Byron Bay’s Wandering Folk brand heartbroken by nearly identical Aldi range

An NSW business owner is ‘heartbroken’ at Aldi for launching a new range of picnic rugs that look almost identical to those offered by her lifestyle brand.

A Byron Bay business owner has expressed her ‘sorrow’ at Aldi, after the German grocery giant launched a new range of picnic rugs that look almost identical to those offered by its lifestyle brand life.

Sharnee Thorpe, who launched Wandering Folk in December 2015, said she was on the verge of tears when she noticed Aldi had been ‘inspired’ by the best-selling $190 printed picnic rugs – which feature hand-drawn artwork of vintage-inspired flowers — to create your own versions for just $49.99.

“After seven years of blood, sweat and tears, this truly breaks my heart,” Ms Thorpe said in the video, shared with her brand’s 107,000 followers.

“Aldi has released a picnic rug that appears to be ‘inspired’ by Wandering Folk. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do but educate everyone to always support creatives.”

The Wandering Folk and Aldi rugs share similar features including a waterproof base, woven carry strap and tassels at each corner.

“Big retailers will always be looking for boutique brands to follow and I just want to remind you all that the creatives behind the brands work so hard to bring their idea to life and it really is like a stab in the heart when you see happen,” Ms. Thorpe added in the clip.

“Thank you to our amazing community for your support and for showing how much you care about our brand, it truly means the world to us.”

Open more to 7 Newsthe mum said the realization – which came after customers alerted her via email – ‘did hurt my stomach, especially when I saw the price they were selling them for’ .

She started Wandering Folk while working as a freelance print designer from her home in Sydney seven years ago, and said the rug design was one she “developed over a period of time. and involved many samples and tests to ensure the quality was something I could feel proud of”.

“It’s my creation, it’s an extension of my being. Part of me feels complimented but the other part feels queasy. The impact on me, my little family and my business will be catastrophic,” she said.

“As soon as we became aware of the catalog we engaged an intellectual property lawyer who sent a letter to Aldi on our behalf advising them that we believed there might be possible copyright infringement and asking him to send us samples so we can evaluate before they are released, but unsurprisingly Aldi did not respond.

“We know Aldi has built a global business around knockoff products, not technically breaking the law, but it still has real impacts on the small businesses and creatives who come up with the original designs.”

An Aldi spokeswoman told news.com.au that Wandering Folk’s allegations ‘in process are the first correspondence we have had on this’.

“We will certainly review any correspondence shared with our company and respond accordingly,” she added.

Hundreds of Australians rallied behind Ms Thorpe in comments to her post, with other small business owners empathizing with what they described as ‘the worst feeling in the world’.

“I’m sorry to hear that. We know how hard it is to build a brand. The long days, the tough decisions and the sacrifices,” one wrote.

“Unfortunately, for a small brand, suing in court is so expensive and takes years.”

“So sad, heartbreaking and heartbreaking for you! In our company, big companies have also copied our designs and it’s such a gut-punch,” another wrote.

“It’s so cruel and unfair. Lots of love and strength to you.”

His customers also offered their condolences, with one writing they were “so sorry for you when I saw these ads”.

“This is so awful my love. There is nothing that compares to the quality and hand drawn designs of the original Wandering Folk! We love you guys big love,” another commented.

News.com.au has contacted Wandering Folk for comment.

About Norma Wade

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