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Business Plan

When I was starting my fashion brand do you know one of the first rookie mistakes I made?

I know, it’s hard to narrow it down to one ; ) 

Having no prior experience in entrepreneurship and being very new to the fashion industry, the first mistake I made was writing a 40-page business plan.

Yes, 40 pages!

My then co-founder and I spent months going back and forth writing and rewriting this giant Word document and do you know what happened to it?

Do you know where it ended up?

That’s what I’m sharing during tomorrow’s Live Show…

I’m going to tell you the reasons you don’t need a mega-long business plan to start a fashion brand in 2021 and then, even better:

I’m going to help you write a business plan you’ll actually use.

My goal — by the end of Factory45 Live tomorrow — is for you to have a business plan for your fashion brand that you can use as a jumping off point.

And we’re going to do this with my one-page business plan template that is already created for you and I’m giving away for free. 

Here’s what you need to do before the Live Show starts on Thursday — text me at (760) 274-8577 and I’ll send over a link to your template. 

You can save it and browse through the prompts before we go through everything together on Thursday.

Even if you know you’ll have to wait to watch the replay, go ahead and text me now so you have the template ready when you are.

Sound good?

Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!

 


P.S. If this is your first time joining my Live Show, you can tune in on Thursday at noon ET via our private Facebook group here or on YouTube here (make sure you’re subscribed so you know when I go live). You can also catch up on last week’s episode below!

Required Trait

The other day I was watching my three-year-old play with his train set. 

One piece of track… connected to another piece of track… connected to another… 

And then, uh oh.

The last piece wouldn’t fit.

I watched as he struggled to fit the piece, as it kept hitting up against the wall of the table, as he got more and more frustrated.

“I CAN’T DO IT!” he yelled out, red in the face. “IT DOESN’T WORK!”

How many times as an entrepreneur have you felt this?

The web domain won’t connect to the host!

The file size won’t upload!

The email form won’t populate!

The difference being, you can’t throw your computer across the room like you can a wooden train track.

One of the main messages you hear as a parent is the importance of building resilience in your kids.

It’s why you should resist doing things for them or providing the easy way out.

And honestly, entrepreneurship is very much the same.

“Are you calling me a toddler, Shannon?”

No : ) I would like to think the way we respond is more developmentally appropriate.

This message is about resilience.

How can you build more resilience into the day to day building of your business?

When something isn’t working the way we want it to, how can we be more resourceful in finding a solution?

Because honestly, that’s what it takes.

If you truly want to be an entrepreneur, then it virtually guarantees you will run into problems — in the beginning, it will probably be on a daily basis.

But to reach any level of success, problems require problem solvers.

There’s no way around it.

That’s all to say, be the toddler who picks up the train track even after he throws it… 

And tries again.

 


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humiliating

So, last week’s post really hit a chord with people.

If you missed the blog post on procrastination, you can read it here.

It got me thinking more about the whole concept behind “low barrier to entry” opportunities.

If we could make things easier on ourselves, how much more would we do and get done?

Take for example the speaking engagement I did at Eco Fashion Week back in 2013.

I was flown out to Vancouver and asked to give a 10 minute presentation. I proceeded to walk up to the podium in front of 100ish people and absolutely choke.

Short of having a panic attack and passing out in front of the whole room, it was a complete disaster.

For 10 minutes, my voice was shaking, my face was red, and I could barely breathe or get my words out.

If you’re thinking it couldn’t have been that bad, the emcee asked the audience if they had any follow-up questions for me and not a single person raised their hand.

They wanted me off the stage as much as I wanted to run out the back door.

So, did I write-off speaking engagements for the rest of my life?

No… not exactly.

What I realized is that I’m pretty good at open Q+A-style panels or casual conversations with a moderator or interviewer.

What I’m not good at is solitary speeches or presentations.

So instead of passing up every opportunity for a speaking engagement, I committed to choosing the lower barrier to entry option.

I decided that I would still say ‘yes’ to public speaking, but I would limit my commitment to off-the-cuff Q+A style, multi-person panels or I would take on the role of moderator.

By making that deal with myself, I’ve gotten the chance to have some great speaking opportunities that have allowed me to market my business, meet like-minded people and further my message.

So, let’s say in your case, you hate being on video.

Instead of forcing yourself to do on-camera Instagram Stories, maybe you start a podcast to document your entrepreneurial journey instead.

Maybe you don’t feel confident about your writing skills so you’re hesitant to start a blog. If you love being on video, then you could start a YouTube channel instead.

Let’s say you clam up when being interviewed, maybe you ask the interviewer to send you the questions ahead of time so you can plan out your answers.

In 99 percent of cases, there is always an easier alternative that will better set you up for success.

That’s not to say you can avoid discomfort or vulnerability 100 percent of the time.

There will surely be some cringe-worthy or embarrassing moments.

I remember last year when I was hosting an Instagram Live for Maker’s Row. It was a 30-minute live session that required me to be alone on camera, sharing my tips about apparel manufacturing to their Instagram audience.

In the middle of my talk, something caught in my throat and I started to choke — for real.

I couldn’t get my words out because I was too busy coughing and drinking water in a fit of panic.

Again, this was a live session and no one else was on video with me, so it was quite literally an audience of people watching me gag for air.

So embarrassing.

But you know what?

I had five or six other Instagram Lives with Maker’s Row that went really great. 

And I had over 20 people join Factory45 this year because they found out about me from those Maker’s Row live sessions.

Imagine the opportunity lost if I had decided to completely write-off Instagram Live because of the fear of that embarrassing moment happening again.

There are so many instances in entrepreneurship when things don’t go as planned and the only thing we can do is learn, adapt and try again.

As in life, you will miss out on some pretty great experiences by not attempting them at all.

So, I’ll ask you again — what is one thing you can do today to take more action by choosing the easiest route to get there?

And if things don’t go exactly as planned… 

How can you learn and adapt, so it goes better when you try again?

 

 

 


THIS WEEK ON THE PODCAST

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

NATURAL IMMUNE BOOSTERS It’s more important than ever to strengthen our immune systems and gut health. In this episode, I’m sharing three cheap and easy foods to add into your cooking that will naturally boost the immune system of you and your family.

FRAGRANCE When my son was an infant I worried like most new moms do. Was he getting enough calories? Was he sleeping enough? Would he ever eat solids? But as I’m sharing in this episode, I worried about one thing in particular…

PSA Back in September, I attended CleanCon — a virtual conference hosted by the Environmental Working Group — that was focused on clean beauty and personal care products. Throughout the event, there was one message that I kept hearing over and over…


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more action

Lately, I’ve been thinking about why it’s so hard for some people to take action.

This is, by far, the biggest obstacle I see stopping entrepreneurs from getting a business off the ground.

We fall victim to procrastination — which in essence, is fear.

When we’re afraid of doing something, or afraid of the potential result of doing something, then we stop ourselves from taking action.

The threat of what could happen paralyzes us from doing anything at all.

Personally, I have 99 problems but taking action isn’t one.

So I’ve been trying to analyze what it is about my strategies or methods that empowers me to move forward on an idea even if I’m scared or unsure of the outcome.

And I was able to boil it down to two things.

The first one is confidence. 

Because I’ve taken action on enough ideas over the span of my life, I’ve built up the confidence to take action on the next one.

I recognize that this stems from a position of privilege, but it’s true nonetheless. 

Even though some ideas haven’t worked out, I’ve still been able to maintain the confidence from the ideas that have.

The second method is more interesting and was less obvious until I listened to a podcast with a behavioral scientist who studies habits

When I think about most of the ideas I’ve taken action on, they all have one thing in common:

I’ve chosen the lowest barrier to entry.

Let me give you an example.

When I created the Factory45 program for the first time in 2014 I didn’t have the fancy portal and online content that I have now (six years later). 

I started with Google docs, a free Basecamp account and Apple Keynote (or PowerPoint). 

If I had tried to create the customized WordPress site or high production videos that I have now, it would have been too overwhelming and expensive as a jumping off point.

This sense of overwhelm applies to so many things you may be facing: getting your social media going, setting up a website or launching a first collection.

So, what’s the lowest barrier of entry you can take?

Focusing only on an Instagram account instead of managing Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest and SnapChat and TikTok.

A simple above-the-fold landing page instead of a full-on website.

One signature piece for your launch instead of seven pieces.

What I’ve discovered through personal experience is that it almost always works out better by paring down, simplifying and making things easier for yourself.

This has applied to my entrepreneurial journey back in 2010 when I was starting my sustainable fashion brand up all the way through last month when I launched The Clean Living Podcast.

Nearly every example I have is a testament to doing less — not more.

And not-so coincidentally, the podcast I mentioned about forming habits confirms that. 

After surveying 40,000 people, the research found that successful habits are formed by taking the smallest action possible.

Want to start flossing regularly?

Start by flossing one tooth every day.

Want to start exercising every day?

Start by doing one push-up every day.

Want to start meditating every day?

Start by taking five deep breaths every morning.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or someone who wants to improve their oral hygiene, the strategy is the same.

Do less so you can do more.

 

 

 


THIS WEEK ON THE PODCAST

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

SHAMPOO Personal care is one of the most toxic categories of household products. Shampoo is no exception. What are you actually lathering into your hair every time you shower and why should you be extra careful about the shampoo you use? In this episode, I’m sharing the top reasons to switch to a clean, paraben-free, formaldehyde-free hair care routine.

COOKING OIL Did you know that the oil you use to cook with can impact your long-term health? And it’s not so simple as just switching to olive oil. In this episode, I’m sharing the cooking oils to avoid, the oils to use on low heat and the oils that are safe to use on medium to high heat.

DOGS & GUT HEALTH This episode is uplifting and helpful, especially if you’re trying to convince your partner to get a dog. If you’re already a puppy owner, give that pooch a big kiss on the mouth because this episode is for you.


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Accomplish Big Goals

Do you know what’s nerve-wracking?

Announcing that you’re starting a podcast… 

And not having a single episode recorded.

It’s true, two weeks ago when I was teeing myself up to announce the launch of The Clean Living Podcast I only had a spreadsheet of ideas.

I talk all this game about starting before you’re ready, setting small goals and taking baby steps to do big things… 

But it’s scary.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time, I’ve launched big projects before and I’ve pushed my comfort zone more than once — imposter syndrome is something you simply can’t escape.

So, what did the past two weeks look like?

A series of very small and deliberate steps.

There was one day dedicated to the podcast trailer and intro, another day to write the first three episodes, another day to write the podcast description and landing page… 

Then there was an entire morning and afternoon that I spent sitting on the floor of my closet to record the episodes I had written.

And repeat.

As of right now, I’ve finished the trailer and the first 10 episodes and sent them to my podcast manager for editing.

But do you know what my first thought was when I sat down to record for the very first time?

“Oh, shit.”

And then: “This is so much harder than I thought it was going to be.”

I often say that if we knew how difficult it was to launch a business idea, new project or any unfamiliar venture, then we wouldn’t ever start.

And that’s exactly what I was thinking as I hit record for the 70th time: 

What did I get myself into?

Whether it’s something as daunting as starting a new fashion brand or something smaller like a podcast, it’s time and persistence that are the antidotes of the unfamiliar.

I spent all day sitting in that closet and by the time I emerged, with a sore back, hoarse voice and tired eyes, I had done something I was very worried I wouldn’t be able to do.

And that’s the name of the game.

Want to tackle a big goal?

Declare it to the world.

Want to actually accomplish that big goal?

Break it into baby steps, give yourself plenty of time, expect it to be difficult and persist anyway.

We’re about a month out from the launch of The Clean Living Podcast and next week I’m going to ask you to vote on what you think the podcast thumbnail should be. 

This is the image that you'll see on iTunes or Spotify next to the podcast name — and I’d love your opinion on it.

In the meantime, I want you to remember: We can do hard things

I’m right there with you.

 

 

 


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pen and paper

“So, what are we looking at timeline-wise?” I asked my creative director as we mapped out a new project.

“Well, it will be about two months for the first launch and around five months for the second one,” she replied.

Five months?! That puts us into 2021!

I thought back nostalgically to launching Factory45 in 2014. I came up with the idea around March and it was live the next month.

That “lean startup model,” that had worked so well for me in the past, was feeling very far away.

In the beginning stages of entrepreneurship, you’re told to get a minimum viable product out into the world. You’re told to stay lean, fight perfection, and test the market.

These are still my favorite ways to launch a business.

But when you’ve been running the same company for 6+ years and you’ve built a brand and a track record, you simply can’t come out with a half-assed idea.

Because everyone is expecting a certain caliber.

And a “certain caliber” takes time. 

You’re dependent on other people, other schedules, and it’s just more… complicated.

I know what you’re thinking:

“What I wouldn’t give for a team! You’re so lucky to have resources around you, you’re so lucky to have experience and credibility!”

And those things are all absolutely true. 

My point is, entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily get easier. 

It just gets complicated in different ways. 

You go from struggling to connect your email provider with your landing page in year one — to struggling with pressure and expectations in year seven.

That’s all to say, if you’re planning on an entrepreneurial career for the long-haul, it really is the best.

But I would also say, appreciate where you are right now.

If you’re still in the early stages of launching your first business (it probably won’t be your last), then there’s a unique opportunity in that.

You’re learning more than you ever could in school just by doing and taking action.

And you have freedom — freedom to try new strategies, experiment with different marketing tactics, to explore your voice and your brand.

So, have fun with it. Try to relax. Know that you will make mistakes. 

Remember that every obstacle or “catastrophe” is a turning point in your story.

Because in reality, just by starting a business, you’re doing what 99 percent of people wouldn’t ever do.

And that’s something to celebrate.

 

 

 


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do hard things

The other night I was listening to a podcast with a neurologist who specializes in psychology.

She was talking about neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself with new neural pathways.

(Stick with me.)

She said that by the age of 25, your brain relies on so many existing connections that it’s hard to break free of them.

Which is why, for example, it’s so much harder to learn a new language after the age of 26.

But the neurologist explained that in some cases, the medical field is starting to see people in their sixties who have more neuroplasticity than people in their late twenties.

Why?

Because they’re willing to do hard things.

A wordsmith who practices Sudoku puzzles, a mathematician who writes a novel, a Japanese person who learns Danish, a person with dyslexia who practices crosswords.

She said that the level of challenge should leave you exhausted and completely spent. 

As I was listening to her speak, I started thinking about the Factory45 entrepreneurs I’m currently working with to launch their clothing brands.

Right now, they’re in the thick of it.

We are about halfway through the program and most of them are tackling new skills and challenges that they’ve never encountered before.

Tech issues, design challenges, writing, negotiating, creating and organizing… 

I hear from many of them about how much this process is pushing their comfort zone.

But as entrepreneurs, that is what we want.

Because we can do hard things.

We should do hard things.

And there’s the science to back it up.

So, here’s my message to you:

Whether you’re pulling your hair out on the first day of virtual learning with your kids —

Or building a website with no clue how to design or code  —

Or spending hours on your business idea so you can create another income for your family —

I’m here to tell you, you can do hard things.

We can all do hard things.

And our brains will be better for it.

 

 

 


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strategy

“Huh, I’ve never put it like that before…” 

I was reading a book by an internet marketer that described a strategy to grow any online business.

As the author described the strategy that he’s used again and again to scale his software company to $100MM (without investors), I realized something.

What he was describing was the same process I had used to launch my clothing brand back in 2011, it was the same process I had used to launch Factory45 for the first time in 2014 and it’s the same strategy I teach today in the Factory45 program.

He had just put a name to it:

“Your Dream 100.”

As I continued reading, it dawned on me that the reason I love this strategy so much (and have used it for nearly a decade) is because it’s timeless.

We live in an age when marketing trends literally change by the month. One platform is hot, the next year it’s not. One strategy sells like hotcakes for a few weeks and then it flatlines.

While so many online businesses — particularly fashion brands — are dependent on the whims of Facebook and Google advertising, this strategy doesn’t require a cent.

And it will never go out of style.

Here’s how it works:

Your “Dream 100” is a list of 100 brands, influencers, media, podcast hosts, bloggers and business owners who have one particular thing in common —

Their existing audiences are made up of your ideal target customer.

In other words, the people following them on social media, reading their blogs, subscribing to their email lists, and listening to their podcasts are the same people who would love your brand and the products you’re selling.

In the Factory45 program, we make this a list of 20 but 100 is even better if you can do it.

Once you’ve made that list, the next step is to “dig the well” with your Dream 100 — i.e. build relationships.

So before you ask to write a guest post for their blog, or be a guest on their podcast or review your products, you have to put in the time commenting on their Instagram posts, replying to their email newsletter, leaving a review on their podcast, etc.

Like any business relationship, you give before you take.

The question you’re asking yourself is, How can you serve this person who has an audience you want to get in front of?

Once you’ve taken a few months to build these relationships, then you can make the ask.

The best part is that after you’ve been on their podcast, or done an IG Live together or written a guest post, then it’s a million times easier to ask them to promote your products and brand.

And here’s how the numbers pain out:

If just 30 people out of your Dream 100 agree to promote your brand, and each of those people has a minimum of 10,000 followers, that’s 300,000 new people who could potentially be introduced to your brand.

There’s no way to get that kind of free reach on your own.

And even better, this isn’t a strategy that will ever go away — the platforms and methods may change, but relationship building is timeless.

When I started my sustainable and minimalist fashion brand nearly a decade ago, my then co-founder and I used the year leading up to our launch to build online relationships with all of the minimalism influencers, travel bloggers and fashion writers that we possibly could. 

It resulted in us raising enough money to quadruple our first production run.

When I launched Factory45 in 2014 I reached out to 50 eco-fashion bloggers, media outlets and sustainable fashion influencers and wrote 25 guest posts and interviews in two weeks. 

It resulted in me selling out every spot in the six-month program, having never run an accelerator before.

The Dream 100 is truly the strategy, that if you commit to it, that will serve your business for years to come.

And it’s this same strategy that I’ll continue to use this Fall as I build my newest project.

Stay tuned for more on that : )

 

 

 

P.S. The book is called Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson and it just hit the New York Times bestseller list this week. He gives the book away for free on his website — you just have to pay for shipping.


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Do you know the number one reason that new fashion brands lose money or go out of business in their first year?

Manufacturing mistakes.

From over-ordering inventory to garment construction errors, starting production is the most vulnerable time for new fashion brands.

I’ve heard the stories.

The brand blames the factory… the factory blames the brand… and when all is said and done, only a fraction of the production order is good enough to sell.

And both parties lose money.

In the case of the new brand, it’s enough of a loss to put them out of business — before they’ve even started.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Because the primary reason for manufacturing mistakes is a lack of communication.

The tech pack isn’t specific… the sew-by sample isn’t perfect… the brand and project manager haven’t had enough conversations about the end goal of the product.

The good news is: Communication is something that can be improved upon.

And while yes, the factory manager could probably be quicker about responding to your emails or returning your phone calls, effective communication is the responsibility of you — the founder and designer of your brand.

Can you control the skill set of the sewers? No.

Can you control the attention of the quality control manager? No.

But you can control the clarity of your expectations and needs up until production begins.

And that’s everything.

Between the free resources in books, blogs and YouTube, there’s really no excuse anymore to go into apparel manufacturing knowing nothing at all.

So, I’ve put together a little quiz for you, so you can better understand where your knowledge lies… 

Which of these questions can you answer?

  1. What is a “time study” sample?
  2. Name the three things you need to be able to start product development.
  3. What’s the most important question to ask a pattern/samplemaker before you hire them?
  4. What’s the number one way to save money in production?
  5. Should your production partner sign an NDA?

If you were able to confidently answer four out of these five questions, then you’re in good shape!

But if you know that you’re new to the manufacturing industry and you have plans to start an apparel or accessories brand, then it’s imperative that you arm yourself with the knowledge and know-how to get through production without losing money.

And that’s why I created The Manufacturing Kit for you.

It includes eight resources that will answer the questions above, as well as teach you other valuable information like:

  • The 14 things you need before starting product development. 
  • How to translate your sketch to a spec sheet template so you don't have to pay to have one made.
  • 9 questions to ask a pattern/samplemaker before you hire them.
  • 9 questions to ask a manufacturer before signing a contract.
  • And more…

You can check out The Manufacturing Kit in more detail here.

And if you have any questions about it, just reply to this email — I’ll personally get back to you.

As they say, “knowledge is power” and my goal with The Manufacturing Kit is for you to be able to confidently and calmly go into production without wasting time and losing money.

To your success,

 


 
 
 


If you’re like most of the entrepreneurs I work with, then you know this:

  • You want to start a fashion brand that’s socially-conscious
  • You want to do something to combat the “fast fashion problem” 
  • You don’t want to be just another fashion brand

In your heart, you are committed to building a sustainably-made and ethically-manufactured brand, but where do you even start?

While I run an entire six-month accelerator program to help with exactly that, I want to get you started with the first four things to consider right now.

In today’s episode of Factory45 TV, I’m sharing where to begin when you’re building a sustainable fashion brand from scratch.

These four things are not generic answers like, start a business plan or research your competition or trademark your business name.

Click the button above and in four minutes you’ll have four steps to building your sustainable fashion brand right now.

Enjoy!

 


 
 
 


manufacturing kit