Rejection — Stings A Little

A few months ago I saw an ad in Seattle Homes & Lifestyle magazine calling for designers to enter a contest. The grand prize is $10,000 and a 10 day all-inclusive trip to Paris with a stay at a posh hotel. Say no more, thought I. The contest was entitled “What Inspires You” sponsored by a new social media company for designers called Design Sherpa. Instructions were to submit a photo and a 100 word essay on what inspires you about the photo. I grabbed a picture that I had snapped one cool, foggy morning and scribbled some words about how the 2 subjects in the photo represented what my husband and I were able to create using salvage and sweat and what other possibilities still lay ahead.

I essentially forgot about my entry until a few weeks later I received an email telling me I had made the top 100! Exciting! Then I found out that an uber talented designer friend of mine from the mid west was also a top 100 finalist. Round 2 whittles the field from 100 to the top 10. To be selected as a top 10 finalist, you had to write a 350 word post on any design topic that shows your unique passion and writing style. I didn’t even have to think hard about what I would write about. For some reason, it just came to me. A few revisions later and this is what I came up with:

When I was a teenager in the 1980’s, I spied an overstuffed, purple, velvet sofa in a home store in Portland, Oregon. It was terribly avant-garde and I pined for that sofa. I spent countless hours scheming ways to earn enough money to buy it, then ached over the fact that I still lived at home and such a purchase was out of the question. It took a few years to get that sofa out of my system and in some ways it felt like unrequited love. Fast forward a couple of design decades and I am baffled at what I saw in that piece.
But what if I had been united with that first love? What if through the years I lugged that thing with me to college, my first house, my current house?  Would I still love it? As my style has come into focus through the years, with some trends firmly filed away under “never again”, I believe that I could still be satisfied with such a relationship. The thing that I’ve come to understand and love about furniture is that it can change and evolve with you. It’s not too precious to alter! Reupholstery can replace purple with paisley. Or rolled arms can slim down if you trim the frame. Twenty years ago I would have had no idea how to accomplish these things but over the years I learned to reupholster and now it is not only my occupation but my passion. The mystery has been revealed and I am able to transform even the most hideous of styles. 
As we become more aware of the impact our consumerism has on the planet, approaching design with an eye toward reusing what we already have is important. But more than that, it’s honest. I believe design should illustrate a life and lessons learned along the way. Though it’s tempting to toss a sheet over past regrets, with vision and effort they can become celebrated. Repurposing and revitalizing allow our past loves to remain stylish and current while contributing to a unique and inspired design story. 
Well, I just received my rejection letter this morning. (sniff, sniff). It’s crummy timing, actually, as I’m really struggling lately with why I’m working so hard and seeing such little results. I’ll wrestle through it. In the meantime, I’m purging and organizing my house today which does wonders for the clutter in my head as well. I wonder if I’d feel better after a hug from a purple velvet old friend?
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10 thoughts on “Rejection — Stings A Little

  1. Elizabeth Maxson says:

    I was so happy to see your photo and read your essay and then when I read your got your rejection letter, I literally said, "Ohhh…" out loud over here with my lap top. I am sooo disappointed because I was nodding my head as I read your essay as I could so relate to it! Their loss – and Paris' too (for now – we need to go to Paris together someday). I am loving your photo and can't stop staring at it. Your words, I think, touch in areas that many designers never even see. That is what makes YOU a real designer.LoveElizabeth

  2. Elizabeth Maxson says:

    I just now looked at your title of your post. I was so in awe of your photo that I never even looked at the post title until now. That is why I was so shocked when I read your rejection in your comment. Your post title would have clued me in…but I am a little clueless when I am in awe.And you are awesome, so I don't mind being a little clueless because of that. :-)Lovee

  3. Krista Schei says:

    Nia! My oh my — you're not only talented in repurposing and design but in WRITING! I'd love to see the other entries because they were likely just as supernatural as yours'… what an amazing pic and an amazing essay to accompany it. Well done, my friend. Well done. On with the next adventure…

  4. Ormolulu says:

    Hey, Nia . . . you're just one step closer to landing an even better opportunity! The path to success is rarely a straight line. Chin up–you're very talented, charming and energetic . . . a winning combination!Did you see your photo in my post on 2nd Saturdayz?! Debi

  5. Good Time Charlie says:

    Nia, that is a beautiful essay! I would have stopped to read that in a magazine any day! That essay inspired me! So sorry for the rejection! I was chuckling to myself too about your purple couch, my great love was this really funky low chair with a huge round seat and square back. My husband thought it was ghastly and we couldn't even afford the $215 price tag when we found it. I still want it and think about it! Good for you for turning a down time into a produtive time for your family. I firmly believe that when our homes and work spaces are less cluttered, there is more space and energy that allows more work and opportunities to come into our lives. Excuse me while I clean off my desk, finish my laundry and get ready for the avalanche of phone calls I will be fielding from new clients 😉

  6. Ormolulu says:

    Great to hear from you, Nia. You flatter me on the booth setup, but I appreciate your comments so much. It's definitely NOT easy to make each show look unique and attractive, especially when you do as many shows as we do. It takes some planning (which usually goes out the window when I actually start setup) and organization well ahead of time, LOTS of unpacking, repacking, schlepping back-and-forth . . . well, you get that! Hope to see you on the *road* again soon,Debi

  7. Summerland Style says:

    Karen – Gosh you're cute! Thanks for the encouragement. I just emailed my dad this morning saying I don't know how writers take all the rejection. I really liked my essay too!!My house is shaping up and I've got a handful of brand new ideas to massage already. Here's to purging the clutter!

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