All crafters hate reading these words in the top of an email from a craft fair they've been dying to get into. It really sucks, especially when you are trying to plan a craft fair schedule or you know it's a cool event and just really want to be part of it! What usually follows that regrettable sentence is a polite decline of your application, and some encouraging words that make you want to barf. Since it's that time of year where acceptance/decline emails are going out for some of the spring shows (in fact, I've already received a few non- acceptances for spring myself!), I thought I would share some of my thoughts on what to do when you get declined from a craft show.
What to do:
It's natural to feel hurt when you first get the news. I think it just comes with the territory of owning a business where you design and make everything. (I mean, it has to be easier when there isn't so much of yourself invested in it, right??) Give yourself a little time to fume, but after that, try not to take it personally. My gut reaction when I find out that I haven't been accepted is to go into my studio and just work on something- anything. I like to get away from email, twitter, facebook, marketing, people, everything, and just do what I love- creating. I actually do some of my best work during these times.
Remember that those who are running a craft fair might be looking at hundreds or even thousands of really great businesses, and at some point they will have to turn down applicants that are really great, just because of space. They simply have to accept some and have to decline some. They also have to offer a variety of different crafts for their event, so some really talented purse designers, for example, might be declined just because there happen to be lots of equally great purse designers entering that year.
Resist the urge to trash talk the show on your marketing sites- blog, twitter, facebook, etc. Don't trash talk the show in person either. Really. It's tacky and it just looks bad. Remember that when it all comes down to it, the promoters are running a business too. And most of them are putting their heart and soul into what they are doing and hate this part of the process. Don't make it personal!
Getting an application declined can be a reminder not to put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you are not pinning all of your success on one thing- one consignment account, one craft fair, one website. Many things are beyond your control. Make sure you are always diversifying and giving yourself a variety of ways to make money.
See if there are any other upcoming craft shows that you can apply for instead. There may still be time to enter.
Remember that even really successful businesses get turned down from craft fairs. I've seen some of my "craft idols" blogging nonchalantly about getting denied. Learn from the pros and just let it roll off.
Once you have gotten back into your groove, take an honest look at the things in your business that you could improve. Could you have taken better photos? Could you use some help writing a more exciting description? Could you take a little more time making neater stitches on your dolls? Could you have applied earlier to give yourself a better chance? Lick your wounds and then make a real effort to improve what you can. Pick one or two things to work toward.
In the end, remember to just keep pushing forward. Don't let one declined application be the end of your business. And conversely, don't let one successful show make you think you have no room for improvement. One event does not define your success! Look at all the things you have going for you and keep rocking-and-rolling.
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ABOUT SARAH TERRY:
Sarah owns an indie craft business called Stitch Machine, where she makes edgy, handmade hair accessories.
She travels to craft fairs in the Southeast throughout the year. She also supports her local business owners by selling at several independent boutiques. She has a degree in art, and displays her oil paintings on www.sarahterryart.com. Sarah currently writes for www.farthingcollective.com and is a member of Crown Town Handmade (www.crowntownnc.blogspot.com). See what new project Sarah is stitching up now at www.stitchmachine.net.
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