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true followers

Why You Only Need “100 True Followers” to Launch a Fashion Brand

To be a successful creator, designer or entrepreneur, you don’t need millions of dollars.

According to author Kevin Kelly, all you need is 1,000 true fans.

Are you familiar with this theory?

The idea is this:

If you have 1,000 true fans, and make $100 profit from each one every year, that’s enough money to sustain your creative work.

It’s not a fortune, but you get to spend your day doing what you love.

I recently recalled the “1,000 True Fans” theory that I read in 2012, and it got me thinking about how it applies to the fashion entrepreneurs that I talk to every day.

One of the biggest frustrations I hear from them is not being able to grow an audience fast enough.

“I only got 10 new Instagram followers this week.”

“I only have 50 email subscribers.”

“My Facebook post only got five ‘Likes.’”

For many of you, when you’re starting from zero, it probably seems impossible to get to 1,000.

The good news is, I don’t think you need 1,000 true fans.

To launch a fashion brand, you only need 100.

That’s it, “100 True Followers.”

Totally doable, right?

Most of you probably already have over 100 followers on Instagram.

But here’s the thing:

A “follower” is different from a “True Follower.”

And when you’re trying to build an audience to launch your brand to, the “True Followers” are the only thing you should care about.

These are the people who “Like” 9 out of the 10 Instagram posts you publish, the ones who actually reply to your email newsletter and the ones who leave comments on your Facebook posts.

These “True Followers” are the people who are going to be your first 100 Kickstarter backers or your first 100 customers or the first 100 shoppers to show up at your pop-up store.

And then, after they buy from you…

They’re the ones who will tell their friends about you.

And that’s where the magic happens.

So, how do you find these “True Followers?”

1.) Provide value.

It’s not about you, it’s about them. And it’s about how your brand provides value to their everyday lives — whether it’s looking forward to an Instagram post, reading one of your blog posts or being able to tell their coworkers about your weekly newsletter.

2.) Don’t try to appeal to everyone.

I’ve written about this before here. The bottom line is this: The fastest way to sabotage your business is by trying to be everything to everyone.

3.) Say something different.

The easiest way to get ignored is to say the same thing every other brand is saying. Beyond the obvious of avoiding buzzwords and cliches, your brand needs to have a voice. If you don’t know what I mean by “voice,” check out the marketing messages of companies like Reformation, Thundress or Girlfriend Collective. I’ve also written about this here.

4.) Treat every new follower like gold.

This is the most important one of all and it’s often the most overlooked. Every new subscriber, follower, fan and customer should be shown value and appreciation. Instead of lamenting your small following of 10 people, focus on providing those 10 people with the absolute best experience your brand can offer.

Do you know what happens when 10 people have a memorable experience that makes them feel connected to your brand?

Each of those 10 people tells at least one more person.

Then you have 20 followers.

And in no time at all, 100 True Followers (or even 1,000 True Fans) doesn’t seem so impossible after all.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

How to Optimize Your Productivity as a New Entrepreneur

I looked up from my computer and thought to myself,

“Man, I should really be working.”

I glanced at the clock. Two hours had passed since I last looked at it.

It took me a second to process that in that time, I had written copy for the Market45 website (coming soon), drafted the agenda for an upcoming webinar and written captions for several days worth of Instagrams.

“Oh, so I was working.”

Has that ever happened to you?

You get so caught up in your work that you look up and realize your work didn’t actually feel like work?

It doesn’t happen every day. Sometimes it doesn’t even happen every week. But when it does happen, there’s something so satisfying about it.

It’s what productivity experts call the “flow state.”

(You may also know it as “being in the zone.”)

Psychologists describe the flow state as the most productive and creative state of mind in which to work.

Some even say it’s the secret to happiness.

Our goal as entrepreneurs, then, is to enter that flow state as often as possible so that we can create, design and build our businesses in a way that is not only efficient but also brings us joy.

I know, no pressure.

There are tips all over the internet from work performance experts who will tell you how to enter a flow state.

But most of that advice assumes you’re a top performance athlete or a top-level executive.

What if you’re hustling to build your fashion brand as a side job with limited hours in the day?

What do you do then?

Here are the four steps to being “in flow” when you’re a new entrepreneur.

(And because I think acronyms are funny, I’ve put one together so you can remember it: PACE)

1. Prioritize

When you first sit down to work — whether it’s on your computer or in the studio — focus on one task, and one task only. As you practice, you’ll be able to jump to other tasks without leaving the flow state but in the beginning, it’s important to prioritize.

In choosing your task, it should be something “long form.” In other words, it feels like an investment to sit down and complete it. Tasks that are long form are things like: writing the campaign page for your Kickstarter, or mapping out financial projections or designing next season’s collection.

When you complete the task it should feel like a significant accomplishment and take between 1.5-3 hours.

2. Ambience

For me, ambience is everything. You can’t enter a flow state with the TV on in the background or sitting in the parking lot waiting for your kids. You need to know you’ll have two hours of uninterrupted time in a space that feels good to be in.

Turn on music if you like, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, light a candle, put on your “writing sweater” — pick some sort of cue that tells your brain it’s time to get down to business.

3. Challenge

Challenge + Skill Set = Flow State. I didn’t come up with this — researchers say that the optimal way to enter a flow state is to present yourself with a challenging task that matches a capable skill set.

In other words, if you’re not tech savvy you’re probably not going to find your flow while trying to set up a Mailchimp account. If you’re not math-minded, then you’re not going to enter a flow state figuring out your production costs.

When you’re first experimenting with this you’ll want to purposely choose tasks that are the appropriate level of challenging.

4. Energy

Do not try to reach a flow state when you’re exhausted, grumpy, having a bad day, etc. The essence of being in flow requires positive energy — they go hand in hand. Don’t underestimate how important it is to get your energy levels up before you sit down.


Hey, look at that — I just wrote 700 words! I didn’t even realize it until now.

I must have found the PACE to just… flow…

; )

Your turn.

factory45 owner shannon

 


research stage

3 Steps to Simplifying the Research Stage

A few weeks ago, while I was talking with new designers at TexWorld, someone said something that stuck with me:

“I’m feeling overwhelmed by information overload. I’ve been doing research for months and months, but at what point is it enough? At what point do I stop researching and start ‘doing’?”

You’ve probably heard the statistic — it’s something along the lines of how the average person in 2018 consumes more information in a day than a person in the 1800s consumed in their whole life.

We are bombarded with advice, opinions, facts, stats, experts, gurus, advertisements and the like.

It’s enough to cause decision paralysis for even the most confident, decisive and organized of people.

Then there are the rest of us, grasping at which direction to take, which advice to listen to and which research to follow.

And I’m here to tell you,

You can probably stop.

Stop researching. And start implementing.

Because doing is the best research you’re ever going to get.

That’s when you’re going to find what works for you and your brand — instead of what works for someone else.

Is it important to use the guidance of the people who have been there before?

Of course. (I teach a whole fashion program based on that sole concept.)

But for as many articles you read, podcasts you listen to, courses you take and networking events you go to, you have to make sure you’re taking action at the same time.

So, what do you do?

  1. Pick one teacher to start. Maybe it’s Jane from Fashion Brain Academy. Maybe it’s Nicole from Startup Fashion. Maybe it’s Syama from Scaling Retail. Or maybe it’s me. But you don’t need all the experts. Pick someone you trust, someone’s style that jives with how you like to learn, and a personality you connect with.
  2. Implement while you learn. Again, make sure you’re taking action on the new information you’re absorbing. Binders and folders and colored coordinated labels are fun, but those aren’t moving the needle. Choose one thing every day that will move your business forward or get you closer to launch.
  3. Notice if you’re using “research” as a way to procrastinate. If you think you’ve done too much Googling, then you probably have. Step away from the search bar.

And above all, remember, you’re not going to get it all right. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to follow the wrong advice, you’re going to feel paralyzed by all of the decisions you have to make.

But that’s okay.

Because the best entrepreneurs know that when one road dead-ends, you can always reroute.

For better or for worse, there will always be another road to follow.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


the crowdfunding factory

fashion kickstarter

4 Misconceptions About Launching a Fashion Kickstarter

Yesterday I spent 36 hours in New York City, talking to fashion startups about ways to finance their brands.

Needless to say, crowdfunding (specifically Kickstarter) has been on my mind.

If you’re one of those entrepreneurs currently weighing your options about how to launch your company or new collection, keep reading.

Today I want to go over four of the major misconceptions about launching a crowdfunding campaign.

MISCONCEPTION #1: Kickstarter = “donations.”

This might be my biggest pet peeve when I hear people talking about crowdfunding or Kickstarter. Do not, I repeat do not, refer to your campaign as a place to “donate” or “accept donations.”

Kickstarter is not charity. And it’s not even fundraising in a traditional sense.

When it comes to raising money for your fashion brand, Kickstarter is a platform for pre-selling your product before you go into production.

In other words, your customers are financing your first production run for you by pre-ordering what you’re selling. Instead of using your own savings, you’re receiving the money upfront to go into production and deliver your product to your Kickstarter backers.

I repeat, it’s not a donation.

MISCONCEPTION #2: If you build it, they will come.

I estimate that about 75 percent of the work that goes into launching a Kickstarter should be focused on building an audience before you launch.

When campaigns fail it’s usually because the project creator didn’t put enough work into building their email list and social media following.

Will random people discover your project because they are browsing Kickstarter for cool brands?

Probably, but you can’t count on it.

Make sure you have a dedicated following of potential customers before you click that launch button. If that means waiting a few more months to build up your list, then do it!

MISCONCEPTION #3: Most Kickstarter projects succeed.

The majority of Kickstarter campaigns fail.

(That’s part of the reason I’m so proud of the success rate coming out of Factory45 and The Crowdfunding Factory!)

Kickstarter’s Fashion category has one of the lowest success rates, coming in at 25.46%.

I don’t tell you this to discourage you. I still believe that crowdfunding is the absolute best way to launch a new fashion brand.

I tell you this to emphasize how much work and advanced planning needs to go into launching your campaign.

I estimate that you should spend 6-18 months preparing for your campaign and again, building your audience before you launch.

MISCONCEPTION #4: Crowdfunding is dead.

Is Kickstarter saturated? Is social media noisy? Are email lists hard to grow? Yes.

But what’s the alternative?

If you want to launch a successful fashion brand — without wasting your own money and without going into debt — then crowdfunding is still the most low-risk and efficient way to do that.

Why?

Because you’re able to test the market before you launch.

You’re able to ensure that you won’t have unsold inventory sitting in your basement for years.

And you’ll know that you have a product people actually want before you invest the time and money into production.

There is no venture capitalist, bank loan or angel investor who can tell you that.


The moral of the story? Building a business takes a lot of time, thought, patience, hard work, creativity and persistence.

There’s no getting around that.

There is, however, a way to market and test your brand with very little risk to you personally.

And that’s where Kickstarter comes in.

If you want to learn all the steps you need to take to create a fully-funded crowdfunding campaign enrollment to my course, The Crowdfunding Factory, is opening soon.

You can get more details about this self-study program by signing up to the waiting list here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


crowdfunding factory cat

Meet Factory45 for Fabric Sourcing at TexWorld USA

July is here… which means TexWorld USA — one of the largest fabric sourcing trade shows — is quickly approaching!

And registration is now open HERE.

This is a free opportunity for designers like you to not only see hundreds of different fabrics in person, but to also take advantage of the free fashion education happening at the show.

And I’m going to be there on July 24th!

I would love to meet you in person, so here’s what I’ll have going on:

Tuesday, 7/24 at 3pm | Financing Your Emerging Fashion Brand: A Look at New and Traditional Options.

Moderated by Nicole of StartUp Fashion, I’ll be part of a bigger conversation about financing your startup fashion brand.

I’ll cover the ins and outs of financing your production through fashion crowdfunding. Syama Meagher of Scaling Retail will talk about collection development and building a business based on cash flow and capital limitations. And Juliet Obodo, founder of FRWD Startup Solutions, will talk us through options available to founders who suddenly need capital to cover orders or unexpected expenses.

It’s free to attend but you need to register HERE.

Tuesday, 7/24 at 4pm | Independent Designer Meetup

Directly following the panel, join us for an afternoon break to connect with fellow designers and chat fashion business.

Come hang out, have a drink, compare notes and share stories with other entrepreneurs like you.You must be registered for TexWorld to join us, but it’s free to sign up HERE.

fabric sourcing

TexWorld is so much more than just a “fabric show” with a whole slew of free education resources available at your disposal.

It will also be my first night away from the baby, so you know it has to be good : )

If you can make it, I’d love to see you there!

You can register for free HERE.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Haven’t attended a trade show before? Make sure to read my free guide to sourcing fabric at a trade show here.

Launch Your Sustainable Fashion Brand with Factory45

Enrollment is now open for the 2018 program of Factory45!

You can apply to join me here.

Over the past four years, Factory45 has helped entrepreneurs from all over the world launch clothing companies that are sustainably and ethically made.

You can get all of the details about the program here.

And yes, Factory45 is now open internationally!

Whether you still can’t find a fabric supplier whose minimums you can afford or the process of finding a manufacturer has been a giant headache, I know there is a way to launch your company with:

  • More confidence
  • Less frustration
  • And without wasting valuable time & money

In fact, the entrepreneurs who have graduated from Factory45 have proven it.

Applications are open for the next two weeks and in that time I’m going to share:

  • My own story of entrepreneurship
  • Introduce you to some of the alumni who have successfully launched their companies through Factory45
  • Answer all of your questions about what you can expect
  • And more…

If you’ve been waiting months for this day to come, then I invite you to fill out your application now. You can live anywhere in the world to apply.

Get inspired, get to know me and get ready.

If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own sustainable fashion brand but haven’t known where to start, Factory45 is what you’ve been looking for.

Apply to join me here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

P.S. If there’s someone in your life who’s been talking about starting a clothing or accessories company please share the Factory45 application with them.

Entrepreneurship was the best thing that ever happened to me, and I hope that everyone (who wants to) gets the chance to start their own business.

And if you’re not sure it’s right for you, at least come check out the new website…

Where to Start

What To Do When You “Don’t Know Where to Start”

“I don’t even know where to start,” I thought to myself.

It was three weeks before my maternity leave was ending, and I was looking at a calendar next to my to-do list.

Pack for Cape Town, finish the baby’s daycare applications, schedule a photoshoot, hire someone to run digital ads, get a haircut for the first time in six months…

I had a million things to do with half the time to do them and everything felt like a priority.

Sound familiar?

Whether we’re really busy or starting something new or feeling pulled in a bunch of different directions, it’s normal to feel a sense of paralysis.

And the statement that most often comes up is:

I don’t even know where to start.

I know you know what I’m talking about because one of the most common questions I’m asked is:

Where do I start?

I get email after email from people who have an idea for a clothing line or product but they don’t know how to make it happen.

How do I know what fabric I need?
How do I create sketches if I can’t draw?
How do I organize all of my ideas? And which one should I choose?

Instead of zooming in on one thing to tackle first, they find themselves paralyzed by the overwhelm of everything else.

And they end up doing nothing.

The thing is, starting a clothing company is a lot more straightforward than people think. And so much of the process can be tackled by…

Simplifying.

That means when you think you should be doing more you should actually be doing less.

And over the next three weeks, I’m going to prove that to you.

If you have dreams of launching a fashion business I’m going to show you how you can simplify and start.

I’m going to walk you through the first THREE steps you need to take to start your company.

And the best part is, each of these three steps will take no longer than an hour to do. (Actually, each one will probably take less than 30 minutes!)

My goal here, and the goal of the Factory45 program, is to make “I don’t know where to start” obsolete.

My goal is to show you that “knowing where to start” is a lot easier than you think.

Next week I’m going to send the very first step to my subscribers. You can sign up here to get it in your inbox.

(It will be especially helpful if you’re one of those people who “can’t draw.”)

Talk soon,

 

factory45 owner shannon

 



 

How to Make Next Year Better than the Last: Your Business in Review

I’ve mentioned before that I’m in a “mastermind group” with Nicole Giordano of StartUp FASHION and Lorraine Sanders of Spirit of 608.

We meet once a month via video conference to discuss our businesses, bounce ideas off of each other, ask questions and problem solve.

Most of the time it ends up being half business strategy and half mental cleansing – I always hang up the calls feeling reinspired and refreshed.

Yesterday we had our last meeting of 2017 and the focus was centered around a “yearly review” of our businesses.

This one hour together ended up being especially clarifying — I think sometimes you just need to hear yourself say your goals out loud — so I thought I would pass along our outline to you.

Even if you’re not in a formal mastermind group, you can grab a couple of other small business owners (they don’t have to be in your industry) or you can go through the questions on your own.

Here’s how you can follow what we did:

FIRST 25 MINUTES: HIGHLIGHTS OF 2017

We each spent several minutes processing through the last year, sharing what went well and what didn’t go so well. For example:

What went well for me:

  • I re-launched The Crowdfunding Factory in February and transitioned the course to rolling enrollment.
  • I spent the spring rebranding the Factory45 website with Emily Belyea Creative. I hired a graphic designer to create content for the 2017 launch, and I worked with Falcon Related to reshoot the on-camera videos for the Factory45 program.
  • I opened applications for the the Factory45 2017 program, exceeded the number of applications from the previous year and started working with a new group of awesome entrepreneurs.
  • I spent the summer building Factory45 Global and launched the program for international entrepreneurs in September.
  • I co-hosted two live events and spoke at another one.
  • Factory45 wrapped up on December 1st which brought me to the end of the year and a much needed break!

What didn’t go well for me:

  • I had plans to launch a “Factory45 Marketplace” last spring but it didn’t happen. I realized I was trying to do too much in too little time, so it got pushed off as a non-priority.
  • I tried to outsource my Instagram content strategy and it was a total bust. The agency I hired was a huge disappointment and we parted ways shortly after.

As each of us went through our highs and lows of the year, we also allotted time to interject and ask questions, but for the most part it was stream-of-consciousness talking with little interruption.

LAST 25 MINUTES: GOALS OF 2018

We spent the second half of the call focused on goals and plans for 2018 — the big picture items, if you will.

One thing I find really helpful in this part of the call is to make affirmative statements about your plans. So, instead of staying “I want to…” or “I’m going to…” say “I will… “ For example:

  • I will open applications for both Factory45 and Factory45 Global in May and they’ll run together as one six month program in 2018.
  • I will spend the summer working with my designer to build the online store for the Factory45 marketplace, launching holiday season 2018.
  • I will spend the fall creating Factory45 2.0 (actual name TBD), which will be a new online program for product-based startups that are past the “launch phase.”

During this part of the call, we spent a lot more time asking each other questions, offering suggestions and giving constructive feedback. I highly recommend finding people to do this with who will be honest and upfront with their thoughts.


So, here are some prompts to ask yourself (and your peers) in your own yearly review:

  • What went well this year?
  • What didn’t go as planned?
  • What do you want to accomplish next year?
  • What steps do you need to take to make those accomplishments happen?
  • Which goals take priority?
  • What are your deadlines / launch dates?

Again, honesty (and realistic goals) is the best policy.

Happy year-end planning… no spreadsheets, budgets or accountants required!

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


the crowdfunding factory

Raising Money For Your Fashion Startup with Fashion Brain Academy

A few weeks ago I got an email from Jane Hamill of Fashion Brain Academy:

“I’m wondering if you’d like to be a guest on my podcast to discuss raising money for a product-based business.

Walk us through the way to do it RIGHT including what to do and what NOT to do.”

I could talk about raising money for your brand all day, so of course, I jumped at the chance to be on the podcast.

If you don’t know Jane, she’s a veteran of the fashion education world. She’s a former clothing designer, has had her work featured on CNN, WWD, Entrepreneur and InStyle, is a regular speaker at DG Expo and has 14+ years of running a successful boutique and wholesale business.

One thing she admittedly doesn’t know as much about is crowdfunding, which is why this interview was so fun to record. Jane was learning as we went and asked the questions that many of you are probably wondering, too.



Some of the topics we cover in the interview are:

>> What to do in the first 7 seconds of your crowdfunding video
>> How to tell your story to get people to back you
>> The 3V’s of a successful crowdfunding campaign
>> How to set your crowdfunding rewards for backers
>> Price points that work best for a fully-funded Kickstarter
>> How often to email people about your crowdfunding campaign
>> And much more.

You can watch the whole interview for free here or listen to it as a podcast.

Here’s some of the feedback we’ve been getting:

“Phenomenal information – so much to think about!”

“Really great! So much to think about, but this was so straight to the point!”

“All of this is so helpful.”

If you’re thinking about launching your brand or raising money for your brand through pre-sales, crowdfunding or Kickstarter, then this is a must-see… if I do say so myself ; )

Watch or listen here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


the crowdfunding factory

Factory45 GLOBAL

Factory45 Global Opens to International Entrepreneurs!

TODAY IS THE DAY. You can now enroll in the 2017 program of Factory45 Global!

You can check out our brand new “Global” website and get all of the details about the program here.

Over the past 3.5 years, Factory45 has helped entrepreneurs from all over the U.S. and Canada launch clothing companies that are sustainably and ethically made.

And for the first time ever, I’m opening up the program to international entrepreneurs.

Whether you’ve stalled out at idea stage and have no idea where to start or you can’t find manufacturers and suppliers to work with, I know there is a way to launch your clothing company with:

> More confidence

> Less frustration

> And without wasting valuable time & money

Over the next week, I’m going to take you on a tour inside the program, answer your questions about what you can expect, and show you how to raise money for your brand without using your own savings.

I know there are some of you who have waited years for this day to come, so I invite you to enroll now and dive into the program right away.

That’s right, you get immediate access to Factory45 Global as soon as you sign up.

If you’re still new to me and Factory45 and aren’t sure what it’s all about, then click the play button below.

Get inspired and get ready.

If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own sustainable apparel company but haven’t known where to start, Factory45 Global may be just what you’re looking for.

Click here to enroll now.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

P.S. If there’s someone in your life who’s been talking about starting a clothing company please share Factory45 Global with them.

Entrepreneurship was one of the best things to ever happened to me, and I hope that everyone (who wants to) gets the chance to run their own business.

 


factory45 global