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research stage

3 Tips for Dealing with Information Overload

A few weeks ago, while I was talking with new designers at TexWorld, someone said something that stuck with me:

“I’m feeling overwhelmed by information overload. I’ve been doing research for months and months, but at what point is it enough? At what point do I stop researching and start ‘doing’?”

You’ve probably heard the statistic — it’s something along the lines of how the average person in 2018 consumes more information in a day than a person in the 1800s consumed in their whole life.

We are bombarded with advice, opinions, facts, stats, experts, gurus, advertisements and the like.

It’s enough to cause decision paralysis for even the most confident, decisive and organized of people.

Then there are the rest of us, grasping at which direction to take, which advice to listen to and which research to follow.

And I’m here to tell you,

You can probably stop.

Stop researching. And start implementing.

Because doing is the best research you’re ever going to get.

That’s when you’re going to find what works for you and your brand — instead of what works for someone else.

Is it important to use the guidance of the people who have been there before?

Of course. (I teach a whole fashion program based on that sole concept.)

But for as many articles you read, podcasts you listen to, courses you take and networking events you go to, you have to make sure you’re taking action at the same time.

So, what do you do?

  1. Pick one teacher to start. Maybe it’s Jane from Fashion Brain Academy. Maybe it’s Nicole from Startup Fashion. Maybe it’s Syama from Scaling Retail. Or maybe it’s me. But you don’t need all the experts. Pick someone you trust, someone’s style that jives with how you like to learn, and a personality you connect with.
  2. Implement while you learn. Again, make sure you’re taking action on the new information you’re absorbing. Binders and folders and colored coordinated labels are fun, but those aren’t moving the needle. Choose one thing every day that will move your business forward or get you closer to launch.
  3. Notice if you’re using “research” as a way to procrastinate. If you think you’ve done too much Googling, then you probably have. Step away from the search bar.

And above all, remember, you’re not going to get it all right. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to follow the wrong advice, you’re going to feel paralyzed by all of the decisions you have to make.

But that’s okay.

Because the best entrepreneurs know that when one road dead-ends, you can always reroute.

For better or for worse, there will always be another road to follow.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


the crowdfunding factory

fashion kickstarter

4 Misconceptions About Launching a Fashion Kickstarter

Yesterday I spent 36 hours in New York City, talking to fashion startups about ways to finance their brands.

Needless to say, crowdfunding (specifically Kickstarter) has been on my mind.

If you’re one of those entrepreneurs currently weighing your options about how to launch your company or new collection, keep reading.

Today I want to go over four of the major misconceptions about launching a crowdfunding campaign.

MISCONCEPTION #1: Kickstarter = “donations.”

This might be my biggest pet peeve when I hear people talking about crowdfunding or Kickstarter. Do not, I repeat do not, refer to your campaign as a place to “donate” or “accept donations.”

Kickstarter is not charity. And it’s not even fundraising in a traditional sense.

When it comes to raising money for your fashion brand, Kickstarter is a platform for pre-selling your product before you go into production.

In other words, your customers are financing your first production run for you by pre-ordering what you’re selling. Instead of using your own savings, you’re receiving the money upfront to go into production and deliver your product to your Kickstarter backers.

I repeat, it’s not a donation.

MISCONCEPTION #2: If you build it, they will come.

I estimate that about 75 percent of the work that goes into launching a Kickstarter should be focused on building an audience before you launch.

When campaigns fail it’s usually because the project creator didn’t put enough work into building their email list and social media following.

Will random people discover your project because they are browsing Kickstarter for cool brands?

Probably, but you can’t count on it.

Make sure you have a dedicated following of potential customers before you click that launch button. If that means waiting a few more months to build up your list, then do it!

MISCONCEPTION #3: Most Kickstarter projects succeed.

The majority of Kickstarter campaigns fail.

(That’s part of the reason I’m so proud of the success rate coming out of Factory45 and The Crowdfunding Factory!)

Kickstarter’s Fashion category has one of the lowest success rates, coming in at 25.46%.

I don’t tell you this to discourage you. I still believe that crowdfunding is the absolute best way to launch a new fashion brand.

I tell you this to emphasize how much work and advanced planning needs to go into launching your campaign.

I estimate that you should spend 6-18 months preparing for your campaign and again, building your audience before you launch.

MISCONCEPTION #4: Crowdfunding is dead.

Is Kickstarter saturated? Is social media noisy? Are email lists hard to grow? Yes.

But what’s the alternative?

If you want to launch a successful fashion brand — without wasting your own money and without going into debt — then crowdfunding is still the most low-risk and efficient way to do that.

Why?

Because you’re able to test the market before you launch.

You’re able to ensure that you won’t have unsold inventory sitting in your basement for years.

And you’ll know that you have a product people actually want before you invest the time and money into production.

There is no venture capitalist, bank loan or angel investor who can tell you that.


The moral of the story? Building a business takes a lot of time, thought, patience, hard work, creativity and persistence.

There’s no getting around that.

There is, however, a way to market and test your brand with very little risk to you personally.

And that’s where Kickstarter comes in.

If you want to learn all the steps you need to take to create a fully-funded crowdfunding campaign enrollment to my course, The Crowdfunding Factory, is opening soon.

You can get more details about this self-study program by signing up to the waiting list here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


crowdfunding factory cat

what to expect

What to Expect from Factory45 in 2018

Every year, June feels like January. It’s the month that truly feels like the “new year” for me.

One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was first starting out was to create a schedule and plan for my business that I wanted to follow.

Schools start in September. Corporations end their fiscal year in December. Well, Factory45 starts in June.

Because, hey, I’m the boss and I get to decide.

(Also, good advice: You don’t have to follow other people’s rules.)

With that said, I’ve been looking towards the coming months and planning for the year with a refreshed spring in my step — it’s a wonder what warm weather will do…

So, here’s what’s going on and what you can expect:

FACTORY45

Last week I onboarded this year’s entrepreneurs for the 2018 program of Factory45! This is my fifth year and sixth cohort to come through the accelerator program and every year the caliber of applicants gets more and more impressive.

The majority of my time and focus for the remainder of 2018 will be focused on helping them build their businesses. And I’ll be sharing more about what they’re all working on in the coming months.

PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT

For the next six months, I’m teaming up with Joyelle West, one of Boston’s most talented photographers for a project that I’ve been thinking about for over a year now. Through our collaboration, I’ll be sharing, promoting and showcasing Factory45 products, as well as other sustainable and ethical brands, on Instagram.

You’ll be able to follow along here.

THE MARKETPLACE

The photography project will lead up to the launch of the first-ever… drum roll… Factory45 Marketplace! (Name to be determined.) I am SO excited about this and it’s been long overdue to have an online store to sell some of the Factory45 brands that have launched through the program.

I’ll be sharing more about the process of creating the marketplace with my web designer, Emily Belyea Creative, and you can expect it to be live for holiday season 2018.

TEXWORLD

Thanks to my pal Nicole of StartUp Fashion, I was invited back to TexWorld USA this year to speak on a panel about funding your fashion startup.

I’ll be in New York City for the independent designer meetup, as well as the panel, on July 23-24.

Designers and startups can register to attend for FREE here.

THE CROWDFUNDING FACTORY

Speaking of funding your fashion startup, this topic is my bread and butter. I love teaching low-barrier-to-entry ways of raising money so that you don’t have to go into debt to start your own company.

Throughout the year, I’ll spontaneously open enrollment to my other course, The Crowdfunding Factory, that teaches you how to fund your fashion brand through pre-sales and crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter.

If you don’t have money in the bank to pay for your first production run, I created this course for you.

You can get on the waiting list and be notified when enrollment opens here.


Between all of that, I’ll be over here doing my mom thing! Baby Lohr turned five months this week, and I’m trying to soak in these early days (as sleep deprived as they may be!)

Wishing all of you a wonderful start to the summer (or winter, depending on which hemisphere you’re in!)

I’ll be back next week with more free startup advice, entrepreneurial musings and the like : )

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


the crowdfunding factory

Launch Your Sustainable Fashion Brand with Factory45

Enrollment is now open for the 2018 program of Factory45!

You can apply to join me here.

Over the past four years, Factory45 has helped entrepreneurs from all over the world launch clothing companies that are sustainably and ethically made.

You can get all of the details about the program here.

And yes, Factory45 is now open internationally!

Whether you still can’t find a fabric supplier whose minimums you can afford or the process of finding a manufacturer has been a giant headache, I know there is a way to launch your company with:

  • More confidence
  • Less frustration
  • And without wasting valuable time & money

In fact, the entrepreneurs who have graduated from Factory45 have proven it.

Applications are open for the next two weeks and in that time I’m going to share:

  • My own story of entrepreneurship
  • Introduce you to some of the alumni who have successfully launched their companies through Factory45
  • Answer all of your questions about what you can expect
  • And more…

If you’ve been waiting months for this day to come, then I invite you to fill out your application now. You can live anywhere in the world to apply.

Get inspired, get to know me and get ready.

If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own sustainable fashion brand but haven’t known where to start, Factory45 is what you’ve been looking for.

Apply to join me here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

P.S. If there’s someone in your life who’s been talking about starting a clothing or accessories company please share the Factory45 application with them.

Entrepreneurship was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I hope that everyone (who wants to) gets the chance to start their own business.

And if you’re not sure it’s right for you, at least come check out the new website…

crowdfunding factory

Success Stories from The Crowdfunding Factory

If you know anything about me (and what I teach) it’s that I unapologetically love crowdfunding.

Kickstarter, Indiegogo, iFund Women, pre-sales on your own website, whatever the platform you use I truly believe that launching your brand through crowdfunding is the smartest and most efficient way to go to market.

Why?

Because you can test your product before you make it, you can find out if anyone is willing to buy what you’re selling, and you can get your customers to pay for your first production run.

This saves you immense amounts of time, money and energy compared to traditional methods of creating inventory first and then trying to sell it.

At the end of last year, I launched a course called The Crowdfunding Factory that specifically focuses on raising money through pre-sale sites like Kickstarter.

To date, this course has a 100% success rate of participants who joined and launched a crowdfunding campaign.

So today, I want to share some of those stories with you.


COTTON BUREAU

This Kickstarter campaign wrapped up last week, raising a whopping $94,628.

Founder Michelle Sharp and her team set out to create size-inclusive, made-in-the-USA, premium t-shirts for men and women with a goal of raising $48K in 30 days.

The idea for the campaign stemmed from their existing business, Cotton Bureau, and the need to improve the sizing options of their women’s tees. They wanted to create something ultra-soft that could hold up in the premium t-shirt market without expecting adult women to fit into Junior sizes.

This clearly struck a chord with people as they gained the attention and support of 1,527 Backers who purchased their tees.

cotton Bureau


DUDEROBE

“Bathrobes for men kind of suck” – that’s the tagline for DudeRobe, a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $67,000 this summer.

Founder Howie Busch joined The Crowdfunding Factory at the end of last year and launched his campaign in just six months (the minimum amount of time I recommend). His hard work paid off when he reached his goal of $25K in under two days.

DudeRobe has been featured on BroBible, iHeart Radio, Product Hunt and other notable press and gained the interest of Shark Tank producers.

When I tell entrepreneurs to find their unique niche and try to solve a problem for those people, this is what I’m talking about. DudeRobe appealed to a very specific type of customer and it paid off.

duderobe



SEASON

Founder Jessie Artigue was already a notable lifestyle blogger through her site Style & Pepper, as well as the co-host of The Marriage is Funny podcast, before setting out to create her own dress line for women.

With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Jessie launched SEASON, ethically-made dresses that are the “super-hero cape for your everyday style.” The first collection offers one multi-functional and versatile dress in three different colorways and is cut and sewn in the USA.

The SEASON campaign raised over $20,000, earning 122 backers, and was featured on style sites like Verily Magazine, Clementine and more.

SEASON


LE REGARD

While this campaign didn’t raise multiple tens of thousands of dollars like the others, I wanted to highlight it for the same reason I mentioned DudeRobe.

Founder Ruth Yeboah launched Le Regard to solve a problem for a specific group of people — breastfeeding women.

Operating under the mantra that every woman deserves to breastfeed in style, Ruth set out to provide a solution to the question: “Could I nurse in this?”

Creating apparel for all seasons, that flatters postpartum bodies and provides convenience and ease of nursing, Ruth raised over $10,000 to bring her first collection to nursing mothers everywhere.

Le Regard


And the last thing I’ll tell you today is that Crowdfunding Factory alum Lady Farmer launched their Kickstarter campaign this morning!

The mother/daughter team has created a beautiful campaign and has invested *months* in pre-launch prep that never ceased to impress me. So, go check out their campaign and see if anything strikes your fancy >>

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


crowdfunding factory cat

10 Do’s and Don’ts for Launching a Fashion Brand on Kickstarter

This is a guest post by Factory45’er Dina Chavez who launched a Kickstarter campaign this spring for her womenswear line SixChel. Dina raised over $17,000, exceeding her goal amount, and learned a lot along the way. Today she’s sharing her “do’s and don’ts” for launching a sustainable fashion brand through crowdfunding. Here’s Dina:

It’s been about a month and a half since the launch of my fashion brand’s first sustainable capsule collection via Kickstarter.

The campaign was definitely a whirlwind, but now that the dust has settled and we are at the beginning stages of production, we have been able to clear the air and evaluate the process.

I realized that there were definitely a few things we should have done differently before and during the campaign and definitely a few things we should not have done at all.

It is a lot easier to look back and say, “I should have…” and because this information is no longer beneficial to us as far as Kickstarter campaigns are concerned, I decided to share my experiences with you in hopes you do not make the same mistakes I made.

DO:

DO think about public relations: If you have the budget to hire a public relations team, I definitely encourage you to do so. I was fortunate to work with Lorraine Sanders of PressDope, a DIY PR company “increasing earned media mentions” for FEST brands.

Months before the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, we were able to create public awareness of our brand, our story, our products and our launch which helped us increase our audience.

>> TIP: Start planning your PR strategy and media outreach now; you can never start preparing early enough.

fashion brand

DO review the Factory45 “Preparing to Launch” module: If you are a current member of Factory45 or are thinking about becoming one, this has been one of the biggest benefits for me.

The information provided by Shannon during the “Launch” module is very beneficial and should guide you to a successful campaign. I reviewed everything about Kickstarter through the module about a few weeks before I launched.

>> TIP: Review the “Launch” module about a month or sooner before you launch.

DO plan an announcement launch strategy: In order to have a big boom at the beginning of your launch, it is important to have a strategy to announce your launch.

Your audience needs to not only get excited about your brand and product, they also need to get excited about the actual launch. This will help them spread the word out to their friends and family, increasing your audience.

> TIP: Find a creative and exciting way to get your audience excited about your launch and eager to make a pledge on the first day.



DO host a trunk show or two: Selling products online can be tough, especially if you are a new fashion brand because people want to see and feel the product. We hosted four trunk shows throughout the campaign (unfortunately, we came up with this idea a bit too late into our campaign) and because of these trunk shows, we were able to show the brand in action on social media which did bring added attention to our campaign.

Trunk shows also helped keep up the momentum and eventually, turning interest into pre-orders, email sign-ups, followers, etc. Most importantly, because of the trunk shows, we were able to share images of our products on “normal” or “non-model-esque” women.

> >TIP: Find a location to host a trunk show where you can get good foot traffic. Also, think about asking friends to host private, more personal trunk shows amongst their friends.

DO be creative and have giveaways: People love the word “free”; anything anyone can get for free, whether an item or knowledge, will peak their interest. Offer an item, a selection of items, or a donation on their behalf in exchange for emails, follows, and/or pledges. Sometimes we need a bit of encouragement to find a reason to give a part of ourselves.  

>> TIP: Consider having small items to giveaway at your trunk shows in exchange of email addresses.

DON’T:

DON’T forget to have your products related to “real women”:

It helps to have “real” women/men (depending on your product) wear the clothes and/or use the product. When I say, “real,” I don’t mean fashion influencers or professional brand ambassadors; I mean people like you and me. Ask “real” people to wear the garments, take pictures and talk about how great the product is on their social media accounts.

>> TIP: Create a list of friends and/or acquaintances who would love to wear your products for a day. Create a hashtag that will help increase awareness about your brand.  

DON’T let people procrastinate: People truly do procrastinate and it is up to you to find a way to get them motivated to make a pledge and to pledge right now. It will be vital to find different ways to motivate people to act “now.” This is a hurdle throughout the entire campaign.

>>TIP: Be creative in your incentives; they truly need to give the audience something in return.

DON’T feel bad about approaching people: This was difficult for me because I am not much of an aggressive person in this way, but you will have to personally message people individually and ask them to consider pre-ordering and/or making a pledge.

Most of our pre-orders came from personally messaging people about our mission and campaign. The response you get will surprise you. Most people were gracious and extremely honest and the best part about the messages was the words of encouragement that were sent back.

>> TIP: Don’t get upset or frustrated with the rude people; there are always the people with no compassion for your honest hard work. Just ignore them.

DON’T get caught up with bloggers/brand influencers: During this process, I have definitely made great connections with wonderful bloggers and/or brand influencers. It is important to know that not all bloggers and/or brand influencers are created equal.

You will find some who are just interested in making money and not truly interested in sustainability and or properly promoting your brand. Find those who are genuine to your cause.

>> TIP: Pay bloggers/brand influencers who you know do honest work and who create write-ups that excite their readers about your brand.

DON’T give up: I think you can prepare, over prepare and then over prepare the wrong way. No matter what happens when you launch your Kickstarter campaign, remember you have 30 or so days to reach your goal.

I have to admit, I completely freaked out the entire first week of the campaign, ask Shannon. Plans A, B and C completely fell through for us and for a few days I was having no luck creating new ideas to promote the campaign. Luckily, I found a great group of women to network and brainstorm with and together they helped us reach our goal.

>> TIP: Gather a list of your network and resources, you will never know who will be able to help you when you find yourself in a bind.

Launching our collection via Kickstarter was a great way to get our brand out into the community and to move forward with production. We now know, that as a first time user of Kickstarter, you are definitely in for an experience. Good luck and much success on your launch!


Dina Chavez SixChelDina Chavez is the founder and designer of SixChel, an Austin, TX based sustainable fashion brand for the modern woman. She studied Costume Design at The University of Texas-Austin and Fashion Design at The Academy of Art University. Ms. Chavez’s looks have been shown at New York Fashion Week, Fashion X Austin, Fashion X Houston, Fashion X Dallas, The Pin Show (Dallas, TX), The Gotham City Films Studio (Los Angeles, CA) and have been created for Austin based rockstar, Kimberly Freeman for the Grammy Awards.


crowdfunding factory cat

5 Myths About Starting a Fashion Brand

What to Believe? 5 Myths About Starting a Fashion Brand

If you’ve been in the fashion industry for a while or if you’re thinking about launching your own brand, you’ve likely heard advice, or maybe even rumors, that have stopped you in your tracks.

What’s true, what’s outdated and what’s simply false? Today I’m going to touch on five of the big myths that I hear most often:

1.) I can’t talk about my idea because someone will steal it.

It always makes me a little sad when I hear this because it’s fear-based thinking. And this type of mindset has no place in entrepreneurship.

The truth is, 99% of ideas never see the light of day. The chances of someone hearing about what you’re working on, stealing the idea and then actually launching and selling it, are slim.

That’s not to say it doesn’t happen on occasion, but your energy is so much better spent focusing on executing your vision and doing it your way. After all, your unique way of doing things is what is going to set it apart from the competition.

If you’re still not convinced, I’ve written about copycats and competition extensively here and here.

2.)  If you build it, they will come.

As nostalgic as this expression may be for baseball fans, it simply doesn’t hold up when it comes to starting an apparel brand.

That’s all to say, just because you complete a sample run, finalize your patterns and find a production partner, doesn’t mean that you’re set up to sell.

It’s estimated that about 75% of your pre-launch work should be dedicated to building an audience before you launch. That’s right, pre-production only makes up a quarter of your overall business strategy.

One of my most overused expressions is, “Don’t launch to crickets.” In other words, if you haven’t been building up buzz around your launch for months – yes, months – then it’s likely your sales will reflect that.

Within the Factory45 program, we dedicate 11 weeks to pre-launch marketing alone. In fact, Factory45’er Morgan Wagstaff says:

“The greatest gain for me was Shannon’s insight into marketing and launch strategy. I was able to connect with and get my brand in front of like-minded people because of the concepts and tools laid out in the course and that made a world of difference.”

There are lots of other “myths” I’ve heard over the years and one of the things I love most about my work is being able to bust those myths

3.) Suppliers will tell you what type of fabric you need.

Not true, and to be honest, they shouldn’t have to. Despite what you may think, it is not a supplier’s or manufacturer’s job to educate you. And you’ll start off on the wrong foot if you’re expecting that.

If you don’t know how the manufacturing industry works, how to place a fabric order, what you need for production, etc., then you should go back to the drawing board, do some research, read some blogs, books or hire someone to help you.

There are some surefire ways to shoot yourself in the foot before you’ve even really started and you need to learn what those are before you expect suppliers to give you their time. The sourcing network within the U.S. is relatively small, too, so you want to do whatever you can to avoid getting a reputation as *that* person.



4.) If you want to be taken seriously, then you have to go to fashion school.

I wrote about this last week and was happy to hear so many positive reactions. If you missed it, you can read it here.

5.) You need at least $500,000 or a celebrity endorsement to get started.

That may have been true years ago, before the internet and crowdfunding, but nowadays the average Factory45’er has been able to launch their first collection with just $20,000.

If that sounds like a lot, remember that this isn’t $20,000 you’re expected to have lying around in your bank account.

Through the work we do in Factory45, I teach all of my entrepreneurs how to raise money in a way that allows you to test the market and get your early customers to finance your first production run for you.

Too good to be true?

See for yourself here, here and here. (There are many other examples on our Alumni Stories page here.)


There are lots of other “myths” I’ve heard over the years and one of the things I love most about my work is being able to bust those myths.

The Factory45 philosophy proudly goes against fashion convention, and I’m excited to work with a new group of entrepreneurs this year who aren’t afraid to think outside the box, too.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

Can you start a fashion business without a fashion background?

Can You Start a Fashion Business Without a Fashion Background?

Here is an email I get at least once a week:

“I’m so excited about Factory45 and really want to join this year! The only thing is, I don’t have a background in fashion – will this affect my chances of being accepted into the program?”

And every time, my answer is…

“Absolutely not!”

Going to fashion school has absolutely nothing to do with how successful you’ll be at launching your own apparel brand.

I’ve witnessed how true that is — over and over again.

Some of the most successful entrepreneurs to come through Factory45 couldn’t have told you the difference between a serger and a die-cutter.

What did they have on their sides instead?

They understood the value of hard work, grit, creativity and resilience.

And believe me, those skills are far more valuable in starting your own brand than knowing how to draft a pattern or sew a garment.

Don’t believe me?

Factory45’er Angela Tsai, who designed and launched the Mamachic, was a reporter for the NBA before she set out to start her own apparel company.

Hanna Baror-Padilla, who joined Factory45 in 2015, was a transportation planner while she launched her womenswear company Sotela.

Factory45’er Tiffany Shown was working for a PR firm when she started creating Fair Seas Supply Co., a line of organic cotton, round beach blankets.

I’ve had massage therapists, Wall Street bankers, stay-at-home moms, humanitarian workers, executive assistants, advertising execs, and the like, join Factory with no knowledge of manufacturing and without any background in fashion.

That’s all to say, any dog can learn new tricks as long as they seek out the education and are willing to learn.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Introducing milo+nicki

Introducing Milo + Nicki: Cruelty-Free, Ethically Designed, Derived from Indian & Zambian Roots

This is an interview with Factory45er Nicki Patel about the launch of her brand milo+nicki, a cruelty-free, ethically designed fashion line derived from Indian & Zambian roots. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Nicki is raising money for the production run of her first collection.

Please give us a brief overview of your brand and the pieces you’re pre-selling.

Through our made in NY, designed in ATX pieces, we hope to empower you, the ever-evolving woman, to conquer your fears, take a leap of faith, never give up on yourself, and live a life full of color.

By combining our vibrant, cultural roots with our passion for sustainability, living cruelty-free, and our bold personalities, we hope you feel strong, confident, and empowered while tackling all things thrown your way while letting your true colors shine.

Our 6-piece collection is cruelty-free and ethically-designed, with handwoven certified Ahimsa silk and GOTS certified organic cotton blend from India, hand dyed with plant-based indigo in the US, printed with non-toxic, water-based dye in the US, and made in NY.

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a great platform that allows small budget entrepreneurs to bring their big ideas to fruition. Being a solopreneur, I self-funded the venture thus far which includes everything behind the scenes:  sourcing sustainable fabrics, doing product development locally, creating tech packs for each design, creating samples and patterns, finalizing fit and creating another round of samples, hiring a fit model then a model to shoot the editorial images and video, setting up a shop, and marketing and miscellaneous expenses along the way.

With all these costs, when it came time to launch, I needed the extra push to bring my collection to life, and Kickstarter was the best option. It allows me to pre-sell the collection to my day 1 supporters at a lower price and fund my first run of production, all while testing the market and seeing if people love or hate what I am creating.

milo+nicki

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

Honestly, creating the Kickstarter campaign has not been as tough as campaigning these past 11 days. I have been really blessed with an amazing team (shout out to Falcon Related) that shot the perfect images and created the most beautiful video. It is exactly how I envisioned and I couldn’t have done it without them.

You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?

Love and passion for what I am doing. I believe that our story can empower and inspire women in all walks of life. It isn’t just about what the pieces we are creating, it is about the story of what you wear and the story you create wearing the pieces while pursuing what sets your soul on fire.

But, I am not going to lie. It has been tough. Not just being a solopreneur, but the entire process. You have your highs and lows, which as an entrepreneur are expected, but I have had some major setbacks. I have lost my fabric supplier not once, not twice, but three times?! Fabric is everything to a designer and I almost crumbled when I lost my last supplier only a few weeks from when I had previously planned to launch. What kept me going was the friends and family around me, my goal to empower women, and my vision to inspire change in the sustainable and ethical fashion movement.

 




Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?

The Kickstarter campaign thus far has been tough. I believe that I have a good community of supporters that really believe in my mission and want to share my story.

Approximately 2 months prior to launch, I began to reach out to sustainable and conscious lifestyle bloggers, writers who were covering topics that pertained to my story and continued connecting with individuals through social media by sharing our story, mission, and teasers of our collection. This really has helped me build a tribe of people who really believe in what I am doing and want to share it with others.

Something that hasn’t worked so well is reaching out to nationally recognize writers and editors maybe due to lack of brand recognition and product interest. This has been the toughest part because the campaign has really slowed down in momentum and has really limited our audience and reach.

What do you do when self-doubt starts to creep up?

I feel truly blessed because I had the opportunity to work with Amber Rae, the guru and creator of the W.O.N.D.E.R  Way. When I have self-doubt, I usually use the strategies she has taught me to bring back my focus to the bigger picture and what I am truly wanting to accomplish. I also have had amazing guidance from individuals who truly care about the wellbeing of our brand such as from you, Shannon, and the production partners I have worked with. When all else fails, I look to my amazing friends, my super supportive mastermind group, the love of my family and then leave the rest up to faith. There is only so much you can do to prepare for everything, right? I am definitely learning to go with the flow through the journey of entrepreneurship.

milo+nicki

What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?

I am totally biased because I love the entire 6 piece collection so I would say the All or Nothing reward. You are getting 6 pieces that are made out of 100% hand-loomed, made-to-order cruelty-free Ahimsa silk and GOTS certified organic cotton fabric which is hand-dyed with indigo, screen-printed with water-based, non-toxic dye, and cut and sewn by hand in the US, all under $1000!

If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?

Plan early, be prepared and don’t give up. As I am working through my Kickstarter campaign, I feel like the same thing that led me to creating milo+nicki applies to my campaign and launch. The journey is never easy, but it is important to remember to listen to your gut and follow your heart. I constantly remind myself that no dream is too big, no passion is too small, and no routine is unbreakable.

There are always going to be those naysayers or doubters trying to bring you down or days in your campaign where everything seems to be going south, but don’t listen, they don’t matter and that one day doesn’t matter. If you believe in something bigger, something different, or want to do something no one has ever imagined possible, do it. You are your only limitation. Just remember that the journey is never easy so stay persistent, think positively, have faith, and envision the bigger picture with you reaching your end goal. This will lead you to unimaginable places.


To check out Nicki’s Kickstarter campaign and the pre-sale of milo+nicki click hereTo read more about Nicki’s experience in Factory45, read her alumni story here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


crowdfunding factory

Introducing Ife Medow

Introducing Ife Medow: Sustainable Bags Inspired by The Four Elements

This is an interview with Factory45’er Toyin Ajayi about the launch of her brand Ife Medow. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Toyin is raising money for the production run of her first collection.

Please give us a brief overview of your brand and the pieces you’re pre-selling.

Ife Medow is where made in the USA meets the African touch. The Elements Collection is based on the four elements, so I created 4 unique color schemes for the exteriors of each piece using sustainable materials.

I complemented the exterior color schemes with lining each piece with African prints, this allowed me to incorporate my culture. I’m half Nigerian and half Ghanaian so that’s where the name comes from. Ife means “love” in Yoruba my language and Medow means “my love” in Fanti my Ghanaian language. I like to say each piece is made with love. Ife Medow provides gender neutral pieces with RFID protection. We have wallets, clutches, totes, and travel duffles.

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

There are a few reasons. I didn’t want to start a fashion brand and have to give away equity in my company just to make it. So many people (except Shannon) encourage you to go through venture capitalists or get a bunch of loans, but I didn’t want to give my business away in pieces just to get started or start with a bunch of debt. I also wanted to be able to offer pieces at a discount to early adopters and Kickstarter is a great way to do both.

Ife Medow: Sustainable Bags Inspired by The Four Elements

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

I wanted to make sure I was giving people enough information about the unique layers of my brand, but I didn’t want to overwhelm them. Ife Medow has the layer of sustainability, culture, RFID protection and unisex pieces. So the key was to find a way to share this with everyone without bombarding them with information.

You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?

While I was doing prep, it’s a rollercoaster but every time I finished a new sample I was refreshed. Positive feedback, meditation, reminding yourself why you set out to do this is really important. It’s also important to practice self-care so you don’t get burned out.



Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?

Truthfully, I had a full PR strategy and interns up until two weeks before my campaign. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my publicist had to step away and so did two interns. I was really distraught but I knew I had to pull my big girl panties up and get to it.

I wrote a press release to get the campaign in front of more eyeballs than I would be able to personally pitch. And then I had a master media list that I’ve been emailing, this stuff can take time so only time will tell about how successful that will be. I would say the best thing I’ve done was create excitement leading up to the launch; showing the pieces, answering questions and counting down.

What do you do when self-doubt starts to creep up?

Light candles and pray, talk to positive friends and family, have a glass of wine and relax my brain and anxiety.

Ife Medow: Sustainable Bags Inspired by The Four Elements

What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?

Tough question! But if I had to choose it would be the Air Clutch or Water and Earth Duffles. Those are my 3 favorite separate pieces. I offer sets and capsules for each Element as a reward too so I do love having those options.

If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?

Take your time, do lots of research, be adaptable and go for it!


To check out Toyin’s Kickstarter campaign and the pre-sale of Ife Medow, click hereTo read more about Toyin’s experience in Factory45, read her alumni story here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


the crowdfunding factory