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“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

 


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

What’s true, what’s outdated and what’s simply false?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

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

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

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

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

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

2.)  If you build it, they will come.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Too good to be true?

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


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

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

 

factory45 owner shannon


4 Instagram Hacks You Probably Didn't Know

By the time we thought to take a picture, the sun had already set and we were saying our goodbyes.

“Let’s just take a photo real quick for Instagram,” Nicole said as we were walking down the steps of the restaurant.

We selfie’d like the best of ‘em and looked at it.

“Ugh,” was the simultaneous reaction.

“Why didn’t we think to do this earlier when our only light wasn’t a neon beer sign?”

After six years of online friendship, I had met Nicole (the founder of StartUp FASHION) for the first time in “real life.”

And like any good online business owners, we wanted documentation of it to share with our overlapping audiences.

I’m not ashamed — okay, I’m a little ashamed — to say we tried a few more times and never got the shot.

As we went our separate ways, we chalked up our lack of social media fodder to “living in the moment” and promised ourselves we’d get a good photo the next time we were in the same city.

I will be the first to admit, I am not good about remembering to take photos.

Despite living in a time when Instagram is the #1 most influential social media platform for online businesses, I am not as snap-happy as I should be.

Most weekends I leave my phone at home when I go out and if I’m experiencing something I really want to remember, then I usually don’t want to interrupt it by taking out my device.

Depending on what side of the Millennial line you are on, this is something you can either relate to — or not relate to at all.

Regardless of where you fall, there are several hacks I’ve learned over the years that have helped immensely in growing a 10,000+ Instagram following without letting it take over my life.

And that’s what I want to share with you today:

1.) Color palette.

When you click on your Instagram profile, the gallery of photos underneath your name and website should act as a storyboard for your brand. It should look polished, thoughtful and representative of what your company is and the aesthetic you want it to convey.

The first step in creating this storyboard is to come up with a color palette for the photos you share.

Do you only post black and white pictures? Do all of your images have a white border around them? Do you increase the saturation, so all of your pictures are bold and bright?

Choosing a color palette not only makes your Instagram grid look better, but it helps save time and energy when you’re deciding which photos to shoot, share and curate.

factory45, instagram, instagram hacks, social media, marketing, hacks

2.) Planoly.

There are a bunch of apps out there, but this is the one I’ve been using for over a year and it’s changed how I use Instagram for my business.

Planoly allows you to upload the photos you’ve taken on your camera roll and drag them into different layouts that represent your Instagram grid. This lets you see exactly how it’s going to look on your account when the photos are published.

You can also write all of your captions in advance and schedule the photo for the time you want it to publish.

Planoly has made it so much easier to plan a thoughtful editorial calendar, and I can save it for when I’m doing something mindless like sitting on the train or watching TV.

3.) Forget “Instant.”

When Instagram Stories was released it created a whole new level of anxiety for me. If you’re trying to live in the moment, then IG Stories is basically your worst nightmare.

I remember being at a pop-up shop in Boston when I decided to make one of my first IG Stories and it took FOREVER. I was sitting there, taking so much time with the filters… and the emojis… and the captions… that I was missing out on actually meeting the makers and walking around the venue.

Out of everything I’ve learned, this is the hack that really saved my Instagram sanity:

I discovered that I could shoot photos and video footage on my phone and upload them to Instagram Stories later when I had some time to do it thoughtfully.

If you didn’t know this tip, then you can try it right now. Go ahead and take a few photos or video on your camera roll wherever you are reading this.

After you do that, head over to Instagram and click on the Instagram Stories icon at the top left corner of your screen. Once the camera comes up, place your finger on the middle of the screen and drag it up.

You should see all of the photos and videos you’ve taken from the last 24 hours at the bottom. And you can upload any of them into your “Story.”

(The catch here is that you have to create the Story within 24 hours of taking the photos or footage, otherwise they won’t appear as an option for sharing.)

factory45, instagram, instagram hacks, social media, marketing, hack

4.) Curate.

My Instagram gallery is about 75% curated photos. In other words, I take screenshots of other people’s photos and share them with my own caption and give photo credit.

This works for me because so much of my brand message is about highlighting the entrepreneurs who are part of Factory45. I regularly share updates about the Factory45’ers who are launching new products, running Kickstarter campaigns or simply creating beautiful images.

It can also work for you if you don’t have time to take all of your own photos or if you’re not confident in your photography skills.

The best part about sharing other people’s photos is that it promotes goodwill and new business relationships if done right. By genuinely supporting someone else’s brand or giving them a shout-out, you’re putting yourself on their radar and they’re likely to return the favor.

The key here is to make your caption for the image about *them* (don’t try to pass off their photo as your own workspace, cup of coffee or bouquet of flowers) and don’t forget to give photo credit by tagging their Instagram account.

I get it. It can be super overwhelming to use social media for building your audience and brand awareness.

But even more than the hacks or tips and tricks, the absolute best thing you can do is to just start and stay consistent.

Perfection paralysis has no place in the ever-changing world of social media, so don’t let it stop you.

If you read last week’s post, then you know no one is even paying attention yet anyway ; )

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


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fashion video

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 : )

 

 


“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.


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

 


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

 


crowdfunding cta

hard work

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.

 

shannon-signature-e1463530563728

 


Sustainable Fashion Advice

A few weeks ago you may remember I sent out a questionnaire to all of you, asking one question:

What is your SINGLE biggest challenge right now when it comes to launching your clothing company?

And not too surprisingly, most of you said the exact same thing…

“I don’t have any MONEY!”

(Or something along those lines.)

A lack of funds can be a huge problem for a startup brand that has the vision and dedication to succeed but simply doesn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to invest upfront.

Even more significant is the fact that many of us have a lot of fear-based thinking when it comes to money.

Whether it’s because of the way we were raised or a feeling of lack throughout our lives, many of us operate in a cycle of scarcity rather than abundance.

When it comes to building an apparel brand there’s also a lot of confusion around how much you really need for product development. We say we want to pay the people we work with an “ethical” wage but most of us don’t really know what that means.

In the second interview for Factory45 LIVE, I talked to Nicole Giordano, founder of StartUp FASHION, about the money topic that most people don’t want to touch.

In addition to answering questions from the audience, Nicole and I covered:

  • How much money you should realistically expect to spend during product development.
  • Our top recommendations for funding your first production run without the risk.
  • Ways to determine your stage of business, develop a budget, create a financial plan — and STICK to it.
  • The personal stories of how we funded our businesses from the beginning without going into debt.
  • And other creative ways to raise money, with management advice about how to be less afraid to spend it.

The truth is, if you’re creating a physical product then it requires some money — there’s no way around that.

But whereas 10 years ago, you had to have all of that capital sitting in your bank account (or have some rich relatives), the industry has changed. There are now easier and smarter ways to start your brand with very little risk to your own finances.

Listen to Factory45 LIVE with Nicole Giordano of StartUp FASHION.

 

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If you know someone who would benefit from attending Factory45 LIVE, please share the recording link.

P.S. The next Factory45 LIVE will be with Michael Riddering, co-founder of Trendly.  : )

 

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important product testing

Consider this scenario.

You spend years dreaming up the perfect apparel product.

You spend months meticulously creating it.

You tweak and stitch and hem and haw over it until…

It’s perfect.

To you.

But what about the lady on the other side of the country, who really wishes the zipper slid up and down a little easier?

Have you tested it to make sure it’s also perfect for your customer?

There are two phases of product development that I would say are a must.

1.) To test your product in the pre-product development process.

2.) To test your product in post-product development.

First, you want to test your concept.

The easiest way to do this is by sending out a survey to your target market (ideally through your email list). This should help you identify your ideal customer, as well as let you know how likely they are to pay for your product.

Once you receive the feedback, consider every bit of it. Make any necessary changes before you move on to develop your patterns and samples.

An important note here: People may not know what they want, but they definitely know what they don’t want. Phrase your survey questions in a way that provokes your future customer to tell you what they don’t like about similar garments on the market and how they feel they could be improved.

The second test is a user test of the product after the sample has already been made.

Start this process by checking to see what is federally mandated by your country for the manufacturer. For example, in the United States, baby clothing has required testing.

If you aren’t sure what testing may be required by law, use this page on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website to find out. (Note that this is specific to the U.S.)

You want to ensure that you’re offering a product of quality, value and safety. You need go that extra mile to make sure what you believe to be perfect, is actually perfect.

Don’t let this overwhelm you. Testing agencies are out there who specialize in a wide variety of consumer products. Many of these tests are budgetfriendly, as well. Do the research, find out what you need and factor it into your budget.

Your other product testing outlet is going to be much easier

Your family and friends.

This has proven by many first-time entrepreneurs to be the most honest and easiest form of feedback. Reach out to someone in your target market who will be brutally honest and let you know what they like and what can be improved.

Once those two tests are completed, you’ll feel ready and confident to move into production.