An Honor to Try Out


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.

38 comments:

  1. You're my Go-To Gal, Emily! ♥ Always remember that you're amazing!! I know your star will rise higher yet.

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    1. Emily, you're such a sweetheart and such a rock star yourself! I love you as a friend and fellow paper crafter! Thanks for the love!

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  2. ❤love this post❤
    love your attitude and how you share things....you rock.

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  3. Amy, thank you so much for reading and fr such a thoughtful comment! You're a gem!

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  4. thank you so much for posting this wonderful article. remember that they DID ask you to try out. that right there is HUGE!!!
    I have submitted to numerous magazines and have only been published a handful of times. thankfully I have several coming up this year, but gosh oh golly, do I know that feeling of rejection you mention when you have poured so much of yourself into projects.

    it all goes back to the reason you craft in the first place....if the blogs and magazines and other would all go away, would you still do it? most people find that the answer is still 'yes'. it's because it is a part of who we are. and that is what will keep you going, sending out projects, and someday get you exactly the dream you aspire to! :)

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  5. Jennifer, thanks for stopping by to read, I totally appreciate it! :-) Rejection can be difficult at times, and I tihnk as crafters when we pour so much of ourselves into our projects, we bond to a certain degree with the project, so any rejection of the project stings that much harder.

    I am so thrilled that you've got some up and coming publications, I can't wait to look for them! Which magazines?? :-)

    Your advice at the end is so beautiful and so very true!! I've got it tucked away--love how you put it!! Thanks for stopping by! Can't wait to see your pubs!

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  6. You rock Emily! I knew you'd be asked to try out. <3 your work!

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    1. Julia, you are such a sweetheart! I adore you to pieces, and have always been an avid fan of your work! Thanks for the love!! HUGS to you, amazing designer and dear friend!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your story!! We have all been there, in one way or another, but each new rejection still hurts. Thanks for making me feel that I'm not alone!
    I just found your blog from SC, and I'm looking forward to the POP class next month!

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    1. Cristina, I am so thankful for people like you, who take the time to read a post like this, and can connect. You're right, rejection always stings at first, but knowing you're not alone and that if you keep putting your work out there, good things can come is encouraging!!

      Oh my goodness, I am so honored that you stopped by from SC!! :-) Love that place!! I'm looking forward to the class too! :-) Have a FABULOUS DAY!!!

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  8. What a great post, Emily--you really spoke from the heart. I am not surprised at all that you were asked! Rejection is hard, and even if you were only secretly hoping, the loss can still be heart-breaking. *hugs* to you. I'm looking forward to seeing your next crafty ventures.

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    1. Jocelyn, you're sooooo sweet! Thanks for stopping by and reading my post! :-)

      Thank you also for such a sweet compliment! :-) I totally appreciate it!

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  9. I love your heartfelt and honest post Emily. Your designs are always so beautiful. What an honor to be asked to try out. Keep your head up girl! You are soooo talented. Disappointments have a way of turning themselves into a blessing! Keep crafting on and doing what you love to do! :)

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    1. Angi, you are the sweetest!! Thanks for stopping by to read and respond, It means a lot to me!

      I was stalking you blog a couple nights ago, and dang girl---YOU ARE ROCKING IT! Watch out Paper crafting world Angi's in it to win it!! You're work is amazing! GREAT JOB!

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  10. Thank you so much for writing this! I have had feelings like this more and more lately, and sometimes its so hard to look at your work and feel proud of it when you feel like everyone else is passing it by. I have wanted to post more about my feelings on this, but I didn't want to come off as needy, or simply looking for someone to build me up in a fake manner.... so I thank you for reminding us that even the very best have to continue to work hard and face rejection themselves!

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    1. Lisa, what you're feeling is not needy at all. I for one, have felt the same way as you...many times!!! I think a lot of women have! You're in good company!! Keep trying and staying positive. You craft for the joy of it!! :-)

      Thank you for stopping by and reading, it means so much to me that readers connect to what I experience! :-)

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  11. Thanks for sharing your story, Emily! At least you had the guts to try out. I was too afraid to even give it a go. You should be proud of yourseld!

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    1. Sarah!!! You should totally try out the next time!! You know they'll ask you again! :-) It's a little scary, but very rewarding, knowing that you tried :-) You can do it!

      I was sooo nervous every time I pressed the send button! Plus, the timing of it all was at a time when I was super busy, so that stressed me out more! Who knew crafting could be so stressful

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  12. Remember way back when we were the newbie DT over Etsy Inspired Challenge? Well, you have been SO accomplished in all things you do ever since then!! It is important to know/recognize how much you have achieved in this short period of time. I will not be surprised that you got to be the Go-to Girl next time around and who knows? Perhaps something more amazing comes up in the most unexpected ways?! Keep on crafting, Emily!

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    1. Awe, Virginia!!! What wonderful memories!! I still remember how totally super duper excited I was when I made that team! I totally LOVED your work, and we all became such great friends!

      Thank you for stopping by, reading and leaving such a dear comment. Truly, I am touched by what you said!

      I love seeing your amazing work in PC. You are super fab and totally working it!! You're so adorable on the email days too at the facebook page!

      Thanks for the vote of confidence and encouragement! :-)

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  13. Congrats on being asked. What an honour. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Glenda, thank you so much for stopping by and reading! :-) I love your work, and I think it's super fabulous meeting crafting peeps through the industry! :-)

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  14. What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger, right?! Still, it really hurts at the time and my heart hurt for you reading your post.
    Still, you have to be true to yourself and that's exactly what you were with the Go-to-Gal tryouts. If you'd have pretended to be someone you're not with your creations then you couldn't be happy with yourself.
    Be proud. Stand tall. You ROCK! :D
    Hugs!
    x

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    1. Aimes, thank you so much for stopping to read my blog and share some kind and the encouraging words! You are zoo right. Staying true to my style is the best way to be proud of my work and designs!

      Thanks for brightening my day! :-) You're a doll!

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    2. I stop by to read your blog more than you think! ;D

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  15. Thank you for posting this. I've only been published a handful of times and in the last few months, I'd given up because I was tired of stalking my phone and not getting those happy emails. But I have to say that your post renewed my spirit, knowing that even amazing designers like you also have the same feelings that I do!!! :)

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    1. Ohhh Chrissie, don't give up!!! Keep creating. There may be one or two times when a project doesn't get picked up for whatever reason. It may be perfect for another call or what another magazine is looking for!

      I am so blessed to know that you're encouraged to continue creating! If you're enjoying crafting, then do it!!!

      You're not alone!! Keep up the good work! :-)

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  16. Thanks for the heartfelt post. It's a credit to you that you're so utterly transparent. Disappointments sometimes lead to even more interesting things; who knows what you're now freed up for ? Success in the crafting world is subjective- sometimes you're what people are looking for, sometimes not. It's a tough industry but an amazing one with some fab people. Continue to be a inspiration- I for one will pop back. Your candour is refreshing! Keep being you!!

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    1. Keren, your comment brightened my day. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, read and share some beautiful and kind words! I really do appreciate it! :-)

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  17. First of all, thank you, Emily for absolutely being transparent and putting yourself out there. I know as you first started this post, you said you were unsure if you wanted to write it or not. It's always good to be reassured that we all have the same struggles and downfalls, no matter what our crafting level. You are a piece of work to be reckoned with so I have no doubt that there are still greater things out there for you! Now you get to further focus on the Emily Branch brand and look what it's already doing; making you more known and bringing you more friends (me!). Cheers to making and meeting future goals.

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    1. Thanh, your comment blew me away. Thank you so very much for your very sweet comments and words of encouragement.

      I am so thankful to meet new friends, like you through this wonderful hobby of crafting! It's one of the best aspects of this industry!

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by, read my post and leave such a beautiful comment. I truly appreciate it and you!! :-) Cheers to meeting and making future crafty goals for yourself too! :-)

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  18. You're amazing, Emily--a professional to share your vulnerabilities--not often found. I admire you & your work. I always notice your work when I'm reading my magazines & I continue to submit in spite of rejections--not so easy to tell yourself it's not personal even though you know it. Thanks for your encouragement & staying true to yourself. Have a great week!

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    1. Greta, you have no idea how wonderful I felt reading your dear comment. What a sweet and kind thing to read and hear. It truly blesses my day.

      I want to encourage you to keep submitting, even to different magazines! You may find that your style is exactly what X mag wants or what Y mag has been looking for! You have beautiful creations to share! :-)

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by, read my post and leave some love! Please continue to share your work, and keep trying! :-)

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  20. Emily, you're an inspiration to me in many ways-- the heart and honesty of this post among them. I am always amazed by the many details and surprises in your work. I think your brand of creativity is refreshing and delightful-- consistently new. No wonder you were approached to be a Go-to Gal! And those lucky middle schoolers to have an art teacher like you!

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  21. Girl....I am sooooooo proud of you for writing this. I just want to let you know that you are by far one of favorite artists out there!! Plus....you ROCK!!! I just LURVE your AWESOME style because it is YOU. I know when I see a "Emily" card and girl.....that is a great thing!! I am so glad that you spoke your truth....sometimes the truth sets us free and it makes us feel better!! Congrats on this honor....and girl....you ROCK and I LURVES you!!! :)

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  22. I am sooooooo proud of you writing this post. I just LURVE your style and I can always know when I see a "Emily" card. Girl.....you are one of my top 10 artists in this industry and I am so honored to know you as a person too!! I LURVE you, girl and I am sooooo PROUD of you!!!!!

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