Podcast Ep. 38: This Might Be *The* Secret to Success

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How many times have you wanted to give up? Whether it was entrepreneurship, a job, your education, a relationship or something else… If you ever faced feelings of wanting to throw it all away, what stopped you from doing it? What kept you going and invested in the long game? Perhaps you already know the answer, but the next time you face these same feelings I want you to consider this… because it might just be *the* key to success.


How many times have you wanted to give up? Whether it was entrepreneurship, a job, your education, a relationship or something else… If you ever faced feelings of wanting to throw it all away, what stopped you from doing it? What kept you going and invested in the long game? Perhaps you already know the answer, but the next time you face these same feelings I want you to consider this… because it might just be *the* key to success.

I’ve shared this story before, so if you’ve already heard it bear with me because I think it does a great job of communicating the main point I want to convey in this episode.

Back in 2011, when I was starting what would eventually become a New York Times-featured sustainable fashion brand, my co-founder and I felt so far away from any semblance of success that to think about a New York Times reporter wanting to interview us would have sounded like a prank.

We had been working on our brand for months and had just spent our first significant amount of money – several thousand dollars – to hire a pattern and samplemaker who would create a prototype of our first design. 

We felt good about the decision. We had flown to North Carolina to meet with the patternmaker in person – they even had us over to their house. We had gone over our spec sheet, talked through all of the details, measurements and design elements. And we left North Carolina having made a 50% deposit with the promise of a finished prototype in three weeks. 

And then that three weeks turned into three months. Three months of waiting for one completed sample, out of the 10 designs we had planned for our first line… I wish I could tell you that it was worth the wait, but after all of that time the sample finally arrived in the mail looking nothing like the original design from our spec sheet.

It was as if our samplemaker forgot we paid her to do this project and then when she remembered, she took an old sample of a different dress that she never used and sent it to us hoping we wouldn’t notice.

It was completely demoralizing. A waste of thousands of dollars on a sample we couldn’t use, a waste of three months that we could have used to sample other pieces, a waste of air travel to go across the country and meet this person. All for what? 

It was the closest we came to giving up – before we had really gotten started. Had we walked away at that point we would have never seen our names in the New York Times, never would have pre-sold to 800 very excited first customers, never would have been paid $3,000 for our first big speaking engagement.

There was so much success to come that we never would have known about.

So why did we stay? Why did we keep going? Why did we continue spending time and money on a project that didn’t seem to have any legs?

Because of accountability.

Accountability is one of the key factors of success.

What do I mean by that?

Well, in this case, my co-founder and I were accountable to each other. It was an “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird” situation… without the romance… and Ryan Gosling.

We wouldn’t dream of disappointing each other. And when one of us was ready to quit, or feeling down, then the other one immediately jumped into the role of cheerleader and optimist. We continuously took turns taking on that role.

The other piece of this was the accountability we had to our audience – our loyal following of future customers.

Because we had been writing to our email list, blogging and posting on social media for months leading up to this point, we had a small but mighty group of people invested in our journey and in our eventual success. We were accountable to them and didn’t want to let them down.

So it begs the question: how do you find this level of accountability? Accountability that will keep you going through the hard moments so that you eventually get to the good ones.

Besides finding a co-founder (which is truthfully difficult to do and has other complications) and besides being accountable to your audience, I want to share some other ways you can find accountability so that it plays a hand in your own success.

The first way is through COMMUNITY. Community is such a general term and can look many different ways but the main thing here is to look for a formalized community. That means structure, time or financial investment from the other members and a routine or schedule in how often you meet. The great thing about building a community is that it can be self-led with two or three other people or it can be led by an educator, brand, consultant or leader in the fashion education space. This is the option for accountability that you can do for free – by just reaching out to a few other fashion brand founders – but I do know from experience and observation that generally speaking, the paid communities tend to be more valuable because people are quite literally invested.

The second option for accountability is to hire a COACH or CONSULTANT. When I started Factory45 and no longer had a co-founder and didn’t have employees or contractors yet, this is what I did for accountability. In fact, even now that I’m 10+ years into my entrepreneurial journey and have coworkers around me, I continue to work with a business coach. I always get a return on investment – and having an outside party, who can see a different perspective on your business, but is still invested in your success, can pay itself tenfold. Whether its a 1:1 consultant or group coaching from a consultant like myself, through a program like Factory45, the accountability and again, the personal investment in holding yourself accountable is a huge factor in getting to that next level of success.

And the third option is to find a MENTOR. Like the Community that I already mentioned, you can sometimes find an informal mentor that doesn’t cost anything but if you go that route, I do recommend trying to formalize it when you can. Of course you have to be conscious of this person’s time and energy in how they’re mentoring you, if it’s free, but if you can get them to commit to a once per month or every other month meeting schedule then that’s what I’d recommend. Again, you often get what you pay for, and in this case, since you’d be paying nothing you can’t count on the person to keep the commitment, not reschedule or cancel last minute. And then of course you can find mentorship through a program, course or community you pay for. For example, in Factory45, you have me as your consultant but we also have 12 Alumni Mentors that each entrepreneur is matched up with at the beginning of the program for 1:1 support. And then of course there’s the element of peer mentorship that you can find in other coaching programs and education platforms through the other student entrepreneurs who you’re working alongside. I can think of three Factory45’ers who formed their own internal peer mentorship group and took it upon themselves to meet every week and hold each other accountable.

And not to just completely plug Factory45 here, but the Factory45 program is all of those – each of those three elements of accountability – wrapped up into one. It’s an investment that earns you lifetime access to both the program and the accountability from your mentor, from myself and from your peers.

And as a bonus, we also teach you how to market your brand so that you build an audience to be held accountable to as well.

But Factory45 aside, whether you eventually join the program or not, find a way to be held accountable to your business dreams and goals. Because when times get tough and obstacles come up, you’re going to need an outside force to get you back into gear. Even solopreneurship is not something you want to go at alone.

If this episode was showing the value of accountability and you want to learn more about how Factory45 can provide that next level of accountability for you. If you’re looking for support, guidance, and other people who are going through a similar journey – if you want someone who can walk you through all the steps from idea to launch and implement them… then I want you to take a closer look at Factory45. 

If it looks exciting to you and you’re ready to raise money for your fashion brand without taking on debt, find an ethical manufacturer to produce your line, and have customers ready to buy as soon as you launch, I want you to go to factory45.co/apply . You can book a free discovery call with us – there’s no commitment required – and you can simply talk about whether Factory45 is right for you. The link is in the show notes below – we hope to hear from you.