biz chat: how to deal with holiday show rejection

Holiday show rejection is the worst, it’s the busiest shopping season of the year, and we all want to be out there as much as possible. As most of the show letters have gone out now, and you may have been rejected from some, here are some tips on what to and what not to do now.
*will denote personal experience notes

how to deal with holiday art and craft show rejection

First, and most importantly, DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY.
I know it stings, you may want to cry, and you may see someone get in that you think you’re better than, and that’s okay. We can all feel those things, just don’t stay in that negative space for long, and only share those feelings with your friends and family, not in an public forum. You don’t want negative posts to get back to show organizers. Don’t email show organizers in a defensive manner, either. Stay professional, review your applications, and work on improving it. You don’t want to hurt your chances of being accepted in the future, or getting a bad reputation.

*I know I said “don’t take it personally”, but sometimes you could not get in because a show organizer is close friends with someone, and they don’t want them to have any competition. This happened to a friend of mine. The show did tell her that she could bring everything else she sold, just not one particular item that competed with their friend. Is that fair? No, but if you run a show, you might do the same thing for your friend. I would continue to apply for that show, because you never know if that person is going to apply.

Hit them with your best shot.
The number one thing that keeps people from getting into a show is bad photos. I’ve seen people using bad photos in their shop, social media, and of course their applications, and I cannot understand how they don’t know they have bad photos. If you were rejected, this is the first thing you need to review. Some juries only look at photos and know nothing about you, so if your photos are bad, or there is a lot in the photo causing distraction from the piece you want reviewed, you might not make the cut. This is the most frustrating reason to see people get cut over. It wasn’t that your work or quality was poor, it was that your photos didn’t do your work justice. If you invest in nothing else, invest in good photos.

*When I was on the ACR jury I scored someone low because the products didn’t look great. Thankfully, aside from scoring we would discuss. Two people on the jury owned work from that person, and they said the photos were terrible, but the products were solid. If we only went by scores, that person would not have made the cut.

Never expect it.
When you’ve been accepted to a show many times, you may expect you’ll always be in. When I give talks on shows, this is something I always stress. You need to give every application your all, treat each one like it’s the first time you’re applying to the show. Give them the respect of showing your best work. Just because the jury loved you one year, that doesn’t mean the jury will love you the next.

*Often this is a numbers game. You could have had a great score overall, but your category may have been super competitive. Imagine your category had many people scoring 100’s, and you scored an 85. An 85 is a respectable grade, but if your category is packed (jewelry makers know this all too well), you might not pass. Meanwhile, if you had that same score in a less competitive category, you could have been at the top.

Show growth.
Show organizers want to keep their show fresh and exciting, giving shoppers something new to look forward to. If you keep applying with the same photos, and show no growth, it will lessen your chances of getting in. If you make candles, you can simply add a new scent. Make sure you change your booth set up every year, too. Remember there are new people coming on the scene all the time, and if they make something similar to you, but also have a little extra, they can edge you out.

*Shows can get three times the applicants of spaces available. Some shows have a percentage of new artists they want to accept each year.

Find your place.
Once the show roster is up, look at who got in, does your work fit? Sometimes you could be applying to a show that is targeting a market you’re not right for. That doesn’t mean your work isn’t “good enough”, it just means it’s not the place for you. Maybe the demographics of the audience cannot afford your work, these are things some shows consider.

*When I was on the ACR jury we turned someone down because they were too fine art for the show, not because the work wasn’t amazing, but we knew they wouldn’t get the sales they would expect. We did let them know the reason, but other shows might not take the time to let someone know that.

Don’t ignore being wait listed.
I’ve seen people get called from the wait list the day of the show! You never know what could happen. You may have missed the cut by 1 point, you don’t know how the decision was made, treat being on the wait list in a positive light.

*People can drop from a show because they applied to two shows the same weekend, and prefer another one. They can drop because they didn’t get the space they wanted. I dropped a show I love one week before because I had pneumonia and was way too sick to drive to LA.

Face the situation.
If you’re getting rejected more than normal, look at any changes you’ve made to you offerings. If you’ve never been accepted to a particular show, try emailing them in the off season (generally January) to see if they can offer you some feedback. Depending on how the decisions are made they might not be able to, but it doesn’t hurt to graciously ask for more information. Walk the show, look at any competitors of yours that made it in. Are their price points lower or higher? Do they have a wider or more targeted range of offerings? Do your sleuthing!

Don’t give up.
Keep in mind that juries can change from year to year, maybe a strong competitor of yours won’t apply the next year. As long as you keep improving your work, have bright, clean photos, and are applying to a show that your work fits within, there’s always a shot.

Now that you’ve gone through the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance)…

Let’s talk about how to make up that show income:

Have your online shop full and optimized (SEO and tag wise).
Pitch to blogs.
Advertise on sites/blogs (check out Passionfruit for some leads).
Get your line sheets in order to send out.
Pitch to stores (keep your pitches extremely short).
It’s pretty late, but see if you can get in any gift guides.
Try to get in show swag bags.
Work on your social media game.
Join an Etsy group or a Treasury group, any kind of group that does a great job of promoting one another.
Suck up your pride, and apply/sign up for those smaller shows you weren’t even thinking about before. This is the time of year we need to be out in full force to get those sales. Every show is a learning opportunity, and a chance to reach more people.
I’m one of those people that believes everything happens for a reason. Maybe the show wouldn’t have been the place for you (wasting your time), maybe you needed a reality check to humble you, maybe you’re going to have such a busy season, you’ll need the break. Rejection hurts (we’ve all been there), but it’s up to you to move past it, take it as a learning experience, and keep pushing forward.

big stores stealing from indie designers… again

This keeps happening, and it breaks my heart every time. The fashion industry is one of the hardest industries to fight over intellectual property (anyone see The Devil Wears Prada?). Stealing is wrong no matter the size of the business, we speak volumes with where we spend our money, and with social media we have the opportunities to make our views heard. I implore you to read Nichola’s story and take to social media to pressure them to do the right thing.

Being an indie designer is tough. It’s bad enough that hobbyists will try and copy our designs and undercut us, but when a giant retailer with a huge presence does it, they might as well just tell us to close up shop. We choose this path for the passion, most of us don’t expect to be swimming in money, we just want to do what we love, bring fun and new things to the world, and make enough money to keep on keepin’ on. By supporting Nichola, you’re helping one more person do what they love.

If you need more incentive, and you’re a derby girl, she also makes killer derby shorts. Spreading the word is what I’m asking you to do, spending some money in one of her shops will be going the extra mile. Okay friends, go forth and fight the good fight!

handmade scene: betty loo project

Bethany and Matt of Betty Loo Project are in a situation… The leather they’ve been using has been discontinued, so Bethany spent time heavily researching the best alternative for them to continue crafting their leather goods. If their Kickstarter goal is reached they will be able to source leather from Horween Leather factory, a family run tannery based in Chicago. Check out their Kickstarter to learn more and help support handmade, and family owned businesses.

handmade scene: get lala to austin fashion week

I’ve known fashion designer, Laisa Macias of LaLa since 2005. She’s a hard worker that smiles and laughs a lot. It’s rare to see this girl down; she always believes things will work out. That’s the kind of person that makes things happen. She launched her business in 2011, and this year has been invited to be a featured designer at Austin Fashion Week, complete with a runway show! As you can imagine, she’s over the moon, but in need of help funding this exciting opportunity. Here’s your chance to help someone make a dream come true,. This runway show will help Laisa continue to grow her business and get her designs seen by more people.

LaLa Designs

Laisa has a Crowdtilt going (which is similar to Kickstarter), and there are only 9 days left in her campaign. She has perks for varying donations, and even if you can only donate $2, those $2 make a difference. Every bit helps! Please contribute if you can, and if you can’t, please pass this info along. Let’s help LaLa get to Austin Fashion Week!

handmade scene: FrankenFrock class with Anne Marie Beard and Laisa Macias

What could be better than enhancing your wardrobe on the cheap with amazing tailored pieces? Learning how to do it yourself with instruction from a team of skilled pros in a fun, social environment! Join award-winning designers Anne Marie Beard and Laisa Macias on Saturday, February 22nd, for FrankenFrock, a 3 hour class on how to make something old into something new.

We all have clothes that we just can’t let go of because the fabric is amazing, or because we only paid $3 for it, or because we just know that “one day” we will alter it. In this class Anne Marie and Laisa will teach you how to do just that – and empower you to turn your thrift store finds into fashionable frocks.

Each student can bring multiple projects, and they will help you decide which project to complete. Everyone will go home with a new FrankenFrock! Dresses or skirts are recommended as they have the most material and most options for altering.

The photos shown in this post are examples of pieces created by Anne Marie using some of the methods she’ll be teaching in the class.


Laisa Macias is the Designer behind Lala – a sexy women’s clothing line. She has shown collections in New York & Austin, and won three “Best Designer” awards in 2013. She brings extensive experience with sewing knits, patterning, and draping to the class. Anne Marie Beard is an Accessories Designer with a background in Costume Design. She has won two “Best Designer Awards” with Austin Fashion Week, and brings over 25 years of sewing, design, patterning and crafting experience to the class. We promise you will laugh, have fun, make new friends and feel inspired!


Skill Level:
Intermediate Sewing
You need to be able to thread your machine, wind your bobbin, and do basic stitches on your own
The instructors are there to help you, encourage you and empower you to get more comfortable sewing!

Materials Required (or Materials to Bring):
Clothes to FrankenFrock!
Your own sewing machine
Thread snips/small scissors
Fabric shears/large scissors
Notions you may want to use – zippers, new buttons, elastic, etc.
Needles – bring extra sewing machine needles in case you break one!


The FrankenFrock class takes place at the North Door Main Stage, located at 502 Brushy St. in Austin. Info and ticket sales available at

handmade scene: austin events

This weekend in Austin, TX we’re getting a break from the freezing temps, and Austin creatives are taking full advantage of it. Here are our recommended events for this weekend…

First, The Austin Flea! You know we love The Flea! Jen Hearts Art (co-author of the blog) and Robo Roku will be there, and we hear that our pal Meow Kapow is having a massive sale.
Austin Flea Feb. 8, 2014
There are so many great vendors at this Flea, there’s no way we could feature them all.
See the vendor list here.

After swinging by the Flea, check out East Austin Handmade Arts Market at The Vortex.
After shopping up a storm for yourself or a loved one, get dressed up in red, black or
white for SprATX‘s Daydreams event featuring art by Roshi K and Man With Pencil.
Daydreams by Spratx

On Sunday have a yummy brunch at Bouldin Creek (grab a Lavender Mocha – yum!)
and shop their first Bazaar Brunch (10am-2pm)!
Bouldin Creek Bazaar Brunch

If you come see us at the Flea, let us know you read this post for a Robo Roku freebie!
If you’re not in the Austin area, check out these vendors online. Have a happy weekend!


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