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.

Shannon Lohr Founder of Factory45

Welcome to Factory45

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


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 three 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 will reopen in 2018. While you wait, get free startup advice sent to your inbox weekly. Subscribe here.

factory45 owner shannon

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 seven years and I’ve created the program I would have wanted when I was first starting out.

Take a Tour of Factory45

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

take a tour of factory45's online course

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.


Factory45 is made up of five online modules released over four months, 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. You can also watch video tour of it here.



Effectively research and source the fabric and materials you need to create your apparel product or clothing line.

  • Connections to a database of over 100 U.S. suppliers who sell sustainable fabrics.
  • Strategies to contact these suppliers, including exact scripts outlining what to say (and what not to say), so that you can build relationships and start confidently sourcing the materials you need.
  • An in-depth understanding of sewn manufacturing, how it works, what you need to know to avoid mistakes and how to efficiently source for production.
  • An overview of sustainability so you’ll have a clear understanding of what makes a fabric “sustainable” and whether it’s the right fit for your product.
  • A materials inventory template so you’ll know exactly what fabric and materials you need to go into production.


Brand Identity

Identify who your ideal customer is, how to effectively communicate what you sell and learn proven strategies that will get a potential customer’s attention.

  • An understanding of smart business principles that will keep you “lean” and out of debt.
  • A complete brand strategy that speaks directly to your target market and represents the visual essence of your company.
  • A pre-launch strategy that generates customer leads to create ‘early adopters’ of your product.
  • Implementation of the #1 most effective marketing tactic for an e-commerce product launch.
  • A “traffic engine” that will turn interested customers into repeat customers over time.



Connect with top industry designers, samplemakers, patternmakers and sew shops that will help you turn your ideas into prototypes and patterns.

  • Connections to dozens of vetted pattern/samplemakers across the U.S. who will work with you to create a production-ready pattern and prototype.
  • Training on how to create a professional spec sheet.
  • Guidance and resources for navigating the sewn manufacturing industry as an outsider.
  • Connections to dozens of production partners in the U.S. who will happily work with low minimums.
  • A cost and budget analysis so you’ll know how much capital you’ll need to go into production.
  • A database of resources for sustainable packaging, hangtags and labels.


Ecommerce Marketing

Ensure that you’ll have buzz around your product launch. You can’t launch to crickets, so you need to learn how to build an audience before you start selling.

  • A tried-and-true content marketing strategy that generates customer leads.
  • A media strategy for reaching out to press outlets so you can launch your product with buzz.
  • New social media tactics to connect with your target market and turn them into “early adopters.”
  • Implementation of my top 10 proven launch strategies and how to leverage them for your product.
  • The marketing strategies you should actually focus on, so you don’t waste time and energy on what doesn’t work.


Preparing for Launch

Conceptualize your product and test the market through crowdfunding and pre-sales. See first-hand how your target market responds to your product and if it makes financial sense to begin manufacturing.

  • A complete plan-of-attack for launching a successful crowdfunding campaign that will fund your first production run.
  • Direction in creating your video, profile page, rewards system, campaign timeline, and goal amount.
  • The insider secrets to creating a successful crowdfunding campaign that most people don’t know.
  • Connections to a database of over a hundred media and press contacts who love covering new products and stories of entrepreneurs.
  • An exit plan for going into production without the headache, hassle or stress of not knowing what to do next.


Additional resources that are included in the program.

Daily Office Hours
with Shannon

Alumni Access

Recorded Interviews



Personal Consulting
for 6 Months

Group Calls

Two Bonus
Implementation Months

Hear from Factory45 Alumni

“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

"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

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

"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

"I've been live now for 3 weeks and I just hit $15K in revenue. I am so excited I just had to share, and more importantly say thank you. You and Factory45 gave me the community and the courage to remain committed to my values."


Samantha Dunn,
Founder of Exactly This

"At the time I found Factory45, I was stuck and frustrated not knowing what to do next with my business. I felt like I got it as far as I could on my own. With Shannon’s help, resources, and support from the Factory45 community, I regained my purpose and motivation."


Alyssa Bird
Founder of Regenerous Designs

"Without a fashion class, sewing machine, or fashion blog experience up my sleeve I seemed like the last person that should be starting a clothing company. Thanks to Factory45 though, I was given all the necessary tools and support to hit the ground running. Shannon has created a program that has proven to work time and time again. She guides you through each step of the process in a way that is easy to understand and she leaves no doubt about what actions you need take in order to succeed.”


Megan Harrell
Co-founder of Thom Kelly

“I come from a design, branding, and product development background. However, trying to get my own product off the ground, on my own, and in an industry in which I had zero experience was utterly overwhelming.

Shannon, the Factory45 program, and my cohort, gave me the knowledge, organizational support, and encouragement that I needed to stay motivated and on track. It was absolutely the best business decision I made in starting my company.”


Ashley Hetrick
Founder of GTFO

When I started Factory45, I was several years deep into trying to start my own line. I had a fashion design degree from Parsons, and had a pretty good vision of what I wanted to create, but was completely clueless when it came to actually starting a business on my own...

I would, without a doubt, still be stuck in that stage if not for joining Factory45. The program, along with Shannon’s incredible mentorship and the support of the group, has given me the confidence and the education I needed..."


Kendall Wilson
Founder of Vesta


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.

Watch Now

Factory45 Alumni Have Appeared In

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

Applications to Factory45 are now closed and will reopen in 2018.

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

Not from the U.S. or Canada? I've got something coming for you... Find out more here.

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 faster - and waste less money - than taking the solo road.

Find fabric suppliers who sell minimums that you can afford.

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.

Create a budget, cost analysis and financial projections for your first production run.

Create a marketing strategy to
attract eager customers for your launch.

Raise money to fund production
without giving up equity or royalties*.

*You’ll also be able to make back what you invested in Factory45

Factory45 Will Answer Questions Like...

How do I know
if I can trust a supplier
or manufacturer?

How do I know which fabric and materials I need and where do I find them?

How much should I really be paying my samplemaker?

How much money
do I need to go
into production?

How do I ensure that I have customers to sell to when I'm ready to launch?

How do I get my company noticed by the media & industry influencers?

Applications to Factory45 are now closed.

Get on the list to be notified when applications open in 2018.

Not from the U.S. or Canada? I've got something coming for you... Find out more here.

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

With Factory45

you will have everything you need
to launch your company

A personal consultant
and mentor

A crystal clear
launch strategy

A supply chain
in the U.S.

Money to
fund production

The Investment


per month for six months

Five in-depth modules

A support network of entrepreneurial peers

Expert mentorship

Connections across the sustainable apparel industry

Lifetime access to the program after it ends

Applications to Factory45 are now closed. Get on the list to be notified when applications open in 2018.

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.

Do you take equity?

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

Is Factory45 right for me?

Alumni Stories

Read what past entrepreneurs are saying about Factory45 here.


Get answers to some of your other questions in the FAQ here.