I didn't get in - again.

I just wanted to offer more feedback to some of the people that emailed me after last night’s results. I have to say it’s very hard for me to say to give feedback because it almost always comes across as “you didn’t get in because we didn’t like your stuff”. As you know that is not the case and I don’t feel qualified to say to someone why their application was not good enough (especially on things that are not my expertise). As much as I’d like to email everyone back I can’t 

I know there will always be people who think we always take the same people, that we play favourites, etc. and that’s ok but I just wanted to put it out there that we really do stress about this. It takes hours and it’s not fun.

If you haven’t already seen the Open Letter that we wrote a while back, please read and if that’s not enough feedback here are some of the things that we see/hear about.

I’m not applying again.
Fair. We get lots of people applying all the time and we understand that it’s discouraging not getting in every time. However; think about your application, has there been any improvement? Has your application been consistently the same every time? I know we all think our stuff is unique and excellent but is it really when it’s in a pool of hundreds of other applications (lots of who make the same thing)?

I want to use the example of the bath and body category. We get lots of applications where the primary product is a bar of soap. When we are looking through the hundreds of photos sometimes the only visible difference between bar A, B and C is the label on them. Most people use all natural ingredients, are vegan, etc. but when it comes down to it how is your product standing out for the crowd? If it’s not, you have to figure out how to do that.

If A, B and C are the “same” (seemingly) bar of soap then we look at packaging, social media, your website, your display.

Did you send nicer pictures this time around? Did you change up your branding? Did you get a new website? Did your display change? All those things matter. We have no problem turning away a veteran vendor for another but we can’t do that solely on the basis of giving someone else a chance.

I’m the only one in my category
Sometimes that is not enough, specially if you have been a vendor before. We really do try to change it up (even if some people don’t agree) but it’s hard accommodating everyone. Remember only 65 people fit physically on the premises especially when everyone wants to be indoors. It would be unfair always accepting other people when there are so many other talented people in other categories being rejected.

Price point
I know we’ve always said the work must be priced accordingly but there is also the other end of the spectrum. Is your work on the higher end of the pricing scale? This will be the 6th market we run and we have collected a lot of data that helps us (hopefully) curate a selection of vendors that the crowd will like.

Social media
This matters! I’m not talking about the number of followers you have, I’m talking about how well you promote YOURSELF. This gives us an indication of how you are advocating for yourself and your product. In a way, it’s also a way to sell us on it. We do go to your accounts, we read your comments and we look at your photos. A huge part of being successful at a market is being able to sell, both online and in person (another conversation for another time). Then comes the issue of promoting where you will be. I do what I can to get people through the door but it would be helpful if you reached out to your customers, the ones I might not be able to reach. It only helps everyone.

Super important, we always mention that but it’s so important. There are many people that have excellent product but lack great photos. Not sure why, it only helps you and your product stand out from the crowd.

Send a picture of your display. LOTS of people don’t do that! Even if we know you, even if you have exhibited before the difference between us seeing your display and us guessing what it will be like could mean an acceptance or rejection letter. When we are trying to figure out if we need to give someone a break because they have exhibited before seeing a different display could make a difference. Not saying that it would but it could. Again, lots of things to factor in when jurying.

It’s important to remember that we have to change it up. It’s good for you and the market. People would stop coming if it was the same every time. If you want to return as a vendor maybe there’s something that can be done to “appear” different. Unfortunately there is no formula to this and even the day of everything can change.

I don’t want to be that person that isn’t approachable or doesn’t want to offer feedback. I myself have experienced that from other shows I’ve been rejected from and it’s not a great feeling being left without a “why”. It’s just hard sometimes because there isn’t really one particular reason, just a lot of factors that can affect you for one application and not the other. Wish I could tell you!

At the end of the day there is more interest than there are spots. Even if everyone were to score the same we can’t take everyone. I thank the people that understand that. We just want everyone to be given a chance to be successful based on the factors we can control.

Thank you for reading.