What is your product(s)?
Thoughtfully designed with growth spurts in mind, SproutFit is the first better baby basics collection that grows with your baby up to a year. Responsibly made in the USA from sustainable materials like bamboo and recycled polyester, we have simplified sizing and aim to problems instead of creating more.
Conventional baby clothing is designed to be worn a few times. To ensure your baby grows out of clothes quickly (forcing you to re-purchase 7 or more separate sizes in 24 months), baby clothing companies:
Even the worst offenders of fast fashion consumption would be hard-pressed to replace their entire wardrobe 7 or more times in 2 years. But, blindly, that’s what we parents expect to endure with our babies.
Before my son Beckham was 12 months old, we had accumulated totes upon totes of clothes he grew out of, or never got to wear. When something finally fit him comfortably, a month later he needed the next size. It became time-consuming and frustrating to weed through clothing that wasn’t solving any of our problems – in fact, they just created more.
I felt duped and wanted to give parents a BETTER alternative. So, I designed clothing that aimed to simplify baby’s closet.
Where were you with your idea or business before joining Factory45?
The idea for SproutFit hit me in December 2015. Making a PowerPoint, I tried organizing what I thought I wanted to create – a bodysuit that would last for 24 months through baby’s formative first two years.
But after months of trudging through the internet trying to piece together a roadmap, I was discouraged. Some resources told you what to do, but left out showing you how to actually do it. The industry seemed archaic and unknown to me, despite being a consumer of it for so long.
I hit a wall from March to May 2016. I spoke with a few local sew shops and contractor sewers trying to explain what I was trying to accomplish. But, there was one problem. I had no idea how to speak “Sewn Manufacturing”. While polite, every person I met with was skeptical and told me to come back when I had a better idea of what I wanted.
But then, just a couple days before Factory45 2016 applications closed, I came across Shannon’s website.
I told my husband I had a gut feeling it was the exact support I needed to build a foundation from. Quickly, I submitted my application, hoping for the best. A couple days later (right before my 30th birthday), I found out I was accepted!
How did joining Factory45 help you?
What didn’t I learn?
Coming from the extremely technical food business, I loved starting with the sewn manufacturing module. Shannon outlined who did what, and the steps in which the whole process is orchestrated, which helped me visualize (and fully appreciate) the planning and detail necessary to be successful.
One of my biggest takeaways was the importance of defining my target customer. Giving her a name, knowing where she shops, designing with her unique user experience in mind…it was SO key. If you’re trying to appeal to everyone, you’re actually appealing to no one. Spending the time to narrow this part down helped frame up the products themselves, price point and even color.
The last, and most important takeaway, was tribe. Part A: having a safe, tight, vocal and supportive group of like-minded people around you through the vulnerable times. Part B: building your email list early, often and by way of actual potential customers. Both are gold.
In your opinion, what is the most valuable thing about Factory45?
Shannon’s genuine vested interest in sustainability — coupled with her experience, candor and availability — makes for this amazing mentorship model that benefits her, us and… ALL. As a novice in design and fashion, the personal coaching and direction I’ve received from Shannon has been absolutely priceless.
While Factory45’s content and modules are a gold-mine, the value lies within the direct connection. Something that, even with the very best program, could never fully be replicated.
What were some big or small milestones you hit after going through Factory45?
Receiving my first samples back from the factory made me cry. To see the culmination of my perseverance, while still exceling and being promoted in my full-time job, was a huge milestone. I was able to use it as food for my soul and it motivated me to keep pushing!
Achieving a fully-funded Kickstarter in 12 days. While the Kickstarter was one of the most grueling projects I’ve ever done, it validated the value I had hoped others would see in SproutFit. Without my tribe, I couldn’t have executed it. Without the foundations from Factory45 and Crowdfunding Factory, I doubt it would have ended at 142% funded!
Getting an email from Axe Capital from Showtime’s hit series Billions during the Kickstarter. The skeptic in me said, “Ha! That’s awesome. Some crowdfunding boost company is trying to scam me!” But after I read the Forbes article outlining Showtime’s mission to find innovative companies and ideas and fund them through a real-life Axe Capital platform, I responded immediately! I didn’t realize companies were submitting their projects for Axe Capital to back, so to have them reach out to me (and be one of the very first companies to have their support) was exciting.
Receiving an invitation from Kevin Harrington, one of the original Sharks on ABC’s Shark Tank, and the creator of As Seen On TV, to be a part of his upcoming media campaign. While I didn’t “take the deal”, it was a fun experience and I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to speak with his team and understand his business better. While the door is still open, I feel proud of staying loyal to the ethos I’d developed for SproutFit, and continuing on the current road.
Please describe your business after Factory45.
The first production run is underway and we are taking pre-orders between fulfilling Kickstarter rewards and the second production run for fall. It’s been fun to pivot from the Kickstarter and head into a true e-commerce platform.
While everything seems to be a continuous opportunity to learn and a new experience, the foundations I’ve been able to gain through Factory45 have allowed me to face these challenges head on with confidence. It’s such an exciting time to be a sustainable brand, and I’m blessed to be a part of this movement with so many other incredible people.