Eco-Friendly Knitwear for an Unpredictable Life.

Introducing NIA: Eco-Friendly Knitwear for an Unpredictable Life

This is an interview with Factory45’er Merica Kahn about the launch of her brand NIA, an eco-friendly knitwear company. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Merica is raising money for the production run of her first collection.

Please give us a brief overview of your brand and the pieces you’re pre-selling.

NIA is eco-friendly knitwear for an unpredictable life. I came up with the idea commuting to and from New Jersey to New York City five days a week for the last eight years. I wanted to design a clothing brand for the minimalist fashionista who loves to look stylish but who needs comfort for her active lifestyle. The first outfit I have designed and am pre-selling on Kickstarter is a cropped pant, a tank top, and a choker. These pieces easily mix and match with other staple items we all have in our closet and as a full outfit can be easily dressed up or down creating a versatile look that can take you through a whole day.

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

I feel Kickstarter has a very eco-conscience audience and could connect with my project. Since this is my first time launching my own company, I think Kickstarter is a smart way to learn about the customer and get positive feedback to help get the support I need to create the ideal garments. I think Kickstarter makes it really simple to achieve success and it felt like the right place to start as a young entrepreneur.

Eco-Friendly Knitwear for an Unpredictable Life

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

Surprisingly, it’s been the marketing side and building my audience. I love social media and have always been engaged in connecting with people but raising awareness for a new small fashion business is really tough! I am learning more every day and, although it’s not easy, I do enjoy the challenge and creativity in it.

You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?

Talking to people about what I’m doing, 100%. I tend to get in my head and sometimes that can be negative. When I speak to people about what I’m doing it is so amazing to have people agree and be excited about what you have to say. It always surprises me when people thank me for the information about the ecological impact fashion can have because they didn’t know. That keeps me going because it truly is important to raise awareness about it.

Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?

I’ve started by connecting with people that are close to me and trying to spread the word through Facebook and Email marketing as much as possible. I am constantly talking about my project everywhere I go. The most success I have had is directly talking to people about what I’m doing and them being into the idea, which leads to them becoming a backer.

What do you do when self-doubt starts to creep up?

My first reaction is to analyze what I’m doing and think about why I started this journey. I am definitely an emotional person and I think meditating and yoga has really helped me to learn to accept the curves that are thrown my way. After I go through an internal review I immediately reach out to my Factory45 peers, family, and friends. I get as much advice from people who have already been through what I’m going through or have their own businesses. It really helps to hear that they experience the same emotions and situations.

Eco-Friendly Knitwear for an Unpredictable Life

What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?

I love the NIA cropped pant. They are so comfortable. I have literally worn them all day and even fallen asleep in them. I love being able to slip them on and get out the door quickly.

If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?

Do not rush the launch of your campaign. When you’re ready to launch, you will know. Preparing everything beforehand as much as possible, is the best thing you can do. It will take a ton of pressure off of you during the actual launch and span of the campaign.


To check out Merica’s Kickstarter campaign and the pre-sale of NIA, click here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Introducing Ife Medow: Sustainable Bags Inspired by The Four Elements

This is an interview with Factory45’er Toyin Ajayi about the launch of her brand Ife Medow. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Toyin is raising money for the production run of her first collection.

Please give us a brief overview of your brand and the pieces you’re pre-selling.

Ife Medow is where made in the USA meets the African touch. The Elements Collection is based on the four elements, so I created 4 unique color schemes for the exteriors of each piece using sustainable materials.

I complemented the exterior color schemes with lining each piece with African prints, this allowed me to incorporate my culture. I’m half Nigerian and half Ghanaian so that’s where the name comes from. Ife means “love” in Yoruba my language and Medow means “my love” in Fanti my Ghanaian language. I like to say each piece is made with love. Ife Medow provides gender neutral pieces with RFID protection. We have wallets, clutches, totes, and travel duffles.

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

There are a few reasons. I didn’t want to start a fashion brand and have to give away equity in my company just to make it. So many people (except Shannon) encourage you to go through venture capitalists or get a bunch of loans, but I didn’t want to give my business away in pieces just to get started or start with a bunch of debt. I also wanted to be able to offer pieces at a discount to early adopters and Kickstarter is a great way to do both.

Ife Medow: Sustainable Bags Inspired by The Four Elements

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

I wanted to make sure I was giving people enough information about the unique layers of my brand, but I didn’t want to overwhelm them. Ife Medow has the layer of sustainability, culture, RFID protection and unisex pieces. So the key was to find a way to share this with everyone without bombarding them with information.

You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?

While I was doing prep, it’s a rollercoaster but every time I finished a new sample I was refreshed. Positive feedback, meditation, reminding yourself why you set out to do this is really important. It’s also important to practice self-care so you don’t get burned out.

Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?

Truthfully, I had a full PR strategy and interns up until two weeks before my campaign. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my publicist had to step away and so did two interns. I was really distraught but I knew I had to pull my big girl panties up and get to it.

I wrote a press release to get the campaign in front of more eyeballs than I would be able to personally pitch. And then I had a master media list that I’ve been emailing, this stuff can take time so only time will tell about how successful that will be. I would say the best thing I’ve done was create excitement leading up to the launch; showing the pieces, answering questions and counting down.

What do you do when self-doubt starts to creep up?

Light candles and pray, talk to positive friends and family, have a glass of wine and relax my brain and anxiety.

Ife Medow: Sustainable Bags Inspired by The Four Elements

What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?

Tough question! But if I had to choose it would be the Air Clutch or Water and Earth Duffles. Those are my 3 favorite separate pieces. I offer sets and capsules for each Element as a reward too so I do love having those options.

If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?

Take your time, do lots of research, be adaptable and go for it!


To check out Toyin’s Kickstarter campaign and the pre-sale of Ife Medow, click here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


two fold, capsule clothing, sustainable fashion

Introducing Not-So-Basic Basics, Sustainably & Ethically Made in the USA

This is an interview with Factory45’er Morgan Wagstaff about the launch of her brand Two Fold. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Morgan is raising money for the production run of her first collection.

Give us a brief overview of your brand and the pieces you’re pre-selling.

Two Fold is a womenswear brand of sustainably and socially-conscious designs made here in the USA. Two Fold aims to encourage mindfulness and simple living by offering minimalist and timeless silhouettes that flow perfectly into any woman’s wardrobe.

We are a small batch clothing label made in Charlotte, North Carolina. All of our clothing is made to order, created in house, and released in capsule collections twice a year opposed to the continual release cycle to ensure quality over quantity.

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

I decided to launch my brand through Kickstarter because I was familiar with the platform and it’s such a great way to reach new people. When starting a clothing line, you have to have funds in order to fulfill the first production run.

Kickstarter is a great crowdfunding platform that allows you to put your idea out there and see if there is a want or need for your idea. I also love how easy the site is to navigate and interactive it is with backers.

Two fold, ethically made, capsule clothing, sustainable fashion

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

One of the challenges I have faced has been finding my “sticky message.” There are a few brands out already that are similar and are doing well.

It’s so important to find what sets you apart and what makes your brand different. I recommend spending a lot of time on this to really hone in on it and tease through it.

You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?

I’ve had to continually remind myself of why I’m doing this. Keeping the “why” in the forefront of my mind has helped to keep me headed in the right direction. Also, my family and friends have played a big part in keeping me motivated. They’ve continued to support and believe in me and I couldn’t do this without them.

Two Fold, ethically made, capsule clothing, sustainable fashion

Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?

I have made some of the best connections throughout this campaign. I’ve had some amazing women style my pieces and they’ve had some great things to say about them. I’ve also had a few essays published in some great online blogs which has brought some exposure. I’ve also noticed that the emails I’ve been sending to my awesome tribe has been positive. They’ve loved seeing the pieces closer up with details about the fit and fabric and how to style them.

I tried running a couple Facebook ads and one did well, and the other two did not. I know a lot of people recommend them and I was glad I tried it out, it just didn’t work for me.

What do you do when self doubt starts to creep up?

Oh, does self-doubt creep up! This has been one of the biggest struggles for me during the campaign. You are watching your numbers daily and it’s so easy to doubt what you’ve created. I love to spend time with the people that mean the most to me. There are people who support me and they have continued to keep me uplifted during the tough patches. I’ve had to learn to give myself some grace. Have a good cry, let out all my feelings and get back up and keep pushing forward.

Two Fold, ethically made, capsule clothing, sustainable fashion

What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?

My favorite reward is the Reese Dress. It’s the most comfortable piece I’ve ever worn while still feeling well dressed. It’s also the ultimate transitional piece – a knee length, easy, unfussy, slim fit accentuates the body without being too clingy. The comfiest thing you’ll wear all season. I promise you’ll never want to take it off. It’s made from a soft handwoven cotton and fits just right, not too tight, not too loose.

If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?

Shannon, you gave me some great advice early on and it’s stuck with me. You told me it’s called a ‘campaign’ for a reason. You have to campaign throughout the entire days of the Kickstarter. It isn’t easy and the only one that is going to make it happen is you.


To check out Morgan’s Kickstarter campaign and the pre-sale of Two Fold, click here.

 

 

Introducing The 24 Hour Outfit, Sustainably & Ethically Made in Brooklyn

This is an interview with Factory45’er Rachel Fernbach about the launch of her brand PonyBabe. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Rachel is raising money (update: has raised money) for her first production run of The 24 Hour Outfit.

What are you pre-selling on Kickstarter?

PonyBabe is a line focused on creating ultra comfy, versatile wardrobe staples for women. The clothing is made from premium super soft eco-friendly fabric and manufactured in Brooklyn, NY.  

The 24 Hour Outfit, now available for pre-sale on Kickstarter, is a collection of 4 pieces: a large wrap, a racerback tank top, a cardigan, and a pair of delicately pleated pants. Meant to be mixed, matched, layered, and worn on repeat – the 24 Hour Outfit is ideal for creative professionals, expecting/new mamas, yogis/meditators/dancers, minimalists, and travelers.

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Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

I started PonyBabe with personal savings, and did not have the cashflow to fund my first production run. I needed to raise money to get that going, and also wanted to make sure there was a demand for the clothing before getting any deeper into the process. As a new label, Kickstarter is an ideal way for me to raise money while also testing the waters, and it’s an effective way to spread the word about PonyBabe.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

Oh my goodness. I’m not going to lie: If I had known how challenging this all would be, I… still would have done it, but at least I would have been emotionally prepared for the insanity of doing so many new things for the first time!

I would say that what has been most challenging is simply the fact that I came into this industry with very little knowledge, and have had to learn so many new things, on a constant basis. (How to get samples and patterns made, how to produce a photoshoot and video shoot, how to use social media, how to build a website… the list goes on.)  It’s tiring, exhilarating, exciting, and also super cool to learn new things — but some days my bandwidth runneth low…

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You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?

I started building my email list very early, and though it has grown slowly, having a supportive circle of dedicated and caring people has been priceless… each time I sent out an update (even if it was to say that things weren’t going as planned), I received back an email here and there encouraging me to keep it up and make those clothes. Those little love notes really kept my spirits up when things were hard.

Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?

The clothes I’m making are a great fit for a lot of different lifestyles. With that in mind, I honed in on a few niches – yoga, dance, minimalism, eco-fashion, American-made, and maternity – and researched blogs, boutiques, magazines, and influencers who might have an interest in seeing PonyBabe get funded. It’s pretty early in my campaign, so I’m still waiting to see what winds up working best!

What seems helpful is connecting through my networks – i.e., friends of friends seem much more likely to want to help… but I’m not letting that stop me from reaching out to others as well.  As in all arenas of life, relationships are key: it’s important to make personal connections, and make offers to give instead of just making requests to receive.

ponybabe-3-copy

What do you do when self doubt starts to creep up?

Notice it, allow it to have some space, then choose to focus on the positive. I actively shift my attention to what is going well, while also acknowledging that this is a stressful experience, and it’s normal and healthy to feel a little nervous or worried from time to time.

My nerdy self-encouragement mantra right now is “People love me and want me to succeed.”  It’s surprisingly motivating! 🙂

What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?

The Whole Outfit, of course! Each piece is great on its own, but putting on the whole outfit is pretty much a perfect recipe for instant comfy cozy bliss. I love how it makes me feel like cuddling up with a mug of tea and a good book.

If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?

Go for it! And ask for help from people, because it’s a lot for one person to take on.

You can check out Rachel’s campaign for The 24 Hour Outfit by PonyBabe here

 

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Sew Shop Talk: Introducing APaDS

Note from Shannon: This is a guest post by Savannah Fender who is currently a Master of Science candidate in the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management, College of Textiles, at North Carolina State University. 


When you think of fashion and apparel what are some of the top cities that come to mind?

The majority of people would probably identify with New York and Los Angles or Milan and Paris. However, it is what’s hidden under our noses that can help entrepreneurs thrive.

Against popular belief, the sewn goods and textile industry is alive and well within the United States.

Many times the facilities are a lot closer to home than you think. Perhaps they are even your next-door neighbors.

Today, we are going to be touring Apparel Prototyping and Design Solutions, LLC (APaDS) in Pelzer, SC. With a population of just below 100 people, you probably weren’t taught about Pelzer in your eighth-grade geography class! Pelzer is about a 20-minute drive south of Greenville, SC.

There I met with Darlene Martin, the senior pattern maker at APaDS with 28 years of experience; and Elroy Pierce, Founder of APaDS with over 38 years of experience in apparel manufacturing.

Before we got started with an in-depth discussion about domestic production, I took a tour of APaDS. The facility was established in May 2014, as a result of Clemson University making a decision to shut down Clemson Apparel Research (CAR). APaDS, where Darlene and Elroy are today is located at 6931 Hwy 29 N, Pelzer, SC, with six office spaces, a digital patternmaking room, and an open floorplan sewing/cutting room.

Darlene got started in the industry when she was in her early 20s. She had taken a home economics course in high school and discovered her passion for sewing. Darlene went to work  at a local “blouse plant” and from there, her mentor taught her pattern work straight from fabric draping.

They worked for clients like Victoria’s Secret, Sears, and Coldwater Creek. As CAD (computer-aided design) programs became more popular, Darlene’s company encouraged her to go to Atlanta for a two-week program to learn digitizing and grading. Darlene hasn’t stopped working in the industry since.

Even in shutdowns she managed to keep pushing.

apads, sew shop talk

Today APaDS is working with about 150 different clients, including Reese Witherspoon’s brand Draper James.

When you enter APaDS you can see firsthand the passion the employees put into their work. For the people at APaDS, domestic manufacturing was what they always knew, so why move away from it?

They understand the industry has changed drastically and are willing to adapt everyday.

When asked what trades-off companies have to take to stay domestic, Elroy responded:

“There is still a large skill set in the States, it is diminishing very quickly… companies are going to have to look to semi-automation… produce smaller qualities on a faster turn time, than what they did in old production… ”

APaDS is very optimistic about the future of American manufacturing, although it will take time, they feel they are doing their part to promote domestic manufacturing and help entrepreneurs grow.

APaDS is passionate about what they are creating.

If you are looking for someone in the same time zone (or even just a few hours off) that is willing to work with you face-to-face to produce outstanding quality, this is certainly a place your products can be developed.

apads, sew shop talk

Breaking it down:

  • What can APaDS do for you?

>> They are the front people you want to be working with before manufacturing or mass-producing. APaDS can help with your sewn product needs from pattern design, pattern grading, marker plotting, garment samples, garment costing, industrial engineering, apparel consulting, and even small runs (upon request). These are some of the initial steps you MUST take before finding a manufacturer that will work with you.

  • How much do they cost?

>> They are very competitive and cost varies depending on the services and needs of a client.

  • Do I need a Tech Pack?

>> Not necessarily, however it will save APaDS some time when it comes to product development. If you don’t have a technical pack created, APaDS is more than happy to help you format exactly what you need page by page.

  • Am I allowed to visit the facility?

>> APaDS loves it when their clients come for initial consultations, or later in the process to view their work. However, if you aren’t near the area don’t let that stop you! Darlene is very accessible via phone, email, and even Skype.

  • What is the time frame for a returned product?

>> Anywhere from 4-6 weeks.

  • What if I already have a pattern ready?

>> The timeframe may be shortened a bit, but the pattern will still need to be reviewed by Darlene for marking and digitalizing.  

To learn more about the incredible people working at APaDS, be sure to check out their website here and Facebook page here.


savannah fender, apads, sew shop talk

Savannah Fender is currently a Master of Science candidate in the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management, College of Textiles, at North Carolina State University. She completed her B.F.A at Radford University in Fashion Design and Marketing. She is currently in her last semester at NC State working on her thesis, which focuses on domestic manufacturing within the sewn goods and  textile industry. Savannah is passionate about garment production and helping entrepreneurs thrive!

 

 


4 Ways to Negotiate Minimums with Fabric Suppliers

There are so many moving parts that go into launching a sustainable apparel company and one of the steps that can take the longest is fabric sourcing.

As any seasoned designer knows, the moment you realize you have found the fabric can be a mixture of relief, hope and — apprehension.

The first question that will come into your mind is:

Can I meet the supplier’s minimum order quantity (MOQ)?

Maybe you’re planning to start out with 500 yards (or less) because you’re just getting your brand up and running.

It wouldn’t be unheard of for a supplier to require an MOQ of 1,000 (or more) yards, and there may be many reasons for it depending on who you’re working with.

The first thing you need to is find out why the minimums are set at the amount that they are, keeping in mind that the exact reasons will be specific to the individual suppliers.

Once you find out their “why,” you’ll be better equipped to negotiate.

And then you can devise a plan.

Before you start to propose negotiations, make sure you’re not making one of these other fabric sourcing mistakes and take a look at the supplier’s website before you call or email.

Sometimes you can find the MOQ and the company’s capabilities right on the site, and it can help set you up to make the perfect proposal for negotiation.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you devise the right plan:

>> When a supplier sets a MOQ because of time efficiency for custom dyeing your fabric, offer to pay  a flat “dye fee” in addition to the per yard cost of the fabric. This may add to the final cost of the order, but it will likely be much cheaper than ordering three times the amount you need just to meet the MOQ.

>> If the MOQ is in place because it “costs what it costs,” then you can either offer to put down a deposit, but place smaller orders at a time OR you can see if there is the option of “piggy-backing” onto one of their existing client’s orders and splitting the cost. Keep in mind that your production schedule will need to be flexible.

>> If the MOQ is in place because it’s a custom order, let’s say there’s a very particular blue fabric you want but it’s never carried in stock, it may be worth conceding to what the supplier already has available in their warehouse. If you can meet the minimums of an in-stock fabric that is only a slightly different shade of blue, then it’s probably worth settling for it. You don’t want to be so committed to your original vision, that you can’t see the “good enough” version staring you in the face.

>> And lastly, you can try offering to pay a higher price per yard, in order to purchase less than their normal MOQ.

There are many ways that you can go about this, and you will find and choose what works best for you. Go with your instincts, but don’t force it. 

If a supplier won’t budge, then it’s better to cut your losses amicably rather than burn a bridge. When one door closes another opens…

Remember, that no matter what avenue you choose for negotiation this is your journey, your brand and your company’s future.

Give it all you got.


 

Launch Your Clothing Company with Factory45

*UPDATE: Applications to the 2016 program of Factory45 are now closed! Enrollment will open again in Spring 2017. Get on the list to be notified here.*

YES, you can now apply to join the 2016 program of Factory45!

If it’s the right fit, I’d love to have the opportunity to work with you.

You can get all of the details about the program here.

Over the past two years, Factory45 has helped entrepreneurs from all over the country launch clothing companies that are sustainably and ethically made in the USA.

Whether you still can’t find a fabric supplier whose minimums you can afford or the process of finding a manufacturer has been a giant headache, I know there is a way to launch your company with more confidence, less frustration and without wasting valuable time and money.

In fact, I’ve proven it.

Over the next two weeks, I’m going to share my own story of entrepreneurship, introduce you to some of the alumni who have successfully launched through Factory45, and answer all of your questions about what you can expect.

If you’ve been waiting months for this day to come, then I invite you to fill out your application now.

If you’re still new to Factory45 and aren’t sure what it’s all about, then click the play button below. We’ve been working on this video project for months, and I’m so excited to be able to finally share it with everyone today.

Get inspired, get to know me and get ready. If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own apparel company but haven’t known where to start, Factory45 may be just what you’re looking for.

Apply to join me here.

 

shannon whitehead, founder

P.S. If there’s someone in your life who’s been talking about starting a clothing company please share the Factory45 application with them.

Entrepreneurship was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I hope that everyone (who wants to) gets the chance to run their own business.

Fashion Revolution

What is Fashion Revolution Week & Why Should You Care?

Three years ago this week, a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed in the middle of the workday, killing 1,134 workers and injuring over 2,500 others.

The workers who perished in the worst tragedy in the history of the world’s garment industry were making the clothes that we buy — from western retailers such as, J.C. Penney, Joe Fresh, Benetton, The Children’s Place, Inditex (the parent company of Zara), The North Face and Wal-Mart, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign.

Igniting a long overdue call-to-arms by a concerned group of cducators, designers, journalists and consumers, “Fashion Revolution Day” was created as a global movement to commemorate those lives lost, while promoting a conversation around supply chain transparency.

Three years after its inception, Fashion Revolution Day has become Fashion Revolution Week and tens of thousands of consumers from across the world will be asking brands, #whomademyclothes as part of a global social media campaign.

Catwalk-athinakorda

As activist Livia Firth points out, you can “become an active citizen through your wardrobe,” and here’s why you should:

1.) Not only is fast fashion cheating its workers, it’s cheating you.

It’s no secret that fast fashion retailers such as Zara, Forever21 and H&M design clothes to fall apart. It’s the foundation of their bottom line.

The fast fashion business model is dependent on consumers buying fashion in excess. The clothing only lasts a few washes so that you’re prompted to go out and buy more.

“When you go to make a purchase, take a look at the product and ask yourself: ‘Am I being cheated?’” Maxine Bedat, co-founder of eCommerce company Zady told Fortune. “If a product from a fast fashion chain is falling apart before you’ve even bought it, it’s not a deal. It’s the fast fashion company trying to get you to buy something that is quick on trend but slow on quality.”

2.) “Discounts” aren’t really discounts.

The “discounted” designer labels you think you’re buying from outlets like TJ Maxx and Saks’ Off 5th have likely never seen a designer label before, according to Jay Hallstein in “The Myth of the Maxxinista.”

In fact, the “excess” or unsellable items that you think you’re getting at a fraction of the price are likely produced in an entirely different factory than the designer brand you think you’re buying.

As Hillary Crosley writes in her article for Jezebel, “The jig is up: Big brands like J. Crew, Gap and Saks’ Off 5th aren’t selling you discounted or out of season merchandise at their outlet locations. You’re just buying lower quality cardigans and patterned pants.” 

The reality is that outlet stores (under the name of brands like J. Crew and Banana Republic) have actually become fast fashion retailers of their own. In an effort to keep up with the rapid pace of the giant fast fashion brands, these outlet stores must lower cost and lower quality to compete on price.

JacobsWell_Sumitra

3.) Fashion is a $3 trillion industry and many of its workers are children and marginalized women.

The next time you chase a sale for $4.95 dresses, ask yourself: “How is that possible?” Seriously, think about it. How does that dress magically appear in front of you at such a cheap price?

Somewhere, someone has to pay for it and it’s likely at the cost of indentured servitude. Yes, slavery.

As of 2016, there are an estimated 27-30 million enslaved men, women and children across the globe, according to non-profit Made in a Free World.

There are people in countries such as Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Bangladesh and India who are forced to work against their will. Whether they’re picking cotton or tanning leather, they don’t earn a penny for making your clothing. They are literally bound to a life of enslavement with very little hope of getting out.

CottonFarmer

4.) Fast fashion is anti-feminist.

I’m not about to go on a political rant, but if you do consider yourself a feminist then it’s time to start thinking seriously about how your values are reflected in your closet.

Of the 1000+ people who died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse, the vast majority of them were young women. It’s estimated that 80 percent of the women working in garment factories in developing world countries come from rural areas to seek out a better life with little education.

“Many face working excessive hours – often 14-16 hours per day – with forced overtime and no job security, for poverty wages and without trade union rights recognized,” Ilana Winterstein, a director at Labour Behind The Label told HuffPost UK Lifestyle. “They suffer poor health, are victims of sexual and physical abuse and cannot afford to send their children to school.”

With inadequate health and safety checks, in the worst case resulting in tragedies like Rana Plaza, Winterstein says the repression of trade unions means that workers are too fearful to speak out about their reality.

5.) You actually have the power.

That’s right, you have the power to change an industry that so desperately needs to be revolutionized.

Fashion is the third-most damaging industry to the planet — after oil and animal agriculture — and it’s all so that we can we can enjoy a little retail therapy.

I don’t think any of us would try to justify the deaths of 1,134 people for our fashion needs, so why do we keep buying and supporting the brands that we know don’t deserve our dollars?

It’s not too late to get educated, stay informed and make your own individual impact. With the help of Fashion Revolution Week, it’s the perfect time to start.

Find more information on how to get involved here. Attend a Fashion Revolution event in your city, by browsing the event list here. Photos courtesy of www.fashionrevolution.org.

 

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Please forward and share this post to spread the word about Fashion Revolution Week and help your friends become informed. We have the power when we use our voices.


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The Most Important Step of Pre-Production

The Most Important Step of Pre-Production: An Interview with Good Clothing Company

If you’ve been around these parts for awhile, you know that I’m a big fan of Kathryn Hilderbrand, who is the owner of Good Clothing Company, a cut and sew manufacturer in Massachusetts.

From tailor to designer to full-scale manufacturer, Kathryn has seen more parts of the apparel industry than most people. She is an expert in her field and today she is bringing that knowledge to Factory45.

Following up from the last interview I did with Mindy Martell of Clothier Design Source, my interview with Kathryn goes more in depth to focus on only one piece of the apparel production puzzle.

In this 15-minute interview, Kathryn and I discuss:

  • Why it’s so important to know that a home-sewing pattern and production-ready pattern are not the same thing.
  • What an entrepreneur needs to have ready to begin the pattern-making process.
  • Why patternmaking is so important to the pre-production phase.
  • How each step of the patternmaking process work.
  • What an entrepreneur can do to ensure the patternmaking process goes as smoothly as possible.
  • Why you shouldn’t expect the very first pattern to come out perfect.
  • The importance of fit and specs.
  • And much more.

Click the video below to watch the whole interview.


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3 Podcasts for Sustainable Fashion & Startup Inspiration

Has anyone else jumped on the podcast train? I can’t seem to get enough of them.

I’ve shared before that podcasts have been apart of my morning routine since 2014. It’s usually the first thing I do when my alarm goes off.

Recently, though, I’ve had the opportunity to get in front of the microphone myself. So today, I wanted to share three different interviews I’ve done (about three different topics) in case you’re like me, and are constantly looking for more content to tune into:

The Creative Giant Show: How to Sew Business Success in the Fashion Industry with Sustainable Apparel Strategist Shannon Whitehead.

I connected with host Charlie Gilkey back in 2010 when I was just starting to explore the world of entrepreneurship. And I was recently invited on his podcast to talk about:

  • Why I decided to start a sustainable apparel company, despite the risks involved.
  • Which challenges to consider if you’re thinking about starting a clothing company.
  • Which business trends are disrupting the fashion industry.

>> Listen here 

Conscious Chatter: Made in the USA

I mentioned this new podcast in my blog post from last week — it was started by my friend Kestrel Jenkins who has been in the sustainable fashion industry for years. Our interview focuses on “Made in the USA” and Kestrel and I discuss:

  • How outsourcing affected the U.S. economy after NAFTA was signed.
  • Why localized manufacturing is important for every country.
  • How the movement is growing because of small, independent brands.

>> Listen here

Bootstrapping It: Creating an Online Accelerator Program for Apparel Startups with Shannon Whitehead, Founder of Factory45

Host Vince Carter interviews entrepreneurs who are bootstrapping their companies rather than trying to raise VC funding. So, of course, we had a lot to talk about. In the interview, we cover:

  • Why you should be honest with yourself about your business ambitions.
  • How to use Kickstarter and pre-sales to fund your business startup.
  • How to strategize so that you spend your startup funds on the right resources.

>> Listen here

Enjoy!

 

 

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