have worked so diligently for the greater part of a decade to build a successful business and to know that my attempts have been sabotaged leaves me at a loss for words…okay not so much given the length of this post.
I write this to encourage everyone to do their due diligence and make sure they are hiring real people, with real experience. Don’t let the darkness in the world prevail.