What is the appropriate price for a "handmade" ceramic mug at an Australian crafts market? This may not be a question that crosses your mind on a regular basis, but it has occupied the thoughts of people around the world over the past week and become the subject of a roiling and intense TikTok discourse.
TikTok is massive and full of content. Every time they log on, a person can choose to engage with essentially anything in the world. So why this? Let's dig deeper, and explain the story behind the Mug Drama.
Australian TikTok influencer Sopha Dopha made a video documenting a haul from a birthday visit to a "finders keepers market" on January 31st. One of several items in the haul was a ceramic mug with two handles and strawberries on it. Sopha said that she was unsure what the price of the mug was, and only found out its price once the item was bagged and was shocked by how high it was. The mug cost 125 Australian dollars which equals about 82 American dollars, or 75 Euros.
Shelby Sherritt, the owner of the ceramic business stitched with the haul video, disagreeing with Sopha's comments about the mug and saying it was "deeply upsetting," to hear her pricing criticized. She also claimed that Sopha had lied about the interaction at the register, claiming that the influencer was well-aware of the pricing of the "strawberry collection." She offered Sopha Dopha a "full refund" so that she could find "someone else who will love and appreciate that mug."
Sopha Dopha posted a response video, denying the account of events given by the business (which she did not name in the original video) and accusing Sherritt of attacking her for the sake of views and gaining attention. Following the posting of this response video, Sherritt's original stitch was deleted.
Sherritt has 2 million followers on TikTok, while Sopha has 1.2 million.
Why Do People Care?
The drama over the mug quickly turned into a broader discourse, touching on several topics. Ceramacists shared their expertise about artisanal pottery, arguing for why 125 Australian dollars was not an entirely unreasonable price for handcrafted work. Others went so far as to analyze Instagram photos from the business which sold the mugs to determine exactly how they were displayed on the day Sopha visited the market stall, and whether it really was unclear that the mug had two handles.
The Mug Controversy appears to have activated one of the favorite passions of people posting online: turning a molehill into a mountain. Somehow, an expensive strawberry mug with two handles turned into a reason to start a conversation about the working conditions of ceramicists in Australia, influencer culture, disability rights, the definition of "handmade" when it comes to pottery, and much, much more.
What Are People Saying About Muggate? Who Is Right?
At the moment, it seems that a majority of users invested in the drama on TikTok are siding with Sopha, arguing that her original comments in the haul video were not actually offensive. Supporters of Sopha also speculate that Sherritt's response seemed purposefully intended to stir the pot (or, perhaps, the mug).
Some also disagreed with Sherritt's representation of her enterprise as a small business, arguing that if she indeed had more followers on TikTok than Sopha, then her video sparking the discourse was actually a form of punching down rather than up. The deletion of Sherritt's stitch to Sopha's video could be read as a surrender, giving up on advancing her side of the ongoing drama that is Muggate.
For the full history of the strawberry mug drama, be sure to check out Know Your Meme's encyclopedia entry for more information.