Friday, March 26, 2010

Let's Talk About Rejection, Baby

It's happened to all of us: you apply to a show absolutely sure you will get in and wait excitedly for your acceptance email and then, KAH-KLUNK, a wait-list or rejection email lands in your inbox! OMG WTF, right?

Well, let's look at all the reasons that this could happen & then talk about how to deal with them constructively and to prevent them in the future!

Some Causes of Rejection:

1. Your application photos did not reflect your true awesome-ness.

I think this is the number one biggest reason why an applicant gets rejected. I am often shocked at how different some crafters' work is in person from the application photos they will send in. I was at a local store recently and saw the work of someone who applied to one of our shows in the past and didn't make it in. I was wandering around wailing "this is SO adorable!!" If her pictures had conveyed this level of adorable-ness, I would have swooned right there in the jury meeting & she would probably would have been accepted after I regained consciousness.

As an applicant you have to remember that all a show jury has to go on are the images you send them. You have to pimp your craft. You have to work it. You have to bring the awesome.

2. There were a lot of awesome applicants in your category.

Jewelry people, you know the pain of this more than anybody, but it applies to everybody. The fact is, we can't have a show that's too heavy on one category because it's a) boring for shoppers and b) not fair to the vendors in that category because they won't make money. So if we get a lot of applicants in in any one category we have to make really hard decisions. For instance, this year, some of my very favorite vendors didn't make it into the show, even though I fought tooth and nail for them at the jury, just because the competition was that fierce.

Seriously, this year we had over 160 applicants, which means that for every "yes" there were 2 "no"s.

There's not a lot you can do about this one, other than make sure your application shows a jury why they should pick you instead of someone similarly awesome.

So if you were a yes this year, you are a lucky, lucky dog. And if you are on the wait-list this year, you are also a pretty lucky dog, because there aren't a lot of you & we always end up pulling vendors from our wait list when someone inevitably cancels or can't make it.

3. You've sent the same application photos you always do.

Even if you've done a show before, never ever assume that means you will always get in!

I learned this the hard way last year when I got wait-listed for a show I have done many, many times. Looking back, I realize that I totally phoned in my application. And looking at that show's vendor list, I also saw that some pretty cool artists had beat me out for that spot. I won't make that mistake again this year!

Always make your application sparkle, even if you are a returning vendor. Don't rest on your laurels: you still have to work it! You still have to bring the awesome, because you never know who might have applied in your category who might really appeal to the show jury.

4. Your work hasn't changed since last year.

This is also a biggie. Show organizers want their shows to be fresh and exciting for shoppers and that means the vendors have to have fresh and exciting product! Now, obviously, I don't mean you should totally re-invent yourself every year just to get into shows, but you should always be evolving and offering new designs.

5. The scope or aesthetic of the show.

I know I have already heard from some Handmade Holiday vendors confused about not getting into Spring Bada-Bing. Now, we've already talked about never assuming your spot is secure from show to show, but you also need to take into account the scope of the show you're applying to. For instance, our Holiday show is a locals-only show, organized in part to showcase the local talent that might not always find a spot in a super-competitive national show like Spring Bada-Bing. That's right peeps, it's national, and that means a rough n' tough playing field. We have had vendors from as far away as Seattle, NYC, Detroit and Boston. (I know right? Wowsers!)

Now, how do you deal with rejection?

Well, I personally was rejected from no less than 5 shows last year (one of which I actually made it into this spring, yay!) and here are some things I did:

1. I ate of lot of chocolate and whined to my husband.

It's ok to feel bad! Rejection ain't fun. I know. Ice cream works for this too. And listening to whining should be added to marriage vows, for real. Whatta trooper.

2. I got back to work and designed some new stuff.

I took my sadly empty-of-craft-shows schedule as an opportunity to work on things I had been thinking about but never had the time to do. It was really rewarding & hopefully it will help me get into more shows in the future.

3. I totally redesigned my website to better reflect my work.

Nobody knows that you've made a bunch of new stuff unless you put it out there. Don't hide your awesome!

Here are some things I did NOT do:

1. Be snarky to any of the show organizers.

This is the number one way to never ever get into that show again. Don't do it. It's reeeeaally tempting, I know, when you're feeling shafted, but seriously don't do it. Eat the chocolate. Whine to your Significant Other. Make some new stuff.

2. Confuse "wait-list" with "rejected."

People, there is a big difference. Wait List means the show organizers like your work, but other factors (like the number of spaces, who else applied in your category, etc) meant you just didn't make the first round draft pick. If you get wait-listed for a show, keep your fingers crossed 'cause you might get in after all. And if you don't, re-tool your application and apply the next year.


Tasha McKelvey said...

Thanks so much for posting this - it is great insight into the jury process and has some wonderful tips as well.

LORiOLA said...

I can't even imagine how difficult it is to jury a show. As someone who is on many wait-lists this year I will say it is better than a flat-out rejection. Oh the difficult life of a jeweler....
Thanks for posting this article!

bee's knees studio said...

I hear ya, Loriola.

2009 was the Year of the Wait-list for me (and a couple of rejections, too, just to alleviate the monotony).

Lucky K said...

Thanks so much for this post! I know we will be directing many inquiring minds to it, I agree with every single point, this is so very well said!