How to Start Your Own Fashion Mastermind Group

Raise your hand if you’ve been given this advice:

Build a community.

Network, network, network.

Success is about who you know.

We’ve probably all heard at least one of those mantras at some point in our lives.

And while I agree with them, there is one piece of advice that’s missing:

Find your inner circle.

I don’t mean it in a Regina George kinda way, I mean a few key people who you can go to about your business.

Your entrepreneurial peers, if you will.

Because let’s face it, your mom or boyfriend aren’t always going to get it.

And as someone who has been in the game for a while (experiencing entrepreneurship with both a co-founder and without), I can confidently say this:

You have to get out of your head.

When we run our own businesses it’s easy to think that the sun rises and sets on it. We get so caught up in the day-to-day grind of keeping things afloat that we often forget to come up for air.

And that’s where your “inner circle” comes in.

About six months ago, I started a “mastermind” group with Lorraine Sanders of Spirit of 608 and Nicole Giordano of StartUp FASHION.

We meet once a month to discuss our businesses — what’s going well, what’s been challenging, new tools and resources we’re using, people we’ve connected with, etc.

And tomorrow (Thursday, 4/27), we’re going to show you how to start your own.

fashion mastermind

But, here’s the deal. This is not like a normal webinar where you sit and watch slides — and it’s not even like Factory45 LIVE when I interview people on camera.

This is a live example of how we (Lorraine, Nicole and I) run our own mastermind. So, basically, we’ll be having a candid conversation – discussing different topics – as a live example of how you can create your own.

And we’ll walk you through how to apply it.

This will be totally unscripted and will give you a first-hand look inside our businesses.

So.

If you’ve ever wondered what we talk about behind the scenes, how we support each other and why creating an “inner circle” is a business’ best kept secret, then this is your chance to join us.

There are 100 spots available on a first come, first serve basis and there will not – I repeat, will not – be a recording!

Please only register if you know you can join us live.

This is all happening tomorrow (Thursday), 4/27 at 3:30pm EST / 12:30pm PST.

Register to attend LIVE here.

And don’t worry, you won’t be on camera, but you will be able to ask questions — so bring them : )

Hope to see you there LIVE (no recording) tomorrow!

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

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

 


factory45, instagram hacks, instagram, social media, marketing, hack

4 Instagram Hacks You (Probably) Didn’t Know

By the time we thought to take a picture, the sun had already set and we were saying our goodbyes.

“Let’s just take a photo real quick for Instagram,” Nicole said as we were walking down the steps of the restaurant.

We selfie’d like the best of ‘em and looked at it.

“Ugh,” was the simultaneous reaction.

“Why didn’t we think to do this earlier when our only light wasn’t a neon beer sign?”

After six years of online friendship, I had met Nicole (the founder of StartUp FASHION) for the first time in “real life.”

And like any good online business owners, we wanted documentation of it to share with our overlapping audiences.

I’m not ashamed — okay, I’m a little ashamed — to say we tried a few more times and never got the shot.

As we went our separate ways, we chalked up our lack of social media fodder to “living in the moment” and promised ourselves we’d get a good photo the next time we were in the same city.

I will be the first to admit, I am not good about remembering to take photos.

Despite living in a time when Instagram is the #1 most influential social media platform for online businesses, I am not as snap-happy as I should be.

Most weekends I leave my phone at home when I go out and if I’m experiencing something I really want to remember, then I usually don’t want to interrupt it by taking out my device.

Depending on what side of the Millennial line you are on, this is something you can either relate to — or not relate to at all.

Regardless of where you fall, there are several hacks I’ve learned over the years that have helped immensely in growing a 10,000+ Instagram following without letting it take over my life.

And that’s what I want to share with you today:

1.) Color palette.

When you click on your Instagram profile, the gallery of photos underneath your name and website should act as a storyboard for your brand. It should look polished, thoughtful and representative of what your company is and the aesthetic you want it to convey.

The first step in creating this storyboard is to come up with a color palette for the photos you share.

Do you only post black and white pictures? Do all of your images have a white border around them? Do you increase the saturation, so all of your pictures are bold and bright?

Choosing a color palette not only makes your Instagram grid look better, but it helps save time and energy when you’re deciding which photos to shoot, share and curate.

factory45, instagram, instagram hacks, social media, marketing, hacks

2.) Planoly.

There are a bunch of apps out there, but this is the one I’ve been using for over a year and it’s changed how I use Instagram for my business.

Planoly allows you to upload the photos you’ve taken on your camera roll and drag them into different layouts that represent your Instagram grid. This lets you see exactly how it’s going to look on your account when the photos are published.

You can also write all of your captions in advance and schedule the photo for the time you want it to publish.

Planoly has made it so much easier to plan a thoughtful editorial calendar, and I can save it for when I’m doing something mindless like sitting on the train or watching TV.

3.) Forget “Instant.”

When Instagram Stories was released it created a whole new level of anxiety for me. If you’re trying to live in the moment, then IG Stories is basically your worst nightmare.

I remember being at a pop-up shop in Boston when I decided to make one of my first IG Stories and it took FOREVER. I was sitting there, taking so much time with the filters… and the emojis… and the captions… that I was missing out on actually meeting the makers and walking around the venue.

Out of everything I’ve learned, this is the hack that really saved my Instagram sanity:

I discovered that I could shoot photos and video footage on my phone and upload them to Instagram Stories later when I had some time to do it thoughtfully.

If you didn’t know this tip, then you can try it right now. Go ahead and take a few photos or video on your camera roll wherever you are reading this.

After you do that, head over to Instagram and click on the Instagram Stories icon at the top left corner of your screen. Once the camera comes up, place your finger on the middle of the screen and drag it up.

You should see all of the photos and videos you’ve taken from the last 24 hours at the bottom. And you can upload any of them into your “Story.”

(The catch here is that you have to create the Story within 24 hours of taking the photos or footage, otherwise they won’t appear as an option for sharing.)

factory45, instagram, instagram hacks, social media, marketing, hack

4.) Curate.

My Instagram gallery is about 75% curated photos. In other words, I take screenshots of other people’s photos and share them with my own caption and give photo credit.

This works for me because so much of my brand message is about highlighting the entrepreneurs who are part of Factory45. I regularly share updates about the Factory45’ers who are launching new products, running Kickstarter campaigns or simply creating beautiful images.

It can also work for you if you don’t have time to take all of your own photos or if you’re not confident in your photography skills.

The best part about sharing other people’s photos is that it promotes goodwill and new business relationships if done right. By genuinely supporting someone else’s brand or giving them a shout-out, you’re putting yourself on their radar and they’re likely to return the favor.

The key here is to make your caption for the image about *them* (don’t try to pass off their photo as your own workspace, cup of coffee or bouquet of flowers) and don’t forget to give photo credit by tagging their Instagram account.

I get it. It can be super overwhelming to use social media for building your audience and brand awareness.

But even more than the hacks or tips and tricks, the absolute best thing you can do is to just start and stay consistent.

Perfection paralysis has no place in the ever-changing world of social media, so don’t let it stop you.

If you read last week’s post, then you know no one is even paying attention yet anyway ; )

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


factory45 instagram, sustainable fashion, marketing, social media

immersion marketing, startup fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable fashion

The New “Immersion” Marketing & What It Means for Your Fashion Brand

“There’s another one!”

My husband and I had been driving along the steep winding curves on the Road to Hana for more than 30 minutes.

“Man, they have this part of the island on lockdown.”

Every 100 yards, it was like a dose of deja vu.

“This has to be the 15th one we’ve seen!”

By this point, it had almost become a game of “I Spy,” distracting us from the stunning Maui scenery that we should have been looking at.

And then, just as we approached the final turnoff to Koki Beach, we see the last one:

“HULI HULI CHICKEN… Just Ahead!”

I look over at my husband, “It almost makes me want to go…”

He looks back: “Shan, we don’t even eat meat.”

huli huli chicken, immersion marketing

And so started my obsession with the marketing tactics of Huli Huli Chicken, a beach-front, plastic-table-clothed, open-grille, open-air shack that makes “the best huli huli chicken in the world.” (According to the rave reviews on Yelp.)

Because here’s the thing:

The strategy that the chicken restaurant uses is pretty much applicable to any other business.

ESPECIALLY a fashion business that you run on the internet.

The 15-25 signs that we saw on a 30ish-minute stretch of road is synonymous to the marketing output you have to produce online.

Because, as Huli Huli Chicken already knows, we live in a time of immersion marketing.

And I don’t say that to mean you need to go out and hire a PR team, a social media manager and an email marketing strategist.

What I mean is that you need to *immerse* your customer in your brand.

It’s not enough anymore to post on Instagram twice a week, send an email to your list once a month and ditch Twitter altogether.

During a time when more marketing messages are competing than ever before, it’s safe to say that your potential customer isn’t even paying attention until you feel like you’re being annoying.

Read that again.

And there’s a big difference in spamming your audience with the same images and text over and over.

That is annoying.

What I mean is that you want to feel like your marketing efforts are overkill.

That you’re going above and beyond to cut through the noise and be a brand that’s worth paying attention to.

How do you think the owner of the chicken shack felt when he was hammering in his twelfth sign and could see another one just a few yards ahead of it?

Overkill? Maybe.

But you don’t get a line of salivating customers, waiting for hot chicken on a hot day, for doing anything less.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Introducing SproutFit: Thoughtfully Designed with Growth Spurts in Mind

This is an interview with Factory45’er Whitney Sokol about the launch of her brand SproutFit. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Whitney is raising money for the production run of her first collection. (She’s already reached her goal but is still taking pre-orders!)

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

Hey there! I’m Whitney, the working mom behind SproutFitAnd as a mom, I can tell you one thing for sure: babies outgrow clothes fast! Every parent experiences those pangs of guilt from wasting time and money buying and replacing adorable clothes (that may, or may not, ever be worn!).  This simple fact inspired me to create a smarter approach to clothing babies.

SproutFit is a size-adjustable, eco-friendly collection of better baby basics — thoughtfully designed with growth spurts in mind, and responsibly cut-and-sewn in America.

Sustainable in both design and fabric composition, our  bodysuits and reversible leggings fit up to a year through growth spurts – 4x longer than most baby clothing brands! These pieces come in two simple sizes: 0-12 months and 12-24 months. Gone are the days of sifting through baby’s closet trying to figure out what fits and what doesn’t, mourning the adorable outfit that never got worn! Also included in the flagship collection is our stylish, functional bandana bib in one-size-fits-all through 24 months, and our essential blanket that works overtime as a swaddle, car seat cover or nursing cover.

Bodysuits, leggings and essential blankets are made from 100% bamboo jersey knit, and the bandana bibs use the same bamboo fabric on the front, with a super-absorbent and anti-microbial recycled polyester fabric on the back.

leggings, bibdana, body suits, children clothing

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

While sustainable fashion has made incredible strides in educating the general public the past 7+ years, being a startup fighting for mindshare proves difficult on a national scale! But, that’s where Kickstarter was a perfect fit. Committed to lifting up the creative entrepreneur, this platform has been a jump off point for countless sustainable brands. There was no question in my mind that SproutFit would have the best chance for success by utilizing Kickstarter.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

I started building my Kickstarter page in October 2016, about 2 months before my F45 class ended. From October to December, December to January, and even from January to mid-February, the scope of my campaign changed as I adapted to the challenges that came with developing the collection. So, my biggest challenge was staying true to my core message, while discerning what I could be flexible on.

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

Factory45 taught me to talk about the campaign well before it launched, and that worked out to be a self-perpetuating motivator! Getting constant emails from moms asking when the collection is launching, and if they could be brand ambassadors with “prototypes, I don’t care, I just want to be the first to rep this brand!” were exciting moments pre-Kickstarter that helped keep me motivated.

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

Building rapport with bloggers/influencers prior to Kickstarter has been great from a credibility and reach standpoint. I’m also glad I took the time to create social media content to align with when interviews, spotlights, and guest blog post were set to go live. I’ve learned that it’s much better to be over prepared and pull back when you need to adjust, versus reacting to every little bump in the road.

I’ve been experimenting with giveaways, so from an ROI standpoint, it’s hard to quantify those right now. But it’s been a blast to tinker with Facebook ads, Google Analytics and the Kickstarter analytics page to see what moves the needle.

children clothing, leggings, ethical fashion

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

Having a supportive tribe early on was key for me. I don’t have a fashion or design background, so my F45 class has been an immeasurable source of support. Beyond support, having the tools to build myself back up when need be has also been crucial. Early on in my corporate career, I built a folder that I store personal and professional “wins” in. Some wins are huge, some are microscopic. Now, that folder is an evolving reminder of where I’ve been and how I’m making a positive impact in my own life, or someone else’s. I’ve even taken screen shots of texts and sent them to that folder!  It may seem a little cheesy, but I’m telling you, it comes in handy when you need to read something positive and re-set. 

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

I love the Mini-Capsule Collection. Just 8 pieces can create 60 unique outfits, truly bringing to life a less-is-more approach for that time in life that desperately needs simplification. Parenthood is taxing enough without sitting in a closet sifting through baby’s clothes kicking yourself for buying too much in one size and not enough in another.

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

Don’t take the planning part lightly! Bounce 10 versions off a trusted group of people in your target market before hitting that submit button.


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

 

video shoot, fashion video shoot, tips, startup advice

A Filmmaker’s “Do’s & Don’ts” of a Fashion Video Shoot

Last week, I spent a whirlwind 14-hour day with the film team behind Falcon Related to reshoot 25 videos for the Factory45 program.

We had five sets, hair and makeup, and four people working within a 800 sq. ft. space. I’ve done a bunch of shoots over the years and although this was our most ambitious, it was the most professional and well organized — by far.

So, naturally, it got me thinking about why this shoot was so much smoother than the others and what observations I can pass along to all of you.

If you’re planning a video shoot for your fashion brand in the future — whether it’s a Kickstarter video, a lookbook shoot, a commercial or even a YouTube series — then read on.

I’ve asked Kestrel and Drew of Falcon Related to join me in sharing their best “Do’s and Don’ts” of a successful fashion shoot.

SHANNON

DO:

  • Include a teleprompter in your equipment list. If you’re shooting a video that requires you to talk directly to the camera, then it’s absolutely worth asking your film team to include a teleprompter with their rental equipment. It can be as simple as an iPad with a reflective screen and there are tons of teleprompter apps you can download. This one trick has saved me HOURS — if not days — and will make the delivery of your script 100% better than it would if you tried to memorize, look at cue cards or ad-lib.
  • Create a timeline for the day. Your shoot is going to take longer than you plan for — that’s pretty much guaranteed. But you should absolutely create a timeline for the day so you at least have benchmarks to keep you on schedule. If you’re shooting outside, then you’ll need to know what time the sun sets. Our shoot went four hours over our timeline, but we didn’t need natural light. Make sure you have a backup plan if things run long and give yourself a buffer in the schedule.
  • Have snacks & arrange for lunch. My blood sugar crashed way before we were set to break for lunch. Luckily, I had planned ahead and bought healthy snacks the night before. You’ll want to make sure you do everything possible to keep your energy up — and even more importantly, the energy of your crew, models and team. Avoid salty foods or snacks with processed sugar that will cause high’s and low’s. We had nuts, raspberries, bananas, yogurt-covered raisins and dried mango and it kept everyone going until lunch. And yes, if you’re on location you’ll want to arrange for lunch to be delivered before the break that you’ve scheduled on your timeline.

DON’T:

  • Skimp for the cheapest option. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Of course there are the rare occasions when a novice can create a beautiful video, but that’s typically not the case. Depending on the depth of the project, you should expect to pay between $3-5K to hire a film team that knows what it’s doing. More than the price tag on the project, though, don’t…
  • Hire someone without seeing their past work. This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you when it comes to finding and hiring your team. A professional filmmaker should have a portfolio or reel, as well as an Instagram feed where you can get a taste of their past work. Everyone has different styles and you need to find the film team that aligns with the style of your brand.

KESTREL & DREW

DO:

  • Create a shot list. This helps both sides (video team and designer/brand) understand what absolutely needs to be accomplished during the shoot. While it’s always fun to stray and embrace the creativity of the moment, the shot list serves as a great guide to help you get the most out of your shoot.
  • Have patience. Preparing for each shot isn’t going to happen in five minutes. There are many factors involved beyond the camera and the photographer. From the lighting and gear to the framing and audio, these individual components don’t come together without time, orientation to detail, and teamwork.
  • Keep communicating. After production day, the editing begins. As a designer/brand, it’s important to have a clear vision for your end product before the editor gets to work. Being able to communicate how you envision your video appearing will really help bring a project together.

DON’T:

  • Go with the cheapest option. You want to create the highest quality product possible, so try to find the best production value, while keeping your budget in mind.
  • Get disorganized with your feedback. When it comes to the details of the editing process, it can get really overwhelming. Organize all your edits and thoughts into one place – a Google doc works great. This allows you to clearly see which edits you’ve shared with the editor, and allows the editor to “cross out” your edits once they’ve been addressed. Maintaining this clear back and forth allows the final product to come to fruition faster.

To learn more about Falcon Related’s work, go here. You may recognize some past Factory45’ers : )

 

 


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.

 

 

How to Change the Power of Your Thoughts to Better Your Business

“You’re going to fail.”

“You’ve got this.”

“You can’t pull that off.”

“You are fully capable.”

“Nobody cares what you have to say.”

“Your voice matters.”

And back and forth it goes…

It’s the see-saw in your brain that teeters from thought to thought.

It’s why, in the blink of an eye, you can go from feeling GREAT to being on the floor in the fetal position.

As entrepreneurs, we are all too familiar with the monkey mindgame.

“This is the idea! We are going to making MILLIONS!”

… five minutes later …

“There’s already another company doing this?! FML!!!!!”

The bad news is: this mindgame is probably never going to fully go away. (Unless you become a perfect Buddhist or super Zen master or something.)

The good news is: you can become better at managing it so that your thoughts don’t derail you.

And on that note, I’d like you to meet Herschel and Alice.

Herschel is a pain in the you-know-what. He’s a huge worry-wart, always has his panties in a bunch and can never seem to relaaaaax.

He’s the voice in my head that’s constantly concerned with whether my ideas are good enough or if I’m going to fail. I know that deep down he’s just trying to protect me, but he can come across as really negative and very annoying.

Alice, on the other hand, could win awards for Miss Congeniality. She’s calm, soothing and never let’s anything bother her. She knows that everything will work out, and she believes in me. She’s the most supportive cheerleader who ever existed — without the pom-poms.

At the risk of sounding like I’m schizophrenic, Herschel and Alice have gotten me through nearly a decade of entrepreneurship.

When I was first starting out I was… in a word… dramatic.

Things bothered me easily, every obstacle seemed like the end of the world, and I dwelled over the bad things far more than I celebrated the good things.

And then, about four years in, I did something that drastically changed the power of my thoughts.

I named them.

Instead of tying the negative thoughts to my self-worth, I started recognizing them as a worried friend who was simply looking out for me.

When I thought about falling on my face or screwing something up I was able to say:

“Hey Herschel, thanks for looking out for me, buddy, but I’ve got this. Don’t worry so much.”

And then Alice could chime in and take over the conversation.

By shifting to this perspective, it can do two things for you:

1. It creates distance between you and your negative thoughts. We are what we think, and when we’re able to separate the toxic thoughts from how we view ourselves, then we are that much closer to a more positive and healthier life and business.

2. It ends the negative spiral faster. As soon as you feel yourself going towards the sink hole of self doubt, you can think to yourself, “What would Alice say?” (or whatever you name your cheerleader.)

Because the thing is, if you want to be an entrepreneur then you have to get Herschel under control.

Failing to do so means you’ll never take risks, you’ll question every decision you make and worst of all — you won’t enjoy the journey.

Your thoughts will hold you back if you let them and if we look back in history —

Nothing truly great was ever created from fear.

 

 

 

 

This post was inspired by my friend and former business coach Amber Rae.

 


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The (Not-So) Secret Weapon for Every Startup Fashion Brand

“Which did you prefer….

Having a business partner or not having one?”

This question often comes up when I’m working with new entrepreneurs, because I’m in the uncommon position of having experienced both.

My first company, a sustainable clothing line, was my first taste of entrepreneurship and I worked with a co-founder for two years.

My current company, Factory45, is a business I started on my own as a “solopreneur.”

Of course there are pros and cons to both scenarios. (And for the record, I loved having a business partner.)

When you have a partner you only have half the workload.

When you’re solo you have all of the control.

When you have a partner you have someone to celebrate the wins and falls with.

When you’re solo you aren’t responsible to anyone else.

I could probably list out 50 other reasons to advocate for both, but there is one pro of having a business partner that takes the cake above all else.

And it’s this:

Accountability.

When you start a business with another person it’s a lot harder to give up.

For all the ways that having autonomy as a solopreneur is great, there is an intangible X factor that comes from having someone in the trenches with you.

Having said that, working with a business partner isn’t a natural fit for everyone. It takes a very special partnership to be able to work through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship together.

If you don’t have a business partner or if you don’t see one in your future, then my suggestion is to surround yourself with some sort of community.

Ever since I decided four years ago to start a business on my own, I’ve hired coaches, taken online programs and joined “mastermind” groups, knowing that I needed other people around to cheer me on.

It wasn’t enough to simply say, “I’m starting a business. See you in three years when I pull myself out of the hole in my home office.”

The entrepreneurs who have come through Factory45 will be the first to tell you how invaluable their peers have been in the infancy of their businesses.

Community is, quite simply, everything.

So, how do you go about finding it? Here are a few options:

  • My top recommendation is the online community at Startup FASHION. I’ve introduced you before to my friend Nicole (you may recall the interview I did with her here) — and she has created a global network of startup designers.

As I tell my Factory45’ers, joining Startup FASHION is the next natural step after graduating from Factory45, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is beyond “idea or early stage” of starting their line. Enrollment is opened for this week here and is super affordable for budget-conscious entrepreneurs. (Update: enrollment is now closed.)

  • Check out your local incubator, accelerator or co-working hub. The fashion hotspots like LA and NYC will have multiple options but you’ll be surprised by what you can find in cities like Boston, San Francisco, Austin and Raleigh. If you’re the type of person who craves personal connections in a physical space, then simply co-working with a few fellow entrepreneurs can do the trick.
  • Join an online program that offers personal mentorship and a community component. While there are many online programs out there, not all are created equal. Identify whether having a community is important to you and seek out the programs and courses that include that personal connection. (On that note: we have set an official open applications date for the 2017 program of Factory45: mark your calendars for May 17th.)

And if you’re the type of person who can work by themselves for hours on end, then more power to you. Keep doing what you’re doing — just remember to come out of the hole every once in awhile ; )

 

 


5 Reflections from Working with Over 100 Fashion Startups

On Friday, we wrapped up the final day of the Factory45 2016 program. (A special shout-out and congratulations to this year’s entrepreneurs.)

Last week marked 2.5 years since Factory45 started and the ‘graduation’ of my fourth cohort of ‘Factory45’ers.’

As many of us do this time of year, I’ve been reflecting on the conclusion of this chapter. And today I want to share the five main takeaways that I’ve observed from working with over 100 entrepreneurs in the past 2 years:

1. You are capable of more than you think.

In the first month of Factory45 my entrepreneurs start by sourcing fabric and materials. It’s the part of the process that takes the longest, and it can often require the entire six months of the program to find the perfect fabric.

Anyone who has tried sourcing before knows that not only does it take time, but it can be very frustrating. Many of my entrepreneurs are hesitant to reach out to suppliers out of sheer fear of the unknown.

And then a light switches on.

By the middle of the program, they’re giving each other tips, sharing leads on materials they’ve found, and offering advice about how to connect with an extra busy supplier.

Like anything new, it takes practice to become a pro. But you’re capable of more than you think you are.

And if you give it a chance, it will happen quicker than you expect it to.


2. Attitude is the number one indication of success.

On the final day of Factory45 this year, I sent an email to my entrepreneurs that began as follows:

Yesterday I was watching a video, explaining a method of thinking for entrepreneurs called the ‘Ow’ or ‘Wow’ Brain.

The psychologist was sharing research that found that the success of an entrepreneur isn’t about talent or starting capital or socioeconomic background or looks or knowledge.

It’s about attitude.

The entrepreneurs who are successful are the ones who look at their progress in terms of how far they’ve come rather than how far they have to go.

You could sum this up as the ‘half glass full’ philosophy.

I’ve done a lot of research about what makes some people ‘successful’ and what makes others stall out and falter. And it almost always comes down to attitude.

Successful entrepreneurs not only know they can do it, but they aren’t afraid of overcoming obstacles along the way.

3. Time can either be your friend or your foe.

We all start out with 24 hours in a day. It’s our job to decide what we’re going to do with those hours.

There’s a theory that a task will take you as much time as you allow it to. So if you say you’re going to launch in three months it will take you those entire three months. If you say you’ll launch in one year, then the study says you’ll stretch out that same launch to take you the full year.

It’s normal as an entrepreneur to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but it’s the levelest playing field we have with our competition. The entrepreneurs who are able to get time on their side, are the ones who set hard deadlines and stick to them.

4. Start before you’re ready.

I’ve shared before that this is my single best piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to launch their own clothing brands.

While some of the entrepreneurs I worked with this year had already been pursuing their businesses before they joined Factory45, the vast majority came through the program with just an idea.

When you start before you’re ready you initiate forward momentum. The feeling of moving forward little by little is what protects ideas from vanishing into thin air.

If you have an idea that you truly believe in, then you can increase its chances of survival by simply making the commitment to start.

5. Entrepreneurship is a battle between the heart and the mind.

Your mind will come up with as many excuses as it can to stop you from pursuing something it perceives as ‘risky.’ If you let it, the rational mind can easily overthrow the aspirational heart.

Our hearts are what keep us moving forward on an idea that the mind tells us is nothing more than a pipedream. Knowing and expecting that, you are better prepared for an ongoing battle.

Instead of letting the mind inhibit you from taking risks, reframe the fear. Recognize that the mind is just trying to protect you, but the part of your brain that initiates ‘fear-based thinking’ doesn’t have the last say.

Allow your heart to say, “I hear you. Thank you for trying to protect me, but I’ve got this.”

The more you practice this back and forth dialogue, you’ll find that the fear-talk in the mind starts to weaken. You’ll hear it less frequently and then it simply becomes…

A matter of the heart.

 

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