LIVE Workshop

If you’re building your sustainable fashion brand this year, I’d like to officially invite you to a 4-day online workshop I’m teaching for free.

Over four days, I’m going to help you remove the barriers holding you back and get you clarity and confidence in starting your own sustainable fashion brand.

It starts on Tuesday, Oct. 19th and will run until Friday, Oct. 22nd at 12pm ET / 9am PT. 

You can RSVP to join me, in partnership with Embark.Live, here.

As soon as you register, you’ll receive a Welcome email from Embark.Live, who I'm co-hosting the event with.

Over the past year, I’ve seen so many brands seizing the opportunity to launch a new side project or traditional job replacer and they’re struggling…

My mission and my purpose is to help more people transform the fashion industry and reach their dream of becoming a fashion brand founder.

I’m excited to deliver four hours of immense value and get to know you more.

If you’re in, click here to join me.

Talk soon,

 

 

P.S. In the meantime, I host a Live Show every Thursday at noon ET inside our private group! You can join me here.


set goals

Do you know if you’re a ‘starter’ or a ‘finisher?’

I was listening to a podcast the other day with a business coach who was saying that when it comes to projects, goals and the things we set out to accomplish, some people are ‘starters’ and some people are ‘finishers.’

You’re a starter if you find yourself super motivated in the beginning and make lots of progress until about halfway through the project when your motivation fizzles out.

You’re a finisher if it takes you a while to sit down, focus and take that first step on a project, but once you get going you have no problem finishing the project.

No matter which one you identify with more, it’s very common to struggle with the goals we set out to accomplish.

Especially the big ones, like starting a business.

And that’s why I’m focusing this week’s Live Show on nontraditional goal setting and how to actually accomplish what you’ve set out to achieve.

Because the truth is: it’s not the goal that’s important… it’s something else entirely. 

So, if you find yourself struggling to make progress or you just want to create a plan of action for September that you can look forward to, then join me live on Thursday at noon ET.

  • You can watch, ask questions and engage in our free Facebook group here.
  • Or you can simply stream on YouTube here (make sure you Subscribe to the Factory45 channel here so you know when I go live).

If you find yourself in a “summer slump” in building your fashion or accessories brand, then this will be 20 minutes of inspired action-taking you won’t want to miss. 

I’ll see you there : )

 

P.S. If you missed last week, I introduced Factory45 Live: The Live Show for Fashion Entrepreneurs. You can watch the replay of the first episode below and learn more about what it’s all about!

Required Trait

The other day I was watching my three-year-old play with his train set. 

One piece of track… connected to another piece of track… connected to another… 

And then, uh oh.

The last piece wouldn’t fit.

I watched as he struggled to fit the piece, as it kept hitting up against the wall of the table, as he got more and more frustrated.

“I CAN’T DO IT!” he yelled out, red in the face. “IT DOESN’T WORK!”

How many times as an entrepreneur have you felt this?

The web domain won’t connect to the host!

The file size won’t upload!

The email form won’t populate!

The difference being, you can’t throw your computer across the room like you can a wooden train track.

One of the main messages you hear as a parent is the importance of building resilience in your kids.

It’s why you should resist doing things for them or providing the easy way out.

And honestly, entrepreneurship is very much the same.

“Are you calling me a toddler, Shannon?”

No : ) I would like to think the way we respond is more developmentally appropriate.

This message is about resilience.

How can you build more resilience into the day to day building of your business?

When something isn’t working the way we want it to, how can we be more resourceful in finding a solution?

Because honestly, that’s what it takes.

If you truly want to be an entrepreneur, then it virtually guarantees you will run into problems — in the beginning, it will probably be on a daily basis.

But to reach any level of success, problems require problem solvers.

There’s no way around it.

That’s all to say, be the toddler who picks up the train track even after he throws it… 

And tries again.

 


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Fashion Background

“I’m not a fashion person,” I remember saying to someone a few years ago.

“Wait, but aren’t you, like, in the fashion industry?” they replied.

“I guess ‘technically’… but I don’t follow trends or the latest styles or fashion week or read biographies about Coco Chanel…”

I also don’t have a fashion background or technical education. I was a journalism major in college.

The truth is, I’m far more interested in what’s off the runway than what’s on it.

And while couture gowns are beautiful to look at, I’m more interested in products that solve a problem or fill a gap in the market.

Even better? Products that help to solve the fast fashion problem or provide a more sustainable alternative.

While having a fashion background can definitely be an advantage when it comes to design, sketching and construction, it’s not a necessary prerequisite to launching a successful brand.

A brand that has purpose.

So, if you’re someone who didn’t go to fashion school or work in retail or considers themselves a “fashion person,” today’s video is for you.

I can tell you from nearly a decade of experience why you don’t need a fashion background to launch a fashion brand.

And just a reminder, for fashion and non-fashion people alike, I’m hosting a free four-day workshop in two weeks to help you Start Your Sustainable Fashion Brand this year.

Register for free here and save your seat >> https://factory45.co

Hope to see you on May 3rd!

 

 

 

 


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Fashion Entrepreneurs

“Okay, so! We’re going to publish three episodes a week… I mean, they’re less than 10 minutes long… so we need to keep up the frequency… otherwise people won’t be engaged… it won’t be that bad… we can probably keep this up for months…” 

This is what my inner dialogue sounded like as I was getting ready to launch The Clean Living Podcast back in October.

At the beginning of February, when I released the finale of season one, my best friend texted me:

“Only an INFJ would commit to 35 episodes in a single season.”

(She was referencing my personality type on the Meyers-Briggs.) 

But do you want to know a secret?

I never planned to have seasons of the podcast, or a season one finale, or a break in episodes at all…

So, why the change?

I burnt out.

I ignored my own advice, I overcommitted and it came back to bite me.

If I had planned out the podcast like a normal person, I would have 35 weeks of episodes lined up.

And truthfully, my listeners would have probably appreciated the time lapse in between episodes instead of being bombarded with three every week.

I’m constantly telling my entrepreneurs in Factory45 to SIMPLIFY.

Instead of developing a collection of 12 pieces, simplify to five pieces.

Instead of trying to be on every social media platform, start with Instagram and do it really well.

Instead of trying to source fabric for five different colorways, start with two.

Because this is what simplifying does:

  1. It lowers the barrier to entry. That means the likelihood of you actually getting the project off the ground is significantly higher. It also means you’ll do it quicker and more efficiently.
  2. It reduces the chance of decision paralysis — for you and for your customers.
  3. It saves you MONEY and time.

In fact, it’s very rare that simplifying isn’t the right answer.

So, the next time you set out to design a 12-piece collection, or dominate TikTok, Clubhouse, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, or try to meet the MOQs of five different fabric colors…

Think of me.

Think of me sitting on the floor of my dark closet, chugging water and recording my fifth episode of the day…

It’s true that diamonds are made out of pressure but when it comes to entrepreneurship, you really only need a very solid rock.

 

 



 

International Women’s Day

This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is #choosetochallenge — an action that couldn’t be more fitting for what we’re doing here at Factory45.

So, to celebrate, I’m featuring five Factory45 Alumni who are choosing to challenge through the sustainable fashion brands they’ve built.

Keep reading to get to know these women and make sure to check out Instagram Stories for more.


DARITY

Selah Rhodes
DARITY | @darity.co

With DARITY, we choose to challenge for stronger and more sustainable support of mothers. 

We advocate for a quality national paid leave program for mothers to recover and transition into motherhood. We use our content to hold space for more inclusive and transparent conversations about the journey to and through motherhood without judgment. 

We push to provide quality, eco-conscious, and ethically-made products that mothers can rely on day in and day out.


Juno Jones

Emily Soloby
Juno Jones | @junojonesshoes

By working in nontraditional industries, women are choosing to challenge every day, just by doing their jobs.

As a woman in the transportation industry, one thing that bothered me was never being able to find the safety footwear that I needed. There were so few options out there for professional women. A lack of properly sized gear and equipment for women in these fields is a pervasive problem. 

I #choosetochallenge by tackling the footwear issue, and started my company Juno Jones, creating stylish ASTM certified safety footwear for women. By creating awareness, inspiration, and of course amazing safety boots, Juno Jones seeks to inspire women to enter nontraditional industries and rise to the top.


Santos Swim

Hannah McDermott
Santos Swim | @santos_swim

As a swimwear designer with a deep connection to the ocean, I choose to challenge marine pollution and raise awareness about the issue. 

Over 640,000 tons of fishing gear alone is lost or abandoned in the oceans every year, killing millions of marine animals and damaging fragile marine ecosystems.

By choosing fabric made primarily from regenerated materials including recovered fishing nets, we are helping to repurpose what was once harmful waste into beautiful, wearable swim pieces. When paired with organized beach + neighborhood cleanups, people can see the problem firsthand and are inspired to take action!


Medicine Mountain Scrubs

Oriana Turley
Medicine Mountain Scrubs | @medicinemtnscrubs

The medical workwear industry has a fast fashion problem. 

Mass produced scrubs, with poor function, new styles released as fast as possible, created by non-medical designers with little regard to function, sustainability or ethics. 

Medicine Mountain Scrubs offers an alternative to fast fashion in medical workwear. With function, sustainability and ethics at the core of our business, we offer scrubs with feminine lines, designed by women in medicine, focused on full coverage and function.

Made from recycled materials, by women standing in their own power, we are focused on creating a better world for people and the planet.


LOTI

Lottie Bertello
LOTI | @shoploti_

We live in a world where clothing has become a disposable good, thus creating thousands of pounds of waste per year — less than 15 percent is recycled. 

LOTI challenges waste culture by upcycling the material from discarded men’s dress shirts into elevated everyday wear. 

I was personally inspired by the challenge of designing an aesthetic that celebrates the beauty of reusing textiles while making the actual garments feel fresh and easy to wear. LOTI is built on the pillars of creative reuse and textile waste reduction, and we cannot wait to share this with the world.


At Factory45, we #choosetochallenge fast fashion by helping to launch sustainable fashion brands. 

I’m so proud to work with countless entrepreneurs who are choosing to challenge for a more sustainable world.

Learn more about how you can get involved here.

And to all of the women out there, here’s to you,

 

 

 

All photo credit goes to the respective brands.


accomplishments

Right around this time each year, I traditionally share an “annual review” of what went well (and what didn’t go so well) in life and business.

I wrote this unconventional goal setting exercise last year, having no idea what would be in store for 2020.

And to be honest, it still feels weird to discuss revenue numbers and business accomplishments given the year we’ve all been through.

When I went through this exercise with a couple of entrepreneurial girlfriends at the beginning of the month, my list of “2020 accomplishments” surprised me.

I didn’t think there would be anything of real significance given the lack of consistent childcare and overall mental and emotional upheaval that was happening. 

But when I really sat down to take the time to think about it, my “accomplishments list” wasn’t as meager as I expected.

And if you did this same exercise, I think it would surprise you too.

Because it turns out that what I considered “accomplishments” weren’t what I would have thought of before this year happened.

It included things like:

  • I set up an ongoing monthly charitable donation to Together Rising
  • Gained more awareness around racial inequity 
  • Allocated over $3K/month to Black women business owners
  • Started a free podcast that benefits my friends and family

In 2019, these aren’t things that I would have labeled as accomplishments.

For me, the silver lining of 2020 is that it changed my definition of “success.” 

While revenue and sales goals are, of course, important to any healthy business — they’re not the only measure of success.

Maybe your list of accomplishments looks something like this:

  • Completed two online courses
  • Learned how to create graphics in Canva
  • Built a landing page
  • Joined an anti-racist book group
  • Started painting again

While those may seem like small things, when compared to your original 2020 goals, this year has certainly taught us that anything positive is worth celebrating.

Even if it looks like this:

  • Survived virtual learning with my kids
  • Kept my job
  • Didn’t divorce my partner 
  • Created a plan to start my business in 2021

The point is, if you needed any permission to forget the big 2020 goals you may have set for yourself — this is it.

Instead, take the time to actually sit down and write out anything and everything you accomplished this year.

“Learned how to bake bread.” Done.

It’s a worthwhile exercise (for so many reasons), but it’s also an investment in 2021. 

It sets an intention, rather than prioritizing lofty goals that may seem too uncertain right now.

And maybe an intention is all you need.

Here’s to a new year,

 

 

 

P.S. This will be my last blog post and email of 2020 — I’m wishing all of you a very Happy New Year and will be back on Wednesday, January 6th : )


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humiliating

So, last week’s post really hit a chord with people.

If you missed the blog post on procrastination, you can read it here.

It got me thinking more about the whole concept behind “low barrier to entry” opportunities.

If we could make things easier on ourselves, how much more would we do and get done?

Take for example the speaking engagement I did at Eco Fashion Week back in 2013.

I was flown out to Vancouver and asked to give a 10 minute presentation. I proceeded to walk up to the podium in front of 100ish people and absolutely choke.

Short of having a panic attack and passing out in front of the whole room, it was a complete disaster.

For 10 minutes, my voice was shaking, my face was red, and I could barely breathe or get my words out.

If you’re thinking it couldn’t have been that bad, the emcee asked the audience if they had any follow-up questions for me and not a single person raised their hand.

They wanted me off the stage as much as I wanted to run out the back door.

So, did I write-off speaking engagements for the rest of my life?

No… not exactly.

What I realized is that I’m pretty good at open Q+A-style panels or casual conversations with a moderator or interviewer.

What I’m not good at is solitary speeches or presentations.

So instead of passing up every opportunity for a speaking engagement, I committed to choosing the lower barrier to entry option.

I decided that I would still say ‘yes’ to public speaking, but I would limit my commitment to off-the-cuff Q+A style, multi-person panels or I would take on the role of moderator.

By making that deal with myself, I’ve gotten the chance to have some great speaking opportunities that have allowed me to market my business, meet like-minded people and further my message.

So, let’s say in your case, you hate being on video.

Instead of forcing yourself to do on-camera Instagram Stories, maybe you start a podcast to document your entrepreneurial journey instead.

Maybe you don’t feel confident about your writing skills so you’re hesitant to start a blog. If you love being on video, then you could start a YouTube channel instead.

Let’s say you clam up when being interviewed, maybe you ask the interviewer to send you the questions ahead of time so you can plan out your answers.

In 99 percent of cases, there is always an easier alternative that will better set you up for success.

That’s not to say you can avoid discomfort or vulnerability 100 percent of the time.

There will surely be some cringe-worthy or embarrassing moments.

I remember last year when I was hosting an Instagram Live for Maker’s Row. It was a 30-minute live session that required me to be alone on camera, sharing my tips about apparel manufacturing to their Instagram audience.

In the middle of my talk, something caught in my throat and I started to choke — for real.

I couldn’t get my words out because I was too busy coughing and drinking water in a fit of panic.

Again, this was a live session and no one else was on video with me, so it was quite literally an audience of people watching me gag for air.

So embarrassing.

But you know what?

I had five or six other Instagram Lives with Maker’s Row that went really great. 

And I had over 20 people join Factory45 this year because they found out about me from those Maker’s Row live sessions.

Imagine the opportunity lost if I had decided to completely write-off Instagram Live because of the fear of that embarrassing moment happening again.

There are so many instances in entrepreneurship when things don’t go as planned and the only thing we can do is learn, adapt and try again.

As in life, you will miss out on some pretty great experiences by not attempting them at all.

So, I’ll ask you again — what is one thing you can do today to take more action by choosing the easiest route to get there?

And if things don’t go exactly as planned… 

How can you learn and adapt, so it goes better when you try again?

 

 

 


THIS WEEK ON THE PODCAST

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

NATURAL IMMUNE BOOSTERS It’s more important than ever to strengthen our immune systems and gut health. In this episode, I’m sharing three cheap and easy foods to add into your cooking that will naturally boost the immune system of you and your family.

FRAGRANCE When my son was an infant I worried like most new moms do. Was he getting enough calories? Was he sleeping enough? Would he ever eat solids? But as I’m sharing in this episode, I worried about one thing in particular…

PSA Back in September, I attended CleanCon — a virtual conference hosted by the Environmental Working Group — that was focused on clean beauty and personal care products. Throughout the event, there was one message that I kept hearing over and over…


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more action

Lately, I’ve been thinking about why it’s so hard for some people to take action.

This is, by far, the biggest obstacle I see stopping entrepreneurs from getting a business off the ground.

We fall victim to procrastination — which in essence, is fear.

When we’re afraid of doing something, or afraid of the potential result of doing something, then we stop ourselves from taking action.

The threat of what could happen paralyzes us from doing anything at all.

Personally, I have 99 problems but taking action isn’t one.

So I’ve been trying to analyze what it is about my strategies or methods that empowers me to move forward on an idea even if I’m scared or unsure of the outcome.

And I was able to boil it down to two things.

The first one is confidence. 

Because I’ve taken action on enough ideas over the span of my life, I’ve built up the confidence to take action on the next one.

I recognize that this stems from a position of privilege, but it’s true nonetheless. 

Even though some ideas haven’t worked out, I’ve still been able to maintain the confidence from the ideas that have.

The second method is more interesting and was less obvious until I listened to a podcast with a behavioral scientist who studies habits

When I think about most of the ideas I’ve taken action on, they all have one thing in common:

I’ve chosen the lowest barrier to entry.

Let me give you an example.

When I created the Factory45 program for the first time in 2014 I didn’t have the fancy portal and online content that I have now (six years later). 

I started with Google docs, a free Basecamp account and Apple Keynote (or PowerPoint). 

If I had tried to create the customized WordPress site or high production videos that I have now, it would have been too overwhelming and expensive as a jumping off point.

This sense of overwhelm applies to so many things you may be facing: getting your social media going, setting up a website or launching a first collection.

So, what’s the lowest barrier of entry you can take?

Focusing only on an Instagram account instead of managing Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest and SnapChat and TikTok.

A simple above-the-fold landing page instead of a full-on website.

One signature piece for your launch instead of seven pieces.

What I’ve discovered through personal experience is that it almost always works out better by paring down, simplifying and making things easier for yourself.

This has applied to my entrepreneurial journey back in 2010 when I was starting my sustainable fashion brand up all the way through last month when I launched The Clean Living Podcast.

Nearly every example I have is a testament to doing less — not more.

And not-so coincidentally, the podcast I mentioned about forming habits confirms that. 

After surveying 40,000 people, the research found that successful habits are formed by taking the smallest action possible.

Want to start flossing regularly?

Start by flossing one tooth every day.

Want to start exercising every day?

Start by doing one push-up every day.

Want to start meditating every day?

Start by taking five deep breaths every morning.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or someone who wants to improve their oral hygiene, the strategy is the same.

Do less so you can do more.

 

 

 


THIS WEEK ON THE PODCAST

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

SHAMPOO Personal care is one of the most toxic categories of household products. Shampoo is no exception. What are you actually lathering into your hair every time you shower and why should you be extra careful about the shampoo you use? In this episode, I’m sharing the top reasons to switch to a clean, paraben-free, formaldehyde-free hair care routine.

COOKING OIL Did you know that the oil you use to cook with can impact your long-term health? And it’s not so simple as just switching to olive oil. In this episode, I’m sharing the cooking oils to avoid, the oils to use on low heat and the oils that are safe to use on medium to high heat.

DOGS & GUT HEALTH This episode is uplifting and helpful, especially if you’re trying to convince your partner to get a dog. If you’re already a puppy owner, give that pooch a big kiss on the mouth because this episode is for you.


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insecurity

For the past month, I’ve had a recurring nightmare of not being able to speak.

Sometimes I simply can’t find the words.

Other times, it’s more extreme — like when my mouth is full of rocks.

What I finally realized is that it’s a manifestation of insecurity.

Insecurity about launching The Clean Living Podcast.

Here are some examples of the negative self-talk I’ve been experiencing:

“It’s been done.”

“Nobody cares.”

“Who am I to do this?”

“It’s not significant enough.” 

That last one, in particular, has kept me up at night.

It’s this feeling of, “I’m not doing enough.”

And if I’m really honest with myself (and completely transparent with you), my big fear is that people think clean living is elitist. 

Only for the privileged. 

That it has nothing to do with equity or inclusion.

When in reality, I know that clean living has many different forms. And that with education, it can be inclusive and accessible to everyone.

My goal through this podcast is to show people that thinking more carefully about what we buy, and how we live, doesn’t have to cost more money and can actually save us money in the long run.

But any time you take on a new project, it’s normal to question the process.

Do my intentions align with the final product?

Is there even such a thing as a “final product” or will this always be a work in progress?

Am I prepared to make mistakes, and maybe even fail?

What will that say about my self-worth?

When these questions come up I’ve learned to always have an answer ready.

Here’s what I’ve been telling myself:

If just 100 people find out about a Black-woman-owned clean deodorant brand, then that’s potentially an extra $1400+ in revenue for that business. 

(And it’s 100 people no longer swiping aluminum under their arms.)

If just 100 people learn how to improve the air quality in their home, that’s potentially 100+ kids who are learning remotely with less household pollutants in the air.

If just 100 people learn how to get more nutrients from their food, then that’s 100 families feeling healthier and more energized than they did before.

Remember: Your impact doesn’t have to be huge to be significant.

That’s all to say, if you’re also working on a new project and you’re feeling insecure or discouraged or behind or deflated, I want to remind you that it’s not about making huge waves.

It’s about creating small ripples for the people who matter most to your business.

When we stay in our lane and we focus on the unique gifts we can contribute, that’s when we’re able to impact the right people.

Keep pushing forward,

 

 

 


UPDATE: I’m releasing the trailer for The Clean Living Podcast next week! On Wednesday, Oct. 14th I’ll ask you to kindly listen and subscribe as we gear up for launch.

Also — thank you so much to everyone who helped me choose a podcast thumbnail last week! You can find out which image won on Instagram here : )