Tag Archive for: ethical fashion

Eco-Friendly Fabrics

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If you’re looking for eco-friendly fabrics for your sustainable fashion brand, then this is the episode for you. I’m going to share the pros and cons of six of my favorite eco-friendly fabrics.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Free Supplier Email Templates

Fabric Sourcing Kit


If you’re looking for eco-friendly fabrics for your sustainable fashion brand, then this is the episode for you. I’m going to share the pros and cons of six of my favorite eco-friendly fabrics.

First, I will say, it’s important to know that when it comes to fashion there’s no such thing as “perfectly sustainable.” Our goal as sustainable fashion designers is to do the best we can, always striving to improve our supply chain. On that note, I’m going to go through six of my favorite eco-friendly fabrics:


The first one is LYOCELL (TENCEL)


    • A very fast-growing renewable resource from wood pulp (usually eucalyptus trees) that doesn’t require replanting, pesticides, fertilizer, etc.
    • The fabric processing involves dissolving wood pulp with a non-toxic solvent. Once the process is completed, the solution is evaporated thereby removing the water, and the remainder is reused in the next cycle.
    • Considered a “closed-loop” processing method, which is ideal.


    • Doesn’t always hold dye well.
    • Fabric pills (little balls that fray away from the rest of the fiber).

The second one is HEMP


    • Said to be the most durable of all natural fibers.
    • Grows plentifully in many different parts of the world.
    • Renewable resources, doesn’t require much water to grow, doesn’t require pesticides/insecticides.
    • Long roots, so it doesn’t contribute to soil erosion.
    • Highly absorbent, lightweight, and yet three times stronger than cotton.
    • Very little waste in the production of hemp fabric. 
    • Less harm to farmers.


    • If it doesn’t have anti-wrinkle chemicals applied the wrinkles tend to wear and the fibers will start to break at the collar and hem.
    • Can be labeled organic even if there is a chemical cocktail applied to the fabric in the post-processing.

The third is CUPRO


    • Vegan alternative to silk.
    • Created from a part of the cotton plant that is usually discarded.
    • Low shrinkage.
    • Good moisture absorbency.
    • Naturally wrinkle resistant.


    • Takes up stains easily.
    • Goes through a salt manufacturing process that requires water.

The fourth one is LINEN


  • Natural, lightweight, durable, highly absorbent.
  • Made from long flax fibers — stronger than cotton.


  • Wrinkles very easily.
  • Bleached to prepare for dyeing.
  • Can be GMO.

The fifth one is ORGANIC COTTON


  • GMO-free.
  • Pesticides/insecticides aren’t used in the harvesting process.
  • A field must be pesticide-free for at least three years before it can be certified organic.
  • Typically a better experience for the cotton farmers (there are thousands of suicides linked to conventional cotton and farmers in India).


  • Although there are less chemicals used in the process, “certified-organic” doesn’t necessarily mean the cotton is 100% chemical-free. The cotton can be labeled organic but still go through a chemical treatment in the post-processing. 

And the last one is MODAL, which is very similar to tencel but modal has a slightly more delicate touch and feel. It feels softer and it is often made into lighter and thinner fabrics compared to Tencel.


  • Cellulose fiber made from beech trees, 100% biodegradable, 50% more water absorbent than cotton, holds color and is resistant to fading.
  • Resistant to shrinking.
  • Extremely light and soft.


  • Prone to stretching and pilling.
  • Considered bio-based over natural because of the chemical process to turn it into fabric.

If you’re looking for sustainable fabrics for your own fashion brand, then make sure to download my free email templates that will make you sound like a pro when reaching out to fabric suppliers. The link is in the description of this episode. I’m also going to link to my Fabric Sourcing Kit which provides a list of my top 10 sustainable fabric suppliers that sell sustainable fabrics at low MOQs.


This week I’m featuring one of our most veteran Factory45 alumni, who has a seasoned record of successfully growing a handmade leather goods company.

From tote bags, to billfold wallets to eyeglass cases, LIZ RIDEN pieces are handcrafted in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from American-sourced genuine cowhide as a byproduct of the meat industry.

Founder Liz Frandsen graduated from Factory45 in 2018 and was already running her brand, LIZ RIDEN, when she joined the program. She brings a unique perspective on what it means to value community, continued education and opportunity in the sustainable fashion space.

So, join us on Thursday, Jan. 27th at 12:30pm ET for this week’s episode of Factory45 LIVE! 

There are two ways to watch:

  • Stream on YouTube here
  • Watch in our private Facebook group here.

liz riden

Here are some of the questions I’ll be asking Liz, but be sure to bring your own:

  • How do you market your brand and what are some marketing strategies that have been most effective for you?
  • You source leather material as a byproduct of the meat industry – what does that mean and why is it important?
  • Can you share two mistakes made over the years of running your brand that you’ve learned from?

See you on Thursday!



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Virtual Pop-Up

If you’ve ever felt like “Kickstarter isn’t right for my brand” or “I don’t get enough traffic to my website…” 

Then you are in for a treat this week.

Candice Munro, the founder of Buttercream Clothing, is going to share how she launches new products on Instagram and other “virtual pop-up” platforms.

If you’ve heard of the “Virtual Pop-Up Method” before and you want to know how it works as a launch strategy in action, then don’t miss this week’s Live Show!

Here are just a few of the questions I’m going to ask Candice:

  • How is this launch method different from others you’ve tried and why do you like it as a selling strategy?
  • Can you walk us through your A-Z process in creating a Virtual Pop-Up? 
  • What have you learned over the years of launching in this way?

As always, there are two ways to watch:

  • Stream on YouTube here
  • Watch in our private Facebook group here.

Bring your questions and I’ll see you tomorrow (Thursday) at 12:30pm ET / 9:30am PT!



P.S. Did you know two new podcast episodes dropped this week? Listen to the latest from Start Your Sustainable Fashion Brand: The Podcast on Apple Podcasts here or Spotify here.

business plan

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Back in 2010, I was starting a fashion brand that was sustainably and ethically made in the USA but at the time, I didn’t have any experience in fashion or manufacturing. I was a journalism major in college, my then-cofounder was a business major so when we were first starting out we followed the traditional business advice…. And in this episode, I want to make sure you don’t make the same mistake.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Free One Page Business Plan Template


Back in 2010, I was starting a fashion brand that was sustainably and ethically made in the USA but at the time, I didn’t have any experience in fashion or manufacturing. I was a journalism major in college, my then-cofounder was a business major so when we were first starting out we followed the traditional business advice…. And in this episode, I want to make sure you don’t make the same mistake.

So when I was first starting out, the business advice we followed mainly came from my co-founder’s business degree and what our dads said we should do. The advice was that, before we did anything, we needed to write a business plan. I remember being in Nicaragua, visiting an organic cotton farm, before we even really had any sketches or designs on paper and sitting in the room of our hostel, opening a blank Word document and starting to write our business plan. I’m pretty sure we just followed a template or outline we found on Legal Zoom and then I remember going back to the United States a month later and still working on that same Word document.

By the time the business plan was done, it was 40 pages long and had taken us three months to write. And do you know what we did with it? We each sent copies of it to our parents. Not to investors or potential partners, not even to win a grant or get a business loan, the farthest that 40-page document ever got was to the email inboxes of our parents, — who maybe were proud of us but definitely did not read all 40 pages.

Here’s the truth that you probably won’t learn if you went to business school or took any traditional business courses, unless you’re pitching your brand to investors or applying for a bank loan, you 100% do not need a traditional long-form business plan.

We never used the business plan we wrote and instead, a few months later, we rewrote the original document into a simple one-page business plan that we could actually use. And that’s what I want to teach you in this episode. My goal is for you to have a one-page business plan for your fashion brand that you can continue to edit, tweak and adjust as you move forward and make progress. So for now, let’s start building the foundation.

If you have not already texted me to receive my free business plan template, then go ahead and do that now. Just text “business plan” to +1 (760) 274-8577 and we’ll get it sent over to you right now so you can follow along and fill it out on your own as I go. I really want you to go through this with me in real time, if you can, so that by the time this episode is over you will have the basics of your business plan written down in front of you. Think about how good that will feel, okay? So go ahead and click pause right now so you can wait for the template and then continue listening once you have it – it will only take a couple of minutes to send it over.

Alright, so the one-page business plan is broken up into 5 sections that are divided up in the template — it starts with “Your Vision,” then “Your Target Market,” then “Your Competitive Advantage,” then “Your Business Model” and finally “Your Financial Summary.” This gives us 5 easy steps to work from as we start to get your ideas on paper. And yes, the template is three pages but when you put all of your answers together it will condense down to one page.

Let’s start with your vision. And for the purposes of going through the template, I’m going to use an imaginary company as an example. So let’s say my business is a lifestyle brand that sells fanny packs for minimalist travelers. The first prompt under “Your Vision” is to describe the mission, ethics and values behind your company in one sentence. So here’s what I would write for my fanny pack brand:

Fabulous fanny packs is a lifestyle brand for minimalist travelers who want to lighten their luggage and lighten their environmental footprint by purchasing our sustainably and ethically made fanny packs from recycled materials.

So you’re essentially stating the immediate goal and mission of your brand. What are you creating for your customer right now? Click pause and write down your one sentence description of your own company’s mission, ethics and values. Remember, this does not need to be perfect, it does not need to be set in stone, it can even be written in paraphrases and then you can refine it later. The point here is to simply take action and get something down on paper in front of you.

The second prompt for Your Vision is more aspirational and focuses on what you want your brand to become. The prompt says “​​What do you see for the future of your company?” So I would type in here: 

Fabulous fanny packs aims to create products that are made from 100% recycled materials while offering a buy-back program to close the loop on our fanny packs’ end life.

So you can see from my example how the buy-back program may not be an immediate option because of logistics and the time it will take to set it up but it’s a visionary statement for where the brand aims to go. Maybe for you, it’s donating a portion of profits to a cause that matters to your customer, or creating your own factory that’s a cooperative so profits are shared among employees or maybe it’s partnering with one of the bigger fashion brands to make use of their textile waste. Whatever bigger ideas and vision you have for your brand — that’s what you want to put here, knowing that it all doesn’t have to happen from the beginning and the vision is always subject to change. Hit pause and write down your vision statement for the future.

Okay, so that’s step #1 – Your Vision. Step #2 of your one-page business plan is Your Target Market. And the first prompt is: Write a one-sentence description of your ideal target customer. You’ve probably already done this before if you’re not just starting out, but whereas most business coaches will prompt you to write out demographics like age, gender, location, marital status, etc. I’m much more interested in positioning this description based on what your ideal target customer cares about.

Yes, age, gender, location, etc. are important to get a baseline of your audience as a whole but I think it’s far more powerful to think of your customer in a deeper way — and not to get too hung up on these superficial demographics. People are complex, there’s a good chance your ideal target customer is complex and the way you describe your target audience should reflect that. So I really encourage you to dig deep on this — for Fabulous Fannypacks, here’s how I would describe my ideal customer: 

The Fabulous Fannypacks customer cares deeply about the world around them and makes choices based on the good of the collective — they are progressive, open-minded, nature-loving, aspiring minimalists who live in coastal cities and love to travel off the beaten path.

I had to add a dash in there to get to one sentence (which is totally fine) and you can even do two sentences — the goal with keeping this brief is just to make sure you’re getting to the point, cutting down on excess words and being succinct in your description. But hopefully, as you can see from my example, you have a very clear picture and idea in your head of who this person is. More than anything you want your one-sentence description to paint a picture of your quote-unquote person. Press pause so you can go ahead and write your own one-sentence description of your ideal target customer.

Okay, so the next question, to define your ideal customer even more, is: Where is this person hanging out online? 

Especially if you plan to sell direct to consumer or ecommerce, it’s so important to be able to connect and communicate with your target audience online. So for my customer, my list of platforms would be something like:

They scroll Instagram (but feel guilty about it), avoid Facebook, subscribe to travel blogs like Expert Vagabond, read other online blogs like Mr. Money Mustache, listen to NPR, subscribe to the New York Times daily briefing and listen to Podcasts like Reply All and 1619.

I made this example up in about 30 seconds, but for you, this part is super important and worth spending quite a bit of time diving into. So for now, just jot down a few of the outlets or platforms that immediately come to mind (for example, your target market is millennial moms and you know they’re definitely reading theSkimm every morning) but then come back to this to go deeper.

The next question under your Target Audience is: What is your customer’s main problem (that relates to your product)? When it comes to the fashion industry, every product, garment or accessory that you make needs to have a bigger problem at the root of it. And if you look hard enough, every product will have one. It can be as basic as, your clothing helps stay at home moms feel more beautiful when they get dressed in the morning. So, go ahead and state the problem that your customer has here. 

For the example of Fabulous Fannypacks, I’m going to write down that my customer’s problem is not having easy access to important travel documents, their phone and money when traveling. Click pause and write down the problem that your product or brand aims to solve.

This question about the problem that your customer has, then leads us into the next section, step #3 of your business plan, which is Your Competitive Advantage.

What is your solution to your customer’s problem? And this is the first question that asks for a two-sentence answer because it’s truly that important. Here’s my answer for the hypothetical Fabulous Fannypacks:

The problem that my product solves for my ideal customer is the ease of packing light. My customer can wear a backpack on their back and a fannypack on their front and be set for weeks of adventure never worrying about their passport being stolen out of their backpack zipper or the key to their hostel getting lost in the bottom of their backpack. 

Press pause now so you can write down your competitive advantage — what solution does your product or brand provide to the problem you wrote down above it?

Next you’ll name 3-5 brands that are trying to sell a similar problem. You could call these brands competitors but you could also call them collaborators, which is the mindset I prefer to take. But you’ll research these 3-5 brands to see what they’re doing in terms of branding, messaging, price point and product and then either a.) figure out how you can solve the problem in a better, more efficient or more profitable way or b.) figure out how to eventually cross promote each other and get in front of each other’s audiences in a collaborative way.

This is another area of your business plan that you’ll really want to take time with — especially if you know you’re entering a saturated market. But for now, jot down 3 brands that immediately come to mind as solving a similar problem as your brand or product.

The next prompt under your Competitive Advantage is: How are you different from similar products out there? (which also allows for two sentences.) So once you identify the 3-5 other brands on the market that are also trying to solve the problem you want to solve for your customer, you’ll want to identify how your product or brand is different. Here’s my example:

Fabulous Fannypacks is different from competitors in design as it offers hidden pouches, pockets and a unique design that isn’t seen in traditional fannypacks. It’s also made from 100% recycled materials which sets it apart for its ideal target customer who is looking to reduce their environmental footprint and make mindful purchases.

You know the drill by now, hit pause and write down how your product or brand is different from similar products on the market right now.

Step #4 of your business plan is Your Business Model which thankfully, is pretty straightforward for most brands (since I know the first three sections are a bit of doozy) but the first question is: Where do you sell your product? Don’t overthink this — it could be as simple of an answer as “your website” but it also dependent on the next question in this section which is: 

How do you sell your product? For most people, it will be either direct-to-consumer via ecommerce, wholesale to stores, online marketplaces or boutiques or a combination of both. There are also quite a wide array of wholesale options nowadays with so many variations of third-party sellers so you can explore taking an omni-channel approach but you’ll want to outline that plan for selling here.

So, for Fabulous Fannypacks, I’m going to say that we sell only direct to consumer via our Shopify site.

This section is also where you can expand upon your business model if you want to and talk more about your supply chain and manufacturing plan in terms of how you’re going to create your product.

And then the very last section of your one-page business plan is your Financial Summary. I’m not going to dive into this too much right now because it’s so dependent on whether you have your costs and total cost of goods sold sorted out yet. But as you get a better idea of materials costs, labor costs and packaging costs, you’ll want to update this section to have a better understanding of how much per unit it costs to produce your products and how much you need to sell to break even and then of course, make a profit.

Alright, so by the time you’re done filling out the template, you can pull all of your answers into one Google doc that will most likely be less than a page long. This is your one-page business plan. The key here is to make sure that it’s always accessible, editable and being updated as your vision, target market, competitive advantage, business model and financial projections change. But for now these are the things to guide each business decision you make moving forward.

I hope this was helpful — the section that most people struggle with is your competitive advantage. So if you start working on that and are feeling stumped or that your product doesn’t actually solve a problem, then make sure to subscribe to the podcast so you know when future episodes drop. I’m going to talk a lot more about how to identify your unique selling position which will be really helpful in fleshing out your business plan.  

Thank you so much for listening and don’t forget, there are two ways to get your free one-page business plan template — just text +1 (760) 274-8577 or you can go to the link in the description of this episode and download it to your computer.

sustainable fashion

It’s Shannon, here, with a quick announcement… We’ve launched a podcast!

I know, I know, does the world really need another podcast?

But actually, when it comes to the fashion education space, there isn’t a lot being offered to fashion entrepreneurs like you…

Start Your Sustainable Fashion Brand: The Podcast will offer easy-to-implement, 20-minute-or-less episodes for entrepreneurs who want to take action, pursue their passion and make waves in the fashion industry. 

You can get a quick teaser by listening to the trailer here or jump right into the first two episodes below:

Ep. 01: How to Start a Sustainable Fashion Brand

Ep. 02: This is a Required Trait of a Fashion Entrepreneur

If you like what you hear, please go ahead and leave a review – it will help more people find out about the podcast but more importantly, it will mean so much to me and the Factory45 team.

Listen on Apple Podcasts or listen on Spotify and make sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts : ) 

Happy listening!

questions answered

Happy December!

It’s the last month of 2021, so what does that mean for us? 

It’s time to start mapping out your business goals for 2022.

Is 2022 the year you will finally launch your fashion brand?

If that’s an emphatic “yes,” then I’m inviting you to ask me anything.

During tomorrow’s Live Show, let’s get your questions answered so that you can go into 2022 with a plan instead of uncertainty.

This is a free opportunity to ask me your lingering questions about how to get your fashion brand started, how to launch, how to scale or whatever else is on your mind.

There is so much about the fashion landscape, marketing methods and launch strategies that will change and continue to change next year.

How can you be prepared for what’s to come, so that you launch your brand successfully?

Let’s talk it out tomorrow, Dec. 2nd at noon ET during Factory45 Live. As always, there are two ways to tune in:

  1. Stream on YouTube here (ask your questions in the chat).
  2. Join me on Facebook here (ask your questions in the comments).

If you want to make sure your question gets answered (even if you can’t join live!) go ahead and reply to this email, ask your question and I’ll make sure to answer it tomorrow.

This is a free opportunity to get answers to some of your most pressing questions, so make sure to take advantage of it!

I’ll see you live tomorrow : )


Startup Conversation

I’m so excited about next week’s Live Show because I’m going to be interviewing Factory45 alumni, Catherine Huss, founder of siena & co.

Back in September, Catherine successfully pre-sold $31,830 on Kickstarter to fund her sustainable swimwear brand, and she’s going to share exactly how she did it.

One of the best ways to learn is by hearing from the fashion founders who have accomplished what you’re setting out to do.

So I hope you’ll join us on Friday, November 19th at 2pm ET / 11am PT – there are two ways to watch:

  • Stream on YouTube here. (This is the direct link!)
  • Join our private community here.

Startup Conversation

Have questions for Catherine? We’ll try to take some questions from the live audience, but feel free to ask questions in advance as a comment on YouTube or in our Facebook group!

See you next week!



Build a Following

Here’s a mistake I see happening in the fashion startup space all. the. dang. time.

The designer spends months sourcing fabric, getting samples / patterns made and interviewing production partners.

Until finally, their supply chain is set up and they’re ready to launch.

Except for one little problem…

They don’t have an audience to launch to.

In all of those months of product development, they forgot to do any pre-launch marketing.

And do you know what happens when you launch a fashion brand without any pre-launch marketing?

You don’t make many sales.

It is imperative that you put in the work, months leading up to your launch, so that you have an audience of customers to sell to.

And that’s what we’re going to cover in this week’s Live Show on Thursday, Sept. 23 at noon ET / 9am PT.

build a following

I always tell my Factory45 entrepreneurs, “You can’t launch to crickets!” Make sure you’re not making this common (and potentially brand ending) mistake yourself.

As always, there are two ways to tune in on Thursday at noon ET / 9am PT:

  1. Join our Facebook group here.
  2. Stream on YouTube here.

See you on Thursday!

Did you miss last week’s episode of Factory45 Live about the five things you need to do after you choose a production partner? You can watch the replay by clicking below!

Negotiate Minimums

Here’s a scenario that happens all too often:

You find the perfect fabric for your product or collection — it has the perfect drape, the perfect weight, it’s made from the perfect fiber…

It’s 100 percent the fabric you want to use until…

The supplier says:

“That fabric has a minimum order quantity of 1,000 yards.”

And even if you haven’t worked out your exact quantities yet, you know that for your first collection, 1,000 yards is too high.

You’re looking for more like, 250 yards…

So does that mean the dream of using this fabric is dead?

Not necessarily.

In this week’s Live Show, I’m going to teach you some creative ways to effectively negotiate high MOQs with fabric suppliers.

negotiate minimums

Every week, there are two ways to watch:

  1. Join our private Facebook group here. (This is also where I send out follow-up resources and continue the discussion online).
  2. You can also stream via YouTube here. (Make sure you’re subscribed to my channel here so you can get notified when we start!)

I can promise you, you’ll want to have these tools in your back pocket the next time you find the fabric you know you want to use but you also know is only available in high quantities. 

So, let’s get you sourcing and negotiating! See you on Thursday : )



Did you miss last week’s episode of Factory45 Live about sourcing sustainable fabrics? You can watch the replay by clicking below!

Source Sustainable Fabrics

Do you know which part of building a fashion brand takes the longest?

Fabric sourcing.

In some cases, finding the perfect fabric can take six to 12 months.


Well, not only are there tens of thousands of different fabrics on the market but in some cases, you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.

All of the stars need to align on the quality of the fabric, the fiber, the weight, the price, the functionality, the drape and more… 

This is why I recommend fabric sourcing as one of the very first things you do.

It’s why fabric sourcing is the first module of Factory45 and the first thing we focus on.

And it’s why I recommend prioritizing your fabric search right now — no matter where you are in the process.

And I’m going to help you get started in this week’s Live Show.

source sustainable fabrics

On Thursday at noon ET / 9am PT, I’m going to walk you through the steps of effectively reaching out to fabric suppliers and help you learn more about the sustainable fabrics available to you.

This is such an important topic for any fashion brand, because here’s the truth:

It’s not a fabric supplier’s job to educate you.

You are responsible for writing an email, getting on the phone or going into a meeting armed with the knowledge that will help them help you.

As always, there are two ways to watch on Thursday:

  1. Join our private Facebook group here. (This is also where I send out follow-up resources and continue the discussion online).
  2. You can also stream via YouTube here. (Make sure you’re subscribed to my channel here so you can get notified when we start!)

Don’t miss this week’s opportunity to learn more about the world of wholesales fabric sourcing and how you can set yourself up for success.

See you on Thursday!



If you missed last week’s Live Show on why you need a unique selling position as a fashion brand, you can watch the replay here: