We often get asked to elaborate on what makes for a great application, so we thought it would be helpful to pass along a little bit more info about what we're typically looking for and how you can make your application as strong as possible. We hope this helps!
Follow application instructions
This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many applicants don't do it. Please read through the application carefully, supply all of the required information, and if you need clarification or run into any problems, please feel free to email theclovermarket(at)gmail.com to ask.
Choose your photos carefully
Your photos will be the main way we gauge the quality and range of your items and how they fit with the overall aesthetic of the Market. Simply composed, clear, well-lit photos with plain backgrounds work best and really let your products shine. Natural light usually works best. Your images don't need to be from a fancy camera (although we do appreciate those); smartphone photos can work just fine, too.
Don't forget to include a clear tent/booth shot or a smaller setup created for the application; applications without them will not be reviewed. How your inventory is presented and your tents styled - or proposed to be styled - is a really important consideration when we review applications. We want to see how you will set up your "shop for the day" and will select vendors who can help us create an atmosphere where the vendor tents are creative, carefully styled, and unique.
Show us what's unique about you
We encourage all applicants to demonstrate in their photos and descriptions how their products stand out uniquely. This will be especially important in categories where we have a lot of applicants. Presenting a new angle on a familiar craft, using new types of materials or methods, or even putting together unique packaging and display are all valued by us and our customers. We encourage you to stay on top of your competition, and show and tell us what makes you different in your application.
The most successful vendors and applicants have a strong visual "voice" or "look" and a clear focus in the items they make or collect. This also includes the smaller but equally important details like packaging, booth presentation, signage, social media presence, etc. Depth and consistency are valued over a scattershot approach where many different categories or kinds of item/styles are shown in the hope that something will stick. Authenticity to your work is also very important to us; be yourself and let your own individual creative voice shine through.
Keep your digital presence up to date
Again, this may sound obvious, but if you are going to include links to your website, Etsy page, or other shop page, please be sure it's current, easy to navigate and has a good number of your items shown in case we need to check there to see more. Although these pages are not the main way we evaluate your application, they can be considered as a complement to your work beyond the submitted photos.
Demonstrate growth & evolution if you are a returning vendor
Vendors who have participated before and are most likely to be selected again are those who are continually evolving their product line or collections. For example, continuing to evolve display and merchandising, adding new products/keeping inventory fresh, experimenting with new materials, tweaking designs, etc. Ultimately this will help to keep things fresh and interesting which will not only benefit the Market, but it will benefit YOU as a seller.
If you are a jewelry or craft vendor, the handmade element really needs to shine through in your work. While some purchased components are fine, and often necessary, we want to see your personal imprint and handiwork on the final product to be sold. If you are reworking vintage components for your jewelry, we'd especially like to see your unique angle or style. All things being equal, applicants who clearly show the handmade aspect of the work are more likely to be selected than those who do minimal handiwork to purchased elements.
Show commitment to your business
Investing the time to set up and manage a professional looking website and in putting together professional looking signage, packaging, and booth setups shows us that you are putting the time and energy into the business versus dabbling as a hobbyist. We also really appreciate applicants who are active on social media and understand the importance of these marketing tools to help promote your events and your business.
Maintaining a professional tone in your communication - and at the Market itself if you have vended previously - is very important. If you have badmouthed the Market publicly after not being accepted or sent "salty" emails in response to your status (yes, these have both actually happened), we are not a good fit for you.
Similarly, if you are a returning vendor, you are expected to have read and adhered to the vendor Rules and Regulations (or any other communication from the Market) and to have resolved any issues professionally, cooperatively, and reasonably with Market staff, your fellow vendors, and customers.
Kindness, respect and graciousness matter to us...a lot. We work very hard to maintain a positive, professional, and collaborative vibe at Clover and we want to continue to have vendors who will do the same.
If at first you don't succeed...
And finally, if you are not accepted, we truly hope you won't be discouraged from trying again. Try to attend some of the Markets that season and look at the photos we have posted here on the website to get a sense of your competition. We absolutely accept vendors who have applied more than once, but can also say that they are typically ones who demonstrate progression in their work, a commitment to the business, AND a positive and professional attitude in communicating with us.
A final, personal note...
As you can probably imagine, the evaluation process is often tricky, and it's certainly not perfect. Difficult choices often have to be made between very qualified vendors due to the simple constraints of space, desire for variety, and a commitment to allowing opportunities for new vendors to participate.
The process is done with a lot of time and careful effort and a commitment to creating the best experience for our customers and vendors. It's my full time job, and it's one that I do with a great deal of passion and commitment.
I am incredibly thankful for the support we have received from vendors and customers, and feel very lucky to spend my time doing something that I truly love. It's always an honor to be able to review everyone's applications, and I thank you for your time in reading through all of this information. Wishing you the best of luck here and in all of your creative endeavors!
Janet Long, Founder