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 : )

Accomplish Big Goals

Do you know what’s nerve-wracking?

Announcing that you’re starting a podcast… 

And not having a single episode recorded.

It’s true, two weeks ago when I was teeing myself up to announce the launch of The Clean Living Podcast I only had a spreadsheet of ideas.

I talk all this game about starting before you’re ready, setting small goals and taking baby steps to do big things… 

But it’s scary.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time, I’ve launched big projects before and I’ve pushed my comfort zone more than once — imposter syndrome is something you simply can’t escape.

So, what did the past two weeks look like?

A series of very small and deliberate steps.

There was one day dedicated to the podcast trailer and intro, another day to write the first three episodes, another day to write the podcast description and landing page… 

Then there was an entire morning and afternoon that I spent sitting on the floor of my closet to record the episodes I had written.

And repeat.

As of right now, I’ve finished the trailer and the first 10 episodes and sent them to my podcast manager for editing.

But do you know what my first thought was when I sat down to record for the very first time?

“Oh, shit.”

And then: “This is so much harder than I thought it was going to be.”

I often say that if we knew how difficult it was to launch a business idea, new project or any unfamiliar venture, then we wouldn’t ever start.

And that’s exactly what I was thinking as I hit record for the 70th time: 

What did I get myself into?

Whether it’s something as daunting as starting a new fashion brand or something smaller like a podcast, it’s time and persistence that are the antidotes of the unfamiliar.

I spent all day sitting in that closet and by the time I emerged, with a sore back, hoarse voice and tired eyes, I had done something I was very worried I wouldn’t be able to do.

And that’s the name of the game.

Want to tackle a big goal?

Declare it to the world.

Want to actually accomplish that big goal?

Break it into baby steps, give yourself plenty of time, expect it to be difficult and persist anyway.

We’re about a month out from the launch of The Clean Living Podcast and next week I’m going to ask you to vote on what you think the podcast thumbnail should be. 

This is the image that you'll see on iTunes or Spotify next to the podcast name — and I’d love your opinion on it.

In the meantime, I want you to remember: We can do hard things

I’m right there with you.

 

 

 


CTA-Factory45 SHOP

pen and paper

“So, what are we looking at timeline-wise?” I asked my creative director as we mapped out a new project.

“Well, it will be about two months for the first launch and around five months for the second one,” she replied.

Five months?! That puts us into 2021!

I thought back nostalgically to launching Factory45 in 2014. I came up with the idea around March and it was live the next month.

That “lean startup model,” that had worked so well for me in the past, was feeling very far away.

In the beginning stages of entrepreneurship, you’re told to get a minimum viable product out into the world. You’re told to stay lean, fight perfection, and test the market.

These are still my favorite ways to launch a business.

But when you’ve been running the same company for 6+ years and you’ve built a brand and a track record, you simply can’t come out with a half-assed idea.

Because everyone is expecting a certain caliber.

And a “certain caliber” takes time. 

You’re dependent on other people, other schedules, and it’s just more… complicated.

I know what you’re thinking:

“What I wouldn’t give for a team! You’re so lucky to have resources around you, you’re so lucky to have experience and credibility!”

And those things are all absolutely true. 

My point is, entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily get easier. 

It just gets complicated in different ways. 

You go from struggling to connect your email provider with your landing page in year one — to struggling with pressure and expectations in year seven.

That’s all to say, if you’re planning on an entrepreneurial career for the long-haul, it really is the best.

But I would also say, appreciate where you are right now.

If you’re still in the early stages of launching your first business (it probably won’t be your last), then there’s a unique opportunity in that.

You’re learning more than you ever could in school just by doing and taking action.

And you have freedom — freedom to try new strategies, experiment with different marketing tactics, to explore your voice and your brand.

So, have fun with it. Try to relax. Know that you will make mistakes. 

Remember that every obstacle or “catastrophe” is a turning point in your story.

Because in reality, just by starting a business, you’re doing what 99 percent of people wouldn’t ever do.

And that’s something to celebrate.

 

 

 


CTA-Factory45 SHOP

do hard things

The other night I was listening to a podcast with a neurologist who specializes in psychology.

She was talking about neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself with new neural pathways.

(Stick with me.)

She said that by the age of 25, your brain relies on so many existing connections that it’s hard to break free of them.

Which is why, for example, it’s so much harder to learn a new language after the age of 26.

But the neurologist explained that in some cases, the medical field is starting to see people in their sixties who have more neuroplasticity than people in their late twenties.

Why?

Because they’re willing to do hard things.

A wordsmith who practices Sudoku puzzles, a mathematician who writes a novel, a Japanese person who learns Danish, a person with dyslexia who practices crosswords.

She said that the level of challenge should leave you exhausted and completely spent. 

As I was listening to her speak, I started thinking about the Factory45 entrepreneurs I’m currently working with to launch their clothing brands.

Right now, they’re in the thick of it.

We are about halfway through the program and most of them are tackling new skills and challenges that they’ve never encountered before.

Tech issues, design challenges, writing, negotiating, creating and organizing… 

I hear from many of them about how much this process is pushing their comfort zone.

But as entrepreneurs, that is what we want.

Because we can do hard things.

We should do hard things.

And there’s the science to back it up.

So, here’s my message to you:

Whether you’re pulling your hair out on the first day of virtual learning with your kids —

Or building a website with no clue how to design or code  —

Or spending hours on your business idea so you can create another income for your family —

I’m here to tell you, you can do hard things.

We can all do hard things.

And our brains will be better for it.

 

 

 


YouTube CTA

Anti-Racist Fashion Brand

“Allyship is a verb…”

Said diversity consultant Ericka Hines during Rachel Rodgers’ Town Hall to Reimagine Small Business event. 

And her words have stuck with me.

As I’ve been learning, listening and absorbing how to be a better ally to BIPOC, I’ve also been struggling with the feeling of not doing enough.

With every realization of where I’ve fallen short as a result of my own blind spots, comes the urgency of wanting to fix it overnight.

But I know that’s not how this works.

True allyship is about steady, consistent and deliberate action. It’s not performative, it’s not temporary and it’s certainly not a marketing strategy.

So, the real question I’ve had to ask myself is:

What is one small action that I can take today to make sure I’m still doing this work a year from now?

In a webinar hosted by The Garment last week, DEI consultant Erica Courdae spoke about values.

“What do you stand for?” she asked, “What do you stand against?”

And as I listened to Erica speak, I discovered one of the first tangible changes I could make to my own business for lasting impact.

I realized there was a hole in the Factory45 program.

While I’m constantly encouraging my entrepreneurs to hone in on their business model, clarify their mission, write down their vision and identify their ideal target customer, I left out an important piece of that puzzle. 

I’ve never encouraged my entrepreneurs to think about their business values from the standpoint of diversity, equity and inclusion.

When really, those three things should be foundational to every business model.

So, thanks to Erica’s teachings, I’ve created a DEI exercise for Factory45 that will now be a requirement for all future Factory45 entrepreneurs.

I’m also offering it to any of my subscribers or readers so that you can use it to build an anti-racist fashion brand, even if you’re not one of my students.

You can download it here

I give all credit to Erica Courdae for the content.

It should go without saying that this exercise is only the beginning. Beyond identifying your values as a brand, taking action on those values is most important.

But I hope this exercise helps you to start answering some of the questions that you may not have thought of before.

I’m hopeful and excited about the prospect of future fashion brands being built around DEI principles from the ground up — 

I know that we can do this together.

 

 

 

 

Free Download: Creating a Foundation of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Your Fashion Brand

photo montage of factory45 alumni mentors

Every year that I launch Factory45, I spend a good portion of my energy thinking about this:

How can I make this year more impactful, more helpful, more supportive for the entrepreneurs that come through the program?

Because the truth is, if you’re not always striving to improve your business then you’ll start to lag behind.

So whether it’s filming new videos, updating the content, redesigning the Factory45 portal or providing more personal support, I’m constantly working throughout the year to make sure Factory45 maintains its uncompromising quality.

So, that begs the question,

What am I doing to enhance the Factory45 program this year?

…drumroll please… 

I’m so excited to announce that we’re adding:

Factory45 Alumni Mentors!

For the first time ever, participants of the 2020 program will be matched up with a Factory45 graduate who is currently running her own sustainable fashion brand.

These nine hand-picked women will provide text messaging support, virtual coworking sessions and additional guidance for small groups of Factory45’ers who will work together throughout the six-month program.

So, without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to the nine Alumni Mentors for the 2020 program! Click the play button below.

If you want to start creating your own sustainable fashion brand, and you’re looking for the behind-the-scenes guidance of someone actually doing it, then applications to Factory45 open in one week!

In the meantime, I’ll be on Instagram Live today at 1pm ET / 10am PT to share more details about the Alumni Mentorship program. 

Simply go to @factory45co today, anytime after 1pm ET / 10am PT, and you can watch me live (or watch a recording) to hear more about what’s in store for you and our Mentors.

I can’t wait for you to meet them!

 

 

 

P.S. Thank you to EditMate for putting together this fun video for us — I told the Mentors, I can’t stop smiling when I watch it : )


fabric sourcing

 

woman entrepreneur planning and strategizing on laptop

The weirdest thing happened to me the other day.

I realized something that I never could have guessed would be my current reality.

I know, not shocking considering the state of the world.

But first, let me backup.

If you’ve been following along over the past couple of weeks you know that I launched The Mask Project to match hospitals in need of PPE with factories in America that could make them.

First, I connected with a fabric supplier that could provide the fabric.

Second, I connected with factories that could make the masks.

Next, we created a landing page to collect email addresses from the hospitals.

Then, we started gathering “orders” and shipping out the masks.

But here’s where things got interesting… 

We quickly realized that we couldn’t sustain The Mask Project on donations alone, while also keeping sewers paid.

So with the partnership of a factory in Massachusetts, we launched a direct-to-consumer Shopify site where we could sell personal face masks to the public.

By selling personal masks, we’re able to help offset the cost of producing the donated masks to hospitals across the country.

Similar to if I had launched a crowdfunding campaign to pre-sell…

If you’ve already graduated from Factory45, then this all might sound familiar to you.

Because here’s what I realized:

After all of these years (six to be exact) I followed the exact steps to launch The Mask Project that I teach through the Factory45 accelerator program.

Already having the framework for the process, the manufacturing and supplier connections and past experience starting companies this way, I was able to adopt an accelerated version of Factory45.

Instead of launching a product in six months, like I teach in Factory45, we launched in two weeks.

(Of course, two weeks is an extreme timeline, but we’re living in extreme times.)

Anyway, my point is: 

It’s been really cool to observe how well this model for building a business still works.

(I just wish it didn't take a pandemic.)

Of course, there’s so much more that goes into it than the simplified version I just outlined, but it’s been interesting to go through the process again — a decade after doing it the first time.

And to prove, once again, that Factory45 really does work.

I know that some of you reading have been waiting a year for applications to open for the 2020 program.

I’ve been getting emails from people asking if Factory45 is still happening this year given the current state of the world.

And thankfully, because Factory45 is entirely online, I can tell you:

Yes, we are absolutely opening applications as scheduled.

I’ll be sharing some exciting changes to the program over the next few weeks.

And I can’t wait to fill you in on the details.

More soon,

 

 

 

P.S. Did you catch last week’s post? Read Why It’s Never Been a Better Time to Start a Sustainable Fashion Brand


CTA-Factory45 SHOP

woman in blue and white skirt with shopping bags

Yesterday, on the American Fashion Podcast, I joined a panel of fashion industry experts to talk about the repercussions of COVID-19.

Everyone shared their perspective from their own little corner of the fashion industry, from luxury to brick-and-mortar retail to supply chain.

Some of the panelists were optimistic while others were not.

But out of everything that was said, this was my biggest takeaway:

It has never been a better time to be a small, independent fashion brand.

And here’s why:

The big, bloated fast fashion brands of the world are STRUGGLING. They have inventory sitting in stores, they have inventory sitting in warehouses and what they’re selling online is immediately being cut to 70 percent off.

They have so much product to move, so many orders that have already been placed with manufacturers and suppliers — AND they are accountable to shareholders.

So, what does that mean for us?

This is sustainable fashion’s moment to shine.

We’re already doing small batches, localizing our supply chains, manufacturing on-demand and not producing thousands more garments than we can sell.

And if you asked anyone on that panel yesterday, all of them would say that this model is the future of fashion.

It is also a moment of reckoning for the monstrously wasteful and environmentally-ravaging fast fashion industry.

If there’s any sort of silver lining, it’s that the 3 trillion dollar fashion industry is being forced to hit the reset button.

What it also tells me is that there has never been a better time to start your own brand.

Why?

Because the “rat race” to success has slowed. 

This is an incredibly freeing thing because it means that you can take your time to diligently and thoughtfully put time into your research and development.

Second, suppliers and manufacturers have had millions of dollars in canceled orders overnight. They are going to be less busy and more willing to work with you because they, too, will be building their businesses back up.

Third, there are new market needs now that open up endless opportunities for innovation. There are a whole slew of products that will exist at the end of this crisis that didn’t exist before. 

And finally, it takes 6-24 months to launch a new fashion brand. From sourcing to product development to building an audience, you need time and now you have time. 

The economy and the “new normal” will get to a better place, we will get through this and when we do you’ll be there, too, ready to launch your brand to the world.

It’s also worth noting that every expert on the panel (all of them who were far wiser and more experienced than me) said we should expect a huge holiday season in retail.

If your small brand can make it to December, or if your new brand can hold out to launch in December, then it will be worth it.

It’s easy to think of this time as if it will never end but not only do I know we’ll get through this, I know the industry will be better off for it in the end. 

Here’s to the future of fashion,

 


UPDATE ON THE MASK PROJECT: In one week, we received requests from 900 hospitals and interest from 300 factory partners. Thank you so much to everyone who helped spread the word!

We are still actively matching hospitals and manufacturers while seeking out options for funding. If you can donate to the project, the proceeds will go towards paying the factories to keep their sewers employed. Thanks a million to everyone who has already contributed!


spec sheet cta

It took me seven hours to write this post.

It’s true, I didn’t complete any other work yesterday. 

Monday was even worse (I won’t tell you how many episodes of Peaky Blinders I re-watched...)

So before I attempt to pull us up by the bootstraps, I want you to know that I’ve been as distracted, unmotivated, scared, sad and freaked out as you may feel.

And yet, what I’ve come to realize is this: The show must go on.

Your business, your friend’s business, the business you may one day start — they all depend on it.

And while the show may look a lot different than it did a week ago, we need your small business to start, to grow, to survive.

So if you’re ready, this is my rallying cry for small brands across the globe.

We can get through this — and here’s how:

Now is the time to innovate like you’ve never innovated before. 

I have seen genius examples of this in just the past couple of days. 

Take knitwear brand Sh*t that I Knit. They knew that millions of people would be confined to their homes with a lot more time on their hands, so they created virtual knitting classes. 

In just 24 hours, 600 people signed up. And then they created The Quarantine Kit to accompany the classes — for $65 you get a skein of Merino Wool yarn, knitting needles, a pattern and video instructions.

My husband’s company, Project Repat, makes quilts from their customers’ memorable t-shirts. They were worried that people would no longer be able to go to the post office to mail their shirts, so they set up a system to print shipping labels at home and schedule an at-home pickup with the post office. This keeps the business moving without requiring people to leave their homes.

Be sensitive to the climate, but don’t be afraid to market.

I’ve been paying close attention to brands like Reformation and Factory45’er VETTA and how they’ve surveyed their customers in the past five days.

You may feel worried that launching new collections or talking about sustainability or sharing a funny meme will appear insensitive to everything that’s going on in the world.

But do you know what most of their customers told them?

Carry on as normal. The overwhelming majority said they scroll through Instagram to be inspired, see creativity and look at beautiful things — not to hear more news about COVID-19. 

Most people are craving normalcy right now. Take this opportunity to create content that will make them laugh, inspire them or create a feeling of peace.

Move in-person retail to e-commerce or virtual pop-ups.

Boston retailers For Now and Olives + Grace transitioned part of their brick and mortar inventory to e-commerce in 48 hours.

I’m sure it wasn’t an easy task — with a lot of lost sleep — but desperate times call for desperate measures. This is an example of putting in the hard leg-work now to set up your business for what’s to come.

The Garment has mastered the model of what virtual pop-ups can look like on Instagram. Scroll through Morgan’s Instagram Stories for inspiration. 

Use your time wisely.

This is probably the most challenging piece of advice because we’re all feeling so distracted — not to mention, a lot of us have kids at home.

If you can swing it, this is a great time to invest in educating yourself. One of the first things I did yesterday was sign up for an all-pass subscription to MasterClass (I can take business classes and Mexican cooking classes at the same time.)

Try to set aside some time each day to learn something new or learn more about something you already know. For immediate access to online fashion resources, check out Factory45 TV, StartUp Fashion, Jane Hamill’s Podcast and The Factory Floor.

Keep the dream alive.

If you were planning to start a brand this year and you feel like the wind has been taken out of your sails, hear this:

Don’t wait.

It takes 6-18 months to launch a new fashion brand and now is the perfect time to start researching, developing, planning and marketing for your future launch.

The state of the world will get better and when things take an upward turn, you’ll be ready to debut your brand to a wiser and stronger economy.

I have utmost faith in our ability to get through this and come out better for it on the other side.

And finally…  

If you’re not a small business owner, I have a rallying cry for you as the consumer. 

We need you now more than ever.

It has never been more important to think carefully and thoughtfully about how you spend your money.

There are small businesses that sell just about every consumer product you can think of and they want to serve your needs.

It’s up to all of us to keep our small businesses alive so that when we do get past this, they can continue to thrive.

This is our rallying cry.

Will you join me?

 

 


Are you a small business entrepreneur? Please share this post with your fellow small business owners.

 


subscribe

The other night I was out for Thai food with some friends and we started sharing our hopes for the new year.

My friend, Megan, was telling us about the morning she woke up on the first day of 2020.

She said she was lying in bed, mentally preparing to get out from under the covers, when she noticed birds chirping outside her window. 

So she laid there, listening to the birds for longer than she would have in 2019.

“I want to have more ‘bird moments’ this year,” she told us. “It’s more than just stopping to smell the roses — it’s taking the time to really be in that moment.”

For the week since then, I’ve tried to adopt Megan’s intention as my own — consciously stopping to appreciate little moments throughout the day.

The way a bright yellow tree contrasts against a clear blue sky.

The way my son’s chubby little hand rests on my knee.

The way it feels to wrap up in a blanket in front of a fireplace.

But throughout this week, I’ve noticed something else.

I haven’t had any bird moments while I’ve been working.

Maybe I’ve been focused on getting into a “flow state” instead (I’ve written about that before here.)

But really, I think the reason is this:

Even if you’re your own boss and you run your own business, we’re mostly programmed to focus on the negative associations of “work.”

The to-do list that doesn’t let up, the technology that isn’t working, the customer who isn’t happy, the ads that aren’t converting… 

“Doing the work” and “bird moments” don’t naturally go hand-in-hand… 

But I wonder, how much of our productivity and satisfaction would increase if they did?

If we looked up every once in a while and paused for longer than usual, what would it do for our mental state as entrepreneurs?

There’s a reason why the majority of big-time CEOs and successful business people take time to meditate every day.

There is science-backed evidence that meditation increases creativity, focus, memory, and emotional intelligence.

And taking the time for bird moments is an easy way to start implementing some of that mindfulness towards your own business.

A nice Instagram comment about your latest product launch → bird moment.

An enthusiastic email from one of your customers → bird moment.

The moment you finally connect your website to your email platform → bird moment.

Just the simple thought: “I’m running my own business…”

What an opportunity.

What an opportunity to truly appreciate how far you’ve come.

So, that’s my wish for all of us this year.

To stop and appreciate the moments that affirm why you’re here, what you’re doing and how truly monumental that is.

More moments of hearing the birds.

 

 


CTA-Factory45 SHOP