What is your product(s)?
We make products that make women’s lives easier. Our first product, The Leona Tote, transitions easily between a tote and a backpack.
I started GTFO for several reasons. I’m a designer and a maker and I wanted to create intentionally-designed products that hopefully improved and simplified the lives of those who use them. I was also horrified at how fast fashion promoted deplorable wage practices and contributed significantly to the degradation of the planet. I saw an opportunity to join a growing number of small companies combatting these issues and build a company that acted responsibly in the world.
These are our commitments thus far:
1. Fair Wages: Everything is made either in house or with production partners in Los Angeles who pay their employees from minimum wage up to 30% above minimum wage. It’s not ideal, but it’s a start.
2. Sustainability: We use materials that are sustainable. So far, these materials include:
• Waxed canvas (that does not use environmentally-damaging fluoropolymers or formaldehyde)
• Dead stock
3. Engagement: As a woman-owned business, 5% of all profits will go to support organizations that empower women. The first production run supported Emily’s List, which aims to help Pro-Choice, Democratic women get elected to office.
Where were you with your idea or business before joining Factory45?
I had developed a series of prototypes and attended a fabric trade show in LA. It was pretty daunting, to be honest. I had developed products before, but not within the textile industry and found working with sew shops and factories very different than working with metal/wood/etc fabrication shops.
I originally joined because I felt a little all over the place and alone (since I was doing this on my own) and thought having outside guidance would help me focus.
How did joining Factory45 help you?
I learned so much about how the industry works. I learned more about materials, what to ask when talking to factories, and how to approach press. Fundamentally though, joining Factory45 really helped me organize myself. It was critical in helping me find a clear path to launch and the variety of ways in which I could launch. And, I think the network that I’m building through my Factory45 peers and the opportunities to partner with those peers is only going to grow as time goes on.
In your opinion, what is the most valuable thing about Factory45?
So many things were valuable! I loved being partnered with someone. It was great to have someone to bounce ideas off of and keep each other in check. The content was great and organized in a way that made it manageable. I didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. And, having access to Shannon was critical. I knew I could trust her to provide insightful help in a calm and direct way. It is definitely helpful when you’re panicking on your way to a meeting with a potential factory partner and you frantically email last minute questions! And, the Facebook group has been an enormously helpful resource as well. It’s a great place to share ideas and gain inspiration.
Please describe your business after Factory45.
I found production partners after and started going through that process, which was a big deal for me. Through Factory45, I gained the confidence to talk to them about what I was specifically looking for (ethical practices, sustainability, etc). And, I launched!! I sold out my first production run and am heading into Year 2 with new products in the pipeline and a path towards growth.