The Business Chat – ARGH, rejection

It arrives. 
The envelope.
From the show you applied to. 
You hold it, wondering, am I in or am I out? Do they want me?
With bated breath you open it….
“Dear applicant,
We regret to inform you…”
Damn. Crap. Argh. You’ve been rejected.
Don’t feel bad, we’ve all been there and still are there sometimes. You might assume that as a professional crafter with 11 years’ experience and hundreds of craft shows on my resume that I’m in a show automatically. But no, there is no guarantee. I’m sitting here waiting to hear from two new shows that I’ve applied to, my fingers are crossed. Even some shows that I have done for years may reject me. 
There are a variety of reasons that lead to a rejection. The most common reason is that your category is full. Within each category there are also sub-categories. An example is the jewelry category, the first to always fill up. If a show has 20 spots for jewelry, you don’t want all the jewelry to be the same. The organizer might allow 3 lampwork artists, 4 silversmiths, 4 goldsmiths, 3 fiber or leather jewellers, and 6 assemblers. The organizers will also look at price points ensuring that there are a variety of choices for customers.
Returning vendors are usually given priority as well, meaning that even if your category has 20 spots, there may only be 3 or 4 available to new vendors. 
The second most common reason for rejection is that your photos or your application sucks. Your application is the only thing an organizer has to judge you upon. Do you look like a professional? Remember, the organizer is in the business of selling space and ensuring that the customer has a good shopping experience. They need to know that you are going to show up, have a nice booth, and make decent work that is appropriate for the show. Make sure your application looks as professional as possible. Spell check. Your photos must be the best that you can get. In these days of cheap digital cameras there is no excuse for bad photos. Spend some quality time getting to know your camera and practising. Photography is a skill and can be the difference in getting into a show or not. If an organizer tells you that your photos were not great, then spend the next year making them great. 
You could also be rejected because your work isn’t appropriate for the show. If you make lower priced work and you’ve applied to a higher end show it isn’t going to work. Trust the organizers judgement on this.
Here’s a couple of suggestions for you if you get a rejection notice.
First, call the organizer and ask why you were rejected. Ask what you can do to improve your chances to get into the show next year. Not only will this provide you with constructive criticism but you will have shown the organizer that you are serious enough about your business to improve it. It’s a great way to begin a relationship with the organizer.  
Second, check the cancellation date. This is usually listed on the application (and you made note of it then, right?) Life happens and someone is bound to cancel from the show. Don’t call on the cancellation date, call the organizer the day after. Although the organizer will have a list of alternative vendors, if you take the initiative and call before they have to go searching for someone you just might get in. 
I do know of some vendors who just show up on the day of the show and hope there will be an empty space. Believe it or not, sometimes vendors who have paid for a show do not show up. This is a bit of a gamble and I can’t say that I’ve done it, however it has worked for people I know.
If these suggestions don’t get you into the show then the best thing you can do is shrug it off. They rejected your presence at the show, not you. Go to the show as a shopper and take a look around. Picture yourself there as a vendor, now go home, make new work, take new photos and try another show.

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