What is your product(s)?
We make a line of what I like to call “dark minimalist” clothing; a lot of black and dark colors in angular cuts suited for folks who like an edgier look. We emphasize sustainable fabrics, ethical production practices, and minimizing material waste, so I rely heavily on Tencel blends and deadstock sources to keep us low impact.
In terms of design approach, I really try to think in a modular, “capsule collection” kind of way to create pieces that can be styled together in many combinations. I also try to aim for an aesthetic that’s very wearable and comfortable day-to-day, but stands out just enough to be a uniquely “Trued” piece. So far we’ve done a good number of longline tunics, tops and boleros/ shrugs, some dresses and a jacket. Customers have been wearing them in interesting combinations, and I love to see how people get creative styling Trued pieces.
Where were you with your idea or business before joining Factory45?
At some point I realized that I had enough drive and enthusiasm behind this desire to design garments and build a business around it, and that I needed to learn the ropes, fast. I was seriously starting from zero on that front. I had general marketing and business knowhow, being a marketer by profession and having recently gotten an MBA, but I knew nothing about fashion design or the fashion industry. I am trained in fine art so I have an eye for design and can do my own sketches, but I really needed help with the industry side of things, and the specific steps I’d need to take to launch my business. Factory45 totally delivered!
How did joining Factory45 help you?
The two main ways the program helped me was through 1) knowledge and 2) community. It gave me knowledge on the process of design through production and sales in the fashion industry — that I expected. But what surprised me was the value of having people to talk to. I really underestimated the value of community as a solo entrepreneur working alone, and Factory45 connected me with other people who were going through the same steps and running across the same questions and issues I was. Sharing knowledge with each other, both receiving knowledge from others and sharing your own with someone newer to entrepreneurship, is a great feeling. It’s ok to say you’re nervous or intimidated… it’s a lot to learn! But it’s easier to push past these negative feelings and stay driven if you at least have other folks validating those feelings with you.
In your opinion, what is the most valuable thing about Factory45?
The vetted lists of contacts, from sourcing or production partners to sample makers, was definitely really helpful. But, as mentioned above, the community of folks coming to the industry from a similar perspective, and the ability to empathize with and mentor each other was also extremely valuable. In general, it also just gave me the confidence to get in there and start making those supplier or production connections, and begin building the dream. Specifically, I’m going to give a shoutout here to Marjorie Verschueren of Choix, who has been an incredible resource for me with her knowledge of e-commerce. She redesigned my website!
What were some big or small milestones that you hit after going through Factory45?
Trued Apparel launched in December 2020, and despite having only been live for 5 months now has already developed a loyal customer base, with some folks having bought from us three times or more — just within 5 months! Rave reviews all around. We also have been lucky enough to secure a wholesale partner in Die With Your Boots On, an alternative fashion boutique in Salem, MA (they now also have a webshop). This month, we participated in our first virtual market and were overwhelmed with orders! We also launched our first presale item, and have enough orders to enter production shortly. We were also invited to be a creative partner with The Experience Alchemists, a modern artist’s guild of sorts that collaborates to create unforgettable artistic experiences. We hope to be able to do something for Boston Fashion Week, fingers crossed.
Please describe your business after Factory45.
After Factory45, I found a local pattern and sample maker (listed on one of the contact sheets), who then connected me with small local shops they work with on production. I ordered sample fabric from various suppliers to make my decision on which fabrics to move forward with. I designed about 15 styles based in my favorite fabrics and saw them through production. Meanwhile, I was posting on social media and building my mailing list off of my website landing page developed during Factory45. I started building the bones of my website and had a photoshoot with a model wearing the design samples in order to have imagery for the website. Then, just before Christmas, we launched! It’s exhausting to think about all the work that’s gone into this, but I feel immensely satisfied at the progress Trued has made. I fully believe in the quality of our garments, and that’s the source of a lot of my motivation and pride in this project. I really wouldn’t have known where to start without Factory45. Thank you Shannon!