Walk with me, every step of the way as i try to grow my teeny craft business into something sustainable… watch this space!

The Sweet Smell of Rejection


I love rejection.

There, i said it.

Don’t get me wrong, I love succeeding too, I’m not crazy… it’s just so cliché… let me explain.

Like most things to do with selling something I’d made myself, when I started out I was literally flying blind. That’s not to say I know much better now, just that through trial and error I have seen what works for me, and now, have heard what works for some others. Sadly I’m pretty stubborn so if I’ve carved out my own way of doing things and I’m finding it works for me I find it hard to change how I do it.

To find new shops to stock, to make new connections, to introduce myself, from day one I have relied on email. Word of mouth, and sometimes a bit of a Google and then I will email with a (hopefully) professional template which I tailor to the particular shop I am contacting. I like to address the email to the shop owner, or buyer, and I go through their website with a fine tooth comb to make sure I find this information if it is available. No-one likes receiving an email ‘To *shop name*’ or ‘To whom it may concern’ sadly sometimes I have to just say ‘hello’ at the start of my correspondence as some people are coy in the ‘about’ section’s of their websites.

It has never been easier to communicate, I don't expect a letter in the post, you can put away your carrier pigeon... just an email will do!

It has never been easier to communicate, I don’t expect a letter in the post, you can put away your carrier pigeon… just an email will do!

When I started out I did this, and hoped it was what everyone else did. I had no-one to ask, hadn’t yet thought to Google the question and had read no books to tell me one way or the other. When the shop was in my home town I would take in stock to show them myself (terrifying) but email was always my go to if possible. Now with a bit of experience under my belt it turns out I am not alone. Kari Chapin in her fantastic book Handmade Marketplace talks about having a ‘media kit’ something I liken to my humble ‘template email’ after reading what to include I was pleasantly surprised how much I had hit the nail on the head. Go me!

However no matter how I write my email, if I give it ‘a voice’ if I keep it strictly professional, if I speak in the first or third person I have trouble getting responses. If I send 20 emails I will hear back from three, sometimes if I’m lucky four people. The waiting kills me. If I haven’t heard back in one or two (or if I’m very busy with something else, sometimes three) months I email back with a polite ‘was worried your spam folder may have eaten my correspondence’ and usually I will get a reply from nearly everyone. Originally when people didn’t reply I figured they weren’t keen to stock me and were just too lazy to reply… but after my ‘spam follow up’ often the responses aren’t all rejection letters, some of these people do send orders.

These days you don’t need to pay for a stamp to send a rejection letter… to write something by hand, to post it, to waste the paper… email is so second nature these days, with smart phones, tablets, laptops and the amount of screen time people spend daily. Still people don’t seems to have the curtsey, the time, the inclination to reply. I want to know, even if it is rejection, just tell me, please. Who knew a girl could be so excited to see a rejection email, every time I get one I am just so chuffed that the person who sent it bothered, that they gave up the thirty seconds and 20 odd characters to let me know.

Nava Lubelski turns tax returns and rejection letters into organic paper sculptures- I'm not asking for something which will create this much waste, or have the potential to be turned into art... just an email...

Nava Lubelski turns tax returns and rejection letters into organic paper sculptures- I’m not asking for something which will create this much waste, or have the potential to be turned into art… just an email…

So the moral of this wee rant, reply to your email’s y’all…

…now I must go and clear out the 15 unanswered emails in my own inbox…


2 thoughts on “The Sweet Smell of Rejection

  1. Hi Imogen-I loved this blog..
    Having been a contemporary jeweller now for 14 or so years,I still have problems approaching stockists and galleries.The majority I contact do not reply -and I sometimes wish they would even if it is to say “Sorry we do not think your work is “a good fit” for our space.But then maybe it has just gone into their spam folder?The jewellery world is a “fickle beast”…
    You have me thinking now!


    • Thanks Deb. It’s just so frustrating isn’t it. Perhaps they get a million people approaching them a day and they just don’t have the time.. they don’t realise we (*ahem* i) are waiting at home by the metaphorical phone!

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