How to Handle Rejection & Acceptance into a Craft Show
Hello again! This post is the second post in my series all about craft shows. In case you missed it, the first post was all about how to find and apply to craft shows. Today I'm gonna go over what happens after you apply and how to handle each situation.
Basically two things can happen when you apply for a show, acceptance or rejection. Let's start with the one we all dread...rejection.
Let me just say that it happens to everyone. You apply for a show, wait anxiously to hear back and then you receive that awful notification that you didn't get in. It is sad, disappointing and hurts a lot. I'm here to say that you are not alone if you have ever been rejected from a craft show. It has happened to me too and while it is not fun, it is a huge learning experience and something that can make you a better maker and business owner.
The first year after we moved to California I applied for a huge show called The Renegade Craft Show. It was going to be their summer show in downtown San Francisco and I filled out the application with total confidence. I had been doing regular craft shows for three years and felt like a pro by that point. So it was quite a big hit to my ego when I received the e-mail saying I had not been selected. Ouch! I spent a good day or two feeling down about it and kind of beating myself up before I started to do a bit more research and learned that maybe I didn't know everything about doing craft shows yet and wasn't ready for such a large show.
Once my emotions had settled down and Renegade had released their list of vendors, I did some digging. I went to those vendor's websites and Etsy shops and realized that my brand was not at all where it needed to be in order to be accepted into such a huge show. I think at the time I only had a handful of listings in my Etsy shop, no website and barely a trickle of followers on social media. I realized quickly that when they looked at my application they couldn't really see all that my brand was about because I didn't have a cohesive feel and didn't have an online presence. This was a huge wake up call and an even bigger motivator. It gave me goals to reach for and made me want to be a better maker.
When you are rejected from applying to a craft show try to use this as a way to gain more knowledge instead of letting it hold you back. After you have had a few days to process your feelings start thinking about the bigger picture. If you feel brave enough you can even e-mail the event coordinator to ask for more clarification as to why you weren't chosen. It could be as simple as they had too many applicants for your craft category. Craft shows are best when they have a large variety of sellers, if you were one of 25 crochet or knitwear makers then it may just be that you were one of the unlucky ones to get cut this time. It doesn't mean that you aren't a great maker or that your products are not good enough. Maybe this just wasn't your year to be a part of the show, next year you may be selected right away.
This is also a great opportunity to attend the show you applied for. This can help you to see what kind of vendors did get in and give you a bit of clarity as to what you may need to work on for the next year. Being rejected is a part of life and it doesn't mean that you give up, it means that you improve and keep going.
Now that we've covered the not so fun part of applying to craft shows, let's move on to what happens when you do get accepted!
First things first, you celebrate! It is always exciting when you get the notification that you were accepted into a show. So take some time to feel proud and celebrate that accomplishment. Then it's time to get to work!
There are two things that you will need to focus on after you get accepted into a craft show:
1. Creating your products/building stock.
This is something you probably should already have started on. If you are like most makers you also have an online shop so as soon as you start applying to shows you better get to work making products to sell. If you happen to not make it into a show it's okay because you can always add those items to your online store. Most shows let you know you have been accepted about 1-2 months before the show. That isn't a ton of time to get things made so working on things before you are accepted is always a good idea.
If you haven't thought of it already you need to decide on what products you will offer for sale, what colors or prints you will offer and how many of each item you will need to make. We will talk more in depth about this topic next week, but you at least get the idea here.
2. Creating an awesome display for your products.
The second thing you will need to think about is your display. Your display includes any branding you need to do such as tags for your items, business cards, price tags, price signs, banners, etc. It also includes getting things like a tent, tables, chairs, table cloths and any other items you will need to help display your products. If you know you will be doing craft shows for a long period of time and ones that require larger items like tents, I recommend that you invest in those items for yourself. If you are doing just one show to see how it goes you can often rent those items from the event coordinators, but it will add up over time if you continue to rent those items. Now is the time to start making sure you have everything you need to display your products creatively and professionally. We will talk more about this topic in the weeks to come too.
Once you have a good idea of what you will be making and how you will display it, it's time to make sure you have everything else in place. Usually you will receive an e-mail or packet of information after you are accepted into a show. Sometimes this comes with the acceptance letter, other times not until a week or so before the show. Either way make sure you have read through it all and fully understand your responsibilities before the day of the show. It's a good idea to know who you should contact if you have any questions or if issues arise the day of. Put that person's number into your phone so you have easy access to it. It is also a great time to start marketing the show yourself. Post about it on social media and make sure that your followers, friends and family all know where they can find you.
Participating in craft shows can be a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. I hope that you found this information helpful. Stay tuned for the rest of the craft show series where we will talk more in depth about what you should be making for craft shows and how to create an amazing display for craft shows. As always if you have any questions leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!