Entrepreneur Type

Which “Entrepreneur Type” Are You?

There are three types of entrepreneurs…

I’d love to know, which one are you? (There’s a chance to tell me at the end!)

Behind door #1, we have Taylor.

Taylor is an enthusiast. She can come up with a new business idea every week and her excitement is contagious. She loves dreaming and scheming, making vision boards, setting big goals and envisioning what her business will look like 10 years from now. She is vision-oriented.

Entrepreneur Type

Behind door #2, we have Sydney.

Sydney is a doer. She is known for sitting down to work, not getting up for eight hours straight and forgetting to eat. She is detail-oriented, thrives under pressure and is often labeled by her friends as a “workaholic.” She loves to-do lists, labeled folders and is a self-described “perfectionist.” She is action-oriented.

Entrepreneur Type

Behind door #3, we have Jaime.

Jaime is an enthusiastic doer. She sets lofty goals and the specific action steps to reach them. She loves imagining what could be, but she focuses her energy on what needs to be done to get there. Jaime knows that progress is better than perfection and that finished is better than perfect.

Entrepreneur Type


Most of us want to be Jaime.

The problem is, whichever door you fit into is already a part of your ingrained personality. It’s in your psyche, work ethic and overall human make-up which means that if you’re a Taylor or a Sydney, then it’s really hard to change.

The good news is, if you’re not already a Jaime you don’t necessarily need to change.

You just need to figure out how to make your “entrepreneur type” work for you.

How exactly?

If you’re an enthusiast (Taylor), then it’s pretty simple. You either need to find a doer (Sydney) as a business partner. Or you need to have the budget to outsource specific tasks to a team. While true Taylors are really great at seeing the big picture and coming up with fresh ideas, they have a hard time implementing on those ideas and taking action.

If you’re a Sydney, then you don’t necessarily need a business partner, but it would probably benefit you to outsource some of the tasks that aren’t “worth” your time: things like formatting your email newsletters or publishing your blog posts or scheduling your social media posts. They are time-consuming tasks that could be outsourced to a great assistant and free you up to focus on some of the bigger picture items.

If you’re a Jaime, then you’re in a good spot. But let’s be honest, most of us aren’t. And even Jaime needs a little help — she can’t do everything, especially as her business grows.

So, I’d love to know, which one are you?

Click here to tell me.

Disclaimer: This is purely for fun and obviously open to men, too — I used female pronouns but gender-neutral names : )

I’ll share the results with everyone next week!

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Factory45 CTA

stand out

5 Ways to Stand Out as a New Fashion Brand

It’s no secret that the fashion industry is competitive.

There are so many brands vying for attention that it can often feel like it’s “all been done.”

Especially when you’re starting from zero… as a one-person show… with a limited marketing budget.

I feel you.

The good news is that there is still plenty of opportunity. 

If you’re in the early stages of launching your brand, here are five different strategies (with examples!) that will help you set you apart.

Dudley Stephens

SCARCITY | Dudley Stephens

Dudley Stephens is an American-made fleece brand for women and children — and let me tell you, these things sell like hotcakes. I was on their list for months waiting for the Cobble Hill turtleneck to come back in ice blue.

When I was notified that they had restocked I made a purchase immediately — and then scooped up another color for my mom.

That’s all to say, Dudley Stephens has made an outstanding product and whether it was intentional or not, the scarcity model works for them.

Why? Because it creates urgency to buy. You know that you can’t wait too long to make a purchase or your size, color or style preference will go out of stock. And that can be a really powerful business model.


Shit That I Knit

BRANDING | Shit That I Knit

In the middle of a snowstorm, founder Christina Fagan posted a photo on Instagram of herself wearing a bathing suit and one of her brand’s red knit hats.

She then challenged her following: Post your “bikini and beanie” pic, and you could win a free hat. Within hours, she had over 50 submissions from followers wearing their Shit That I Knit beanies.

This is just one example of how Christina has created a cult following and a million dollar business through the power of stand-out branding.

As The Boston Globe recently noted, the STIK brand tells a story — Christina, as the founder, is the main character, and the progress of her business is the plot.

The result? Brand obsession from fans who feel a connection to her.


Alter Ur Ego

ONE-OF-A-KIND | Alter UR Ego

In 2007, Heidi McKenzie was in a car accident that resulted in traumatic head and spinal cord injuries, leaving her a T4 paraplegic (she can’t feel from the chest down).  

Since then, she has become an advocate for other young people who are paralyzed and joined the first-ever Factory45 program in 2014 to launch a functional denim brand for men and women in wheelchairs.

While she says there is other “wheelchair clothing” on the market, almost all of it is designed for the elderly. Alter UR Ego is the only denim brand providing jeans for young, fashionable people like her.

When you’re the only product on the market providing a solution to a specific problem… well, that’s a good place to be.


Project Repat

PRICE | Project Repat

The product is simple: Send Project Repat your memorable t-shirts and they’ll turn them into a t-shirt quilt.

There are other companies that make t-shirt quilts but Project Repat leads the pack, in large part, because they’re able to offer the most affordable price.

They spent years perfecting their supply chain and manufacturing process so that they’re able to make t-shirt quilts in the most efficient amount of time possible, while still manufacturing in the USA and working with factories that pay a living wage.

With over 300,000 customers and thousands of five-star reviews, it makes it difficult for other competitors to come into the market if they can’t match the price. And that makes a big difference when it comes to staying ahead and continuing to grow.


Nisolo

CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE | Nisolo

If you’re still reading and thinking, “Uh oh… my brand isn’t any of these things!” then this is for you.

Every single business in the history of entrepreneurship can achieve the stand-out quality of incredible customer service. In fact, there’s no reason not to.

Nisolo, a brand of ethically handcrafted shoes and accessories, has created a memorable customer experience that keeps people coming back for more.

My friend Claire still talks about her experience with Nisolo with heart eye emojis. She said they responded quickly over the holidays and honored a lower price after there was a price discrepancy with a product on sale.

Customer service is still one of the easiest ways to encourage word-of-mouth marketing and there’s no marketing method more powerful than that.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Factory45 CTA

success

One Thing You Can Do Today to Increase Your Long-Term Success

“That’s huge!” I say in my most celebratory voice.

“Yeah… but I still have to print my hangtags and my button supplier isn’t calling me back,” she tells me with a tone of defeat.

I pause for a second.

“Okay, sure, but you’ve finalized a CUSTOM sustainable fabric that you’ve been working on for MONTHS. That is a HUGE win!”

“Yeah… I guess you’re right…” she says, only slightly waning to my enthusiasm.

Why do we do this?

As entrepreneurs, why are we the last people to celebrate our own wins?

Even worse, why do we focus on all of the things that aren’t working rather than taking a moment to recognize how far we’ve come?

I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to celebrating my own progress.

I’ll remember to send my web designer a bottle of champagne on launch day, but I won’t pour a glass for myself.

What gives?

The most obvious excuse is that there’s just too much to do.

As small business owners, we don’t have time to focus on the things that are going well because there’s always something else to be working on.

But I’m not suggesting you go on a Carnival Cruise every time your fabric order arrives on time.

What I am suggesting is that you take a beat to reflect.

To appreciate.

To sigh a breath of relief.

To recognize that in at least one way, you are doing great.

So, here’s your call to action for this week:

Come up with one small thing you can do to celebrate your wins.

Maybe it’s a five-minute office dance party to your all-time favorite song.

Maybe you take 10 minutes at night to luxuriate with a bubble bath and face mask.

Or maybe you splurge for the $5 oat milk latte instead of the $2 drip coffee.

Whatever you decide, it’s not so much the act of treating yourself as it is taking the time to acknowledge what you’ve accomplished.

And most of us need a physical trigger to remind us to do that.

Why is this important? Why do we need to celebrate our wins, you ask?

Studies have shown that when we take time to celebrate small victories, we become better at goal setting and more importantly, reaching those goals.

And I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to set a goal then I’m willing to do whatever it takes to increase the odds of accomplishing it.

So, the next time you’re busting moves to Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” know that you aren’t just indulging in a dance break…

What you’re really doing is increasing your odds of long term success.

And that’s something to celebrate.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Factory45 CTA

This is the Most Overlooked Skill by Fashion Startups

For the past three nights, I haven’t been able to fall asleep.

(Sleeping is one of my best talents, so this is highly unusual.)

And as I’m laying there, I end up doing the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to be doing when you can’t fall asleep:

I start scrolling through Instagram.

(I know, I know… I’m only human!)

But last night, as I was scrolling, I started to pay attention to which captions I clicked to read.

And I realized something…

There is one very crucial skill that I see many new fashion brands lacking.

And that’s the ability to write compelling sales copy.

If you’re not familiar with the term “copy” it refers to any text you write to represent your brand.

In other words, your emails to your list, subject lines, blog titles, any “call to action,” Instagram captions, blog posts, the “About” page of your website, the product descriptions on your shop pages, your social media bios, etc.

To be honest, if you asked me why some fashion brands are successful and others aren’t, I would boil it down to two main marketing components:

#1 Great product photography

#2 Great sales copy

And it’s #2 that I want to talk about today, because I think this skill is detrimentally overlooked by startup fashion brands.

To be able to sell *anything* online, you need to be a strong writer.

Before you throw your hands up in the air and tell me, “It’s just something you’ve never been good at!” hear me out:

I’m not talking about the type of writing you learned in high school English class.

The writing skills that are required for the internet are far more attainable than learning how to construct a 42-page essay analyzing Jane Eyre.

(Bleh, aren’t you glad those days are over?)

To write compelling sales copy, it simply requires you to write how you talk.

Back in high school, Mrs. Sullivan would have called this “the vernacular.”

That’s where I want you to start.

I want you to write in a way that’s conversational.

And as with anything you practice over and over, you’re going to get incrementally better at it.

Even if you think you “can’t write.”

But here’s what I would not recommend:

Hiring someone to write your copy for you.

(Unless you have endless amounts of money that you can pay this person for as long as your brand exists… and who really has that?)

Copywriting is a “teach a woman to fish” type of situation.

You really and truly do not want to rely on someone else to be the voice of your brand when you’re just starting out.

Sure, if you reach $1M in revenue, then go ahead and hire a marketing team — but in the beginning, your brand is relying on you to hone your chops at writing.

There are courses out there to teach you how to improve (CopyHour is run by my friend Derek and Marie Forleo has a program called The Copy Cure.)

There is also plenty of free content if you google, “How to become a better copywriter.”

But the bottom line is this:

You need to be able to effectively communicate what your brand has to offer.

That requires you to be clear, genuine, persuasive and most of all, compelling.

Because if you aren’t, then you’re going to train your followers (i.e. potential customers!) that your words aren’t worth reading.

And if your words aren’t worth reading, then how will they know that your products are worth wearing?

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


free resources

5 Must-Have Resources for Your Fashion Brand

As we all know, the internet can be an amazing place for free resources and advice. But it can also be a place of extreme excess and anxiety.

With so many resources available to overwhelmed fashion entrepreneurs, which ones should you use and which ones aren’t worth the time?

Well, here’s a place to start. I’ve narrowed down my top five resources for startup and sustainable fashion brands below:


1.) TECHPACKER

Anyone who’s tried creating a tech pack from scratch knows how frustrating (and time-consuming) it can be. Enter Techpacker, a software that helps you create a professional tech pack in minutes.

The platform gives you (or a team) the ability to manage product development all in one place. You can see some of the main features that Techpacker has to offer here and get started with a free 7-day trial here.


2.) STARTUP FASHION

StartUp FASHION is an online community where independent designers are given a platform to receive and offer advice, form friendships, create business collaborations, let off steam, share victories and belong to a network of peers who are tackling similar challenges.

Run by Nicole Giordano, enrollment to StartUp FASHION only opens twice a year and is currently accepting new members until tonight. You can sign up for $39/month here. (Update: Enrollment is now closed until September 2019.)


3.) MAKER’S ROW

Maker’s Row is an online platform that connects product-based companies with factories in the U.S. In addition to a database of thousands of factories, suppliers, printers and other manufacturers, Maker’s Row offers resources, tips and free advice through their email workshops and YouTube channel.

Brands can join the platform for $35/month and browse the growing list of over 11,000 factories across dozens of industries. You can search by location, response rate and other capabilities by signing up here.


4.) COMMON OBJECTIVE

Common Objective is a U.K.-based platform that evolved from The Ethical Fashion Forum. With a focus on sustainable fashion, members of Common Objective can learn, connect and collaborate while being matched with the people and resources to succeed.

With a network in 141 countries, Common Objective is dedicated to supporting fashion people do better business. You can join for free here.


5.) FACTORY45

And then there’s my own program, Factory45… not biased ; ) A six-month online accelerator program that takes sustainable apparel companies from idea to launch, Factory45 will help you source fabric, find a manufacturer and raise money to fund production.

Applications only open once a year and enrollment for the 2019 program will open on May 15th. Until then, you can get free advice for starting your fashion brand here and see some of the companies that have launched through Factory45 here.


Factory45 Featured

Factory45 Featured on CNBC’s Nightly Business Report

A few weeks ago, a producer for CNBC contacted me about featuring Factory45 on Nightly Business Report’s “Bright Ideas” segment.

It was a whirlwind of logistics, falling right around Thanksgiving, but we managed to piece together a story about sustainable fashion, ethical manufacturing and how Factory45 has played a roll in it.

The best part is that we were able to incorporate two Factory45’ers, Cara of VETTA and Mary of Reprise Activewear, and my husband even made an appearance with his company Project Repat.

I’m so happy with how the final segment turned out — it’s always a little nerve wracking when you give someone else control of telling your story.

If you didn’t catch the live version on NBR last week, click the play button below to watch it now:

A huge thanks again to Factory45’er Cara Bartlett for making time to film on Cyber Monday (of all days) and Factory45’er Mary Bemis, who filmed right after flying back from Kenya!

Your support in watching and sharing the clip is so appreciated:

Watch Factory45 on NBR here.

Gratefully,

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

repeat customers

How to Create Repeat Customers as a Fashion Brand

On the move? You can now listen to Factory45 blog posts on audio! Just plug in your headphones and click play…

My husband tells me I turn everything into “a festival.”

This is his loving way of saying I turn everything into a production.

Take our Christmas tree, for example.

We couldn’t just decorate the tree on a random Sunday. There had to be holiday music playing, a fire burning, mugs of hot chocolate, candles lit and just the perfect amount of cozy lighting.

Believe me, I’m eye rolling at myself.

And I’ll admit, whether it’s Thanksgiving or a picnic in the park, my one and only goal is to turn that event into an experience.

I’m sure there are times when my husband wants to tranquilize me, but there is an upside to the madness.

Especially when it comes to running a business.

Even more, when it comes to running a fashion brand.

When so much of online sales is dependent upon repeat business and accumulating a loyal following of ongoing customers, you are required to provide an experience for them.

The process of shopping on your website, receiving a “thank you” email after the purchase, getting your product in the mail…

All of that accounts for the unique experience that you’re providing for your customer.

And it’s when you make it memorable, easy, fun, enjoyable or some other positive adjective that sets you apart from other brands selling a similar product.

It’s what turns one purchase into a future purchase.

So, this holiday season, when your sales are at an all-time high for the year, what experience can you create for your shoppers?

Can you build a custom email series that introduces them to other products on your site?

Can you include a handwritten ‘thank you’ in their package?

Can you send a free small gift that will surprise them?

Can you make the online shopping experience so seamless that the purchase is a no-brainer?

What can you do that will transform just another e-commerce transaction into something special?

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

email list

5 Ways to Get More Engagement from Your Email List

On the move? You can now listen to Factory45 blog posts on audio! Just click the play button below…

I talk a lot about your email list being the most valuable marketing asset you have as a fashion brand.

If you’re not building your list, then you are missing out in a big way.

In fact, I can’t name one successful, modern-day business that doesn’t have an engaged email list that is actively growing.

But growing your number of subscribers is only half the battle. It’s making sure that they’re engaged readers that really requires the hard work.

Here are five ways to get more engagement from your email list* so you can create customers for your brand:

*Note: When I’m talking about your email list I’m not referring to your list of contacts in Gmail. An email list for your business has likely been created on Mailchimp or another email marketing platform and your subscribers have “opted in” to receive marketing emails about your brand.

1. Subject lines, subject lines, subject lines.

It doesn’t matter if you have the most compelling, beautifully designed and articulately written email if your subscriber doesn’t open it.

Your “open rate” is largely dependent on the intrigue of your subject line. It has to elicit a curious response from your subscribers that entices them to read it.

As an example, what’s a more interesting subject line to you?

5 email marketing tips

OR

This is why your subscribers aren’t reading your emails

Of course this takes practice. For every email I send out to you, I write five subject lines before I narrow it down to the winner.

Your subject line should be a focal point of your entire email — not an afterthought.

2. Don’t underestimate the “readability” of your emails.

This is the simplest and most basic rule of email marketing, but I can’t tell you how many emails I receive from new brands that make me question if I need reading glasses.

When in doubt, use a 12 point sans serif font in black. If you make your readers squint at their screens, then they’re going to click delete.

Other “readability” factors: avoid large block paragraphs, bold phrases are your friend, create plenty of white space.

Take note of the emails that you’re subscribed to and notice the formatting – what stands out? What makes it an easy read for you?

3. Start with a story.

Research has shown that when a person starts reading a (compelling, well written) story, it’s very difficult for them to stop.

What does that tell us about email marketing?

Start with a personal anecdote.

Your subscriber is not only more likely to read to the end, but starting with a personal anecdote also builds trust and connection with your reader.

And it’s trust and connection that turns a reader into a customer.

4. Give one “call to action.”

Your call to action is what you want your reader to do after they open and read your email. Your CTA is essentially the whole point of sending out an email in the first place.

If you’re already selling, then your only goal is to move your reader from your email to the shop page of your website.

If you aren’t selling yet, then the goal of your CTA can be something else that helps you grow your following (forward this email to a friend, follow us on Instagram, read last week’s blog post, etc.)

The key thing to avoid here is giving multiple calls to action. I see a lot of emails that ask the reader to shop AND follow us on Instagram AND read our blog AND forward to a friend AND…

Asking for too much creates decision paralysis for your reader and instead of doing everything, they’ll do nothing.

Pick one CTA and test it one week. Choose a different CTA and test it another week. Use another CTA and test it the next week…

Which leads me to,

5. Track your analytics.

No matter which email marketing platform you’re using (Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Klaviyo, etc.), there is a dashboard that gives you a series of very important stats. Do not overlook these!

For every email you send out, you need to be tracking your open rate and your click-through rate, with an additional glance at your unsubscribe rate.

I say “glance” because I don’t want you to obsess over how many people unsubscribe from your list. It’s normal for a healthy list to have unsubscribers so don’t dwell on it. However, if you notice a significant increase at any point, then you’ll want to be aware of what could have possibly triggered it.

Above all, tracking your analytics will provide insight into sending better emails. It will help you become better at writing subject lines, it will give you valuable data about what your readers want to see and it will help you increase traffic to your online store.


A final thought: So often new brands get caught up in the number of subscribers they have. And while yes, the goal is to grow your list as much as possible, I would much rather have a small highly-engaged list than a large list that isn’t engaged.

This goes back to what I wrote about how you only need 100 “True Followers” to launch a fashion brand. In this case, bigger isn’t always better.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


P.S. In the coming weeks, I’m sending out an ethical fashion gift guide to subscribers of Market45. If you’re looking for more simplicity and joy this holiday season, subscribe here and join us.

marketing

How to Go from “Hating” Marketing to Loving It

Last week I launched Market45 to start selling some of the brands that have graduated from the Factory45 program.

In the build up to launch day I was interviewed by a media outlet that asked me the following question:

What have you learned about yourself in launching this new business venture?

I know that I was probably supposed to say something heartwarming like, “I’m capable of more than I think” or “Hard work really does pay off”…

But instead I said,

“I love marketing even more than I thought I did.”

I know, not the most inspirational sentence I’ve ever said, but allow me to explain…

When you live in an industry of creatives, “marketing” and “selling” are often seen as dirty words.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this sentence from the designers I teach:

“I just feel so ‘sales-y’…”

And each and every time, I want to take them by the shoulders and say,

“Well, yeah, because you’re trying to make a sale…

In the Factory45 program we talk exhaustively about the “pre-launch phase.”

It’s those crucial months before you launch your business when you’re building up momentum, trying to attract an audience and getting ready to sell your product.

Having recently been in that pre-launch phase for Market45, I can confidently say:

I live for this phase.

To me, there is nothing better than building anticipation for your audience and getting them excited about what you’re creating.

But like many new entrepreneurs, I didn’t always feel that way.

There was a time when I worried about coming across as pushy or self important or annoying.

And here’s what I realized:

In order to run a successful business, you have to embrace the sale.”

The good news is,

When you believe in what you’re selling — that’s really easy to do.

My guess is that if you’re on my email list or reading my blog, then you have a product or idea or current business that is a better option than what the fast fashion retailers, or Wal-Mart or other big box stores offer.

And that’s something to immediately believe in.

Whether it’s a more ethical / sustainable / independent / conscious option compared to what else is on the market, you are providing an alternative that yes, the world needs.

So, the next time you question whether you should send one more email to your list or post one more Instagram about your Kickstarter or create one more Facebook ad, I want you to repeat after me:

>> The world needs to know that my product provides a better option.

>> My customer wants to hear from me because my product is solving a problem for them.

>> The industry needs independent brands like mine to succeed.

Because the future of fashion depends on it.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

 

 


Market45

marketing

Struggling with Marketing Your Fashion Brand? Follow the 30/70 Rule.

If you’re running a fashion business, it should be no surprise that marketing is a huge part of your day to day.

If you want to sell, then you have to promote — right?

We know this. It’s on our to-do list. We have a strategy in place for it. But…

How often does promotion get overlooked?

Here’s a scenario that I see too often:

  1. You’ve spent several hours crafting the perfect blog post.
  2. You finally click “Publish” and the post goes live.
  3. You sit back and wait for people to come across your post and praise its brilliance.

When put that way it sounds a little ridiculous.

And yet there are so many of us who expect it to happen like this.

The internet has made us live by the adage of, “If you build it, they will come.”

But nobody arrives.

If you’re struggling with marketing and being seen by your ideal target customer, then I have one rule for you to implement right now:

“30% content creation / 70% content promotion

What does that mean exactly?

It means that 30% of your time should be spent on creating marketing content. We’re talking blog posts, emails to your list, guest posts, photography, etc.

But 70% of your time should be put towards promoting that content.

It’s not enough to share a blog post on Facebook one time. That same blog post should be sent out to your email list and shared on social media over… and over… and over again.

“But, Shannon, won’t my audience get sick of seeing the same stuff?”

No, because unless it’s your mom, they’re not paying attention that closely.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s an example:

For the past month I’ve been promoting the launch of Market45, an ethical fashion marketplace, that will go live on November 1st.

I’ve mentioned it upwards of six times on Instagram and it wasn’t until the sixth time that I got a text from my own sister saying, “Just saw you’re launching a marketplace! Great idea.”

And while yes, she’s busy with her own life going on — so is everyone else.

You can’t count on people to retain your message, read your blog post or engage with you on social media the very first time.

Or even the second time… or the third…

And I know what you may be thinking, “Man, this sounds exhausting. I can’t keep up with all of this marketing.”

But what I’m telling you is actually good news.

Because the content creation (i.e. the 30%) is the part that’s usually hardest for everyone.

I know how many of you worry that you’re not a good writer or that it takes forever to write a blog post or newsletter.

But with the 30/70 rule, once it’s done you get to focus the majority of your time on promoting it.

And while it still requires writing, crafting a promotional Facebook post or Instagram caption is a lot less work than writing full content.

To put it in perspective:

I spend at least 1.5 hours every Wednesday scheduling social media to promote that week’s blog post. My assistant spends another hour putting that blog post on WordPress and scheduling it to send to my email list.

That’s 2.5 to 3 hours dedicated to content that took me 30-45 minutes to write.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

So whether it’s an upcoming launch, a Kickstarter campaign or something small like a blog post, focus on doing more with less.

You can’t argue with that.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45