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Contemporary swimwear

Introducing Gala Maar: Contemporary Swimwear for the Modern Muse

This is an interview with Factory45’er Blakely Wickstrom about the launch of her brand Gala Maar, contemporary swimwear for the modern muse. Blakely took a pre-sales strategy to launch her first collection through her online store. Read on to learn more about her company and hear her advice for new brands.

Tell us about your products and company. What do you make?

Right now, I’m producing women’s swimwear and being as sustainable as possible throughout the entire process — from my fabric, made of discarded fishing nets, to sourcing the only made-in-the-USA pad inserts and everything else in between.

The construction is very high quality and the design is more timeless than trend driven, with the intent being that the swimsuits should last my customer an especially long time. Swimwear is the beginning — I’m hoping to expand the product range with every season to grow into an ethical resort lifestyle brand.

Contemporary swimwear

From the beginning, you had a very strong vision for your branding and aesthetic (hello, Instagram). Can you tell us a little bit about how you got so clear on the brand direction you wanted to take and the inspiration behind it?

Coming up with the aesthetic direction was probably the most fun and organic part of the process. For my Instagram, it started with just opening myself up to all the things that inspire me and saving the images to my Pinterest without giving it too much thought.

From there I was able to organize and hone in the branding and be more strategic about what I posted. In the swimwear market, there is not a lot of diversity in the type of imagery brands choose to use. Typically it involves a “perfect” woman on a tropical beach, which is fine but I wanted to do things differently and to portray the qualities of a contemporary woman beyond shallow attributes.

When creating my own campaign images I think the most important part was hiring a photographer who was a natural fit. I loved the way Amanda Bjorn captures her subjects and how comfortable and intimate her photographs are. When casting the models I picked three girls I found super inspiring, from a dancer/ choreographer to an artist. They were all unique beauties and gave their own je ne sais quoi to the project.

And then there was the stunning location of Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson and apprentice, Eric Lloyd Wright, a compound high above Malibu which was a perfect mix of nature and architecture, my biggest inspirations aside from the female form.

contemporary swimwear

You’re one of my Factory45’ers who was really conscious about being patient and taking your time with the process. You didn’t rush your launch – can you tell us more about your journey with the pre-production process?

In all honesty, it was more the process than my patience that didn’t rush the launch. Finding my fabric was the first step and what really set the course for my business. I did some googling and discovered that they had an office in NY so I made an appointment and met with the US sales rep. Swimwear is super technical and when your goal is quality and fit, finding the right manufacturing partner is essential.

I did encounter multiple situations where the quality or communication wasn’t working out and I had to move on. Going to trade shows was key, talking to as many people as possible and making the connections so there were options and a point of reference. Although frustrating at the time, I am thankful for the way things played out as it allowed me to really hone my product, message, and branding.

Throughout this time, did self-doubt ever creep up? How did you get past it?

Quite often! Something I remember very well from the Factory45 program was your advice to celebrate the small victories, which I think is key. That and being able to reflect and see how far you have come.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed and get caught up in all the things you have to figure out and the laundry list that only seems to grow so it really helps me to reflect on all the obstacles that I have overcome. Entrepreneurship is undoubtedly a rollercoaster of emotion so you just have to welcome it, roll with it and keep checking things off the list.

What has been the best thing about launching and seeing your idea come to fruition?

After working for others for so long it’s really great to be able to see an idea through from start to finish and the crazy amount of learning that goes into the process is very fulfilling. I feel like I am finally being able to live my truth and practice my ethics in a proactive way. Something unexpected which I have really loved is all the amazing and inspiring women that I have gotten to meet and work with as a result.

Contemporary swimwear

What is your best piece advice for a new designer or entrepreneur that’s just starting out down this road?

I would say be open to the course things take. The path won’t always go how you planned and it might be the best thing for you in the end. Also, check the mundane things off the list as soon as possible. Once your launch is on the horizon you will be happy to have things like your shipping and return policies, website copy and sales forms already in place.


To shop contemporary swimwear for the modern muse, visit Gala Maar here. To read more about Blakely’s experience in Factory45, read her alumni story here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

The Marathon of Business & Why You are Capable of More Than You Think

“I’ve decided to run a marathon,” my friend told me last week.

“Oh, uh, you are? I didn’t realize you were, like, a runner now,” I not-so-subtly replied.

“I’m not, but I bought this book,” she says as she hands me a paperback copy of The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer.

I open it up to Chapter One and read the first sentence:

We human beings have a unique capacity to make our own reality.

Now, to be clear, I’m not a runner either. You could call me more of the “yoga / leisurely walk” type…

But this overly simple perspective on what it takes to complete a rather complex physical feat had me intrigued.

The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer is based on a “Marathon 101” class taught by the University of Northern Iowa, which has been taken by over 200 students.

The theory behind both the book and the class is simple:

To run a marathon is less about what physical shape you’re in before you begin training, and more about your mental ability to decide to do it, and then simply — do it.

The strategy is based on a four-month, four-day-a-week workout plan for non-athletes who have no running background.

The goal is to realize that you are capable of more than you ever thought possible.

Months of training?

No previous background?

Capable of more than you thought possible?

Training for a marathon was starting to sound a lot like the experience of Factory45.  

In this age of instant gratification — when we can have food delivered in 20 minutes, get 50 “likes” on an Instagram in an hour, and find a date with a swipe to the right — it’s easy to get impatient with long-term goals.

It’s just not that glamorous to put in the hard work —

Especially with social media constantly reminding us of how perfect everyone else’s business and life is.

But the truth is, if I set out to run a marathon tomorrow — without training for months — I wouldn’t make it anywhere near the finish line.

The same goes for starting a company.

If you’re not expecting to put in the time, dedication and right attitude, then it’s probably not for you.

The process of building a business is no different than the process of building endurance for distance running:

You take one step at a time.

And you take those steps knowing that it’s not always going to feel good, but it’s going to be worth it.

Just as one runner says in the book, “By staying relaxed, centered, and positive you can handle just about anything that comes your way.”

Because the truth is, if you don’t keep putting one foot in front of the other, then you’ll never find out how far you really could have gone.

 

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

 


Market45

fashion video

A Filmmaker’s “Do’s & Don’ts” of a Fashion Video Shoot

Last week, I spent a whirlwind 14-hour day with the film team behind Falcon Related to reshoot 25 videos for the Factory45 program.

We had five sets, hair and makeup, and four people working within a 800 sq. ft. space. I’ve done a bunch of shoots over the years and although this was our most ambitious, it was the most professional and well organized — by far.

So, naturally, it got me thinking about why this shoot was so much smoother than the others and what observations I can pass along to all of you.

If you’re planning a video shoot for your fashion brand in the future — whether it’s a Kickstarter video, a lookbook shoot, a commercial or even a YouTube series — then read on.

I’ve asked Kestrel and Drew of Falcon Related to join me in sharing their best “Do’s and Don’ts” of a successful fashion shoot.

fashion video

SHANNON

DO:

  • Include a teleprompter in your equipment list. If you’re shooting a video that requires you to talk directly to the camera, then it’s absolutely worth asking your film team to include a teleprompter with their rental equipment. It can be as simple as an iPad with a reflective screen and there are tons of teleprompter apps you can download. This one trick has saved me HOURS — if not days — and will make the delivery of your script 100% better than it would if you tried to memorize, look at cue cards or ad-lib.
  • Create a timeline for the day. Your shoot is going to take longer than you plan for — that’s pretty much guaranteed. But you should absolutely create a timeline for the day so you at least have benchmarks to keep you on schedule. If you’re shooting outside, then you’ll need to know what time the sun sets. Our shoot went four hours over our timeline, but we didn’t need natural light. Make sure you have a backup plan if things run long and give yourself a buffer in the schedule.
  • Have snacks & arrange for lunch. My blood sugar crashed way before we were set to break for lunch. Luckily, I had planned ahead and bought healthy snacks the night before. You’ll want to make sure you do everything possible to keep your energy up — and even more importantly, the energy of your crew, models and team. Avoid salty foods or snacks with processed sugar that will cause high’s and low’s. We had nuts, raspberries, bananas, yogurt-covered raisins and dried mango and it kept everyone going until lunch. And yes, if you’re on location you’ll want to arrange for lunch to be delivered before the break that you’ve scheduled on your timeline.

DON’T:

  • Skimp for the cheapest option. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Of course there are the rare occasions when a novice can create a beautiful video, but that’s typically not the case. Depending on the depth of the project, you should expect to pay between $3-5K to hire a film team that knows what it’s doing. More than the price tag on the project, though, don’t…
  • Hire someone without seeing their past work. This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you when it comes to finding and hiring your team. A professional filmmaker should have a portfolio or reel, as well as an Instagram feed where you can get a taste of their past work. Everyone has different styles and you need to find the film team that aligns with the style of your brand.

fashion video

KESTREL & DREW

DO:

  • Create a shot list. This helps both sides (video team and designer/brand) understand what absolutely needs to be accomplished during the shoot. While it’s always fun to stray and embrace the creativity of the moment, the shot list serves as a great guide to help you get the most out of your shoot.
  • Have patience. Preparing for each shot isn’t going to happen in five minutes. There are many factors involved beyond the camera and the photographer. From the lighting and gear to the framing and audio, these individual components don’t come together without time, orientation to detail, and teamwork.
  • Keep communicating. After production day, the editing begins. As a designer/brand, it’s important to have a clear vision for your end product before the editor gets to work. Being able to communicate how you envision your video appearing will really help bring a project together.

DON’T:

  • Go with the cheapest option. You want to create the highest quality product possible, so try to find the best production value, while keeping your budget in mind.
  • Get disorganized with your feedback. When it comes to the details of the editing process, it can get really overwhelming. Organize all your edits and thoughts into one place – a Google doc works great. This allows you to clearly see which edits you’ve shared with the editor, and allows the editor to “cross out” your edits once they’ve been addressed. Maintaining this clear back and forth allows the final product to come to fruition faster.

To learn more about Falcon Related’s work, go here. You may recognize some past Factory45’ers : )

 

 


Market45

How to Change the Power of Your Thoughts to Better Your Business

“You’re going to fail.”

“You’ve got this.”

“You can’t pull that off.”

“You are fully capable.”

“Nobody cares what you have to say.”

“Your voice matters.”

And back and forth it goes…

It’s the see-saw in your brain that teeters from thought to thought.

It’s why, in the blink of an eye, you can go from feeling GREAT to being on the floor in the fetal position.

As entrepreneurs, we are all too familiar with the monkey mindgame.

“This is the idea! We are going to making MILLIONS!”

… five minutes later …

“There’s already another company doing this?! FML!!!!!”

The bad news is: this mindgame is probably never going to fully go away. (Unless you become a perfect Buddhist or super Zen master or something.)

The good news is: you can become better at managing it so that your thoughts don’t derail you.

And on that note, I’d like you to meet Herschel and Alice.

Herschel is a pain in the you-know-what. He’s a huge worry-wart, always has his panties in a bunch and can never seem to relaaaaax.

He’s the voice in my head that’s constantly concerned with whether my ideas are good enough or if I’m going to fail. I know that deep down he’s just trying to protect me, but he can come across as really negative and very annoying.

Alice, on the other hand, could win awards for Miss Congeniality. She’s calm, soothing and never let’s anything bother her. She knows that everything will work out, and she believes in me. She’s the most supportive cheerleader who ever existed — without the pom-poms.

At the risk of sounding like I’m schizophrenic, Herschel and Alice have gotten me through nearly a decade of entrepreneurship.

When I was first starting out I was… in a word… dramatic.

Things bothered me easily, every obstacle seemed like the end of the world, and I dwelled over the bad things far more than I celebrated the good things.

And then, about four years in, I did something that drastically changed the power of my thoughts.

I named them.

Instead of tying the negative thoughts to my self-worth, I started recognizing them as a worried friend who was simply looking out for me.

When I thought about falling on my face or screwing something up I was able to say:

“Hey Herschel, thanks for looking out for me, buddy, but I’ve got this. Don’t worry so much.”

And then Alice could chime in and take over the conversation.

By shifting to this perspective, it can do two things for you:

1. It creates distance between you and your negative thoughts. We are what we think, and when we’re able to separate the toxic thoughts from how we view ourselves, then we are that much closer to a more positive and healthier life and business.

2. It ends the negative spiral faster. As soon as you feel yourself going towards the sink hole of self doubt, you can think to yourself, “What would Alice say?” (or whatever you name your cheerleader.)

Because the thing is, if you want to be an entrepreneur then you have to get Herschel under control.

Failing to do so means you’ll never take risks, you’ll question every decision you make and worst of all — you won’t enjoy the journey.

Your thoughts will hold you back if you let them and if we look back in history —

Nothing truly great was ever created from fear.

 

 

 

 

This post was inspired by my friend and former business coach Amber Rae.

 


5 Reflections from Working with Over 100 Fashion Startups

On Friday, we wrapped up the final day of the Factory45 2016 program. (A special shout-out and congratulations to this year’s entrepreneurs.)

Last week marked 2.5 years since Factory45 started and the ‘graduation’ of my fourth cohort of ‘Factory45’ers.’

As many of us do this time of year, I’ve been reflecting on the conclusion of this chapter. And today I want to share the five main takeaways that I’ve observed from working with over 100 entrepreneurs in the past 2 years:

1. You are capable of more than you think.

In the first month of Factory45 my entrepreneurs start by sourcing fabric and materials. It’s the part of the process that takes the longest, and it can often require the entire six months of the program to find the perfect fabric.

Anyone who has tried sourcing before knows that not only does it take time, but it can be very frustrating. Many of my entrepreneurs are hesitant to reach out to suppliers out of sheer fear of the unknown.

And then a light switches on.

By the middle of the program, they’re giving each other tips, sharing leads on materials they’ve found, and offering advice about how to connect with an extra busy supplier.

Like anything new, it takes practice to become a pro. But you’re capable of more than you think you are.

And if you give it a chance, it will happen quicker than you expect it to.


2. Attitude is the number one indication of success.

On the final day of Factory45 this year, I sent an email to my entrepreneurs that began as follows:

Yesterday I was watching a video, explaining a method of thinking for entrepreneurs called the ‘Ow’ or ‘Wow’ Brain.

The psychologist was sharing research that found that the success of an entrepreneur isn’t about talent or starting capital or socioeconomic background or looks or knowledge.

It’s about attitude.

The entrepreneurs who are successful are the ones who look at their progress in terms of how far they’ve come rather than how far they have to go.

You could sum this up as the ‘half glass full’ philosophy.

I’ve done a lot of research about what makes some people ‘successful’ and what makes others stall out and falter. And it almost always comes down to attitude.

Successful entrepreneurs not only know they can do it, but they aren’t afraid of overcoming obstacles along the way.

3. Time can either be your friend or your foe.

We all start out with 24 hours in a day. It’s our job to decide what we’re going to do with those hours.

There’s a theory that a task will take you as much time as you allow it to. So if you say you’re going to launch in three months it will take you those entire three months. If you say you’ll launch in one year, then the study says you’ll stretch out that same launch to take you the full year.

It’s normal as an entrepreneur to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but it’s the levelest playing field we have with our competition. The entrepreneurs who are able to get time on their side, are the ones who set hard deadlines and stick to them.

4. Start before you’re ready.

I’ve shared before that this is my single best piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to launch their own clothing brands.

While some of the entrepreneurs I worked with this year had already been pursuing their businesses before they joined Factory45, the vast majority came through the program with just an idea.

When you start before you’re ready you initiate forward momentum. The feeling of moving forward little by little is what protects ideas from vanishing into thin air.

If you have an idea that you truly believe in, then you can increase its chances of survival by simply making the commitment to start.

5. Entrepreneurship is a battle between the heart and the mind.

Your mind will come up with as many excuses as it can to stop you from pursuing something it perceives as ‘risky.’ If you let it, the rational mind can easily overthrow the aspirational heart.

Our hearts are what keep us moving forward on an idea that the mind tells us is nothing more than a pipedream. Knowing and expecting that, you are better prepared for an ongoing battle.

Instead of letting the mind inhibit you from taking risks, reframe the fear. Recognize that the mind is just trying to protect you, but the part of your brain that initiates ‘fear-based thinking’ doesn’t have the last say.

Allow your heart to say, “I hear you. Thank you for trying to protect me, but I’ve got this.”

The more you practice this back and forth dialogue, you’ll find that the fear-talk in the mind starts to weaken. You’ll hear it less frequently and then it simply becomes…

A matter of the heart.

 

shannon-signature-e1463530563728

 


instagram

crowdfunding factory

What’s the difference? Factory45 vs. The Crowdfunding Factory

“Sisters, not twins.”

That’s what I told my web designer when we first started talking about the branding and design for The Crowdfunding Factory.

I said it needed to be clear that The Crowdfunding Factory was not the same as Factory45, but more like its little sister…

And that’s when we became two normal people talking about websites as if they were humans.

: )

But in all seriousness, I know there might be some confusion about how The Crowdfunding Factory is different from Factory45 and today I want to get really clear on that.

Factory45 is a six-month online accelerator program that takes sustainable apparel companies from idea to launch — including sourcing, pre-production, manufacturing, marketing, selling and crowdfunding.

Applications only open once per year so I can work closely with one dedicated cohort of entrepreneurs at a time.

There is 1-on-1 support, group calls and a community element that creates an exclusive experience for those people who want to build their companies in a sustainable and ethical way.

The tuition for Factory45 is $500/month for six months, and I can be as involved in helping you build your business as you want me to be.

The Crowdfunding Factory is a self-study course that acts as a stepping stone to Factory45. It’s for the people who are eager to join Factory45, but they don’t want to wait until the spring to get started on planning their launch.

As you’ll learn in my courses, a detailed marketing strategy that takes you to pre-selling on Kickstarter are the two main pillars of a successful fashion brand launch.

When you begin your launch strategy with The Crowdfunding Factory, you’re getting a huge head start on creating a campaign that will ultimately fuel every other aspect of your business.

 

And the best part? Come spring, when you’re ready to join Factory45, you’ll have a marketing strategy in place that you’re ready to implement.

Which of course, means that you’ll have more time and energy to devote to sourcing the perfect materials and working on product development.

So, that just about sums it up.

  • If you plan to join Factory45 in the spring, then The Crowdfunding Factory is for you — and you’ll receive $500 off your Factory45 tuition, which is one month free.
  • If you already have your samples and manufacturing lined up, then The Crowdfunding Factory is also for you. It’s the next best step to taking your brand from pre-production to pre-sales.

My intention with all of this is to set you up with several different ways to be successful.

Sign up here to find out when enrollment opens!

 

shannon-signature-e1463530563728

 


womenswear

How the Founder of Sotela Raised Over $20,000 to Start a Womenswear Brand

Many of you know Hanna Baror-Padilla, who is one of my past Factory45 entrepreneurs and is now the founder of a womenswear brand called Sotela.

Hanna is a prime example that you don’t have to have thousands of dollars sitting in the bank nor endless amounts of free time to launch a clothing brand.

In fact, while Hanna was preparing to launch her clothing company through Kickstarter this year, she was working a full time job and commuting two hours each way.

I’ll never forget meeting her for brunch in L.A. last spring and hearing about the ungodly hour she would wake up every morning to go to work and then the equally ungodly hour she would get home from work.

Hanna is proof that if you want something bad enough, then you find a way to make time for it.

So, after a year of saving up money and dedicating her nights and weekends to building her campaign, Hanna launched Sotela with a Kickstarter this past May.

And she raised over $20,000 to fund her first production run.

As much as I can tell you how great crowdfunding is and how I know that it’s the very best option for you to launch your brand, I wanted to bring Hanna in to tell you about her own experience.

In this interview for Factory45 LIVE, Hanna and I talked about:

  • How she went from simply having an idea to actually getting started.
  • Why she chose Kickstarter as her launch platform and the other methods of raising money that she considered.
  • What she did to initially prepare for her campaign and how long she prepared for.
  • The strategies she attributes to the success of her Kickstarter.
  • What life looks like for her now… and more.

If you even have the slightest feeling that you think you might want to run a Kickstarter campaign someday, then you’ll hugely benefit from hearing the personal experience of someone who has done it before.

Watch the recording here.

 

shannon-signature-e1463530563728

 


 


 

Introducing NOVEL SUPPLY CO: Conscious Apparel for the Urban Adventurer

This is an interview with Factory45’er Kaya Dorey about the launch of her brand NOVEL SUPPLY CO. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Kaya is raising money (update: has raised money) for her first production run of conscious apparel for the urban adventurer.

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

NOVEL SUPPLY CO. is conscious apparel for the urban adventurer. My line is made up of three comfy, casual, gender neutral styles made from all natural hemp and organic cotton including:

The Cabin Crew, The Adventure Tee and The Muscle Tank.

My brand connects with adventurers who love active lifestyles and mindful living, but also care about their style. The goal for NOVEL is to provide people with conscious apparel that doesn’t sacrifice style. Rad graphics created by local artists keep our designs fresh and manufacturing locally allows for transparency throughout the manufacturing process.

novel-supply-1

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

I chose Kickstarter because I was familiar with the platform and I had seen several other entrepreneurs (including Shannon and my fellow Factory45’ers) have success with their campaigns.

Kickstarter’s branding is super on point and their website is easy to navigate so I thought it would be the best fit for my campaign. Also, the demographic of people that use Kickstarter, or even know what it is, fit with my target market.

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

As I am still working full-time to help fund my business and life, it was crucial that I work somewhere that was relatively flexible, with people who supported me from the get-go. I am so grateful for my team at work and their constant support and motivation.

Also, my guy – and marketing guru – has been an integral part in helping me to launch this campaign, manage my time and has been there every step of the way to cheer me on. He believes in me sometimes more than I believe in myself and has been crucial in keeping my fire stoked.

My friends and family have also helped me maintain momentum not only financially but also just by believing in my vision, connecting me with the people I need to know and constantly encouraging me to hustle.

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

Stoke my networks. The NOVEL tribe is made up of some of the raddest, most supportive people. They are the adventurers, they are the ones who make conscious decisions about what they buy, they are the ones who are making sustainability cool, and they love all things creative. They have also turned out to be the mavens of my campaign.

I am super lucky to have collaborated with some of the most talented and creative entrepreneurs in Vancouver and, because of that, I have a solid lineup of visual content that will help spread the word about NOVEL. Stay tuned 😉

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

When self-doubt creeps up – which, I can tell you, it does – I go to the mountains, I have my friends over for a glass of wine, I have a good cry, I go stretch it out with some yoga, or take a timeout for myself and meditate. It’s the only way to tame a creative mind.

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

I love what I have come up with in terms of NOVEL apparel, and maybe I’m a little bit biased, but hey, my heart and soul is in The Muscle Tank, The Adventure Tee AND The Cabin Crew.

BUT, my favourite rewards being offered are the ones that I collaborated with others on! The growlers are sick! The handmade and hand-painted paddles are love at first sight! And, the designs, whether they are on the postcards, prints or NOVEL apparel are on point! It’s impossible to choose a favourite and I guess I haven’t really answered your question. Sarry.

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

Adventure always!

You can check out Kaya’s campaign for NOVEL SUPPLY CO. hereTo read more about Kaya’s experience in Factory45, read her alumni story here.

 

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hard work

Does Hard Work Really Pay Off?

When I was growing up my parents always said,

“Work hard and it will pay off.”

When I knew I really shouldn’t sign up for that AP Biology class I did it anyway because, you know,

“I’ll just work harder.”

When I made an audition tape for an internship with Nike, I scripted out the entire four-minute video, storyboarded each shot and had multiple costume and set changes, because well,

“They’ll see how hard I worked.”

When I applied for a fellowship with NPR, competing against thousands of top-tier journalism grads, I told myself, I’ll get it because…

“I work really hard.”

Turns out, I got a “C” in AP Biology, didn’t get the internship with Nike and wasn’t even asked for an interview with NPR.

(My parents also have many words of wisdom for dealing with disappointment.)

Of course you need a hearty dose of hard work to accomplish your goals.

But the disclaimer of “hard work pays off” should be, “it’s also no guarantee.”

This was never more apparent than when I became an entrepreneur.

I quickly learned that hard work isn’t going to get you that much farther than the entrepreneur next you. 

Because working hard is simply a given.

I’ve spent the past 2.5 years working with and observing other entrepreneurs who have set out to start businesses of their own.

A lot of them work hard. And some of them don’t.

But there are other qualities that make far more of an impact:

>> They’re resourceful. I don’t mean they can forage for wild berries and make a bonfire with two twigs, I mean they have an attitude of, “I’ll figure this out.” Successful entrepreneurs know that every problem has a solution and they aren’t afraid to take action to find it.

>> They’re willing to take risks. Deciding to start your own business feels like a huge risk in itself, but it’s just the first one. Your entire entrepreneurial career will be made up of opportunities to take more risks.

Unfortunately, the word ‘risk’ typically comes with a negative connotation. Most of us were taught to follow the straight and narrow path that has road signs with the word “Conventional” along it.

One of the best things I ever did for my own business, and peace of mind, was start trading out the word ‘risk’ for ‘experiment.’

I’m experimenting with this marketing strategy… I’m experimenting with this type of business model… I’m experimenting with hiring this person…

>> They’re not easily derailed. The true test of an entrepreneur is when things go wrong. How will you handle it? Will it be the end of the world and cause you to curl up in the fetal position? Or will you look at it as an opportunity to try something new and come up with a new solution?

Real success is a series of baby steps and the entrepreneurs who break apart from the pack are the ones who keep their energy up.

They don’t let a tech glitch destroy their mood. They don’t let a confusing email from a supplier derail their focus. They don’t let a botched sample force them under the covers.

I once had an entrepreneur friend tell me that she starts working at 10am and is done by 5pm because, “She gets more work done during that time than the average person gets done in a 12-hour day.”

Needless to say, I appreciated her honesty.

Hard work is not the same as productivity, or attitude, or impact.

Successful entrepreneurs know that “working hard” is just another day at the office.

 

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