clean living

I could feel the heat rushing to my face and my voice beginning to shake.

I was on a Zoom call with a DEI consultant to discuss the blind spots and racial biases within the Factory45 program.

I had actively sought this out, but it didn’t diminish how uncomfortable I felt.

I started rambling off about how I wanted my company to be a part of the solution, instead of perpetuating the problem, with a list of all of the things I was personally doing to fight racial injustice.

The consultant stopped me and simply said, “Stay in your lane.”

She went on to explain that it’s not my place to try and single-handedly aid racial justice reform.

Instead, she asked, “How can you create impact within your industry or area of expertise?”

“Go deep,” she said. “Not wide.”

And that’s what I’ve been grappling with all summer.

So, I did what I always do when I don’t have the answers… 

I spent three months immersed in research: I took courses, I enrolled in programs, I read books, I watched webinars… 

And in mid-August, over a conversation with my sister, I figured out what I need to do next.

Will it solve racial inequality? No.

But it will be accessible and inclusive to all people, in a way that improves their lives and helps to create a more sustainable world.

In a follow-up email from the consultant I worked with, she wrote:

“We connected your DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) work to eco-living, which seems to be the area you are most confident.” 

Eco-Living. Not just eco-fashion?

It was at that moment I realized… 

This is my lane.

I can do so much more beyond fashion.

Ten years ago, sustainable fashion was the first step I took into the world of sustainable living.

But in that decade, there were other topics that I researched, learned and applied to my own life: whether it was food, or shampoo, cleaning supplies or deodorant.

While eco-fashion is niche and at times exclusive, eco-living is something that can benefit anyone and be inclusive to everyone.

It’s no secret that we are at a turning point in how we live. The pandemic has put a spotlight on the myriad issues within our healthcare system, education and yes, racial inequality.

It’s also no secret that COVID-19, as well as diseases like breast cancer and diabetes,  disproportionately affect the Black community and people of color.

While social distancing and mask-wearing are the repeated calls to action (and important to stop the spread of germs), we can protect our own health with greater access to clean living education.

I’m not talking about eating right or exercising daily. 

I’m talking about education when it comes to the ingredients in the products we use, wear and apply to our bodies daily.

There is so much that we don’t know about the products we use every day — we don’t know what brands to trust, which ingredients to avoid, what to switch to and which companies are greenwashing a lie.

For most people, it’s overwhelming to sift through research about toxins and parabens when we’re all just trying to make it through the day, put dinner on the table and get the kids to bed.

But here’s the thing: eco-living, clean living, sustainable living (whatever you want to call it) is more important than most of us know.

It’s not just about being kinder to our environment — it’s about being kinder to ourselves. 

And I want to share the easy changes I’ve made over the years that, in most cases, don’t cost more money or require that much more effort.

So, that’s what I’m working on this Fall — a passion project called The Clean Living Podcast.

I realized there wasn’t a podcast out there with easy-to-digest, no-shame tips about detoxing your home, food and beauty products. 

So the episodes will be less than 10 minutes with one quick tip that you can listen to while making dinner, folding laundry or waiting for someone to join a Zoom call ; ) 

In the coming weeks, I’ll share more about what’s gone into creating the show. 

I’ll also introduce you to the people I’ve been working with and probably ask for your input and opinions on some things.

To be honest, this has been one of the hardest projects I’ve worked on in a long time, but it’s something I know I need to do. So:

The Clean Living Podcast launches on October 21st, wherever you get your podcasts.

 

 

 


P.S. And no, I’m not abandoning sustainable fashion : ) Factory45 will open again in May 2021 and I’m still working hard with this year’s cohort of entrepreneurs. I think this new project is simply the next phase of my life’s work.

A banner that reads "We who believe in freedom cannot rest"

As I’ve been listening and learning over the past months, BIPOC leaders have been asking brands to come forward with a public anti-racism statement.

This is something that can be viewed on your website, as one way to stand in alliance with Black people and People of Color. 

It’s a commitment to building and maintaining an anti-racist business.

One of the most important parts of this request is for the statement to be made thoughtfully, knowing that the words are nothing without action. 

How will you reallocate funds to Black-owned businesses?

How will you diversify your team and ensure Black representation?

How will you represent Black Folx in your marketing and branding, without perpetuating tokenism?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to creating a more equitable brand.

In July, I added my anti-racism statement to the Factory45 website after working with a DEI coach to ensure I could uphold my commitment.

And the intentions behind my words have been a primary focus this summer, as they will continue to be.

So, I have two calls to action for my fellow business owners and Factory45’ers today:

1.) Create your own statement and publish it publicly on your website (if you haven’t already). My statement is above the footer of my website if you scroll down. Feel free to use the words to make it your own, as mine is an adaptation from Rachel Rodger’s Anti-racist Small Business Pledge found here.

*It goes without saying, but the actions are more important than the words. This is not a marketing tactic or a branding opportunity, rather it’s a way to hold your business accountable to the commitment you’re making.

2.) If you haven’t made it a priority to reevaluate your business and how it can be more inclusive and diverse, then I have a free exercise for you here. It was inspired and guided by another DEI consultant Erica Courdae.

This public declaration is one step.

It’s one small thing we can do to ignite change.

And there’s no question that the world needs it.

 

 

 

 

white fashion business

This is not another templated blog post telling you that Black Lives Matter.

This is a call to action.

Over the past week or so, I have absorbed more education about one subject than I have about anything else in my life.

From articles to books to conversations to webinars, I have been processing what it truly means to be a white ally to BIPOC, what it means to do anti-racist work — and more importantly, acknowledging my unearned privilege in a system that was rigged to my benefit. 

Brands across all industries are being called out for their implicit (and yes, explicit) biases, and we’re realizing that we can all do better. 

Most of us have heard the expression, “We are not born with ‘isms.’ Racism is taught.”

And just as people aren’t born racist, most businesses aren’t born racist either.

The vast majority of entrepreneurs don’t start companies to deliberately suppress people of color.

But here’s the thing:

Most of us don’t go into business with plans to amplify and support people of color either.

Our passive decision making is directly harming anti-racist work. By not putting diversity and equity at the forefront of our core business values, we are not only contributing to the problem… 

We are the problem.

We simply cannot continue business as normal, without addressing the fundamental flaws of the sustainable and ethical fashion industry and it’s white-washed behavior.

As a leader in this space, someone who encourages people to start sustainable fashion brands for the good of planet and people, it is my responsibility to ensure that we’re starting brands that are good for all people.

I also recognize that there are professionals in diversity and inclusion training that will do a far better job teaching anti-racist business principles than I can.

So today, I want to introduce you to one of those people.

Erica Courdae is the CEO of a hair and makeup business that disrupted industry standards to consider the beauty of those not regularly featured. 

After decades of experience in creating a space for dialogue around diversity, equity and inclusion, she is now a consultant and coach for businesses that are committed to being imperfect allies of BIPOC.

On Thursday, June 18th, sponsored by The Garment, Erica is teaching a webinar exclusively for fashion brands about how we can be better allies.

“Step into a reality that isn’t the one you inhabit every single day. This is where the growth happens.” — Erica Courdae

Erica is being compensated for her time, knowledge and skills, but the webinar is free for you to attend. You can register here.

I will be there with an open mind, listening, learning and challenging myself to dig deeper in how I can commit to doing the long-term work.

Because believe me, there isn’t an overnight solution in showing up

The point is to continue showing up — within yourself, within your family and within your business.

If we truly want to live in an equal and just world, then there’s no other option.

See you next Thursday here,

 

 

 

 

Want to take action right now? Rachel Rodgers is hosting a Town Hall for small businesses TONIGHT at 6pm ET / 3pm PT. You can register here.


I know we’ve all been inundated with resources, but here are two links that have particularly stood out to me. 

*Note: If you’re sensitive to explicit language, then you may want to skip.

White Apathy & The Bullshit Argument that “They Could Help Themselves If They Really Wanted To” by Ash Ambirge

Police: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (If you can’t commit to 30 minutes, then just watch the last two minutes.)

 

fashion entrepreneur

Do you want to make the leap from the traditional fashion industry to the sustainable fashion industry?

Or maybe you want to start off as a sustainable brand from the get go.

Sustainable and ethical fashion is a constantly growing industry, especially as more consumers are becoming aware of how important it is to planet and people.

So, where do you start?

Today, I’m sharing the three most important aspects of a sustainable fashion brand and what you need to make sure you know how to do.

 

 

If these three things are already top of mind for you and you’re ready to get started, then applications to Factory45 are now open HERE!

To changing the fashion industry,

 

 

fabric sourcing template


designer woman walking in california

The other day I was on a podcast interview, and the host asked me how I reach big goals.

I’ve shared with you before that I’m not a goal-setter in the traditional sense. Instead, I focus on the small “action steps” needed to achieve big goals.

And that’s where I started in January of this year.

The “goal” was to create a new brand video for Factory45 that would portray the experience of being an entrepreneur in the program.

I had a vision of what the final video would look like, but I really didn’t know how to bring it to life.

I’m not a filmmaker, I’m not a script writer and I’m certainly not an actress.

So, I got out a notebook and I made a list of all of the things that would need to come together to make this big goal happen within the budget that I set.

Hire experts who do this professionally… write a script… edit, edit and re-edit the script… approve a storyboard… find an “actress” for the video… hire a voiceover… lay out a timeline… create a shooting schedule, etc…

Thankfully — and this is always applicable advice — we started working on the video so far in advance that we finished filming two weeks before we got stay-at-home orders.

Advanced planning paid off more than ever this year.

So, how did it all come together?

I hired Drew and Kestrel of Falcon Related, who have worked with me before to create the Factory45 portal videos.

Jen Long, who is the founder of Noble Carriage, happens to live in San Diego (where I’m based right now) and she was willing to be our actress. 

She also happens to be the consulting client I worked with in 2014 who inspired the idea for the Factory45 program — how’s that for a full-circle moment?

Holly Stavnes, the co-founder of Left Edit, provided the voiceover for us — and she also went through the Factory45 program in 2017.

That’s all to say, the new brand video came together in such an authentic and genuine way that I couldn’t have planned it better in January if I tried.

It’s a lesson in trusting the process, setting up a plan of action and following through on the little steps to make it happen.

Anyway, you can see for yourself — just click the play button below : )

 

 

 


Factory45 Mentors

SUSTAINABLE FASHION FORUM tickets are now on sale HERE! Meet me in Portland, Oregon on April 24-26 for what is sure to be a power-packed sustainable fashion experience.

I’m already getting imposter syndrome just looking at the line-up of incredible speakers, but I'm thrilled to be speaking on a panel over the weekend.

Whether you’re in “idea stage,” have an established brand or are a seasoned pro, I’ve heard the Sustainable Fashion Forum does not disappoint (this is my first time attending!). Tickets are available for purchase here.

Sustainable Fashion Forum


SHOPIFY’S SOCIAL IMPACT TEAM launched a Sustainability Forum last week that’s free! You can join in the conversation and ask questions of various people in the field of social entrepreneurship. 

I’m one of the designated “sustainable fashion experts” and this is a great opportunity to get some of your questions answered quickly about supply chain, packaging, social impact and more. You can check out the ongoing conversations or start your own HERE.

factory45 shopify


SUSTAINABLE FASHION STARTUP FROM SCRATCH: WHERE TO BEGIN is now available to watch HERE! I’m running an encore of this episode since we had some email issues when it was originally sent out a few weeks ago. 

In this video, I’m sharing the first five steps to consider when creating a sustainable fashion startup from scratch. You can watch the five-minute video here.

sustainable-fashion-startup


Enjoy!

 

 


subscribe

When I launched the Factory45 accelerator program in 2014 I couldn’t have dreamed that we would eventually create an online marketplace, selling some of the brands that have launched through the program.

In creating Market45, an ethical fashion marketplace, my goal is to showcase the small, independent brands that are moving the fashion industry forward in a more conscious way.

The Market45 SS19 Lookbook is a way to celebrate that.

Each page showcases nine brands that have graduated from Factory45 and are selling on Market45. Their collective goal is to lessen their environmental impact, educate shoppers and provide better clothing choices to consumers.

As you flip through the pages, I invite you to get to know the products as well as the female founders behind them.

If you see something you know you’ll wear for years to come, you can find everything on Market45.co and get 10 percent off your purchase.

So, without further ado, click on the cover page below to meet the brands of the Market45 Spring/Summer Lookbook!LOOKBOOK


Market45

What do you get when you pair two style-obsessed women with a shared passion for sustainability?

You get a womenswear brand with bold colors, custom-designed prints and fashion-forward silhouettes.

Meet Left Edit, essentials that make an impression.

You may recognize Kestrel Jenkins as a longtime sustainable fashion advocate and the voice behind the Conscious Chatter podcast.

Teaming up with Holly Stavnes, formerly the founder of accessories brand Hera By Day, the duo has created a responsibly-manufactured and sustainably-sourced fashion brand for women.

At the end of last year, Holly and Kestrel successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign to pre-sell their first collection of five dresses.

In 30 days, they raised over $20,000 to fund their first production run.

Left Edit 1

The five dresses were designed, prototyped and tested to ensure ease of movement, versatility, longevity, quality and community — putting responsible manufacturing at the forefront.

The fabrics are lower-impact than conventional fabrics, including Tencel linen, 100% Tencel and Cupro, and they boast bold colors and bright prints in an industry that’s already thriving in the basics and neutrals department.

Over two years ago, I met Kestrel and Holly for drinks in San Diego where they first presented the idea of Left Edit to me.

Shortly after, they joined the Factory45 program and spent over a year establishing a brand presence on Instagram, growing a following, designing and redesigning their first collection, sourcing fabric, meeting with factories, and more.

Leading up to their Kickstarter campaign, Holly and Kestrel seamlessly “teased out” the brand reveal so that by the time they launched, there was an eager fan-base of customers waiting to pre-order.

As they gear up to ship their first batch of garments this spring, the five debut dresses are still available for pre-sale on the Left Edit website here. (I pre-ordered The Eve : )  

You can also follow along and connect with Left Edit on Instagram: @leftedit

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

This is the final part of a six-month photography series, featuring sustainable fashion products on Instagram. You can see July’s products here, August’s products here, September’s products here, October’s products here and November’s products here.

December has come and gone… but with the holiday break, I didn’t get a chance to share the sixth (and final!) part of my Instagram project with Boston photographer Joyelle West.

All of the brands below are past Factory45’ers. Two of them are available to shop on Market45 now and one of them is coming to the site next month!

This has been such a fun project to take on for the past six months. It ended up being an awesome way to promote Market45 brands and a great way to push me out of my comfort zone : )

I’m currently working on some different content for Instagram (that won’t involve me in front of the camera!) and I’m very excited to share it with you in the coming months. If you’re not already following Factory45 on Instagram you can do so here.

Now, keep reading for December’s featured sustainable fashion products:

NOVEL SUPPLY CO. | CABIN CREW

Founded by Factory45’er Kaya Dorey, Novel Supply Co. is a lifestyle brand for the urban adventurer. Designed with the West Coast lifestyle in mind, the collection of crewneck sweatshirts, muscle tanks and t-shirts are ethically made in Canada from hemp and organic cotton.

The Cabin Crew (pictured above) is made of the coziest hemp fleece and printed with non-toxic dyes. I’ve been living in it all winter and it’s as warm as it looks.

You can shop the Cabin Crew and other apparel for the urban adventurer here. Use code MARKET45 for 10% off your total purchase


HARLY JAE | FLORES BLOUSE

Harly Jae is another Canadian brand that was created in Vancouver, B.C. Factory45’er Laïla Bédard-Potvin designs feminine and vintage-inspired garments that aim to be simple without being basic.

Inspired by her father who passed away when Laïla was 11, Harly Jae has set out to shake up the fashion industry and create its own path.

You can shop other feminine and vintage-inspired designs from Harly Jae here. Use code MARKET45 for 10% off your total purchase.


REPRISE | LACE-UP LEGGINGS

Founded by Factory45’er Mary Bemis, Reprise is a line of plant-based activewear that’s addressing the widespread use of synthetics in workout clothing.

Every time you wash synthetic fabrics, typically used for activewear, it sheds thousands of microplastics into the water, eventually ending up in the ocean.

Reprise uses fabric made out of eucalyptus trees, eliminating the micro-plastics problem and giving you a much “cleaner” workout.

You can shop the lace-up leggings and other plant-based activewear here (and you’ll find Reprise on Market45 soon!)


To see the rest of December’s featured products (like Vesta and Mamachic), come on over to Instagram by clicking here.

And don’t forget, you can now shop other sustainable and ethical fashion brands on Market45 here!

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

 

 

P.S. When you use the discount code MARKET45 I receive a 5% referral commission. I only promote products and brands that I personally wear and believe in.


Market45

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