In 2006, Elizabeth Carey started a line of handbags. She’s based out of LA, but her British husband (at the time) called her Bird (as Brits often do), and she named her brand after her nickname.
She was featured in Elle, picked up by Net-a-Porter and her bags were carried by one celebrity after another. In the summer of 2009, she started getting calls from friends and buyers and editors either congratulating her on her new line or asking how she was undergoing such a vast expansion.
She wasn’t, but Juicy Couture was launching their new line, Bird by Juicy Couture, and when they rolled out their campaign for the August 2009 launch, Carey was screwed.
“They’ve got these huge ads coupled with massive Bird rooms inside each Juicy store and accompanying window space, while we’ve relied on word of mouth. I’ve tried to build a campaign, but i don’t have a huge budget. For spring we took a pic of Frankie [Rayder] and wrote “Born 2006″ to remind everyone when we got here. So that they don’t forget about us!”
She sued Juicy, and their parent company Liz Claiborne, in January after personally reaching out to Juicy co-founders Gela Nash-Taylor and Pamela Skaist-Levy (who aren’t in charge anymore).
But what does Carey want, other than the obvious name change? “I want people to support young designers. I trademarked my company and did everything I was supposed to do. It’s a good lesson for people who want to start a brand, to know this and know that it’s out there. A big conglomerate shouldn’t be allowed to do this.”
She says the frustration also stems from their moving in on her market, and selling something to her customer under the same name. While it hasn’t affected her business yet, at least not directly, she’s afraid of what will happen in the future, and says the worst part is being ignored.
We contacted Liz Claiborne for comment and they said, “We believe the claims to be without merit, and we will defend the lawsuit vigorously.”