Ask Kat: Are the Handbag of the Month Contests Fair?


every so often we get correspondence like this;

“Why do you allow certain people to keep entering the same bag style repeatedly? I find that to be very discouraging and unfair to others.”   Or this…..

“I don’t think it’s fair for the field to have to compete against XXXXX’s bag. The story behind her bag is so cute or compelling that she is slaying all of them.”   Or this….

“I don’t think the contest last month was fair at all! Anyone with half a brain could see that bag wasn’t deserving of the win.”

So before answering these questions directly, maybe its a good time to provide you with a little background information as to why we ever decided to have these monthly contests in the first place (back in 2008, can you believe it?).

FIVE Reasons We Have a Monthly Bag Contest

1) to show our customer base and those that follow us on social media an alternative “look” for our bags. (Seeing a design in another fabrication could be helpful to customers!)
2) to provide proof-positive that you don’t have to be a sewing professional to use & enjoy our patterns.
3) to add a little fun or levity to our social media postings. (I love seeing the things you  make, and I’m thinking you may too!)
4) to provide an opportunity for our customers to get positive feedback about the items they create. (Let’s face it, sometimes our family and friends just aren’t impressed “enough” by the work that goes into our projects, are they?)
5) and to inspire our customers to try new patterns, techniques, and fabrications.

I guess we could have accomplished most if not all of these objectives without incentivizing our contest, but as you might suspect, the prizes and discount coupons do encourage people to send in those pictures and you know what? It seems like an even trade to me. I’m very happy to pass along a great discount in exchange for a picture that helps me get the word out about my patterns!

It’s a win-win for BOTH of us!

But here’s the deal…

there’s a fine line between providing too stingy an incentive (and potentially insulting your entrants), and setting the prize too high, effectively elevating the contest to a “whole ‘nother level” where it becomes very serious & highly competitive instead of encouraging and fun.

And for the most part, I’ve been pleased that our contests have effectively straddled these two extremes.
But every now and then we get a complaint (as detailed in the opening of this post) and when we do, it’s my job to remind that person of the following;

1) its supposed to be a fun event so that our customers can see that regular non-professional folks can make our bags. The prize is not huge, and that’s on purpose to keep the whole event light-hearted. Notice that our goal is NOT to find the most beautiful or technically accurate bag.
2) EVERYONE who enters our contest gets a prize (again to keep the whole thing light-hearted). Just for entering our contest, every entrant gets a 40% off discount coupon.
3) The 2nd place winner from every monthly contest is automatically entered in our December contest…. the “Battle of the 2nd Place Finishers”.

So in conclusion….

I hope this sheds a slightly different light on the contest, and maybe it’ll provide a few of you with the extra push to actually enter a bag YOU have made?  🙂


And now…. it’s YOUR turn!

Have you ever contributed to our monthly handbag contest either by entering a bag you’ve made or by voting for your favorite? If so, I’d love to know what your thoughts after reading this post. And remember, we love reading your comments and answering your questions too, so please feel free to leave either or both in the space provided below.

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21 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. I find it inspiring to see what others have made, each bag is individual since I’ve never ever seen two bags using the same materials!

  2. I’ve entered two bags in your contest, and vote on most all of them. It’s fun!

    Remember that old saying, “you can’t please all of the people all of the time”,etc., so don’t worry about the complaints!

  3. I have entered 2 bags in the past and won with one of them. Didn’t get to use my prize because it timed out but that is on me, not you.
    My first suggestion for the future is to not allow more than one entry per month from any one entrant and my second suggestion is to limit the contest to those who have not won in the past. I think it would make people feel the contest is fairer to them…

    • Thanks for commenting Sue and although and I appreciate your point of view, I just dont happen to agree with it, because actually, it is a disadvantage for an entrant to have more than one bag entered in a month, due primarily to the fact that they will most likely be splitting much of their “home-grown vote”. This is the reason that i generally ask an entrant their preference about having more than one entry in a month, not that I see it as unfair.
      And for many of the reasons already outlined, I see no reason to have to give anyone a lifetime ban from entering the contest again, and really…. we’ve had less than 3 repeat winners over the course of 9 years anyway. I see it as a non-issue.

  4. My response to the complainers ~ let it go; we are talking handbags & if you think the contest is unfair then don’t look & don’t vote. It is supposed to be fun! Most months I vote for a bag that does not win. Never give it a second thought. I’m not minimizing anyone’s opinion. The contest is a fun incentive to make a Studio Kat bag & that is a reward in & of itself. To have that bag displayed on the internet is pretty great too. Congrats to all the winners past & future!

    • great way to look at it Gail! It was and is always my goal to have a fun way of displaying and getting accolades for the beautiful bags our customers make! 🙂

  5. I love looking at all the bags. I must confess that I rarely vote on one and that’s because I can’t pick a favorite, I like them all! I do agree that seeing them in different fabrics certainly does inspire you to go with a fabric choice you might not have thought about.

  6. I feel its very fair & what you put in is what you get. I have won a few times. but a few not & the winner was a better purse or presented better. Its really fun & I try to vote every time as I appreciate the time & effort someone has put into it. It is also inspiring to see what some people come up with & that’s what it is all about. Don’t be sour grapes–make one better!!. Shirley

  7. I really enjoy seeing all the other versions of the patterns. My only complaint is that I can’t find a link to the contest after my initial vote to see how the entrants are doing during the month.

  8. I haven’t entered a bag in the contest but I always vote. I enjoy seeing the bags that other people have made. Someday maybe I will enter a bag but I see no reason why someone can’t enter multiple times. The bags I vote for usually don’t win but everyone’s taste is different and there is no reason to get upset if the bag you like doesn’t win. I think you are doing a good job as it is and look forward to each month’s contest.

  9. The only criteria for voting for these bags are you vote for the one YOU like. It could be for the style of the bag, the color or they used a paisley print which you just love or for any other reason. For the people that say it is not fair because the bag that won was not good enough. You expect others to vote using your criteria and not theirs. I like seeing all the bags and I vote for whichever one I like the date I voted.

  10. I love to see what others have made. I vote every month. I entered once and when I finish my Festival Pocket belt i plan to enter it. Not so sure how to photograph it, however. Maybe I will take a photo of the recipient wearing it.

  11. Rosemarie Nettle

    i think the way you are doing the contest is just fine. I love seeing all the different fabric selections for the bags. I have only entered once a long time ago and did win. Matter of fact my bag is used on the site for that particular bag. I vote most months. I must confess that I usually vote for the bag that I like the fabric choice. It is a fair contest and I think that those comments are from a disgruntled loser or one who wishes they could do as well but may feel intimidated and couldn’t win.

  12. If you don’t have fun don’t do it!!!
    I love seeing the bag contest. Who cares if something is entered more than once. Just have fun!!

  13. I haven’t entered your contest yet as I have not yet started one of your patters. (I do have it narrowed down to three right now & should begin it this month!) 🙂

    I find your contest well though out and well executed. The reward for having the courage to send in pictures is great, and the gift certificate is very nice.

    I find inspiration and fabric pairing when voting. Mixing some colors or fabrics I haven’t thought about before.

    It’s great. Unfortunately, we will always have a few sore looses who could revisit proper sportsmanship techniques. 🙁

  14. I love checking out the monthly contest participants! It’s so fun to see the different fabric combinations. I bought a pattern after seeing the WalkaBout quite some time ago, and love it! I also enjoy seeing how my vote stacks up along with other votes for particular bags. Sometimes it is downright super difficult cuz I love them all.