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Safety Boots

When Emily Soloby applied to Factory45 in 2018 she had an idea for a sleek, comfortable, all-weather boot for professional women. 

As the co-owner of a transportation safety company that she runs with her husband, Emily would often have to run from client meetings to the job site and couldn't find boots that had the protection she needed, while also looking good with what she was wearing. 

I remember reading Emily’s Factory45 application and thinking, now there’s a woman I want to work with. 

Safety Boots

One of the first things we tackled at the start of Factory45 was market testing.

Before joining the program, Emily thought she needed to focus on a more generalized boot to appeal to a larger customer base. 

But then she began conducting focus groups and surveys and discovered that it wasn't just women in the transportation industry who needed stylish safety boots — it was women in STEM, architecture, engineering, construction, and many more industries. 

“It was a much bigger market than I thought,” she told me in an interview for this story.

womens safety boot

So she quickly pivoted back to her original idea to create stylish women's safety boots.

“It was the best decision I could have made, because now we are not just putting yet another fashion boot out there,” said Emily. “We are filling in a true market need, and helping women to feel seen and acknowledged in their industries.”

From the start of Factory45, Emily followed the program to a tee. 

I can go back and look at emails we sent during office hours and recognize not only her acute attention to detail but also her patience in building the business the right way, from the start.

“We began testing out materials by having companies send us samples, and we traveled to leather suppliers to see their facilities and understand their process,” Emily told me. “We visited materials shows, and spoke to as many people as we could, to try to better understand the safety shoe sourcing process.”

She visited over a dozen factories and eventually found one in Mexico near the world-class Gold-rated tannery where she sources the leather for her boots.

Emily says, “One of the most important things to us was that we source our leather close to where the shoes are being made, because this saves on the resources typically involved in shipping and transport.”

She spent over a year building a community, social media presence, brand identity and email list, while simultaneously working on her supply chain.

Then in February 2019, Juno Jones launched to the world through pre-orders on Kickstarter and reached its goal in 29 hours.

With over two weeks left in the campaign, Juno Jones has more than doubled its goal with over $20,000 raised.

So, what were the three most important marketing strategies that Emily attributes to the success of Juno Jones’ launch?

  • Building community on Instagram, and being consistent with posting. Emily is a believer in posting and creating the content yourself, because people want to connect with you, not an anonymous social media professional.
  • Personal networking, attending events, following up, and staying friends with potential customers.
  • Sending personal messages to remind people about your campaign.

To keep up momentum, Emily says she is following up on all of the press leads, writing articles, and doing lots of podcast interviews.

womens safety boot

What I personally love about the Juno Jones brand and Kickstarter campaign is that it appeals to a niche market

There is no question that a women’s safety boot is more interesting as a brand story and product offering than a generic boot. When the right customer discovers Juno Jones, she immediately knows it was made for her.

And that’s incredibly compelling in a business debut.

So what’s next for Juno Jones?

Emily says, “Our mission is to provide women with beautiful safety boots, and in doing so, to empower and normalize women working in nontraditional fields. Often times, in male-dominated fields, women can feel invisible, isolated, and like their voice isn't heard. By creating safety footwear especially for women, we want them to feel seen, acknowledged, and empowered to rise to the top of their industries.”

More of that, please. 👏

 


Know a woman in STEM who would love a stylish pair of safety boots?  Send them this link to pre-order from Juno Jones.

 


crowdfunding cta

Want to know how fun I am at the ripe old age of 34…? 

I spent most of the past weekend live-streaming an entrepreneurship conference.

Party. Time. Amiright?

While this isn’t something my 21-year-old self would ever understand about who I’ve become, this is genuinely my version of a rip-roaring good time.

I just said “rip-roaring,” so yeah.

Anyway, of the entrepreneurs on stage at this conference — all of whom we’d categorize as successful — there seemed to be one common thread of advice.

The vast majority said something like this:

“I wish that I had invested in my business sooner.”

And they weren’t talking about hiring or outsourcing or seeking VC money.

They were talking about education.

One of the business owners said she’s spent tens of thousands of dollars on courses, programs, masterminds, digital products, coaches and mentors over the years and only wishes she had done it sooner.

Because every time she made a single investment in her knowledge, her business improved.

As someone who is a huge advocate for online education (for obvious reasons), I also spend a significant part of my own revenue each year on learning something new about my business.

I’ve taken courses on digital advertising, email marketing, Instagram, media outreach, YouTube, business law and a multitude of other topics at different times over the years.

And what I’ve noticed is not only does this investment in your business give you the inspiration to learn, but it also gives you insight into what you’re capable of doing yourself and what makes sense to outsource.

After the digital advertising course, I knew I wanted to hire someone to do it for me. (Numbers… do not compute…)

But email marketing, Instagram and YouTube? Those programs empowered me. They made me feel like I could conquer those important parts of my business on my own.

And that’s what The Factory45 Shop is all about — it’s why I created it. 

Because if you’re ready to start now, then I want you to feel empowered to take action.

If you’re waiting for Factory45 applications to open in May, then The Fabric Sourcing Kit is for you.

If you’re getting ready to go into product development and production, then The Manufacturing Kit is for you.

If you’re ready to start building your brand with the goal of a pre-sales launch campaign, then The Crowdfunding Factory is for you (enrollment closes tonight at midnight ET!)

And if you’re facing a specific challenge that you just can’t seem to conquer, then I’m offering 1-on-1 strategy sessions until December 20th.

The chance to invest in your own business education is here for you.

And according to over a dozen seasoned entrepreneurs speaking to a packed audience, you won’t regret taking it.

 


Crowdfunding

To the person hustling through nights and weekends to launch their brand,

To the person waiting for applications to Factory45 to open,

To the person not knowing where to start…

I made something for you.

The Factory45 Shop is a new platform exclusively created for startup fashion entrepreneurs.

Over the past 5+ years of running Factory45 once a year, from May to December, I kept getting the same requests…

“I’m ready to start now!”

“I don’t want to wait until May of next year!”

“What can I work on while I wait?”

And now I have an answer.

I’ve created three digital products that offer immediate access, so you can start working on your fashion brand right now.

Whether you plan on applying to Factory45 in May 2020 or not, these three resources will answer some of those immediate questions you have about starting a fashion brand.

Not feeling confident about reaching out to fabric suppliers?

The Fabric Sourcing Kit is for you.

Want to avoid costly mistakes in product development and apparel production? 

The Manufacturing Kit is for you.

Need to raise money to launch your brand — without giving up equity? 

The Crowdfunding Factory is for you.

There is also an opportunity for established brands to connect with me for a 1-on-1 strategy session through December 20th.

It’s all here.

Read through the details and if you’re not sure which kit or course is right for you, then just email me at shannon@f45staging.wpengine.com — I’m happy to offer recommendations.

Wherever you are in your fashion business, this is an opportunity to take action. Grab onto it.

I’m cheering you on,


Factory45 Shop

I recently got an email from one of my current Factory45’ers asking if I had any tips and advice for life as an entrepreneur:

“You’ve done such an excellent job sharing all of your knowledge in building a fashion business which has been invaluable for me. Would it be possible for you to even share some tips & tricks in regards to more general topics…”

And then she went on to list some of her specific questions that I’m going to answer for you today — Q+A style.

Thanks to Franziska for asking the questions — I hope the answers are helpful to all of you!


BEST PRODUCTIVITY HACKS?

If there’s anything I’ve learned about productivity it’s that different systems work for different people. There is no “one size fits all,” so I can only tell you what works for me.

1.) Create triggers. Triggers are very small things you do to signify the start of a certain task. (Yes, this is what Pavlov did with his dogs and it works.) So for example, I light a candle before I sit down to write. Or I drink iced coffee instead of hot coffee to signify the start of a bigger task. Or I turn on classical piano when I need to outline a big-picture project.

2.) Choose a location where you can get “in flow.” I’ve written more about this here. I’m most productive when I’m working from the desk in my home office or at the library.

3.) Look for big chunks of time instead of small spurts of time. I know that I need at least 1.5 hours to really sit down and get something done. If I have less than 1.5 hours, then I designate that time for answering emails, writing Instagram captions or organizing my to-do list and calendar.


HOW DO YOU ORGANIZE YOUR WORK DAYS?

This is easier now that I’m a full-time entrepreneur and not working a side-job as I did when I was first starting out. 

To be honest, when I was bartending from 7pm to 2am and working on my business during the day, I don’t even remember how I organized my time… it was a blur. 

But this is what my week looks like now, once my son is off to daycare:

9:30-10:30AM | Go through my to-do list on Asana, answer any pressing emails, get organized, drink coffee, settle in.

10:30-12PM | Accomplish one medium-sized task before lunch. It could be something like writing an SEO brief for an upcoming YouTube episode, or creating an email for the Market45 newsletter, or outlining a new email automation series.

12-1PM | Break for lunch. And I mean, really break. I’ll usually read or watch a show or the news.

1PM-3PM | Accomplish one big task. This would be something like writing a blog post, writing a YouTube script, filming or recording a new project, or researching, brainstorming and outlining upcoming big projects.

3-3:30PM | Then I usually reserve the last half hour for any wrap-up admin that needs to be done before I leave to pick up my son.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve limited my daily to-do list to only trying to accomplish two significant tasks per day — no more than that. 

It keeps me from getting overwhelmed or disappointed when I’m not able to do “all the things.” And as far as productivity goes, it’s worked out so far.

work/life


DO YOU HAVE A SELF-CARE ROUTINE?

I wouldn’t call it a routine, but I definitely prioritize my self-care. I’m very lucky to be married to another entrepreneur who equally co-parents. It makes all the difference in being able to take care of myself mentally, emotionally, intellectually, etc… 

  • I don’t check social media during the day (for the most part). This helps me avoid distraction, the comparison game and all of the other negatives that come from being sucked into an Instagram hole.
  • I’m an introvert so I need alone time to recharge. I’ll curl up with a book, go for a walk, listen to a podcast or lay down and close my eyes — even if it’s just for 30 minutes.
  • I have a hard “no work on weekends” rule. Even before I had a baby, I was pretty strict about not opening my computer on the weekends. This allowed me to truly reboot for Mondays. I know this isn’t always possible when you’re first starting out because weekends are your free time to actually work on your business. In that case, I would pick one or two other times during the week to designate as your “no work” zone — even if it’s just every Tuesday night or some other random time.

HOW DO YOU COMBINE BEING A FULL-TIME ENTREPRENEUR WITH HAVING A FAMILY?

Probably the same way as people who work full-time jobs! It’s not easy. I know I’m lucky to have the means to hire childcare and I wouldn’t be able to run my business without that help. 

One thing I like about having a business and having a kid is that there’s a finite beginning and end to my workday. I’ve been forced to consolidate my work schedule, and I’ve found that I’m more productive during that time because I know I have a deadline.

But I definitely look back on my time before parenthood and wonder what I did with all of that freedom! To those of you out there who are working a “real” job, while starting a business and raising kids, I truly applaud you. 

work/life


DID YOU WORK ANOTHER JOB WHILE BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS?

Yes, and I do not subscribe to the common advice that you should just “Quit your job and follow your dreams!” 

One of the best decisions I made was to work a side job until I truly knew I had a business that could sustain my lifestyle, as well as some money saved for back-up.

As I mentioned, I was a bartender for a really long time before I took the leap to full-time entrepreneurship. I didn’t want to be stressed about money and by working for as long as I did, I didn’t have to strain my business to pay my rent.


HOW DID YOU FINANCE BEING AN EARLY-STAGE ENTREPRENEUR?

I saved up $5,000 working after college and I invested all of it into starting my first business, {r}evolution apparel. My then co-founder also invested $5,000 and that lasted until we opened sales a year later. 

When we launched with a Kickstarter campaign, we were able to pre-sell our product so our customers essentially paid for the cost of production. Our first production run was over $40K and we didn’t have to spend a dime of our own money.

I also used this pre-selling model when I launched Factory45. I opened applications in March 2014, participants paid for their first month of tuition in May and the program didn’t start until June. 

This gave me an influx of cash to create the first module and a little time to get things up and running. I invested all of the money from the 2014 cohort back into the business for 2015.


HOW DID YOU STAY MOTIVATED WHEN YOU WERE FIRST STARTING OUT?

The main thing that kept me motivated and held me accountable when I was first starting out was blogging. It was so helpful to have a process to document the journey of creating a business and a clothing company and it was the audience that the blog attracted that pushed us to keep going.

On a more general scale, I’ve noticed something over the past nine years of entrepreneurship that’s been hugely impactful. And it’s the simple act of declaring something to the world.

Tell the world you’re going to do something and you’re that much closer to actually accomplishing it.

 

 


YouTube CTA

 

How to Increase Your Fashion Brand’s Sales by 15%

In the lead up to becoming an entrepreneur, I was a waitress.

I’ll clarify:

I was a waitress at a rowdy Irish pub turned late-night bar in the tourist district of downtown Boston. 

I spent the summer of 2009 working six nine-hour shifts a week, serving up to 24 tables at a time — often by myself.

We were constantly understaffed, with myself and three other waitresses on rotation, and we spent the entire summer clamoring over each other for the chance to be promoted to bartender.

The best shift was Thursday night.

It was just one waitress and Ian, the Thursday night bartender, and the waitress had control of the entire floor which meant you got to keep 100 percent of your tips (there were no bussers in this place).

When it was my turn for this shift, I would mentally and physically prepare. 

I’d make sure I was stocked up on silverware roll-ups, that the menus were wiped down from yesterday’s beer sludge and that the outside chalkboard clearly promoted our daily special of 2 dollar Molsons.

And then from 4-11pm, I would work harder than I have ever worked before. 

At the peak of it all, I remember holding a menu and someone’s check in my mouth while pouring a draught beer with one hand and balancing two plates of food on the other hand.

After several shifts like this, I came in one Thursday night and Ian said something I haven’t forgotten in 10 years.

“Shannon, our food and bev sales are always up 15 percent every time you work. What are you doing differently from everyone else?”

At the time, I didn’t have a good answer for him.

But years later, I often think back to those days in the service industry and now know exactly what I did differently.

(And no, it’s not that I worked harder — I didn’t bring you through this entire story for that.)

It’s something that you, as a fashion entrepreneur, can duplicate and implement:

Make a Frequent, Specific Ask.

Instead of, “Can I get you anything else?”

I would say, “Another IPA?” before the pint glass was empty.

Instead of, “Are you ready for the check?”

I would say, “Our brownie sundae is amazing. The best in Faneuil Hall.”

I was on a constant loop around the restaurant, ensuring that no one was sitting around waiting for me when there was money to be made.

And that ties back to the mistake that I see so many startup fashion brands making.

You’re waiting for your customer to come to you. 

You’re not sending out emails every week, you’re not making it clear what your brand has to offer and you’re not enticing the sale.

It’s all well and good to say, “Well, I’m not salesy and I’m going to do it my way and Shannon, you were just promoting binge drinking and diabetes.” 

And while, okay, that may be true (a girl’s gotta make a living) — if you don’t make the sale, then you don’t have a business. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling beer, brownies, jackets or dresses.

Instead of sending out an email to your list once a month about your entire collection, send out an email once a week featuring one specific product in that collection.

Frequent & Specific.

Build a 2-3 part email series around each product that highlights certain defining features, such as fabric or fit or customer feedback or its insanely low return rate.

Frequent & Specific.

Create a two-week, daily social media campaign around the re-launch of your best-selling product.

Frequent & Specific.

Every time you get in front of your ideal target customer, whether it’s through email or social media, you’re asking for them to get behind your brand, support what you’re building and show that support by purchasing from you.

The way you make that Ask matters.

I should know — the next summer I came back as bartender.

 

 


crowdfunding factory cat

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

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

Here’s Brianna… 

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

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

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

Here are my top three takeaways: 

#1. CONSISTENCY. 

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

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

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

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

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

kickstarter

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

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

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

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

#3. SPREAD THE WORD.

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

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

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

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

-Brianna
Founder, Anact

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

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


crowdfunding cta

So, here’s an unpopular (secretly popular) topic:

Money.

More specifically, how to start a business when you don’t have a lot of money.

If you scour the internet, you can find enough stories of multi-millionaires who started from zero, eating chickpeas out of the can while sleeping on their friend’s futon.

But there’s a less extreme version of this, and it’s far more common.

It’s the story of the woman craving a creative outlet. She’s managed to save a small “safety net” of cash and even has some disposable income at the end of the month.

She sees acquaintances on Facebook breaking out on their own.

And she wonders to herself, how did they do it?

What do they know that I don’t?

So she starts to research.

“How to start a clothing line,” she types into Google.

From Marie Claire to WikiHow to “Startup Bros,” she faces 938,000,000 search results.

Overwhelm begins to set in, but she makes one conscious choice:

To take the first step.


This was my reality in 2010.

I was just starting out, trying to launch a sustainable fashion brand, and I had no idea what was what or who was who.

The entire industry was a mystery to me with limited access.

Nevertheless, I committed to putting $5,000 into a business bank account as an investment in a company I didn’t yet have.

I’ll never forget transferring that hard-earned cash as one lump sum, knowing that it was all of my savings and probably money that I would never see again.

It was a calculated risk, and there were no guarantees.

When I look back on that first bank transfer I remember it as the first of many times I took a risk for my business without knowing how it would turn out.

Nine years later, I now know it’s the name of the entrepreneurial game.

Whether it was investing money into a Kickstarter campaign I wasn’t sure would be successful or hiring a business coach or buying the numerous online courses I’ve enrolled in, what I’ve learned is this:

You have to be willing to invest in your business before you know it’s a sure thing.

I don’t mean that you should take out a second mortgage or drain your 401K, but you have to be willing to spend money to start or grow a business.

There is no way around it.

So, how do you do this without succumbing to the fear of bankruptcy and homelessness?

Create a “worst case scenario” plan.

Over the years, I’ve always told myself that if I lost all of my savings I could jump behind a bar and start pouring drinks again. As much as I hoped my bartending days were over, I knew that I could make cash quickly if I had to.

For you, it might be nannying or waitressing or admin or cleaning houses or freelancing.

Depending on how dire your “worst case scenario” plan is, having one can do two things:

  1. Be an indication that you’re not ready to take action on your business.
  2. Or liberate you.

It’s the litmus test you need to make a big financial decision.

So, secret #4 is this: To start a successful business, you must be willing to invest in uncertainty.

Because there is not an entrepreneur I know who got their company off the ground for free.

 


This is a multi-part series, celebrating the five-year business anniversary of Factory45. If you missed “secret #1” you can read it here, if you missed “secret #2” it’s here and “secret #3” is here.

designer on ipad during filming of kickstarter video

Will a Kickstarter campaign work for your fashion brand?

This is one of the most common questions holding people back from using crowdfunding to launch their brand.

Whether you have one signature product or a full 10-piece collection, today I’m going to show you that it’s absolutely possible to raise money for your brand no matter how many products you have.

With the help of crowdfunding, these four Factory45’ers successfully launched their brands through Kickstarter:

kickstarter

1 PRODUCT

The World’s Most Comfortable Blazer by Trace Fashion

Founder Kristin Salat launched her Kickstarter campaign based on one signature piece, the Kimono Blazer. Similarly to how I launched the Versalette in 2011, this approach lives and breathes one product that’s presented in a variety of colors.

If you look at the rewards column of Kristin’s campaign, you’ll see that she was able to create multiple rewards even though she was only selling one piece.

She raised $32,949 in pre-orders to fund the first production run of Trace Fashion.

kickstarter

2 PRODUCTS

The First Leggings Inspired to Dress Up or Dress Down by Parallel Connection

Mother-daughter co-founders Allie and Carol Levy took it a step further by creating a Kickstarter around two products. They designed two styles of leggings that were only slightly different from each other — a classic legging and a slim pant legging.

By offering two different styles, they were able to appeal to a wider audience of women including those who wouldn’t typically buy leggings. Additionally, Carol and Allie made a conscious decision to offer a larger than normal size range from XXS to XXL, as well as multiple prints.

They raised $19,518 in pre-orders to fund the first production run of Parallel Connection.

kickstarter

6 PRODUCTS

The Ethical Women’s Capsule that Redefines Loungewear by Nine56 Studio

The capsule collection is the most popular approach I’ve seen from the entrepreneurs I work with. Whereas the two campaigns above offered multiple colorways, founder Meg Rohs launched her capsule collection with only two colors — black and white.

Because of fabric minimums, some brands choose to limit the color options so that they can offer more products and styles.

Meg raised $15,510 in pre-orders to fund the first production run of Nine56 Studio.

kickstarter

10 PRODUCTS

Naturally Dyed & Size Inclusive Lingerie by Unity Outfitters

And then there’s the 10+ product approach that is the least popular campaign choice, but definitely still possible. Founder Katina Gad is a trained seamstress so she was able to create all of her samples and patterns without outsourcing and paying the upfront cost.

She pre-sold a range of products, styles and colorways, while also offering a size-inclusive range for all body types. Because naturally-dyed lingerie is more niche, it was important that Katina expand her offering to reach as many women as possible.

She raised $8,626 in pre-orders to fund the first production run of Unity Outfitters.


So there you have it, crowdfunding can work for one signature piece and it can also work for a full collection.

Although I only shared examples of womenswear brands, it’s important to note that there are plenty of men and childrenswear brands that successfully launched on Kickstarter.

If you’re ready to raise money for your fashion brand, enrollment my self-study course The Crowdfunding Factory is now open here.

This is the course that teaches you the complete strategy to create a fully-funded Kickstarter campaign.

If you’re considering joining Factory45 next May but don’t want to wait to get started, this self-study course is a great way to get ahead.

It’s open for one week only.

Click here to enroll.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


crowdfunding cta

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

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 Market45!)

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.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


crowdfunding cta