As we head into our third year of Midwest Craft Con, we love, love, LOVE hearing from Conners who have successfully applied what they’ve learned to their craft business.
We recently heard from Abby Hersey, an illustrator and designer from Columbus, Ohio, who was at the first Midwest Craft Con in 2016 and found Abby Glassenberg‘s keynote talk to be exactly what she needed. Abby G. was kind enough to share this email from Abby H. with us:
I had just begun to take myself seriously as an illustrator and designer. I was creating lots of pretty work, but no one was beating down my door to pay me for that work. I’d post things on Instagram and enter lots of contests, but it wasn’t happening for me. During your talk at Midwest Craft Con, you said that if you want to go on dates, you have to ask people out. You said lots of wonderful and encouraging things there, but this is the concept that stuck with me – my big takeaway from that weekend. I hadn’t been asking anyone to work with me…I just assumed that companies would find me, and I was frustrated when they didn’t. Deep down, I was afraid of rejection, so I never even asked.
In the weeks immediately following the conference, I came up with a plan for submitting my artwork and cover letter to a number of fabric companies. I stuck with that plan, even when it felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, remembering your advice. And this month, nearly 18 months later, my first line of fabric for Robert Kaufman is shipping to stores!
This email made us feel so warm and fuzzy inside that we had to share it with you! And we had to get some more details from Abby.
Where were you at career-wise when you came to Midwest Craft Con 2016?
I was at the beginning of my career as a designer. I had been working a day job in print and graphics since college but had known for a while that what I really wanted was to design fabric. I reduced my hours at my day job, which gave me more time for design. I had been putting my work on Instagram and my website but was only getting small freelance jobs. I hadn’t approached, or been approached by, any companies for licensing.
How did you make your plan?
I thought about what companies I’d like to work with if my wildest dreams came true and made a spreadsheet of the companies whose fabric seemed like a good fit for my style. I researched each company, through their website and sometimes through calling their offices to see how I could submit artwork. I made up a packet of images of my work and began sending them out to the companies on my list. I kept a record of when and how I contacted them, and I followed up six weeks after my initial contact. I was terrified of rejection, but the positive responses kept me going. Even most of the “thanks, but no thanks” emails I get are gracious and often offer helpful feedback for the future.
Since then, I’ve been adding to my list and expanding the markets where I submit my work. I now reach out to companies in stationery, home goods, publishing and apparel. The list keeps growing, and so do my opportunities! And if a company says that my work isn’t a good fit right now, I make a note to follow up with them in a few months and share some of my new work with them.
How did working with Robert Kaufman go?
Working with Robert Kaufman was a great first experience in licensing. I learned a lot about the process of licensing and getting your fabric to print — I had no idea how long the process takes! Everyone at Robert Kaufman was pleasant and helpful, which was great for a newbie like me — there were only a couple hiccups that were easily sorted out. I’ve been able to use what I learned during this process when collaborating with other licensing clients.
What’s next for you?
I have more fabric designs in the works, and I have a coloring book coming out later this year. Most importantly, I continue to pursue companies with whom I’d like to work, looking forward to the next exciting opportunity!
Are you ready to upgrade your craft business? Get your ticket for the 2018 Midwest Craft Con now! Early bird tickets are on sale until Aug. 31!