You gotta dream big.
I’m pursuing a career that I invented for myself. I design and sew stuffed animals. That’s a wacky profession, my friends. There is no path to follow, no boss to tell me what project to work on, no obvious next steps. It’s up to me to drum up business and seek out new ways to get paid to do what I love.
I’m constantly looking for opportunities. Who can I pitch a project to? Where can I get published? Where can I teach? Who might need a freelance stuffed animal designer? What’s trendy in toys right now? What might catch people’s attention?
To make all of this work I pursue many, many different avenues. I send things out to people, often times unsolicitied, and hope for the best. The more I put out there the more chances there are that I’ll get to work on an awesome new project and the more chances that I’ll get paid. At the same time the more I put out there the more chances that my work will get rejected, or that I’ll never hear back, which is almost as bad.
Rejection is a part of being a sole entreprenuer. It’s a part of being a designer and an artist. It’s a part of life. It’s not something most of us share on our blogs. While I’m aware that it is important to maintain a positive, polished, professional front door to my business here, I also believe in sharing the truth.
In that vein, I’m going to share three recent rejections with you! And if you’ve been rejected recently and are willing to share your rejection story in the comments, please do. It’s part of business and it’s okay to be honest. We still think you’re awesome.
1. I submitted a project to Stitch magazine, following their submissions guidelines for the spring 2013 issue which will have a garden theme. I made this snail with a rainbow shell. It didn’t get chosen.
2. I bought a copy of Soft Dolls & Animals! Magazine. I emailed the editor a portfolio of images of my toys, explained my background and experience, and asked if I could contribute a project or work with them in some capacity on an upcoming issue. I didn’t hear back, so I followed up with a second email a week later. Still nothing.
3. I noticed that Fabric.com has free pattern downloads on their website. These patterns are created by two different indie designers and are there to encourage shoppers to buy yardage and supplies. They’ve got lots of cute women and kid’s apparel patterns, but no toy patterns. I got in touch with the two designers who work with them now and asked if they’d be willing to connect me with the right person there and they very nicely agreed to help. Again, I sent my portfolio and explained my background and experience to the right person, but never heard back. I followed up with a second email two weeks later. Nothing.
Good times. Rejection stings, but it doesn’t stop me. I know I’m a good designer. I know I have a lot to learn. I will always march forward, designing stuffed animal sewing patterns because, really, I’m not sure I am actually able to stop.
For these three rejections there have been dozens and dozens of amazing successes. My second book is nearly ready to go to press. My first book was named an ALA Booklist top 10 craft book, I got an awesome and continuing licensing gig with Simplicity, I have a thriving Etsy shop, and lots of teaching opportunities. Really good things.