What are the biggest benefits of being accepted into Factory45?
The resources: While it takes most people months or even years to break through with suppliers and manufacturers, Factory45 gives you the keys to the car. You will get access to the contact information of sustainable fabric suppliers and potential production partners, as well as training and direction on how to connect with them effectively. Anyone who has spent time trying to source fabric or find domestic manufacturing knows how difficult can it be. Factory45 is the fast track.
The community: You will be surrounded by fellow entrepreneurs who are struggling through the same challenges as you are. Some of you will be more seasoned and will be valuable resources for those of you just starting out. On the flip side, the newbies will provide a breath of fresh air and bring in skills from outside the industry. When it comes time to launch your business to the world, you will already have a network of like-minded companies ready to support you and help you spread the word.
The mentorship: I will be there every step of the way to guide, consult and advise you. We will have daily online office hours and bi-weekly group calls so we can get down to the core of your biggest challenges. Unlike traditional online courses, that provide the content but don’t provide individual support, I’m as hands-on with your business as you want me to be.
The experts: Throughout the program, you’ll get access to high-level interviews with experts of varying skillsets. All interviews are pre-recorded so you can go back and watch them as many times as you need to. Whether it’s advice on small-run production or marketing tips or sourcing advice, you will have access to some of the leading designers, marketing gurus and manufacturers in the sustainable fashion industry.
The journey: You can do this alone or you can have help. Everyone is perfectly capable of trudging forward solo, but as research shows, humans perform better in groups. Entrepreneurship is lonely at times, and I know I would have loved to have killed for a program and network like this when I was first starting out. The startup journey can be a lot less daunting and intimidating, depending on the path you choose to take.
Why did you start Factory45?
Big picture? It’s my personal way of combatting fast fashion. I truly believe that the local, independent designer has a place in this industry that can compete above and beyond the cheap and disposable goods that big corporations churn out.
If I can help small companies launch and succeed, then I believe fewer people will be shopping at stores like H&M and Forever21.
Smaller picture? I realized there is a hole to fill in the education of consumer goods companies. As someone who has started a successful “fashion company,” without having a real fashion background, I have experienced the lessons of bootstrapping firsthand. I’m determined to teach Factory45’ers how to start companies without going into debt. I know there’s a way to do this without giving away equity or royalties or spending thousands of dollars on fashion school. So I feel called to extend that knowledge I’ve acquired.
And then there’s the Made in the USA and sustainability factors. We can change the trajectory of our local economies if we say “no” to offshoring. Local manufacturing can employ an entire demographic of people who will then pump money back into the economy — and the positive results of the trickle down effect cannot be underestimated. Similarly, using environmentally-friendly fabrics and materials can directly improve our water systems, farming land, rainforests, landfills, and so much else. I believe businesses can be inherently good and benefit everyone involved.
How is Factory45 different from other fashion accelerators?
Most fashion programs don’t get into the details of business. They focus primarily on grading, flat sketching and other manual skills, but place little emphasis on how to market, brand and sell. What good is creating a product or collection if you don’t know how to get it in front of your customer and sell it? Factory45 is all about starting lean, testing the product at market, and going into production with money in the bank.
Most importantly, there is no other fashion accelerator out there that will connect you with only sustainable fabrics and fully commit to “made in the USA.”
I’m still not sure if I’m the right fit – can you tell me more about the ideal Factory45 applicant.
You may have a product that has already had some success, but you want to scale production (for example, someone with an Etsy store) or maybe you only have an idea right now. Whichever phase you’re in, the ideal candidate is, first and foremost, ambitious, hardworking and persistent. You have a general positive attitude and are not easily defeated when challenges arise.
Factory45 is all about being receptive to the resources, community, mentorship and guidance available no matter where you are in your business. If you’re 100 percent committed to fully showing up, then you’re an ideal applicant.
Do I need to have a fashion background or already know how to make samples and patterns?
Nope! We leave that stuff to the experts. The purpose of Factory45 is to set you up with the people who are trained in sample-making, pattern-making and sewing, so you can focus on the business side of your product. If you are still in the early stages of development, you will be connected with some of the best in the industry to complete these first steps.