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Anti-Racist Fashion Brand

“Allyship is a verb…”

Said diversity consultant Ericka Hines during Rachel Rodgers’ Town Hall to Reimagine Small Business event. 

And her words have stuck with me.

As I’ve been learning, listening and absorbing how to be a better ally to BIPOC, I’ve also been struggling with the feeling of not doing enough.

With every realization of where I’ve fallen short as a result of my own blind spots, comes the urgency of wanting to fix it overnight.

But I know that’s not how this works.

True allyship is about steady, consistent and deliberate action. It’s not performative, it’s not temporary and it’s certainly not a marketing strategy.

So, the real question I’ve had to ask myself is:

What is one small action that I can take today to make sure I’m still doing this work a year from now?

In a webinar hosted by The Garment last week, DEI consultant Erica Courdae spoke about values.

“What do you stand for?” she asked, “What do you stand against?”

And as I listened to Erica speak, I discovered one of the first tangible changes I could make to my own business for lasting impact.

I realized there was a hole in the Factory45 program.

While I’m constantly encouraging my entrepreneurs to hone in on their business model, clarify their mission, write down their vision and identify their ideal target customer, I left out an important piece of that puzzle. 

I’ve never encouraged my entrepreneurs to think about their business values from the standpoint of diversity, equity and inclusion.

When really, those three things should be foundational to every business model.

So, thanks to Erica’s teachings, I’ve created a DEI exercise for Factory45 that will now be a requirement for all future Factory45 entrepreneurs.

I’m also offering it to any of my subscribers or readers so that you can use it to build an anti-racist fashion brand, even if you’re not one of my students.

You can download it here

I give all credit to Erica Courdae for the content.

It should go without saying that this exercise is only the beginning. Beyond identifying your values as a brand, taking action on those values is most important.

But I hope this exercise helps you to start answering some of the questions that you may not have thought of before.

I’m hopeful and excited about the prospect of future fashion brands being built around DEI principles from the ground up — 

I know that we can do this together.

 

 

 

 

Free Download: Creating a Foundation of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Your Fashion Brand

white fashion business

This is not another templated blog post telling you that Black Lives Matter.

This is a call to action.

Over the past week or so, I have absorbed more education about one subject than I have about anything else in my life.

From articles to books to conversations to webinars, I have been processing what it truly means to be a white ally to BIPOC, what it means to do anti-racist work — and more importantly, acknowledging my unearned privilege in a system that was rigged to my benefit. 

Brands across all industries are being called out for their implicit (and yes, explicit) biases, and we’re realizing that we can all do better. 

Most of us have heard the expression, “We are not born with ‘isms.’ Racism is taught.”

And just as people aren’t born racist, most businesses aren’t born racist either.

The vast majority of entrepreneurs don’t start companies to deliberately suppress people of color.

But here’s the thing:

Most of us don’t go into business with plans to amplify and support people of color either.

Our passive decision making is directly harming anti-racist work. By not putting diversity and equity at the forefront of our core business values, we are not only contributing to the problem… 

We are the problem.

We simply cannot continue business as normal, without addressing the fundamental flaws of the sustainable and ethical fashion industry and it’s white-washed behavior.

As a leader in this space, someone who encourages people to start sustainable fashion brands for the good of planet and people, it is my responsibility to ensure that we’re starting brands that are good for all people.

I also recognize that there are professionals in diversity and inclusion training that will do a far better job teaching anti-racist business principles than I can.

So today, I want to introduce you to one of those people.

Erica Courdae is the CEO of a hair and makeup business that disrupted industry standards to consider the beauty of those not regularly featured. 

After decades of experience in creating a space for dialogue around diversity, equity and inclusion, she is now a consultant and coach for businesses that are committed to being imperfect allies of BIPOC.

On Thursday, June 18th, sponsored by The Garment, Erica is teaching a webinar exclusively for fashion brands about how we can be better allies.

“Step into a reality that isn’t the one you inhabit every single day. This is where the growth happens.” — Erica Courdae

Erica is being compensated for her time, knowledge and skills, but the webinar is free for you to attend. You can register here.

I will be there with an open mind, listening, learning and challenging myself to dig deeper in how I can commit to doing the long-term work.

Because believe me, there isn’t an overnight solution in showing up

The point is to continue showing up — within yourself, within your family and within your business.

If we truly want to live in an equal and just world, then there’s no other option.

See you next Thursday here,

 

 

 

 

Want to take action right now? Rachel Rodgers is hosting a Town Hall for small businesses TONIGHT at 6pm ET / 3pm PT. You can register here.


I know we’ve all been inundated with resources, but here are two links that have particularly stood out to me. 

*Note: If you’re sensitive to explicit language, then you may want to skip.

White Apathy & The Bullshit Argument that “They Could Help Themselves If They Really Wanted To” by Ash Ambirge

Police: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (If you can’t commit to 30 minutes, then just watch the last two minutes.)

 

fashion entrepreneur

Do you want to make the leap from the traditional fashion industry to the sustainable fashion industry?

Or maybe you want to start off as a sustainable brand from the get go.

Sustainable and ethical fashion is a constantly growing industry, especially as more consumers are becoming aware of how important it is to planet and people.

So, where do you start?

Today, I’m sharing the three most important aspects of a sustainable fashion brand and what you need to make sure you know how to do.

 

 

If these three things are already top of mind for you and you’re ready to get started, then applications to Factory45 are now open HERE!

To changing the fashion industry,

 

 

fabric sourcing template


designer woman walking in california

The other day I was on a podcast interview, and the host asked me how I reach big goals.

I’ve shared with you before that I’m not a goal-setter in the traditional sense. Instead, I focus on the small “action steps” needed to achieve big goals.

And that’s where I started in January of this year.

The “goal” was to create a new brand video for Factory45 that would portray the experience of being an entrepreneur in the program.

I had a vision of what the final video would look like, but I really didn’t know how to bring it to life.

I’m not a filmmaker, I’m not a script writer and I’m certainly not an actress.

So, I got out a notebook and I made a list of all of the things that would need to come together to make this big goal happen within the budget that I set.

Hire experts who do this professionally… write a script… edit, edit and re-edit the script… approve a storyboard… find an “actress” for the video… hire a voiceover… lay out a timeline… create a shooting schedule, etc…

Thankfully — and this is always applicable advice — we started working on the video so far in advance that we finished filming two weeks before we got stay-at-home orders.

Advanced planning paid off more than ever this year.

So, how did it all come together?

I hired Drew and Kestrel of Falcon Related, who have worked with me before to create the Factory45 portal videos.

Jen Long, who is the founder of Noble Carriage, happens to live in San Diego (where I’m based right now) and she was willing to be our actress. 

She also happens to be the consulting client I worked with in 2014 who inspired the idea for the Factory45 program — how’s that for a full-circle moment?

Holly Stavnes, the co-founder of Left Edit, provided the voiceover for us — and she also went through the Factory45 program in 2017.

That’s all to say, the new brand video came together in such an authentic and genuine way that I couldn’t have planned it better in January if I tried.

It’s a lesson in trusting the process, setting up a plan of action and following through on the little steps to make it happen.

Anyway, you can see for yourself — just click the play button below : )

 

 

 


Factory45 Mentors

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

Every year around this time, I try googling a list of fashion events happening around the world, and I’m never able to find a comprehensive list… 

So, I put one together for us.

This list focuses mainly on sourcing, tradeshows and conferences with an emphasis on sustainable fashion, specifically.

I’ve also divided the events into USA and International — if there’s a tradeshow or conference that’s missing, please email me and I’ll add it to the blog post!

Enjoy,

 

 

*Designates the event being exclusively sustainable fashion-focused.

 

USA

Texworld USA

Jan. 19-21 | New York, NY

One of the largest sourcing events on the East Coast for apparel fabric buyers, product R&D specialists, designers, merchandisers and sourcing professionals. 

 

DG Expo New York

Jan. 20-21 | New York, NY

The fabric show features North American and European Fabric and Trim Suppliers with Global Production. Including: Made in USA / Low Minimums + Stock Programs.

 

Premiere Vision New York

Jan. 21-22 | New York, NY

Six major industries supplying materials and services to the global fashion industry come together in New York.

 

MAGIC Las Vegas

Feb. 5-7 | Las Vegas, NV

MAGIC is the most comprehensive fashion marketplace in the U.S., showcasing Women’s and Men’s Apparel, Footwear, Accessories, and Sourcing resources from around the world.

 

COTERIE

Feb. 11-13 | New York, NY

The COTERIE Marketplace brings together all categories of women’s fashion under one roof.

 

*Impact Fashion Shop

March 14 | Los Angeles, CA

One of the leading sustainable fashion events in Los Angeles, this free pop-up shop brings the best impact-driven, environmental-friendly, fair trade brands under one roof.

 

DG Expo Dallas

March 25-26 | Dallas, TX

The fabric show features North American and European Fabric and Trim Suppliers with Global Production. Including: Made in the USA / Low Minimums + Stock Programs.

 

*Sustainable Fashion Forum

April 24-26 | Portland, OR

A highly-curated, community-driven sustainable fashion conference that looks to the future by fostering an honest, thought-provoking conversation about the social and environmental effects fashion has on our world and what we can do individually and collectively to improve it.

 


INTERNATIONAL

The London Textile Fair

Jan. 15-16 | London, UK

Provides manufacturers and their agents with the opportunity to showcase their products to the most influential British buyers and designers.

 

IM INTERMODA

Jan. 16 | Guadalajara, Mexico

IM INTERMODA, is the most important international platform in the fashion industry in Latin America.

 

Future Fabric Expo

Jan. 29-30 | London, UK

The Future Fabrics Expo is the largest dedicated showcase of globally sourced available sustainably and responsibly produced fabrics and materials.

 

Pure Origin

Feb. 9-11 | London, UK

The UK’s only fashion sourcing show to bring every element of the fashion supply chain together in one location.

 

Texworld Paris

Feb. 10-13 | Paris, France

One of the largest sourcing events in Europe for apparel fabric buyers, product R&D specialists, designers, merchandisers and sourcing professionals. 

 

Premiere Vision-Paris

Feb. 11-13 | Paris, France

Six major industries supplying materials and services to the global fashion industry come together in Paris, the capital of fashion.

 

*Drapers Sustainable Fashion Conference

March 11 | London, UK

Brought to you by Drapers, the event is for fashion brands and retailers, clothes manufacturers, supply chain experts, innovators.

 

*The Australian Circular Fashion Conference

April 1-2 | Melbourne, Australia

The conference is specifically designed as a call to action for collaboration within the

Australasian textile and apparel industry.

 

Fashion World Tokyo

April 1-3 | Tokyo, Japan

FASHION WORLD TOKYO in Japan's largest fashion trade show which consists of 6 specialized shows, held twice a year.

 

International Apparel & Textile Fair

April 7-9 | Dubai, UAE

Leading brand in the MENA region to source and showcase the best in textiles, fabric, footwear accessories and prints from renowned mills across the globe.

 

*Copenhagen Fashion Summit

May 27-28 | Copenhagen, Denmark

From CEO’s and creative directors to policymakers and thought leaders, the Summit brings together decision-makers from across the globe for agenda-setting discussions on the most critical environmental, social and ethical issues facing our industry and planet.

 

*MOCHNI Conscious Loft

July 4 | Hamburg, Germany

CONSCIOUS LOFT is a cozy 1-day event for people looking to connect, learn and shop in an intimate atmosphere. At CONSCIOUS LOFT you will feel consciously at home within a like-minded community.

 

International Sourcing Expo

Nov. 24-26 | Melbourne, Australia

The show provides an unmatched opportunity to meet and do business with some of the best suppliers from around the world in apparel, accessories and textiles.

 


fabric sourcing

In the last episode of Factory45 TV, I shared five ways to find a clothing manufacturer for the first time. If you missed it, you can watch it here.

Moving forward, you’ll eventually come to a point when you think you’ve found the right factory partner and you’re ready to start production… 

What questions do you want to make sure you ask?

What mistakes do you need to avoid?

What questions should you be prepared to answer?

And what do you really need to be able to start production?

In this video, I’m going to answer all of those questions for you (and more), so that you don’t end up wasting money on the wrong things, or turning off a factory from working with you or realizing that you sent a factory inquiry too soon (that happens all the time).

Click the video above to watch Cut & Sew Manufacturers: How to Work with Them.

Enjoy!

 

 


Manufacturing Checklist

How do you find a manufacturer for your clothing line?

…especially as a new brand without many industry contacts?

In today’s episode of Factory45 TV (!), I’m sharing 5 tips to finding a clothing manufacturer for the first time.

My best tip — that I haven’t shared before — is saved for #4 so make sure you watch all the way to the end.

It’s never too soon to start making a list of potential production partners that you can contact when you’re ready.

This video will help you begin (or continue) your search. Enjoy!

 

 


clothing manufacturer

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

If I polled an audience of startup fashion designers and asked them the number one business task they dread the most, I bet I could guess what most of them would say.

It’s not Google Analytics…

Or calculating costs… 

Or managing a budget…

(Although I’m sure those are high on the list.)

The number one thing that most fashion entrepreneurs resist is:

Blogging.

I’m not talking about blogging as in being a “fashion blogger” and sharing your #ootd and styled outfits.

I’m talking about blogging as a strategic marketing tactic to attract an audience and create potential customers for your brand. 

In other words, blogging as a means to sell your products.

I’ve done a lot of research on this and all of the experts agree,

Blogging is not going anywhere.

It is still an incredibly powerful tool to grow your brand presence, drive traffic to your landing page or online store and convert website visitors into paying customers.

If you’re not leveraging it for your business, then you’re doing yourself a disservice and that’s what I want to help you with today.

So, what in the world are you supposed to write about?

Let me first say that a blog post does not have to be written. 

There are multiple mediums for blogging today, including audio and video, so if you don’t consider yourself a “good writer” you’re not off the hook!

The content you produce depends on which stage of business you’re in. For our purposes, I’m going to apply this to those of you who don’t have anything to sell yet.

Because yes, you should be marketing and building an audience before you have anything to sell. (But you already knew that, right?)

When brainstorming content ideas, the “winning topics” should fall under one of two categories:

  1. A personal post about you, your story, why you’re starting your brand and a behind the scenes look at building your business. It should be written in a way that connects with your ideal target customer (i.e. reader).
  2. An educational, entertaining or inspirational post that provides valuable content for your ideal target customer (i.e. reader).

That’s it — one of those two things.

The goal is for every blog post to either 1.) connect or 2.) provide value — in an ideal world, it does both.

Now, here’s the key to blogging:

Consistency.

Once a week, on the same day, you want to publish a new blog post and send it out to your email list and social media following.

The easiest way to make sure you’re consistent in this is to brainstorm content ideas in advance and to devise a system.

You can stay organized by creating an editorial calendar and a workflow spreadsheet.

The editorial calendar ensures that you have blog post topics lined up weeks in advance.

The workflow spreadsheet ensures that you know exactly what you need to do to optimize your new blog post every week.

If you’re still reading, then you’ve earned this… 

You can access my Editorial Calendar template here and my Workflow Spreadsheet here.

Simply copy and paste the contents and put them into your own Google Drive spreadsheet.

Finally, and most importantly, how does blogging work to create customers?

By getting readers to sign up to your email list.

This is the number one goal for every piece of marketing content you create when you don’t have products to sell yet.

By growing your email list, you’re ensuring that when you do have something to sell you’ll have an audience to sell it to.

So, will you publish a blog post next week?

 


sustainable fashion advice