Tag Archive for: fashion startup

Build a Following

Today we are talking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart — and it’s something that most new fashion founders generally avoid doing. In this episode, I’m sharing four ways to build an audience before you launch your fashion brand.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Book a call to learn more about launching your fashion brand with Factory45.


TRANSCRIPT 

Today we are talking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart — and it’s something that most new fashion founders generally avoid doing. In this episode, I’m sharing four ways to build an audience before you launch your fashion brand.

If you know me at all you know I love talking about marketing. I also know that, as a creative, most of you would rather be focusing on the product development and design side of building your brand. Too often, I’ve seen the importance of marketing fall to the wayside and I’m here to tell you why it needs to be a priority for a successful brand launch. So before we get started… 

I first need you to come to terms with the fact that you have to start talking about your product before you’re ready to sell anything. I know this can be really hard for a lot of people because we’re all worried that other people are going to steal our idea. But unless you have tens of thousands of dollars to invest in a PR team, a marketing agency or influencer endorsements, there’s no other alternative. You have to start talking about your brand and your idea to build an audience before you launch.

Okay, so is everyone on board with that? Hopefully you’re nodding your head. If you don’t focus on marketing as much as you’re focusing on your product, then you won’t have a business — you’ll have a hobby because you won’t be able to sell anything.

The next thing you need to know in building an audience before you launch is who your ideal target customer is. Your ideal target customer is your primary target market and this is the person who you want to be thinking about every time you make a branding or marketing decision.

Before you launch, you need to be able to establish an engaged audience of your target customer. What does that mean? An engaged audience is a group of your ideal target customers who are interested and excited about what your brand has to say and offer.

There are four main ways to build an engaged audience and they can be done at any point in starting or growing your business — and again, not to sound like a broken record, but that means you should be implementing these four things before you even have a product to sell.

The first way to build an engaged audience is by getting in front of existing audiences of your ideal target customer.

What is an existing audience? It’s a brand, influencer, platform or person who has the same or similar ideal target customer as you do and already has an engaged audience that they’ve built up. When you identify those existing audiences, there are a few different ways to get in front of them:

  • It could be through strategic partnerships / cross promotion – so let’s say there’s another complementary brand that isn’t a direct competitor, you could co-host a giveaway or contest with them to build your email list and social media followings. So for example, you’re a women’s apparel brand with a target customer between the ages of 45 and 65 and you partner with a jewelry brand with a similar aesthetic that complements your garments and appeals to the same demographic. 
  • Another way to get in front of existing audiences is through content marketing which I’ll talk about in more detail in a bit.
  • It could be podcast interviews (people love hearing the behind the scenes, origin story, etc.).
  • It could be doing a sample run with Instagram influencers that help you promote to their audiences.

There are all kinds of different options – only limited by your own creativity – but the point here is creating partnerships and relationships that provide visibility for your brand in front of existing audiences that aren’t your own. This is a great strategy because you’re not wasting marketing time and resources on your small audience of let’s say 25 people in the beginning. Your focus is on getting in front of an existing audience and bringing them back to be part of your own audience.

The second way to build an audience before you launch is to set up a Landing page + opt-in offer.

The goal here is to: BUILD YOUR EMAIL LIST!

You can do this by promoting freebies, called lead magnets, and driving people to your landing page to opt-in for the free gift (it can be a free checklist, short ebook, a guide or something else that provides value to your ideal target customer).

You can use quizzes, challenges and surveys to drive people back to your landing page to opt-into your list.

The bottom line is when you’re thinking about these free offers to entice subscribers, ask yourself: how can you provide value, and how can you build a relationship before you have anything to sell?

The third way to build your following is through word of mouth.  

Through this entire process of building an audience online, you want to create a relationship with your audience so they tell their friends about you.

You can do this by nurturing your email list (sending an email at least once a week) and then making a direct ask to tell their friends and doing the same thing on social media.

And the fourth strategy to build your audience that I’m going to talk about today is through content marketing.

When you create content (whether that’s a blog post, a YouTube video, a podcast episode, a TikTok video, a quiz or something else) and circulate it via social media, the goal is to then drive people back to your landing page so they sign up to your email list.

Content marketing is the primary way that brands build audiences of raving fans, so I’m going to talk about it in more detail than the other strategies I mentioned before.

First, there are a few goals of content marketing, in addition to driving people back to your landing page and email opt-in. Those goals are to:

  1. Build your “Know, Like & Trust” factor
  2. Listen to your customer and have human-to-human conversations (if you’re a good listener, they’ll tell you what they want to hear and see in your content marketing!)
  3. Be memorable! That means saying something different or saying something in a different way.
  4. Show emotion. This goes back to being human and connecting as a human.
  5. Be persistent and consistent. Keep showing up.
  6. Look at the content your competitors are creating and do it better or differently.
  7. Experiment. Double down on what’s working, scrap what isn’t working and always test new types of content.

When we talk about content marketing, there are typically 3 CATEGORIES that we refer to:

  1. Owned Media
  2. Earned Media
  3. Paid Media

For our purposes, we’re going to focus on Owned and Earned Media. Paid media would be content like Facebook ads or Google ads, which I don’t recommend when you’re first starting out, before you have anything to sell and can’t see a direct ROI.

Okay, so what’s Owned Media? Owned media is the type of content marketing that you create and control. Examples are

  • Your website
  • Your blog
  • Your email list
  • Your podcast
  • Your YouTube channel
  • Your social media content (even though you don’t technically own it)
  • Your retail display (if selling in person)

What’s Earned Media? 

  • Press
  • Social sharing
  • Word of mouth
  • Product reviews
  • Guest posts
  • Guest podcast interviews

To grow an audience online, you must focus on both Owned & Earned Media but you definitely don’t have to do every single strategy under each category.

My advice is to start with either a blog, a podcast or YouTube channel for your Owned Media. Choose whichever platform comes easiest and most naturally to you – if you prefer writing, then start a blog, if you prefer audio then start a podcast, if you prefer video then start a YouTube channel.

And then focus on social sharing, guest posts and guest podcast interviews for your Earned Media. Then, as you start to establish those areas of content marketing, you can experiment with others. Now, just a quick reminder about the questions everyone loves to ask… Can you do this before you have anything to sell?

Yes! Remember, you are giving away free content that entertains, inspires or informs your ideal target customer.

If you do this effectively, then by the time you do have something to sell, your potential customers are already going to love you, want to support you and most importantly, want what you’re selling. And just as a final note and disclaimer… When people get frustrated because their audience isn’t growing fast enough it’s usually because they expect it to happen quickly. This is not an overnight process! 

Sure, you can buy email lists and followers and it will look like you have a big audience, but I can guarantee a “bought audience” will not result in customers. Both content marketing and audience building require patience, consistency and persistence above all else. Every single new, organic follower or subscriber is something to be celebrated.

Since 2014, I’ve worked with entrepreneurs all over the globe to build audiences before they launched their sustainable fashion brands. This has resulted in our alumni collectively raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in pre-orders by launching their brands to an audience of customers. If you’re interested in learning more about our process, what we teach and how we’ve become the #1 fashion school for fashion brand launches, you can book a call to learn more. Just go to factory45.co/apply – the link is in the description of this episode.

outsource

The oven was preheating…   

The ingredients were on the counter…

The recipe was in front of me…

As I stood face-to-face with the mini muffin tin.

It was January 10th – the eve of my son’s birthday – and that could only mean one thing:

The 4th annual Great Muffin Fiasco.

That’s right, since 2019, I have attempted to bake muffins to bring into school for my kid’s birthday.

A simple task, right?

But somehow, every year, January 10th ends with me scraping crumbly remnants out of the tin in an attempt to salvage just enough for each classmate to get one.

This year, I knew to make 24 muffins in an effort to get 12. 

This year, I knew to use eggs instead of chia seeds and water.

This year, I forgot the muffin tins.

(Oh, and the baking powder.)

You would think that a seasoned entrepreneur, a CEO, and an all-around capable human could learn from and handle this task year after year, but as my husband so lovingly put it:

“You’re great at a lot of things, Shan… baking doesn’t have to be one of them.”

And this is what I may have finally accepted after four years… I’m just never going to be that mom.

There are the moms that create train-shaped pancakes on the morning of their four year old’s birthday.

And there are the moms that stick a candle in a piece of peanut butter toast and call it a day.

I am, quite certainly, the latter.

My mistake was not realizing this sooner.

And it’s the same mistake I see new entrepreneurs making every day:

Stop trying to be all the things, do all the things, and force all the things to be perfect.

Can you outsource a few social media tasks to an intern?

Can you stop making Tiktok videos if you really hate being on video?

Can you hire a patternmaker instead of trying to learn a new software?

What can you outsource or stop doing so that you can focus on the things you’re great at?

Because here’s the thing:

You can’t be great at everything – and that’s okay.

It’s also okay to not be great at something and still do it anyway.

You just have to be willing to accept the imperfect version. 

So that when you drop off a container of bottomless minimuffins that resemble a pile of, well… you know… 

You can simply smile at the teacher and say,

“I hope it’s enough.”

 

 


ON THE PODCAST:

  • Ep. 04: Coming Out as a Fashion Entrepreneur & How to Deal with Critics 

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify

  • GIVEAWAY! I'm giving away a free 1:1 Strategy Session with me to help launch or grow your brand this year!

Here's how to enter: 

      1. Listen to Start Your Sustainable Fashion Brand: The Podcast
      2. Leave a review on Apple Podcasts
      3. Screenshot your review and reply back to this email!

*The winner will be chosen on Monday, Jan. 24!*


THIS WEEK’S LIVE SHOW: Fashion Startup Q+A | Ask Shannon 

  • Stream on YouTube here.
  • Watch in our private Facebook group here.
  • Have a question to submit for the Q+A? Leave a comment on YouTube or on FB!

Book Call

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

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: Text  +1 (760) 274-8577 or access here.



TRANSCRIPT 

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.

Required Trait

If you truly want to be an entrepreneur, then it virtually guarantees you will run into problems — in the beginning, it will probably be on a daily basis. But to reach any level of success, problems require problem solvers. There’s no way around it. In this episode, I’m talking about the main trait required of an entrepreneur.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Book a call to learn more about launching your fashion brand with Factory45.


TRANSCRIPT 

The other day I was watching my three-year-old play with his train set. 

One piece of track… connected to another piece of track… connected to another… 

And then, uh oh.

The last piece wouldn’t fit.

I watched as he struggled to fit the piece, as it kept hitting up against the wall of the table, as he got more and more frustrated.

“I CAN’T DO IT!” he yelled out, red in the face. “IT DOESN’T WORK!”

And I started to think… How many times as an entrepreneur have I felt this?

Why won’t the web domain connect to the host?!

I changed the file size and the image still won’t upload!

Why won’t the email form populate correctly?!

The difference is, I can’t throw my computer across the room like I could a wooden train track.

One of the main messages you hear as a parent is the importance of building resilience in your kids.

It’s why you should resist doing things for them that they can do themselves or providing the easy way out. 

And honestly, entrepreneurship is very much the same.

The very best entrepreneurs, the ones who are successful, are quite simply: resilient.

When something isn’t working the way they want it to, they muster up all of their resourcefulness to find a solution.

They don’t take no for an answer. 

They don’t give up.

But they also know when to ask for help.

Because honestly, that’s what it takes.

If you truly want to be an entrepreneur, then it virtually guarantees you will run into problems — in the beginning, it will probably be on a daily basis.

But to reach any level of success, problems require problem solvers.

There’s no way around it.

And here’s where we went wrong: for most of us, the first 18 years of our lives were spent developing an aversion to failing. We were taught that failure is bad, to avoid any form of failure at all costs — get the grades, excel at the sport, earn the lead role in the play. 

How many of us were told we weren’t “musically gifted” because we didn’t immediately pick up the recorder at the age of eight?

How many of us were told, “Oh, your sister is the sporty one. You’re more of the artistic type.”

When in reality it would have benefited us to really struggle with learning how to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on the recorder or trying out for the soccer team anyway and experience the disappointment of getting cut.

How would those failures along the way prepare us for success down the road?

Because what we all eventually realize is, to reach the levels of success that we strive for as adults — starting the business, launching the brand, scaling the company — it virtually requires us to be comfortable with failure.

To achieve anything great, you must be willing to fail.

So my question for you is, How can you build more resilience into the day to day creation of your business?

That’s all to say, how can you be the toddler who picks up the train track even after he throws it… 

And tries again.

If you want to make this the year of entrepreneurship, resilience and so much more, this is your invitation to talk more about how we can work together to help you achieve your goal of launching your own sustainable fashion brand. Book a call with us to learn more about launching your brand through Factory45 – go to factory45.co and click “book a call” and we’ll get something on the calendar. We’re really excited to talk to you.

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!


Push Past Fear

To kick off the year, I’m dedicating this week’s Live Show to pushing past fear.

More specifically, how do you push past fear to launch your fashion brand this year?

Fear is an emotion that every. single. entrepreneur on the planet deals with. 

But when we’re first starting out, it’s so much more complicated because we feel like we haven’t proven anything yet.

We have to put ourselves out there, experience the vulnerability of being seen and then, essentially jump without a parachute.

And that is scary.

What you need to figure out, then, is how to push past that scary feeling and do it anyway.

And this is what we’ll be talking about tomorrow, Jan. 6th at 12:30pm ET / 9:30am PT during Factory45 LIVE, the Live Show for Fashion Entrepreneurs.

As always, there are two ways to watch:

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

If you’re looking for a boost of encouragement and some inspiration to take action on your business dreams this year, then make sure to join me. I promise to make it worth your time.

See you tomorrow!

 


sustainable fashion

You want to start a sustainable fashion brand that’s ethically manufactured and eco-friendly, that’s why you’re here. The question is: Where do you start? What does it mean to be “sustainable” and what are some of the most important things you should keep in mind as you build your brand? That’s what I’m going to share with you in today’s episode.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

The Fabric Sourcing Kit

Book a call to learn more about launching your fashion brand with Factory45.

how to start


TRANSCRIPT 

So, you want to start a sustainable fashion brand that’s ethically manufactured and eco-friendly, that’s why you’re here. The question is: Where do you start? What does it mean to be “sustainable” and what are some of the most important things you should keep in mind as you build your brand? That’s what I’m going to share with you in today’s episode.

Okay, so you know you don’t want to start a traditional fashion brand — you want to create a business that is socially conscious and helps to provide a solution to the “fast fashion problem.” But how do you do that? In today’s episode I’m going to go over the four main factors to consider when building your sustainable fashion brand from the ground up. These are the foundational pillars, so to speak, to incorporate into your business model.

First, we have your Fabrics & Materials. From a supply chain perspective, this is the first thing you want to consider when conceptualizing your brand. You want to look for natural fibers, recycled or upcycled materials and stay away from petroleum-based synthetics like polyester, spandex and nylon. These synthetic fabrics can take up to 200 years to decompose in a landfill and the fast fashion industry is churning out polyester clothing faster than you can say “climate change contributor” so it’s really important to stay away from further contribution to this problem.

So where do you start on this step? First, identify what type of fabric will be the best fit for your product(s) and then find out if there’s a more sustainable version of that fabric.

For example: If you know you want to use 100% cotton, then start researching organic cotton. If you know you need a soft drapey fabric like rayon, then start exploring tencel or lyocell plant-based options. Basically, you want to find out what the “sustainable match” is to your fabric needs.

Where do you find sustainable fabrics? Thankfully, there are fabric suppliers all around the world that are now specializing in natural and environmentally-friendly fabrics. Finding them can sometimes take a simple google search, but for a more comprehensive list consider some of the sustainable fabric databases available to you like Common Objective, CFDA and of course, my company Factory45.

If you need a little more direction on what types of sustainable fabrics exist and the pros and cons of each, check out The Fabric Sourcing Kit, one of our digital resources that helps you source your fabric in 30 days – it also has a list of my top 10 fabric suppliers that sell sustainable fabrics.

The second thing you need to consider in creating a sustainable fashion brand, and just as important as your fabric and materials, is the integrity of your Design.

One of the main ethos of sustainable fashion is working to not only eliminate waste but also, not make more waste that will just end up in landfills. So, you have to think of the end life of your product. Where will it end up when your customer is done with it? Can the fabric be composted? Can it be recycled? Do you have a buy back or repairs program?

You’ll also want to consider making your designs seasonless, trendless and timeless. Sustainable fashion is all about creating garments that can be worn for years and years to come. They won’t go “out of style,” they’re made to last and they don’t try to keep up with the fast fashion cycle of constant trends.

Because the truth is, the design of your product has to come first. It needs to fit well, be well-made and make your customer feel good wearing it. You can’t depend on sustainability as a marketing method or a way of getting someone to buy your product. The design and quality of the garment has to sell itself first.

The third component to creating a sustainable fashion brand is your Manufacturing

One of my favorite methods of approaching manufacturing is by pre-selling your product before you go into production. Instead of creating a bunch of inventory upfront and not knowing if you’ll sell anything or if it will just sit in a warehouse, you can pre-sell your products on sites like Shopify, Kickstarter or iFundWomen to test your product at market and see if it’s something people actually want to buy.

Not only does this help to eliminate possible waste, but it also gives you a chance to generate revenue upfront that you can then re-invest into your production run. Your first customers are essentially financing your production run for you.

This is the main launch strategy that we teach in Factory45 and since 2014 we’ve seen fashion brands across all niches and target markets successfully launch their brands by pre-selling. If you’re interested in learning more about launching your brand with us in this low-risk, cash-forward way, book a call with us to learn more at factory45.co.

When it comes to the actual factory you’re going to work with, start by looking for manufacturing partners within driving distance (or a short flight) of where you live. When researching production partners, pay special attention to pages outlining fair labor policies, minimum wage and any certifications they have available.

And the fourth thing to consider in creating a sustainable fashion brand is your packaging. 

Whenever possible you want to keep your packaging as minimal as you can, while still protecting the product from shipping and weather. That means avoiding plastic wrap, bubble wrap, styrofoam peanuts and other artificial, synthetic and non-recyclable materials.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re using recycled or compostable materials in the boxes and mailers you use. We provide an entire database of eco-friendly packaging options in the Factory45 program, so I know there are plenty out there.

Here’s the thing to remember when you’re first starting out in the sustainable fashion space: there are ways to test the market, raise money upfront and get customers before you even produce any inventory. That’s right, customers first, money second and production third. This is truly the most sustainable way to start a product-based business because you’re not creating anything before you know you have customers to sell to. This is the strategy we’ve been teaching since 2014 and it’s only becoming more and more popular from the startup brands all the way up to the big established brands.

So, as a summary and recap: you now have the four pillars of a sustainable fashion brand: sustainable fabric & materials, design integrity, ethical manufacturing and sustainable packaging. Of course there is so much more that goes into launching a successful brand, but these are the first four things I want you to start thinking about as you begin to build out your business model. In next week’s episode we’ll start getting things on paper by writing your business plan.

I hope this was a helpful baseline to start with and I’m excited to dive into it more in coming episodes. Make sure to hit subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and check out the resources I’ve linked in the description below. See you back here for episode 2!

podcast

This is my last post of 2021 and I have two quick things to share with you!

If you missed my announcement last week, we’re launching a new podcast in 2022!

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

You can now listen to the trailer on Apple Podcasts here and on Spotify here.

The first two episodes will be released on Wednesday, January 5th! Make sure to click Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

podcast

The second announcement is that there won’t be any Live Shows for the next two weeks while Factory45 is closed for the holidays.

Factory45 Live, the Live Show for Fashion Entrepreneurs, will resume on Thursday, January 6th at 12:30pm ET / 9:30am PT!

Have a wonderful, restful and happy holiday, everyone!

Here’s to 2022,

 


startup

On Thursday I want you to meet Factory45 alum Meghan Farmer, founder of The Bright Factory!

Back in October, Meghan successfully raised over $62,000 on Kickstarter to start an ethical t-shirt factory that employs formerly incarcerated women.

Not only is Meghan an amazing resource for pre-selling and crowdfunding advice, but she has an incredible mission and story.

So join us on Thursday, December 16th at 12pm ET / 9am PT – there are two ways to watch:

  • Stream on YouTube here. (This is the direct link!)
  • Watch in our private Facebook group here.

Have questions for Meghan? We’ll take some q’s from the live audience, so bring them!

See you on Thursday!

 

 

P.S. ANNOUNCEMENT: You heard it here first… we’re starting a fashion podcast! Start Your Sustainable Fashion Brand: The Podcast is now on Apple & Spotify. Check out the trailer before the first episode releases on January 5th!

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify