A small business owner from Queensland has defended her bikini brand after claims were made about the legitimacy and origins of her "bespoke" swimwear which she says are all "handmade" by her on the Gold Coast.
The Gold Coast woman, who owns the "luxury" swimwear line Body Juice, shut down claims her bikinis are purchased overseas and told Yahoo News Australia that a minor "error" at her market stall on Saturday led to her company being dragged online.
The business owner, who chose to remain anonymous, had a stall at Surfer's Paradise night markets where a customer purchased a "crop top" she had for sale. It's here she makes most of her sales, she revealed to Yahoo.
Following the purchase, a photo was shared online of the item which showed a Shein tag attached, prompting a wave of backlash.
In the photo, a Body Juice swing tag had been attached to the item with its size, XS, and $20 price. The label also included details about the company including "made to order with sustainable fabrics". Attached to the item was another tag with the brand name "Shein" — a popular online retailer known for cheap fashion — suggesting the item was purchased from the online store before being re-tagged and resold as her own.
According to the Body Juice website, every "bespoke piece is hand cut & sewn at Body Juice HQ on the beautiful Gold Coast, Australia" so the apparent revelation left some shocked and questioning the business owner's ethics.
Incorrect label to blame for misleading item
Businesses should be honest in their dealings, the ACCC warns, and "shouldn't try to gain an unfair advantage by making misleading claims about their products or services". But the Body Juice founder told Yahoo the claim on the tag "only refers to bikinis" and claimed there's a simple explanation.
"The item in question was a crop top and not my bikinis, which I hand-make on the Gold Coast," she said.
"Inadvertently, the incorrect label was put [on] this sale item by someone".
Asked to clarify, the Queensland woman said a friend had been helping her during the busy Christmas period and they accidentally put the wrong label on the item. The correct label does not have the "made to order with sustainable fabrics".
"I have two labels, one for bikinis which states handmade on the Gold Coast. And plain white one for everything else," she said, supplying Yahoo with a photo.
Business owner addresses 'Shein' label
When asked to explain the Shein label, the business owner said she sometimes buys "some other items from online stores to complement my display" such as cover-ups and other beachwear items but said, "I hand make all of these bikinis in my own home studio".
She said claims made online that her bikinis were bought elsewhere and sold by her were false and she's "always upfront with customers who ask".
"The top was purchased by me from an online store and I was unaware of its origins," she claimed and said they are only ever sold at the market and not on her website. The business owner provided Yahoo with photos and videos of her bikini-making process as proof she makes her own.
Body Juice slammed online
The negative backlash has caused her great "distress" and as a result, the business owner deleted the Body Juice Instagram and Facebook page. She said, "the Chinese whispers and comments were becoming further and further from the truth" and so felt she had no choice.
The photo in question has since been shared on Reddit and Facebook, and the Body Juice owner has been inundated with negative comments about her business. Some have called the business "a joke" while others called it a "disgrace".
Some have claimed it happens often with small businesses which are "poorly regulated".
"Plenty of people in lockdown were also buying bulk scrunchies and other products from Ali Express and selling them as their own brand. It's why I almost never buy from small businesses," one claimed.
"A lot of these small clothing brands do this or are in reality a dropshipping front for other cheap Chinese clothes, some will try and hide it by removing the original brand's label and stitch their own on, others just are too lazy to bother," said another.
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