Factory45 takes sustainable apparel companies from idea to launch.

How to Know If You Have a Great Idea for an Apparel Product

Find out the most important question to ask yourself before you get started.

Factory45 has been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes , Triple Pundit, Huffington Post

Welcome to Factory45

If you have an idea for an apparel product or a clothing line, then you’ve come to the right place.

FACTORY45 IS AN ONLINE ACCELERATOR PROGRAM THAT HELPS ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS LAUNCH CLOTHING COMPANIES THAT ARE SUSTAINABLY AND ETHICALLY MADE IN THE USA.

Whether you still can’t find suppliers whose minimums you can afford or you’ve made a little traction but are stuck at a dead-end, I know there is a way to start a sustainable and successful business with less frustration, less doubt and without wasting valuable time and money. In fact, I’ve proven it.

Over the past two years, Factory45 has helped entrepreneurs from all over the U.S. and Canada learn how to successfully bring an apparel company to market. I invite you to read more about who I am, how the program works and what Factory45 alumni have to say about their experience.

Enrollment into Factory45 opens once per year and it's now closed until Spring 2017. While you wait, get free startup advice sent to your inbox weekly. Subscribe here.

shannon whitehead, founder

Meet Shannon,
Founder of Factory45

In 2010, I was starting my own sustainable clothing company. My co-founder and I spent a year and a half trying to bring our product to market. I spent countless hours emailing and calling suppliers without making any traction because, the truth was, I didn’t know how to talk the talk or walk the walk.

As a newbie in the industry, I didn’t know the right language to use when contacting production partners, where to look for the fabric we needed, or how to be taken seriously by industry veterans.

What I did know was that I wanted to create a clothing company that was environmentally-conscious and helped create jobs in the U.S. I wanted to help change the fashion industry with thoughtful design and ethical manufacturing.

After a year and a half of frustrating dead ends -- with a sprinkle of small victories -- my co-founder and I finally launched our company. Finding recycled and organic fabrics that fit our sustainability guidelines, and a sew shop in North Carolina willing to work with first-time entrepreneurs, we launched the highest-funded fashion project in Kickstarter history, raising enough money to quadruple our first production order.

FAST FORWARD SIX YEARS AND I’VE CREATED THE PROGRAM I WOULD HAVE WANTED WHEN I WAS FIRST STARTING OUT.

What is Factory45?

Factory45 is an online accelerator program that takes sustainable apparel companies from idea to launch.

The entrepreneurs who join Factory45 are given the resources and connections to source fabric, find a manufacturer in the U.S. and raise money to fund production in six months.

Applications to Factory45 are now closed
and will reopen in 2017.

Until then, subscribe to receive free startup advice every week.

How does Factory45 work?

Factory45 is made up of five online modules, released weekly, to take you from idea stage to pre-production to launch.

Your progress is self-paced so it’s manageable whether you have a full-time job or you’re building your company full time. To make sure you know exactly what you’re getting, the Factory45 program is outlined below.

How Factory45 Works

Bonuses

Daily Office Hours
with Shannon

Lifetime
Alumni Access

Expert
Recorded Interviews

Accountability
Partnership

Alumni
Interviews

Personal Consulting
for 6 Months

Bi-Weekly
Group Calls

Two Bonus
Implementation Months

Hear from Factory45 Alumni

Since launching Factory45 in 2014, I’ve been lucky to work with an incredible group of entrepreneurs who have gone on to launch successful businesses.

A former NBA sports reporter, an international humanitarian, a Parsons School of Design grad, a former Miss Wheelchair Kentucky, an award-winning handbag designer — and many others — are sharing how Factory45 impacted them.

factory45 testimonials

cara-bartlett

“If I had tried to launch my company on my own, I would still probably be in the research phase. But thanks to Shannon and Factory45, I created a responsibly sourced women's capsule collection and launched a successful Kickstarter campaign (raising almost $90K) in under six months."

CARA BARTLETT,
CO-FOUNDER OF VETTA

Read more about Cara's story >>

christine-concepcion

“Factory45 is the only platform you could possibly need to succeed. I can confidently say, as a full-time working single mother, I have the key that will turn my dream into reality at my own convenience. I am forever grateful for this opportunity."

CHRISTINE CONCEPCION,
FOUNDER OF TSOIA

hadas-fletcher

“Working with Shannon reduced my fear and hesitation of entering into the sustainable fashion industry. She gives you all of the tools you need in an effective and brilliant way.

I can, without hesitation, say that Factory45 accelerates and prepares you to start your business. The information you gain is truly invaluable!”

HADAS FLETCHER,
FOUNDER OF ODE TO MOTHER

angela-tsai

“Shannon has made Factory45 essential for those who want the often intimidating manufacturing process demystified. You will gain real knowledge of sustainability, get helpful industry advice, and collaborate with a supportive entrepreneurial network that will be invaluable to your business launch.”

ANGELA TSAI,
FOUNDER OF MAMACHIC CO.

Read more about Angela's story >>

katie-hall

“The benefits to the Factory45 program and Shannon's mentorship are countless. The program Shannon has created is the boiled-down version of her years of trial & error, hours spent in the fashion industry and entrepreneurship to give you the best, most streamlined and accelerated way to make your vision become a reality. ”

KATIE HALL,
FOUNDER OF WYNN RUBY

mikaela-clifford

"I don't think there is any way I would be where I am today without Factory45.

Thanks to my experience in Factory45 I know what I need to do and what steps I need to take to grow and move forward, confidently."

MIKAELA CLIFFORD,
FOUNDER OF RUTH & RAGNAR

Read more about Mikaela's Story >>

rachel fernbach

"Shannon is unfailingly kind and friendly, and truly wants to help new entrepreneurs succeed. I am glad to have her on my team, and anticipate the Factory45 community to be an ongoing source of support and collaboration as my business grows.”

RACHEL FERNBACH,
FOUNDER OF PONYBABE

“Shannon is hands on and completely available to her ‘students’ throughout the program and is your biggest cheerleader. Without Shannon, I would never have made it as far as I have.

Make the investment in yourself and invest the time in Factory45 and you will be a different person for it! You will not regret it.”

ERIN TOOHEY NASO,
FOUNDER OF THE HANGER VALET

sarah-valin founder of sarah-valin

“My gratitude and sincerest thanks to Shannon and Factory45. You have helped me every step of the way. You have provided me with tools and resources I was unaware existed. You’ve made it possible to bring my dream to fruition... I couldn’t have done it without you and the incredible community you have created..."

SARAH-VALIN,
FOUNDER OF SARAH-VALIN

 

alesya-opelt

“Finding Factory45 changed the way I run my business.

My only regret is not finding this phenomenal resource sooner. Factory45 would have easily saved me over $20,000 while starting my business. It is worth every penny, and I’m thrilled to be part of this community now.”

Alesya Opelt Macatol, founder of Alesya Bags

maureen booth

"Factory45 leaves no morsel unturned. Not only does Shannon provide constant access to herself, she also has a knack for cultivating an environment of resources, support and friendship among your fellow cohorts.

I am so grateful that Shannon has found her calling in Factory 45 so that I, too, can make mine a reality.”

MAUREEN BOOTH
FOUNDER OF WITH METTA

heidi mckenzie

"The biggest milestone was my successful Kickstarter campaign -- I raised $28,627 and pre-sold to 465 backers to fund my first production run.

I feel as if I have the material and knowledge to sustain a successful business and have met other entrepreneurs who I can turn to for advice. I never feel alone."

HEIDI MCKENZIE
FOUNDER OF ALTER UR EGO

Read more about Heidi's story >>

sabria-mcelroy

"Factory45 has been essential to the development of my business.

The lessons cover everything you need to know to launch an apparel business from industry terminology to sourcing how-to’s to marketing strategies.

It’s clear that Shannon has put a lot of thought and resources into creating this program. I now have all the tools I need to bring my line to market.

Sabria McElroy Idarraga,
founder of Born To Be

matt hickey

"The community that develops around Factory45 is a huge tool for me. The friends and relationships you make continue on long after the program has ended."

Not a week goes by that I'm not running ideas by fellow Factory45er's through the Facebook group, or emailing Shannon with questions about anything and everything. Her Rolodex of industry contacts is priceless.

MATT HICKEY,
FOUNDER OF BE KIND VIBES

Read more about Matt's story >>

amy rubin

“The Factory45 experience takes you through an informative and progressive curriculum that comforts you and wraps you up in a supportive community of people struggling with some of the same issues while gaining practical tools.

Shannon is fully present with your needs and questions in a way that make you feel that someone has your back!"

AMY RUBIN,
founder of Polymath Apparel

jesse syswerda

"I just went through my first market week, showing the second collection to buyers. My garments are now carried in a store in New York and hopefully will be in many others soon! I’m about to start the next collection, and I feel confident that I can figure out whatever comes my way.

JESSE SYSWERDA,
FOUNDER OF EENVOUD

Read more about Jesse's Story >>

colleen-monroe

“Before joining Factory45, I had been writing my ideas down in notebooks and napkins wondering if I had the ability and resources to actually get an apparel brand off the ground. I couldn't figure out how to begin. There were too many doors that led to a big unknown.

For an idea person like me, this program complimented my skills by giving me the structure to harness my dreams and put them into a plan of action.”

COLLEEN MONROE,
FOUNDER OF UNTUCKED WORKWEAR

"I am so glad I decided to join Factory45! The weekly pace really helped to keep me on track and stay focused. I finally feel that I am moving forward with a real plan, instead of running in circles. Shannon's guidance and support is invaluable and the community of Factory45 is one I am sure glad to be apart of."

Amanda Koker,
founder of Rose Riot

Factory45 Alumni Have Appeared In

Factory45ers have been featured in Vogue, Forbes, Mashable, and much more

Applications to Factory45 are now closed.

Get on the list to be notified when applications open in 2017.

Why join Factory45?

With a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, the guidance of someone who has done it before, and a framework for following through on each step, you can launch your company much faster — and waste less money — than taking the solo road.

Factory45 will help you...

Find fabric suppliers who sell minimums that you can afford.

Collaborate with a designers, patternmakers and samplemaker to create a prototype that is “production ready” for the sew shop.

Partner with a manufacturer in the U.S. that pays its workers a living wage.

Map out financial projections and create a budget for your first production run, so you’ll know exactly how much you need to start.

Raise money to fund production without giving up equity or royalties. (You’ll also be able to make back what you invested in Factory45).

Create a marketing strategy that ensures you have eager customers waiting for your product when you launch.

Factory45 will answer questions like...

  • What mistakes should I avoid when reaching out to suppliers?
  • What do I need to be taken seriously by a potential production partner?
  • How can I ensure I will have customers lining up for my product?
  • How much money do I need to go into production?
  • What steps do I need to take to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign?
  • How do I get my company noticed by the media and industry influencers?
  • What is the best way to market my product(s) for eCommerce?

What is the investment in joining Factory45?

If you’re like me, money is the first thing that comes to mind when deciding whether or not to move forward with an idea.

We worry about wasting our savings or not having enough to pay the bills or making a hasty financial decision that our spouse or partner won’t support. When my co-founder and I were starting our clothing company I remember every dollar spent was a big deal. And I took days pondering expenses I knew we needed to spend in order to grow.

Following an uncertain path of trial-by-error, resulted in spending:

$800: Working with a samplemaker to create a prototype that looked nothing like the original design.

$1000: Traveling to meet with sew shops and suppliers who weren’t the right fit for our project.

$600: Hiring a production team to create a Kickstarter video that couldn’t be used.

$2000: Flying to Central America to visit an organic cotton farm with unattainable minimum order requirements.

By the time our Kickstarter campaign went live 1.5 years later, my co-founder and I had spent $10K (depleting both of our savings accounts) while working side jobs to support ourselves.

I DON’T WANT YOU TO SPEND $10K NAVIGATING TRIAL-BY-ERROR. I ALSO DON’T WANT YOU TO HOLD OUT ON YOUR DREAM, FEELING STAGNATED BY INDECISION, BECAUSE YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE TO START.

With Factory45, you will have everything you need to launch your company…

  • A personal consultant & mentor
  • A supply chain in the U.S.
  • A crystal clear launch strategy
  • Money to fund production
factory45 infographic

THE INVESTMENT

With five in-depth modules, a support network of entrepreneurial peers, expert mentorship, connections across the sustainable apparel industry, and lifetime access to the program after it ends, the investment in joining Factory45 is $500/month for six months.

DO YOU TAKE EQUITY?

No! Unlike conventional accelerator programs, you keep 100% ownership of your company. There are no other hidden costs or fees.

THE GUARANTEE

You can try Factory45 for 30 days, 100% risk free. If you do the work and don’t see the value, then I would much rather give you your money back. No questions asked.

Applications are now closed.

Join the waiting list, and I’ll send you a reminder when they reopen in 2017.

Is Factory45 right for me?

STRAIGHT UP ADVICE ON STARTING AN APPAREL COMPANY.