free class

4 Steps for Making Massive Progress in Your Fashion Business

Twice a year my pal Nicole and I offer a free online class for fashion entrepreneurs.

We each have our separate companies — she’s the founder of StartUp Fashion and I run Factory45 — but we like to combine efforts every once in a while to help as many new designers as we can.

So for the last time this year, we’re going to host one more free class for all of you. 

And this one will focus on how to make a lasting impact on your brand that you can implement immediately.

On Tuesday, 9/17 join us for:

4 Steps for Making Massive Progress in Your Fashion Business

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  • Mindset – confidence, fear, perfectionism and how to manage the mental game of running your own business
  • Business Operations – how to avoid over-planning & over-analyzing, how to create systems, how to implement scheduling tools and how to cut down on procrastination
  • Goal Setting – we’re talking actionable tasks vs. big picture ideas
  •  Finding Community – accountability, emotional support, collaboration, referrals & feedback

Again, this conversation is happening on Tuesday, September 17th at 8pm ET / 5pm PT.

Spots are limited to just 100 attendees so claim your spot here.

We’ll also open the conversation to Q+A at the end so bring your questions!

Nicole and I are all about “walking the walk” instead of just “talking the talk.”

So if you truly want to improve your business (no matter what stage you’re in), then you have to take action to do it.

Free classes like this are one of the best ways to spend your time, so don’t miss this opportunity. 

(Anyone who has joined us before knows we make it worth your while.) 

Click here to RSVP to join us.

Hope to see you on Tuesday!

 

 

P.S. Know someone who would love to join us? Share this link with them!

 

 

kickstarter

3 Must-Do’s for a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

This is a guest post from Brianna Kilcullen, the founder of Anact and a student of my Kickstarter course, The Crowdfunding Factory.

Today she’s sharing three things she’s learned about creating a Kickstarter campaign for anyone else who is considering it as a launch strategy. 

Here’s Brianna… 

I’ll begin by saying, I’ve never done a crowdfunding campaign before. Like ever. Knowing that I needed to create one to kickstart my business, I was on the hunt for a good resource that could help guide me along the way.

When I found out that Shannon ran one of the most successfully funded Kickstarter fashion projects at the time and had built an online course based on best practices, recommendations and preferred resources — I knew I had to take it. 

It was quick, simple and incredibly applicable. Thinking through the entire crowdfunding process before beginning helped prepare me for the highs and the lows and be proactive instead of reactive.  

Here are my top three takeaways: 

#1. CONSISTENCY. 

One of the biggest takeaways from The Crowdfunding Factory is that consistency is one of the most important parts of starting a business. More so than making a single ultra creative post or product. 

It can take seven interactions with a brand before a person decides to take action with a product or service. So I knew that in order for my business to be successful, I needed to make sure my content was being seen. 

I snagged up every social media account, and then I picked specific social media platforms that my target market frequented to maximize the return on investment aka my time and energy!  Anact is now on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my personal accounts.  

Consistency also means that I needed to be posting frequently. So Anact went from posting about once a day to posting 3 times a day (for now).  PS: Social Sprout has become my go to for scheduling synchronized social media posts.

Three times a day seems a bit extreme; however, our backers will come from all different time zones and we believe it was important to make posts that could be seen from various time zones until our Kickstarter launches. Once we launch, we will post less, but we will now make sure we post on a schedule so that we are always consistent. 

kickstarter

#2. RE-SHARE. 80% of your time should be spent promoting content you’ve already made.

Adding onto the consistency train, promoting your content should be a high priority. We learned not to spend all our time creating new content (blurbs for posts, pictures, etc.) and realized that we needed to share and share and share and share our current content so that more people can see it and so our time spent creating that content doesn’t go to waste. 

To help with that, we started paying Instagram and Facebook to promote our posts so that it reached our target audience easier. We also encouraged our friends, family, and fans to share our content.  #freeinfluencers

Prior to launching Anact, I wasn’t even active on social media. I have to say that I have been really amazed at the opportunity it holds in promoting your business and connecting with amazing people all over the world. 

#3. SPREAD THE WORD.

If you’re a startup founder like me, you are most likely spending most of your time on the product creation process. We all saw what happened with FYRE Festival — a hyped up marketing campaign with a bad product is no bueno.

So once you have perfected your product, you’ll need to navigate the press circuit and promote all of your hard work so you can share with the world! Shannon’s guidance and personal press contact list was instrumental in understanding how to navigate this aspect of startup life.  

Terms such as “editorial calendar” and “press pitch” have become ingrained in my vocabulary as we prepare for our Kickstarter launch.  

There are many more insights and takeaways that I have gained, but the common theme in each takeaway has been that it has created confidence in myself and the crowdfunding process and for that – I am incredibly grateful! 

-Brianna
Founder, Anact

Anact is short for “an act”. The simple act of creating impact. My simple act was developing a hemp-based towel that is good for all people and the planet. 

When you buy a towel, you’re already taking action and making a difference.  We hope you take it a step further and each time you use the Anact towels you’re inspired to take simple acts to create impact too.


To pre-order your own hemp & organic cotton towel, you can support Anact on Kickstarter here.

fashion branding

3 Fashion Branding and Marketing Tips to Attract Customers

The fashion industry is competitive — there’s no doubt about it.

And yet, it’s not hard to find new, successful brands popping up across the industry.

No one knew about Everlane until it became Everlane.

No one knew about Reformation until it became Reformation.

And no one knew about Summersalt until… well, you get the idea.

There is room for you and the brand you want to create.

The key is to position yourself in a way that sets you apart from everyone else.

In today’s video, I’m going to share three ways to market your brand so that it attracts customers.

fashion branding

What’s your brand’s “X factor?” I’ve provided three different ways to think about.

Now it’s up to you to define that X factor for yourself.

Need some help? Leave a comment below the video and we’ll talk it out : )

 

 


sustainable fashion advice

SEO

What You Need to Know About SEO for Your Sustainable Fashion Brand

Last week I *hopefully* convinced you that it’s not only worth the time and effort to blog about your fashion brand, but it’s imperative. If you missed that post you can read it here.

Today I want to talk about the not-so-sexy side of creating content for your brand and why your blog strategy depends on these three letters:

S
E
O

SEO stands for “search engine optimization” — Wait! Before your eyes glaze over and you click away… let’s take a pause for a puppy break.

Okay, still with me?

In layman’s terms, SEO is the language that the internet speaks and is the reason that some articles rank on the first page of Google and why a very similar article could be buried in the depths of the cloud.

Why is this important to you? Because you want to rank on the first page of Google.

Why should you care? Because it’s one more way that your target customers can find your business.

It looks like this:

Cara has a sustainable fashion brand that sells five-piece capsule collections through her Shopify store. 

Cara also has a blog that features articles about minimalism, sustainability, ethical fashion, travel, clean beauty and other topics that appeal to her ideal target customer. 

Now, here’s where SEO comes in.

Because her blog titles are “optimized” for the “search engines” with “keywords,” her blog posts come up when her ideal target customer searches for a topic she’s written about.

So, let’s say a potential customer is searching on Google, looking for bloggers to follow who have sustainable wardrobes. 

The very first article that appears on Google’s front page is Cara’s article: 10 Bloggers Who Will Inspire Your Sustainable Wardrobe

SEO

The potential customer clicks on Cara’s blog post, finds herself reading valuable and engaging content and knows she’s found exactly what she was looking for.

What happens next?

Maybe the potential customer clicks away, but it’s far more likely that one of three things happens:

  1. She clicks over to another related blog post and stays on Cara’s blog longer.
  2. She is invited to subscribe to Cara’s email list through an email opt-in.
  3. She clicks over to Cara’s Shopify site where she realizes that not only does Cara blog about sustainable fashion, she has an entire line of sustainable fashion to purchase!

Do you see how powerful this machine of SEO and blogging works?

The task of creating blog content is something that can benefit your brand for months and years to come. 

Okay, so now that I’ve *hopefully* convinced you that SEO is important to your blog strategy, it begs the question — how do you get started optimizing and finding keywords to write about?

First, I would encourage you to install an SEO plug-in to whichever blog platform you’re using (I use Yoast for WordPress.) 

This will help you find keywords and optimize your blog posts — there’s an easy red light, yellow light, green light system that Yoast uses to tell you if you’re good to go.

Beyond that, there are people much smarter than me who have written all about SEO, so I’m going to link to them below:

  • If you prefer reading, HubSpot has a very thorough guide here
  • If you prefer listening, Jenna Kutcher has an SEO podcast here.
  • If you prefer outsourcing, current Factory45’er Gabbby Covay runs an agency that provides SEO services here.

And if you want to take a closer look at Cara as my guinea pig, her blog is here and her brand is here

She’s also a Factory45 alum, so I’ve been able to witness from the beginning how she’s built each block of her business strategy (it’s impressive).

These technical things are what we, as creatives, tend to avoid but I’m here to tell you, there’s no point in blogging for the sake of blogging.

There needs to be a consistent strategy around what you write about, and SEO is a big part of that.

Phew. I know. It’s a lot of work… More puppies?

You can do this.

 

 


Sustainable Fashion Advice

blog

Why You Need a Blog for Your Sustainable Fashion Brand — Really.

If I polled an audience of startup fashion designers and asked them the number one business task they dread the most, I bet I could guess what most of them would say.

It’s not Google Analytics…

Or calculating costs… 

Or managing a budget…

(Although I’m sure those are high on the list.)

The number one thing that most fashion entrepreneurs resist is:

Blogging.

I’m not talking about blogging as in being a “fashion blogger” and sharing your #ootd and styled outfits.

I’m talking about blogging as a strategic marketing tactic to attract an audience and create potential customers for your brand. 

In other words, blogging as a means to sell your products.

I’ve done a lot of research on this and all of the experts agree,

Blogging is not going anywhere.

It is still an incredibly powerful tool to grow your brand presence, drive traffic to your landing page or online store and convert website visitors into paying customers.

If you’re not leveraging it for your business, then you’re doing yourself a disservice and that’s what I want to help you with today.

So, what in the world are you supposed to write about?

Let me first say that a blog post does not have to be written. 

There are multiple mediums for blogging today, including audio and video, so if you don’t consider yourself a “good writer” you’re not off the hook!

The content you produce depends on which stage of business you’re in. For our purposes, I’m going to apply this to those of you who don’t have anything to sell yet.

Because yes, you should be marketing and building an audience before you have anything to sell. (But you already knew that, right?)

When brainstorming content ideas, the “winning topics” should fall under one of two categories:

  1. A personal post about you, your story, why you’re starting your brand and a behind the scenes look at building your business. It should be written in a way that connects with your ideal target customer (i.e. reader).
  2. An educational, entertaining or inspirational post that provides valuable content for your ideal target customer (i.e. reader).

That’s it — one of those two things.

The goal is for every blog post to either 1.) connect or 2.) provide value — in an ideal world, it does both.

Now, here’s the key to blogging:

Consistency.

Once a week, on the same day, you want to publish a new blog post and send it out to your email list and social media following.

The easiest way to make sure you’re consistent in this is to brainstorm content ideas in advance and to devise a system.

You can stay organized by creating an editorial calendar and a workflow spreadsheet.

The editorial calendar ensures that you have blog post topics lined up weeks in advance.

The workflow spreadsheet ensures that you know exactly what you need to do to optimize your new blog post every week.

If you’re still reading, then you’ve earned this… 

You can access my Editorial Calendar template here and my Workflow Spreadsheet here.

Simply copy and paste the contents and put them into your own Google Drive spreadsheet.

Finally, and most importantly, how does blogging work to create customers?

By getting readers to sign up to your email list.

This is the number one goal for every piece of marketing content you create when you don’t have products to sell yet.

By growing your email list, you’re ensuring that when you do have something to sell you’ll have an audience to sell it to.

So, will you publish a blog post next week?

 


Want weekly fashion startup advice sent straight to your inbox? Click here to sign up >>

4 Fabric Sourcing Mistakes Most New Designers Make (and How to Avoid Them)

“Oh, man. I was going about this all wrong…” she said to me, looking like the ‘face palm’ emoji.

“No wonder no one was emailing me back.”

This is an all-too-common feeling for new designers who are just starting out in the overwhelming world of fabric sourcing.

You know that whatever you’re doing isn’t working, but you don’t exactly know why.

Maybe your inquiry email is unclear. 

Maybe you’re not asking for the right thing… in the right way.

Maybe the supplier simply overlooked your email.

Whatever the reason, I do know this:

The vast majority of new designers are making four very common fabric sourcing mistakes.

And in this week’s video, I’m going to tell you what they are so you can avoid them.

If you’re not making the progress you need to source fabric and materials for your fashion brand, then I hope this video will help you on your search.

In the comments below the video, let me know which of the four mistakes you might be making and we can talk it through more.

To your success,

 

Instagram Experiment

The Instagram Experiment that Doubled My Engagement

“The Instagram algorithm is literally paralyzing me.”

I was talking to two startup designers at TexWorld, a fabric sourcing trade show in NYC.

“Gah, I’m so happy to hear you say that,” one of my Factory45 alum replied, “It’s paralyzing me,  too.” 

If you use Instagram to attract new customers and market your own brand, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

There is so. much. pressure. on the backs of small businesses to excel on this platform and with the ever-changing algorithms, Instagram is not making it easy on us.

Over the past two months, I’ve posted no more than THREE times on Instagram. 

And I’ve deleted two of those three posts after the fact because they didn’t look pretty “in the grid.”

The struggle is real. 

We are all putting in so much time and effort creating the content… making sure it’s aesthetically on-brand… writing a thoughtful caption… and then creating even more content for Instagram Stories.

Once we do finally click publish, only 2 percent of our followers even see the photo. It’s a wonder we haven’t already abandoned ship.

BUT, this is not a complain-festival.

After doing a bunch of research, I’ve accumulated some expert advice on the subject.

And then I did an experiment to pass along my “findings” to all of you.

Do you want the good news or the bad news?

Okay, I’ll start with the bad news first.

> 99 percent of the time, photos of you will perform better than anything else.

I know, I know, you did not want me to say that but deep down, you already knew it.

The number one way to increase likes and engagement is to post photos of yourself (and apparently, selfies really crush it).

I’m not going to get into the details about how to get in front of the camera and take good photos, but Jenna Kutcher has a helpful podcast episode (and transcript) about it here

Also, if you’re thinking, “How is showing my face on-brand to what I’m selling?” check out the fashion brands @shitthatiknit and @dudley_stephens to see how founders Christina and Lauren get in front of the camera.

Okay, now for the good news.

> When it comes to Instagram photos (not Stories), it’s about quality over quantity.

Back in the day, it wasn’t uncommon for people to post on IG every single day or multiple times a day.

Nowadays, it’s actually recommended to do less. And I don’t know about you, but that’s a huge relief. 

For maximum results, post 2-3 days a week (and try to hop on Stories every day).

> And now for the results of my experiment…

Last night I posted a photo after over two weeks of barely being on Instagram. In my head, I was thinking, the algorithm is going to kill my engagement for this.

But, I followed some of the advice I was getting and immediately before I published the photo, I spent 30 minutes engaging with other accounts I follow — I *wasn’t* just scrolling and “liking,” I was commenting, DM’ing, messaging on Stories, etc. 

And then I published this photo from TexWorld that yes, is a photo of me, has a thoughtful caption and a call-to-action at the end.

Instagram Experiment

In less than 12 hours, I had double the likes and comments in over six months of posts — and I didn’t have to pay to boost it. The engagement was 100% organic.

So, what does that tell me?

  1. Yes, I really do need to get in front of the camera in an authentic way.
  2. Besides advertising dollars, Instagram’s main goal is to keep people on the platform for as long as possible. If you engage with others, instead of mindlessly scrolling and “hearting,” then you are helping Instagram with its goal. They will reward your own account for it.
  3. Continue engaging after you publish. If you can, keep checking back in for about an hour after you post and try to respond to comments on your photo as quickly as possible. Again, Instagram is looking for engagement and they will boost your post to more of your audience if its algorithm sees people engaging with it.
  4. If you need to take a digital detox or IG hiatus for a bit, it won’t kill your account. Yes, you may lose a few followers but you can jump right back in after some time to refresh, regroup and plan more thoughtful content.

So, whether this is breaking news to you or you’ve heard it all before, the summary is this:

Get in front of the camera & plan to engage.

I’m challenging myself to do more of this, and I’m challenging all of you who may be struggling with the platform.

I’m going to commit two hours a week to batch shooting with a self-timer on my phone, writing captions and scheduling 1-2 weeks in advance on Planoly.

And then I’m going to commit to 10 minutes a day of genuine engagement with the accounts I follow.

It sounds like a lot of work but hey, running and growing a business is a lot of work.

And Instagram is still a valuable tool for getting in front of your ideal customer.

So, instead of feeling “paralyzed,” I’m making a conscious choice to feel empowered.

Will you join me?

 

 

P.S. Continue reading >> 4 Instagram Hacks You (Probably) Didn’t Know on the Factory45 blog

trade show

How to Source Fabric at a Trade Show

It is officially fabric trade show season! What does that mean for you?

There is a good likelihood that there is some sort of wholesale fabric show happening in a city near you — whether that’s a short plane ride or right down the street.

StartUp Fashion put together a comprehensive list for 2019 here.

Why would you want to go to a fabric trade show as a designer or brand?

It’s not because you should buy fabric.

It’s not because you should collect business cards.

And it’s not because most of them are free.

The reason to go to a fabric trade show is so you can see hundreds of different fabrics in one place. 

So you can hold them in your hands.

So you can compare them to each other.

So you can feel the different weights and textures.

It’s so you can cut down on the amount of time you spend waiting for swatches to arrive in the mail.

If I’ve convinced you that it’s a worthwhile trip to make, here’s what you need to know next:

How to make the most of your time there.

And that’s what this video is all about… 

5 tips for making sure you have a successful trade show experience.

Have you already been to a trade show before? Leave a comment below the video and let me know which one(s) you’ve gone to. 

Also, leave a comment if I’ll see you at TexWorld USA next week!

 

 

sustainable brand

Build Your Sustainable Brand on a Limited Budget

Last week I sent out a survey to gather feedback on email topics that would be helpful to you. You can still weigh in with your input here.

Most of you said you preferred watching videos or listening to audio to reading — and one of the most asked about topics was money.

How can you launch a fashion brand on a limited budget?

So, as a continued part of my YouTube experiment, that’s the question I’m answering today…

I’m sharing three ways to make the most of your money, launch your brand with limited risk and reduce the upfront price of product development.

I’ve worked with many brands over the years to effectively used these strategies without thousands of dollars sitting in the bank…

>> Click here to watch <<

Make no mistake, you need capital to start any business — especially a product-based business.

But to get off the ground, it’s not as much as you think.

You can watch the full video here.

Enjoy!

 

shannon lohr founder of factory45

How to Launch a Fashion Line Without Fashion School

Can you really launch a fashion line without going to fashion school?

YES.

Right around this time every year, I start to hear from many of you who want to apply to Factory45.

The biggest concern?

I don’t have a fashion background!
I didn’t go to fashion school!
I don’t know how to design or sew!

I ONLY have an idea!

And what do I have to say to that?

Great!

To be the right fit for the Factory45 program, you only need an idea in your head.

We’ll figure out the rest.

And today, to celebrate the launch of the Factory45 YOUTUBE channel — I’m sharing 3 reasons you can absolutely launch a fashion line without going to fashion school.

fashion school

I’m going to use this channel to share tips and advice for every stage of running a sustainable fashion brand.

So, if you’re into video and want to see more of them, please click here and “Subscribe” to the Factory45 channel. You’ll simply get pinged when new videos go up (every Wednesday!)

And if you have suggestions or topics you’d like me to cover in a 3-5 minute video, then I’m ALL ears – simply email me at shannon@factory45.co.

Thank you so much for your support in this latest creative endeavor… and don’t forget, applications to the 2019 program of Factory45 open NEXT WEEK!

I’ll send out an email on Wednesday, 5/15 to let you know that applications are open.

If Factory45 is the right fit for you this year, I’d love to hear from you.

More next week and in the meantime,

Check out the first two videos here >>

 

 


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