An online furniture shop, whose early backers include venture capitalist Robin Klein and serial entrepreneur Alex Chesterman, has apologised after it was accused of stealing designs from a freelance artist.
Swoon admitted that its “processes have fallen down” and “needed to be improved” in a post on Instagram.
The response came after Simone Brewster, a jewellery and furniture maker, shared her experience in a post on Twitter this week. The artist was first told to come up with ideas two years ago and she subsequently handed over her designs.
“This January I was shocked to see the pieces for sales on Swoons’ website,” she wrote on the social media platform.
“I felt angry and taken advantage of. The designs had gone into production without me ever receiving a word, or a penny.”
The designs on the top were handed over to @swooneditions The product on the bottom was made I was never informed& never paid @MaajidNawaz@_ZETTELER_@JACKIEGMICHAELS @meMontyMonts@CraftsCouncilUK— Simone Brewster (@SimoneBrewster) July 1, 2020
@watblackdsgners#unpaidwork #notforfree #ip pic.twitter.com/owJXxS0u5W
She said Swoon offered to settle after her lawyer got in touch in March, but the artist turned down the offer saying it would not have covered her own legal costs.
The firm has removed the cabinets, which come in different sizes, with price tags of up to £700 each, from its website.
“We should have paid you… and we didn’t and for that, I am truly sorry,” Ms Williamson wrote on Instagram.
Swoon said it will pay Ms Brewster for the work, plus “compensation”. It added it will overhaul the way it pays for and commissions freelance work going forward.
Swoon’s early investors included the former Index Ventures partner Mr Klein and Zoopla founder Mr Chesterman. They lost all their equity when the business collapsed before Christmas. It was set up in 2012.
Lenders Silicon Valley Bank and Columbia Lake Partners agreed to swap their debt for equity in the new company.