I've been debating about whether or not to share this, since I've had a lot of mixed emotions over the past few months. But, I really feel that my experience can encourage my readers and fellow crafters to keep striving for their paper crafting goals.
I began reading Paper Crafts Magazine in 2004, when I was still in college. It was a new magazine, and I was awed by it. I had just started dabbling in paper crafting in my early 20's, and was thrilled when my parents gifted me a subscription to the magazine. Every day when I road the shuttle bus to campus, I would meticulously study every card, each material and all the little steps to make a paper-crafted work of art. I often thought to myself, these projects are so cool, what would it be like to be in this magazine?
Flash forward five years later, three changed majors since, a career as a middle school art teacher, and my first summer off (oh, yeah did I mention I was a newlywed?). I spent the summer mornings watching re-runs of 90210, trying to absorb the chaos of my first year teaching. My husband, who worked at home couldn't stand my loafing around anymore, and encouraged me to get a hobby. "Well, then....I'll get a hobby!" I thought.
I thought back to my left over paper crafting supplies from my single days as an art student, I rummaged through some boxes in our overly packed garage (which, ended up taking nearly two hours) until I found a little box full of Stampin Up stamps, dried out ink and K & Co. paper. I laid everything out and started putting pieces together with rhinestone accents and decorative punched edges to make a card. I realized then that I still liked it, and maybe with all this free time on my hands I should try to attempt my goal of getting published.
After a few depressing rejections, I got two cards picked up! I remember rolling over in bed one morning, grabbing my phone and seeing the email from Susan Opel.....I believe my initial reaction, which woke my husband was, "Oh my gosh---is this a joke?" From then on, I totally fell in love with the challenge of submitting cards for publication. Who knew what it would lead to? Sure, I thought it would be awesome to be a Go-to Gal for the magazine, it was a paper-crafting dream to me, but I never imagined I would be asked to try out.
Well, I thought wrong. Two years after my first submission, I was coming home from a particularly miserable day of managing middle schoolers. Annoyed and cold, I bypassed the mailbox and headed straight to the office to forget my day by crafting. I got a message from Susan right as I was sitting down, asking me if I had checked the mail yet (She didn't know that our mail man delivers mail around 6pm every night, so I wasn't in a rush to check it), but since she asked me, I put my shoes back on and went to the mailbox. Sheesh, what was the big deal?
Oddly enough, she must have had a radar to mailbox, because in a little envelope was something I never imagined I would ever see....an invitation to try out for a Go-to Gal spot! I ran in the house, grabbed my phone and told her that I received the bestest mail ever!!
I was so nervous as I worked through the challenges. I struggled with thinking, "Is this what they want?" "Should I have included something else?" "Am I sounding professional enough?" Some of the challenges went through the holidays, and even though I was making gifts for family, desinging projects for DT assignments and publications, I worked diligently on the challenges.
As the deadline approached for the first round, I felt a pit in my stomach. I didn't want to get excited, and then receive bad news, but on the other hand, I found myself daydreaming about this dream of mine, a dream that started when I was 23.
The deadline for emails that notified you if you were moving on to the next round came and went. I spent two hours past the deadline anxiously checking my phone every five minutes, refreshing my email hoping that any minute, I would get a happy email. Finally, I couldn't stand the stress of waiting and I emailed Paper Crafts.
I heard back instantaneously after I sent the email, and it wasn't good news for me. They were wonderfully cordial and I thanked them for the opportunity, but my heart was crushed. I spent the evening crying, and feling incredibly dejected. I replayed what I could have done better, and wondered what I had done wrong. Was it me? Was it my style? Was I not innovative enough? Would people not like me? I went to bed moping with puffy eyes and a heavy heart.
To make matters worse, two days after I found out the news, I was set to fly to CHA, and I was concerned about how I was going to be able to smile, put on a good face and network with other professionals in the business, when a dream that was so near and dear to me had come to crashing halt. The funny thing though, was that CHA was the best medication for a crushed dream.
At CHA, I met up with dear friends like Latisha Yoast, Vera Yates, AJ Otto and Susan Opel, and met great new friends like Amber KG and Kalyn Kepner. We laughed, talked together and shared together. We roamed the floor, and scoped out all the new lines together. Friendships made through paper crafting reminded me that not moving on to the next round, wasn't the end of my paper crafting dreams.
I begun to realize something that I had so easily forgotten in all my wallowing. In only two years, I had not only had made great friends, but I created and grew a blog, earned DT spots with some great manufacturers, and had been published in one my favorite magazines, which at one time had been the number one goal of a certain 23 year old.
I'm not going to lie, sometimes the paper crafting industry is tough. You can be passed up by another designer so easily, or miss out on an opportunity that you really wanted. Maybe you won't win that challenge you've been entering projects in for over a year, or your favorite card won't get picked up for publication. If you have ever felt this way, you're not alone. Every paper crafter, no matter how big of a name they are, have had let downs. To deal with my let down, I had to get up, brush myself off and keep designing. Why? Because, I love to craft! Although, being a Go-to-Gal would have been amazing, I have other goals and dreams to work towards.
The most beautiful thing that came out of the Go-to-Gal tryout process was that a sweet friend of mine, Kimberly Crawford was asked to be a Go-To Gal, and I couldn't be happier and prouder of her! I know her, and the other two crafters will do a fine job.
I don't know what other opportunities are out there for me, but, I do know that I enjoy crafting, I love submitting, and I totally enjoy challenging myself and growing my brand. I hope that if you're reading this, and have been through difficult times in your paper crafting career or experienced disappointment, you'll remember that you're not alone, and that you can move beyond it, by staying true to yourself, your crafting and your goals.