Monday, March 7, 2011


Last week I mentioned that I wanted to try to become more “transparent” and let people see more of the “real” me. I am generally a pretty private person, and it is with great difficulty that I reveal my true and honest feelings. But in this case, I really want to give hope to others who might be struggling.
Today I wanted to write about bumps in the road of life. We all know that everyone encounters them. But I am afraid that sometimes, especially when our blogs are used not just to stay connected, but also in part as a marketing tool for business, we are less than honest.
We try to put out best face forward, we don’t talk about the rejections. We all post when we have a new design published, or are featured here or there, or have a new line out…. But how many times do you read something about a designer getting her submission sent back?? It happens to everyone- we just don’t (publicly) talk about it- I guess we don’t want to look less than successful. I have found that for every success I have had, there have been multiple rejections and failures. I still get rejected- quite a bit. A magazine doesn’t pick up a design, an editor refuses to answer my emails, someone who seemed to be my new best friend at one Quilt Market walks right by me without a second glance at the next Market. It is easy for me to let these things bring me down, make me feel less than, and feel like I will never achieve my goals. But generally, in business as in life, success is built with small steps, not leaps and bounds. Sure, there are occasionally those huge, heady moments- you sign a contract with a company you have been wanting to work with for a long time, you finally get a project in a magazine, your first book proposal gets accepted by a publisher. But 99.9% of the time those achievements are preceded by lots of hard work and failed attempts.
I have hit many bumps. At a Quilt Market a couple of years ago, I was approached by the vice president of a fabric company. We discussed the possibility of my designing for the company- and I was so excited! I sent her artwork as she requested, and then she strung me along for a good 6 months. My emails went unanswered, so I assumed she was no longer interested. To make a long story short, at the next Market, when I said I wasn’t sure if her company would be a good fit for me, she walked away and over her shoulder, as a parting blow, she said to me, “That’s OK- It doesn’t matter.” I was stunned. My heart was in my throat, and I wanted to crawl under the table. After treating me very shabbily, what she was saying was that I didn’t matter, she didn’t need me. Clearly, a low point. I went back to my hotel room that night and cried and cried. I told a fabric designer friend what had happened and she was furious that I had been treated that way. I was pretty sure that that would be my last Market. It was just too darned painful.
The next day, a design director from Henry Glass Fabrics came to my booth and asked me if I was interested in designing fabric. I said yes (although, I was quite tentative, as you can imagine). To sum it up- things worked out- I have had a great working relationship with them, and I am very happy to be finally doing something that I have dreamed of doing for about 10 years.
Now, I was approached by Henry Glass at my second ever Quilt Market, and many people would say that was really fast. But, I had been working on other areas of art and design and licensing for about 10 years- so I really wouldn’t call myself and overnight success.
And while I am being completely honest- I am tired of the “overnight” success stories! They are either less than true because the person laid groundwork for a long, long time, or their story is extremely unusual and they were just really, really lucky. I just don’t want budding designers and artists to think that because they get rejected they aren’t good enough. Sometimes skills need to be further honed, but often times, the timing is just not right, and sometimes it’s just really, really, really hard to get your foot in the door- trust me, I know! One story that really made me want to throw my magazine across the room was one in which the person being interviewed said she just decided one day to be an artist and the “universe obliged” and one year later she was featured in magazines and teaching workshops. Stories like this made me feel horrible about myself, because I assumed that because it was taking me so long to succeed, and others seemed to be doing it with so little time and effort, that there was something wrong with me. Now I see that maybe those success stories have left out a lot of details. I am NOT belittling anyone else’s success- I’m just saying that most have worked really hard and faced their share of rejection and failure before they succeeded.
Please, let me repeat, I want to be honest because I don’t want aspiring artists and designers out there to be frustrated. It takes a long time to establish relationships, to develop a style, to learn how to be a professional. I hope I don’t sound bitter- I’m so grateful for what I get to do and for any achievements I have made.
I don’t know if I will ever feel like I have “arrived”. There will always be someone more famous, more successful, and more talented than me. But what I do know is that I have tried NOT being in the creative field- and I was miserable. It has taken me years of stops and starts to be absolutely sure to my core that this is what I was meant to do. And if the day ever comes when this is not what I am supposed to be doing anymore, God will let me know.
My advice to those of you out there who are discouraged and wondering if you will ever “make it” or if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing: sorry it’s so cliché, but- listen to your heart. Do you feel in your bones that this is what you were meant to do? Can you not imagine doing anything else? You may not get an answer immediately- it took me many years to realize that I could not escape it. But keep taking steps, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, and keep learning. You never know where your dreams, patience and perseverance will take you.
And how is this for irony: when I was almost finished writing this post today, I was rejected. I got an email from an editor who said she was sending my submission back because they weren’t using it. Ouch! But perfect timing as I wrote this! There was a time when that would have brought me down for days or weeks- but now it just hurts for a little while, then I get over it and move on.
I have been really honest here. I hope no one gets offended. I am just trying to be real, and I hope it doesn’t backfire on me! I am kind of terrified as I go to hit the “publish” button……


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Mrs. Steves. This really hits home. Your post on perseverance and not giving up is not only inspirational, but it's also practical. You are a success and it's not because of what you do; it's not how much fabric you sell or the paintings you create, you are a success because you are doing what you are passionate about.

    Once again, thanks again.

  2. Jacquelynne: I really, really appreciate your honesty today. I must admit that I have read with happiness about your new fabric line and book and all of the really wonderful things that have been happening for you and I have thought to myself, "I wish that I had that talent." Now, to be honest, I still wish that I had your artistic talent because I have trouble drawing stick figures, but I don't think that I have realized all of the hard WORK you have put into your career and the hurdles you have jumped. So thank you for sharing your experiences. I wish you great success! Tricia

  3. Awesome post Jacquelynne. Love this line: "You never know where your dreams, patience and perseverance will take you."

    Am going to share this post with my readers later this week.


  4. What a WONDERFUL, wonderful post! I loved reading about your process and the hard work that goes into all that we see. First I'd like to say that maybe it was best that you didn't work with the fabric company that treated you so rudely - what would they be like in later exchanges and would you have been happy with them? There is really no excuse for rudeness - we are all human and have feelings - I guess we can give her the benefit of doubt and say she was having a bad day? Anyway - good for you going with Henry Glass - doesn't it make you fee good to know you can be treated with the respect you deserve?! About the "overnight" success - I tend not to ever believe those stories - you have to work hard to get recognized in just about any business - life just isn't that easy. And God wants us to work hard so we can learn the good from the bad. I'm glad you shared your rejection stories - we all have them and it really shows the type of person you are by the way you respond to them. I think you are pretty darn normal to feel saddened by the rejection - you've poured your heart and soul into your work (we can tell!!) - it IS pretty personal. But you have persevered and look at your success! Your work is amazing and people all over the world are finding that out!! I've enjoyed reading about you - you've shared your talent with us and now your heart. Thank you for that - it must have been hard to press publish! But you did and I for one am thankful for that.

  5. Thank you for your honestly.

    Everything in life is hard work, if it was easy, why would we be here?

    Businesses are built on foundations of little steps and big tumbles. It is how we rise up from the tumbles that makes us more successful.

    I don't think you ever "arrive", if you did you would be done, right? If you and your business is always growing, you are always learning and meeting new challenges. This is continuing success and a very happy productive and honorable life.

  6. Wow Jacquelynne! This is an amazing post. I so appreciate your honesty and transparency. Mostly because this does not only relate to being an artist or designer, it applies to all areas of life. We all desire to be accepted. But the key here in your post is follow your heart, in whatever field that may be. Some designers do make it sound like it is all a piece of cake, but in real life, we all know that just isn't so. Hard work, faith in God, and trusting your heart will make for a successful formula whether you are a designer, artist, teacher, nurse, Mom etc. Thanks for sharing YOUR heart.

  7. Wow, what a great post!
    I heard about you through Michele at Quilting Gallery. I'm so glad I found your blog. I'm going through some very similar things in my life too.
    Thanks for the post!

  8. Thank you so much for the honesty. I am almost 54 yrs old (in May), and I value honesty more than I ever have. Thank you for taking the risk. I honor you for it.

  9. Thank you for your honesty- when we become "real" - we can only then extend grace.
    Blessing to you.

  10. Thank you for being honest. It is inspiring! :-) Have a happy week!

  11. What a beautiful and inspiring post. You are a special person. Just know you are in your right place and you are being guided in the right direction. Love and a Hug to you.

  12. Oh, Jacquelynne, this was such an honest, "must read" post. I have been contemplating a similar one and have not had the courage to do it. I can surely understand your hesitation in hitting the "publish" button......but I am so glad you did. I have been accepted ~ rejected ~ sometimes dejected in my quilty journey, and yet there have been some "golden moments" that make it worth while. Finding you when I first began blogging is one of them. And now, playing with some of your sweet fabric is going to be total joy. And even better.......I got an e-mail from AccuQuilt last Friday and they are sending me a GO!Baby!!! I just have to make a project and review it on my blog and then they will send me another GO!Baby to give away to a lucky blog reader. And guess what fabric I am going to use in that demo and then add a little of your fabric to for that GO!Baby giveaway? Why, I believe it is your fabric "Sewing Room Social" and is that just the sweetest little news or what? Makes make me smile!!

  13. Inspiration is hard to come by. Thanks for sharing your journey and inspiring others to do so too.

  14. I think God for bringing me to your blog this morning and reading this post. I have been so, so, SO discouraged over the last couple of years. God gave me the talent...He gave me the when are the other things going to fall into place?

    The answer is clear this morning. Not now. Just as yours wasn't that original fabric company. God wasn't saying no. He was saying "Not right now." Thanks a bunch. You've made my day.

    Ps. I am a brand new follower!!

  15. Beautifully said! I have not achieved success in the same way you are experiencing it now but I am doing something that makes me truly happy, just as you are. If that moves on to the next level at some point I will rejoice, if not, I am content.

    Your posting here would be a great share in a magazine for aspiring artists or writers. It is excellent!!

    Taking those steps that put us in a position to be rejected can be so hard...but without them there is a guarantee of no payoff.

    Keep up the great work!

  16. What a great post! This applies to all aspects of life. I'm not a designer, but a handmade crafter who sells to the public and has hit many bumps in the road. I get discouraged at times, but then one customer will come along a compliment my work and that is Gods way of telling me to push on, your on the right track and this is what your suppose to be doing.
    Thank you so much for putting this into words and for giving me hope.

    Prim Blessings,

  17. Thank you for sharing your bumps & your smooth rides too. It does take a lot of work. It was good to get a glimpse of real life.

  18. I have had a lot of blogs and sites telling to hop over for a refreshing post that we could relate to in our 'journey'. I am impressed with your honesty and thoughtful words. Over-night success in any form are far and few.

    And your line: "You never know where your dreams, patience and perseverance will take you." is flowing thru the quilty inter-net. You have touched a lot of us and want to thank you.

  19. Thank you for the post. Although I am not an artist or designer, I am a quilter and a writer. I have also been down the path of "rejection" through my writings. It is sometimes a painful journey.

  20. Those crazy dreams! I opened my store "spur of the moment" after ten years of working and saving and collecting and crafting to get to that point. Sixteen years later it is a lovely success, almost completely paid for - -and - my Mother has Alzheimer disease. So now the question - Can I care for my Mother and take care of the store?
    That's my NEW dream....
    So stay honest and keep your chin up. You'll get there!!

  21. I'm not an aspiring designer but I appreciated this post. Everyone has a dream, a goal, an "I want to..." and we all know that getting to that goal can be time consuming and sometimes hurtful. This is an instant society...instant oatmeal, microwave meals, new house when you're 21, etc. We sometimes need to be reminded that working for something isn't shameful; instead, it's real and it's rewarding. Thank you so much for your honesty and your courage. blessings, marlene

  22. Thank you so much for this post. It's very meaningful to me, and helped me a great deal. You have been a blessing to me today.
    Jacque in SC

  23. Hello Jacquelynne. What a great post. I think you are a very talented artist. I love your work and your passion shows in all that you create. I look forward to seeing your new creations at Spring Market here in Salt Lake. I also look forward to catching up with you. Thanks for sharing your love and passion with us so that we also can create and pursue our passion. Take care and God Bless You.

  24. Hi Jacquelynne, thanks for sharing from your heart. I am going to send a copy this to my seventeen year old. She wants to study design in college. Without having feed back from someone in the field you could easily have a false impression. Very timely indeed :0) thanks again, Sarah

  25. Wow, Jacquelynne. That was great. I bet I could guess who that first fabric company was....I think I met with them too!
    Isn't it interesting how God knows what we need and when. Things always work out in the end, and if they haven't worked out, it's not the end. Hang in there, looking forward to seeing you at Market!



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