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 : )

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.

 

 

 


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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.

 

 

 


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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.

 

 

 


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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


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