Milo + Nicki
What is your product(s)?
Our first collection, The Rocks Collection, is inspired by the five rocks in my life: my pup – Milo, my mom, my dad, and both of my sisters – named and designed with each one in mind. The collection consists of 6 pieces: the amore maxi, the lr blouse, the dream short, the smother jumpsuit, the milano midi, and the paws for change scarf. The pieces are easy-breezy, free and wild, easy to wear and easy to care. The collection and design was perfected to fit any lifestyle for any occasion. With timeless, vibrant, and versatile pieces that are made to last for generations to come, we hope that these pieces become a part of your story as much as they are a part of ours.
We love hard and care deeply about people and our planet which can be seen through our entire supply chain. Our fabric for the first collection is handwoven and made-to-order from India. The fabric is certified for authenticity, showcases sustainability metrics, and follows fair trade measures. With transparency as one of our core values, this helps us keep our supply chain open and clear for our company and consumers.
Since we also believe in designing clothes that last, and are made without compromising the planet of people, we only used cruelty-free, ethically-designed and sustainable fabrics for our first collection so not only do you look good, but also feel good. The collection is made from certified Ahimsa or “peace silk” + GOTS certified organic cotton blend fabric. The collection is also all hand dyed with natural, plant-based indigo, screen printed with non-toxic, no phthalate and formaldehyde free, water-based dyes, and all the original designs are embroidered in India. Last but not least, our packaging is just as important as our fabric. We only use 100% recyclable or recycled, biodegradable, and environmentally friendly clothing labels, hang tags, and shipping materials.
Social and environmental responsibility, less waste, and quality product is our recipe for doing good and feeling good. To provide the most economical product without compromising our ethics and values, all our pieces are locally manufactured in New York with manufacturers who share the same commitment toward social and environmental responsibility while producing in small batches to avoid excessive waste and overproduction. This process ensures better quality control, fair wages, and workplace safety while prohibiting discrimination of any kind.
Where were you with your idea or business before joining Factory45?
I had just left my full-time job to focus on gaining back my health after a slow decline the past two years. I was at a crossroads between pursuing a career I loved and finding another role in corporate America. With my health bringing light on the fact that happiness at the workplace quickly links to happiness and health within ourselves, I was on a mission to find a way to share my story, my passion for sustainability, and my drive to empower women through fashion.
I had been sketching for over a year, and had a solid idea for my first collection, but every fashion or design school I reached out to was overpriced, didn’t offer exactly what I wanted to achieve (i.e. launching my own line), and was providing me with advice on working my way through the industry to launch my own business over time. As I continued to search and came close to giving up, I found Factory45 through Google searches.
I reached out to Shannon, and it seemed to good to be true. The program was exactly what I needed, she was so quick to respond, friendly and gave great advice (even though I wasn’t in the program yet), and the price was so on point. I knew what I wanted and with nothing to lose, I joined Factory45. And, I have no regrets. It was the best decision I made, and I am so excited to see what the future holds for milo+nicki.
How did joining Factory45 help you?
The program is organized beautifully, and it taught me the ins and outs, the lingo, and the process of how to create a womenswear line in the USA. Her strategy and plan is not only proven for success, it is perfected for success (seriously). I was able to organize myself through launch rather than feeling super overwhelmed by doing everything at once. The program gives you the support and the guidance through each step of the process from production development through launch.
One of the largest areas I was able to improve on is my communication skills and being okay with putting myself out there — be it through social media or with factories and sample/pattern makers. Having a solid story and knowing the lingo of the industry gave me the confidence to open up and push my idea into a business.
Also, by being open and sharing my journey through social media and blogging, I was able to create amazing relationships and friendships inside and outside of Factory45. The ethical and sustainable community is so supportive which makes the process even more amazing.
In your opinion, what is the most valuable thing about Factory45?
I honestly can’t pick just one piece of Factory45! I think it is the whole package because each pieces connects to another. Without the lessons and videos, the questions would not arise in the community where all of us are able to grow and learn.
The program is very much interconnected, and Shannon is truly vested in the success of each of her entrepreneurs. She is there the entire way, even when you are having a moment where everything feels like it is crashing (true story, been there plenty of times).
I guess if I had to pick just one part of Factory45 that is the most valuable piece, I would say it is Shannon because without her the other pieces wouldn’t exist and without her support and genuine care there wouldn’t be this many amazing entrepreneurs living their dreams.
What were some big or small milestones you hit, after going through Factory45?
One of the biggest milestones was having a successful launch. I was able to take my idea and dream, and bring it to life in a little over a year. This is amazing thinking about how I was a part-time, multiple job ambitious, but unsure wanna-be entrepreneur in early 2016, and now I am an entrepreneur, business owner, and designer (still with multiple jobs), but achieving what makes me happy every single day.
Some small and recent milestones that have happened after Factory45 is becoming a fashion contributor for MOCHNI.COM which I never dreamed would be possible coming from public accounting, launching my online shop, putting in my first order of fabric, and prepping for our first run of production. I have also begun to plan out our second collection which is just as exciting as the first!
Please describe your business after Factory45.
We are currently in the process of doing our first run of production after a successful Kickstarter campaign. Each day is a new day, and I really try to embrace the moment because like Shannon has instilled in me, it is about the process and progress, not perfection (The hardest thing to come to terms with as a perfectionist).
I am continuously learning the ropes on how to continue doing sales through our new shop, reaching our target market, what people really want and love, how we can improve, and developing our next collection while keeping the excitement and energy alive. It is truly an adventure and I love it! I am so excited to see what the future holds for us.