How the price of a strawberry mug has divided the internet.

An argument over the cost of a ceramic 'sippy cup' is spilling over on TikTok with users being asked to take a side.

The drama is dominating For You Pages, with young women proclaiming they’ve never been so invested in the world of pottery until now. Every minute detail is being dissected in the pursuit of finding a villain.

Dubbed 'mug gate', the latest online controversy involves Gen Z 'It girl' Sophia Begg and small business owner, Shelby Sherritt.

Sophia Begg, who's better known as 'Sophadophaa' online, has cultivated a dedicated audience of more than 1.2 million followers by sharing outfit inspiration and shopping hauls on TikTok. 

It was a Christmas present haul Sophia filmed back in December that sparked the drama. 

During the eight-minute video, she showed off a ceramic mug with hand-painted strawberries she’d purchased from Shelby Sherritt’s pottery stall at the Finders Keepers Market in Sydney.

Video via @sophadophaa Tiktok.

Speaking to her 1.2 million followers, she said:

"How cute is this mug right? I actually think it’s like a kid sippy cup which is silly cause it’s ceramic."


She then claimed she regretted buying the mug because she hadn't realised it had two handles.

When it came to paying the bill, she was left shocked, saying: "I fucking look at the eftpos machine. $125. Look how small this mug is?"

Sophia said she begrudgingly paid because she felt too embarrassed to back out.

She did not name the small business in question, but many argued it was obvious who she was talking about, as the strawberry pattern is one of Shelby’s signature designs.

Fast forward two months and small business owner, Shelby Sherritt entered the chat. 

The Ballarat potter has been dubbed the Taylor Swift of the pottery world, attracting a staggering two-million followers by sharing her artwork.

In a now deleted video, Shelby addressed Sophia’s comments providing her side of events. 

She justified the cost of the mug by explaining the work that goes in to each ceramic creation, not to mention the overheads she faces as a small business owner. 

The potter refuted Sophia's claims about being blindsided over the cost, revealing the TikTok star was aware of the price before finalising her purchase. In fact, Shelby alleged she saw Sophia reviewing the prices labelled at the bottom of the pieces. 


Shelby lay down the final blow by offering Sophia a full refund and explained the purpose of the mug's two handles. 

"It may look just like a sippy cup to you, but it actually falls under the dignity mug category, where it has a double handle to help people that have different needs and different disabilities," Shelby said. 

The backlash was swift. There was an outpouring of support for Shelby. 

Sophia was immediately bombarded by hate comments, with many accusing her of lying to harm a small business.

In classic TikTok style, Sophia filmed a response video 'swearing on her mum’s life' that she did not touch any of the items and she was not even convinced Shelby served her.


♬ original sound - soph

The reaction to 'mug gate' demonstrates our insatiable appetite for online drama. Sophia and Shelby’s names instantly began trending on TikTok and the views came rolling in. Sophia’s clapback at Shelby alone has been viewed nearly 12 million times. 

Then came the avalanche of reaction videos. In a desperate feeding frenzy, every TikToker and their dog shared their two cents to try to cash in on the views. 

Ultimately, both TikTokers have well and truly benefited from the attention economy cultivated by Mug Gate. Shelby’s small business is now internationally known and the stoush was perfectly timed with Sophia’s clothing brand’s latest Valentine’s Day drop. 


The downside is the predictable witch hunt that played out, as TikTok users were forced to decide whether they were 'Team Shelby' or 'Team Sophia' in order to share in the story’s relevance. 

Admittedly, it would be heart wrenching for an artist to see their work critiqued on a large, public platform.

But, does the punishment, fit the crime? The 20-year-old girl at the centre of this drama is being mercifully trolled for allegedly slamming a small business. A small business she never named in any of her videos. 

This isn’t your regular David and Goliath battle either. Many presumed it was a case of TikTok’s 'It girl' punching down, but Shelby’s following trumps Sophia’s by 800k. 

Shelby has since deleted the video.

If rationality prevailed rather than emotion, it’s likely the issue could have been resolved with a DM, rather than a call out video… but instead the attention economy prevailed, providing views and entertainment to everyone who bathed in it. 

Feature Image: TikTok.

For more about 'Mug Gatte', listen to the latest episode of Outspoken podcast here

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