23 April 2012

guest post from LEONORA of Yellow Heart Art!

yellow heart art
it's Leonora!
Quick intro from Emily: Leonora Jennifer of Yellow Heart Art is a super, ultra, mega cool chick.  All of the goodies in her Etsy shop, the design elements on her fabulous blog, and the awesome content galore entertain and enthrall me every day.  The post you're about to read, however, touched me quite significantly, as I can certainly relate.  I appreciated Leonora's honesty and encouragement, and I'm so grateful she agreed to let me share it with you here.


It's time to get real today.  How many times do you visit your favorite blog, someone who has a handmade shop, and you see *alllllllll* these places their stuff has been featured? Maybe it's a top-selling magazine; maybe it's an e-zine; maybe it was a spot in an official Etsy newsletter.

Now, these people SHOULD shout from the rooftops when their hard-working stuff has gotten any sort of publicity. It makes me feel good for my friends when I see that Heather has her hair pretties in Seventeen Magazine, or that my other friend (who shall remain nameless since she is keeping this on the down low, BUT I SO WANNA TELL YOU WHO IT IS) can potentially have a book deal showcasing 50 "how-to" tutorials.

These things are AMAZING. They give you hope that one day you will be where they are today and get your work featured in a ha-uge magazine!

Leonora's plushie camera featured on Huffington Post
Here is one thing you should remember though. Whenever I write on my Facebook wall or tweet that one of my plushes/prints was featured in the Huffington Post or at Rue Magazine or on Apartment Therapy, etc., this wasn't an instantaneous thing. All these things happened after I had my shop for about nine months to a year.

I had zero sales at one point (hey, we ALL had zero sales at one point, ha!) and before I started my handmade business, one of my goals in life was to get a T-shirt design of mine sold worldwide. (In case you are new here, I went to school for graphic design and have been working full time as a graphic designer for about 5+ years now.)

Yeah, I tend to set my goals super-high sometimes. Which also leads to a lot of disappointment.

So, the design process began. I entered a TON of T-shirt design competitions (Firefox had one when they were relaunching their site a few years back; Threadless.com always has a ton going on, Woot.com as well; I even submitted designs to places like dELiA*s and House of Mental).

I got a TON of rejection letters. I even saved them all so that one day WHEN (not if, but WHEN) a shirt of mine sold world wide I can be all like, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE I FREKKIN DID IT.

L's shirt design, currently for sale!
That day finally came. I had a T-shirt design being sold in two online shops. Crooked Monkey wholesales out their shirts to places like Urban Outfitters, dELiA*s, Macy's, etc. and they gave me a shot and used my design!  The shirt is retired now since this was about four years ago (and I was a lot younger so ignore the juvenile saying, plus that was the type of demographic they were going for), but you can check it out here!

I also have this design currently being sold, as well. I couldn't be more happy.

But, my point is, before ALL of those things even happened to me, I heard a TON of "no" before I heard my first ever "HELL YES!"

So when you see all these great things happening to your favorite bloggers and handmade shop owners, just remember that they, too, dealt with disappointment and rejection. I don't want you guys to think that since day one everyone has been diggin' my stuff. That isn't fair to you guys for me to portray myself like that.

Also? Sometimes failures happen for a reason. Did you guys have a Steve & Barry's by you at all? They were popular on Long Island and when I graduated from college I wanted to work for them so.frekkin.bad (corporate, NOT the actual shop, haha).  Their headquarters were located on Long Island and I wanted to work there as a graphic designer designing their marketing and T-shirts. I stalked the head of the art department for DAYS. He got back to me, said he LOVED my portfolio, but did not have the experience to work there.


I was upset at first, but nine months later Steve & Barry's went bankrupt and I would have been out a job.

Around the same time I had an opportunity to work for Sally Hansen corporate doing their marketing campaigns and designing their packages. Went on an interview and never heard from them. Got really upset by it and just let it go. Four months AFTER my interview they contacted me and said they wanted to hire me. Problem was I JUST landed another graphic design job and didn't feel comfortable leaving it just yet. Turns out, a year later, Sally Hansen moved their headquarters from Long Island to North Carolina and I would have been out a job again. (Sound familiar to my Steve & Barry story?)

"Awesome Amazing Things" print from Yellow Heart Art
Sometimes the lack of success is meant to be. (Hey, trust me over here!)

So, I vow with every success that comes my way I will also mention my failures, 'cause I'm only human and failure is always an option.

I ask that you, too, take that vow. It's so easy to get wrapped up in other people's blogs and think they live this amazing life, full of smooth sailings with no bumps. I can see how that can happen. We are so quick to tell the world about all our successes but hold back from sharing anything that shows we are human.

Also? The reason why I am even the least bit successful to begin with is because of all of you. Everyone who has ever purchased anything of mine or gave me advice on how to go the extra mile with my shop. Anyone who has ever re-tweeted one of my shop announcements or has blogged about my products. Anyone that wanted to follow along with me on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter account. Thank you to ALL of you, because let's be honest, without ANY of you I would be nothing.

Much love to Leonora for sharing!  Without getting into too much detail, I had similar experiences at the tail-end of and after college -- wanted to work for corporate offices in San Francisco and New York (with the likes of Steve Madden, Origins, Williams-Sonoma, Anthropologie).  Wound up with a position down the street (at the time) in Orange County, and even got a phone call from Anthropologie a week into the new job!

Career and creative successes and failures tend to happen for a reason.  Leonora has inspired me (and I hope you, too!) to be persistent, true to myself, and, well, more persistence.  ;)  Thanks L!

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