Posts

Factory45 Featured

Factory45 Featured on CNBC’s Nightly Business Report

A few weeks ago, a producer for CNBC contacted me about featuring Factory45 on Nightly Business Report’s “Bright Ideas” segment.

It was a whirlwind of logistics, falling right around Thanksgiving, but we managed to piece together a story about sustainable fashion, ethical manufacturing and how Factory45 has played a roll in it.

The best part is that we were able to incorporate two Factory45’ers, Cara of VETTA and Mary of Reprise Activewear, and my husband even made an appearance with his company Project Repat.

I’m so happy with how the final segment turned out — it’s always a little nerve wracking when you give someone else control of telling your story.

If you didn’t catch the live version on NBR last week, click the play button below to watch it now:

A huge thanks again to Factory45’er Cara Bartlett for making time to film on Cyber Monday (of all days) and Factory45’er Mary Bemis, who filmed right after flying back from Kenya!

Your support in watching and sharing the clip is so appreciated:

Watch Factory45 on NBR here.

Gratefully,

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

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

10 Do’s and Don’ts for Launching a Fashion Brand on Kickstarter

This is a guest post by Factory45’er Dina Chavez who launched a Kickstarter campaign this spring for her womenswear line SixChel. Dina raised over $17,000, exceeding her goal amount, and learned a lot along the way. Today she’s sharing her “do’s and don’ts” for launching a sustainable fashion brand through crowdfunding. Here’s Dina:

It’s been about a month and a half since the launch of my fashion brand’s first sustainable capsule collection via Kickstarter.

The campaign was definitely a whirlwind, but now that the dust has settled and we are at the beginning stages of production, we have been able to clear the air and evaluate the process.

I realized that there were definitely a few things we should have done differently before and during the campaign and definitely a few things we should not have done at all.

It is a lot easier to look back and say, “I should have…” and because this information is no longer beneficial to us as far as Kickstarter campaigns are concerned, I decided to share my experiences with you in hopes you do not make the same mistakes I made.

DO:

DO think about public relations: If you have the budget to hire a public relations team, I definitely encourage you to do so. I was fortunate to work with Lorraine Sanders of PressDope, a DIY PR company “increasing earned media mentions” for FEST brands.

Months before the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, we were able to create public awareness of our brand, our story, our products and our launch which helped us increase our audience.

>> TIP: Start planning your PR strategy and media outreach now; you can never start preparing early enough.

fashion brand

DO review the Factory45 “Preparing to Launch” module: If you are a current member of Factory45 or are thinking about becoming one, this has been one of the biggest benefits for me.

The information provided by Shannon during the “Launch” module is very beneficial and should guide you to a successful campaign. I reviewed everything about Kickstarter through the module about a few weeks before I launched.

>> TIP: Review the “Launch” module about a month or sooner before you launch.

DO plan an announcement launch strategy: In order to have a big boom at the beginning of your launch, it is important to have a strategy to announce your launch.

Your audience needs to not only get excited about your brand and product, they also need to get excited about the actual launch. This will help them spread the word out to their friends and family, increasing your audience.

> TIP: Find a creative and exciting way to get your audience excited about your launch and eager to make a pledge on the first day.



DO host a trunk show or two: Selling products online can be tough, especially if you are a new fashion brand because people want to see and feel the product. We hosted four trunk shows throughout the campaign (unfortunately, we came up with this idea a bit too late into our campaign) and because of these trunk shows, we were able to show the brand in action on social media which did bring added attention to our campaign.

Trunk shows also helped keep up the momentum and eventually, turning interest into pre-orders, email sign-ups, followers, etc. Most importantly, because of the trunk shows, we were able to share images of our products on “normal” or “non-model-esque” women.

> >TIP: Find a location to host a trunk show where you can get good foot traffic. Also, think about asking friends to host private, more personal trunk shows amongst their friends.

DO be creative and have giveaways: People love the word “free”; anything anyone can get for free, whether an item or knowledge, will peak their interest. Offer an item, a selection of items, or a donation on their behalf in exchange for emails, follows, and/or pledges. Sometimes we need a bit of encouragement to find a reason to give a part of ourselves.  

>> TIP: Consider having small items to giveaway at your trunk shows in exchange of email addresses.

DON’T:

DON’T forget to have your products related to “real women”:

It helps to have “real” women/men (depending on your product) wear the clothes and/or use the product. When I say, “real,” I don’t mean fashion influencers or professional brand ambassadors; I mean people like you and me. Ask “real” people to wear the garments, take pictures and talk about how great the product is on their social media accounts.

>> TIP: Create a list of friends and/or acquaintances who would love to wear your products for a day. Create a hashtag that will help increase awareness about your brand.  

DON’T let people procrastinate: People truly do procrastinate and it is up to you to find a way to get them motivated to make a pledge and to pledge right now. It will be vital to find different ways to motivate people to act “now.” This is a hurdle throughout the entire campaign.

>>TIP: Be creative in your incentives; they truly need to give the audience something in return.

DON’T feel bad about approaching people: This was difficult for me because I am not much of an aggressive person in this way, but you will have to personally message people individually and ask them to consider pre-ordering and/or making a pledge.

Most of our pre-orders came from personally messaging people about our mission and campaign. The response you get will surprise you. Most people were gracious and extremely honest and the best part about the messages was the words of encouragement that were sent back.

>> TIP: Don’t get upset or frustrated with the rude people; there are always the people with no compassion for your honest hard work. Just ignore them.

DON’T get caught up with bloggers/brand influencers: During this process, I have definitely made great connections with wonderful bloggers and/or brand influencers. It is important to know that not all bloggers and/or brand influencers are created equal.

You will find some who are just interested in making money and not truly interested in sustainability and or properly promoting your brand. Find those who are genuine to your cause.

>> TIP: Pay bloggers/brand influencers who you know do honest work and who create write-ups that excite their readers about your brand.

DON’T give up: I think you can prepare, over prepare and then over prepare the wrong way. No matter what happens when you launch your Kickstarter campaign, remember you have 30 or so days to reach your goal.

I have to admit, I completely freaked out the entire first week of the campaign, ask Shannon. Plans A, B and C completely fell through for us and for a few days I was having no luck creating new ideas to promote the campaign. Luckily, I found a great group of women to network and brainstorm with and together they helped us reach our goal.

>> TIP: Gather a list of your network and resources, you will never know who will be able to help you when you find yourself in a bind.

Launching our collection via Kickstarter was a great way to get our brand out into the community and to move forward with production. We now know, that as a first time user of Kickstarter, you are definitely in for an experience. Good luck and much success on your launch!


Dina Chavez SixChelDina Chavez is the founder and designer of SixChel, an Austin, TX based sustainable fashion brand for the modern woman. She studied Costume Design at The University of Texas-Austin and Fashion Design at The Academy of Art University. Ms. Chavez’s looks have been shown at New York Fashion Week, Fashion X Austin, Fashion X Houston, Fashion X Dallas, The Pin Show (Dallas, TX), The Gotham City Films Studio (Los Angeles, CA) and have been created for Austin based rockstar, Kimberly Freeman for the Grammy Awards.


crowdfunding factory cat

Contemporary swimwear

Introducing Gala Maar: Contemporary Swimwear for the Modern Muse

This is an interview with Factory45’er Blakely Wickstrom about the launch of her brand Gala Maar, contemporary swimwear for the modern muse. Blakely took a pre-sales strategy to launch her first collection through her online store. Read on to learn more about her company and hear her advice for new brands.

Tell us about your products and company. What do you make?

Right now, I’m producing women’s swimwear and being as sustainable as possible throughout the entire process — from my fabric, made of discarded fishing nets, to sourcing the only made-in-the-USA pad inserts and everything else in between.

The construction is very high quality and the design is more timeless than trend driven, with the intent being that the swimsuits should last my customer an especially long time. Swimwear is the beginning — I’m hoping to expand the product range with every season to grow into an ethical resort lifestyle brand.

Contemporary swimwear

From the beginning, you had a very strong vision for your branding and aesthetic (hello, Instagram). Can you tell us a little bit about how you got so clear on the brand direction you wanted to take and the inspiration behind it?

Coming up with the aesthetic direction was probably the most fun and organic part of the process. For my Instagram, it started with just opening myself up to all the things that inspire me and saving the images to my Pinterest without giving it too much thought.

From there I was able to organize and hone in the branding and be more strategic about what I posted. In the swimwear market, there is not a lot of diversity in the type of imagery brands choose to use. Typically it involves a “perfect” woman on a tropical beach, which is fine but I wanted to do things differently and to portray the qualities of a contemporary woman beyond shallow attributes.

When creating my own campaign images I think the most important part was hiring a photographer who was a natural fit. I loved the way Amanda Bjorn captures her subjects and how comfortable and intimate her photographs are. When casting the models I picked three girls I found super inspiring, from a dancer/ choreographer to an artist. They were all unique beauties and gave their own je ne sais quoi to the project.

And then there was the stunning location of Frank Lloyd Wright’s grandson and apprentice, Eric Lloyd Wright, a compound high above Malibu which was a perfect mix of nature and architecture, my biggest inspirations aside from the female form.

contemporary swimwear

You’re one of my Factory45’ers who was really conscious about being patient and taking your time with the process. You didn’t rush your launch – can you tell us more about your journey with the pre-production process?

In all honesty, it was more the process than my patience that didn’t rush the launch. Finding my fabric was the first step and what really set the course for my business. I did some googling and discovered that they had an office in NY so I made an appointment and met with the US sales rep. Swimwear is super technical and when your goal is quality and fit, finding the right manufacturing partner is essential.

I did encounter multiple situations where the quality or communication wasn’t working out and I had to move on. Going to trade shows was key, talking to as many people as possible and making the connections so there were options and a point of reference. Although frustrating at the time, I am thankful for the way things played out as it allowed me to really hone my product, message, and branding.

Throughout this time, did self-doubt ever creep up? How did you get past it?

Quite often! Something I remember very well from the Factory45 program was your advice to celebrate the small victories, which I think is key. That and being able to reflect and see how far you have come.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed and get caught up in all the things you have to figure out and the laundry list that only seems to grow so it really helps me to reflect on all the obstacles that I have overcome. Entrepreneurship is undoubtedly a rollercoaster of emotion so you just have to welcome it, roll with it and keep checking things off the list.

What has been the best thing about launching and seeing your idea come to fruition?

After working for others for so long it’s really great to be able to see an idea through from start to finish and the crazy amount of learning that goes into the process is very fulfilling. I feel like I am finally being able to live my truth and practice my ethics in a proactive way. Something unexpected which I have really loved is all the amazing and inspiring women that I have gotten to meet and work with as a result.

Contemporary swimwear

What is your best piece advice for a new designer or entrepreneur that’s just starting out down this road?

I would say be open to the course things take. The path won’t always go how you planned and it might be the best thing for you in the end. Also, check the mundane things off the list as soon as possible. Once your launch is on the horizon you will be happy to have things like your shipping and return policies, website copy and sales forms already in place.


To shop contemporary swimwear for the modern muse, visit Gala Maar here. To read more about Blakely’s experience in Factory45, read her alumni story here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


NPR How I Built This SproutFit

How Factory45’er SproutFit Landed an Interview on NPR’s “How I Built This”

As many of you have already heard, Factory45’er Whitney Sokol, founder of SproutFit, was featured on NPR’s “How I Built This” last week!

The wildly-popular podcast has featured guests like Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, Sara Blakely of Spanx and Blake Mycoskie of TOMS and at the end of each episode, host Guy Raz highlights one of his listeners working on his or her own startup.

I was so excited when Whitney emailed me to say NPR was interested in her story and of course, I wanted to know all of the details.

If you’re wondering how to successfully pitch big-time media opportunities, Whitney has shared all of the nitty-gritty details with us. Read our interview below:

NPR’s “How I Built This” is a big deal! How did you go about making that happen?

Thank you! One of my good friends suggested I check out “How I Built This” last year, and I quickly became obsessed with listening to these inspiring entrepreneurs. Every episode either motivated me or encouraged me to keep pushing, and I needed to hear those affirming messages.

A few months ago, that same friend urged me to pitch my story launching SproutFit to the host, Guy Raz. Just a few days after an email pitch, I got a call from NPR saying they wanted to set up an interview.

Can you share the exact email you used to pitch your segment for the show?

It was through Guy Raz’ website, and here is the exact message I sent him (quite long… I know):

Hello, Guy!

Obsessed with the How I Built This podcast – it’s more addicting than potato chips. And, as a problem-solving mompreneur using my corporate career to fund my passion for challenging the conventional, ultra-wasteful approach to clothing babies, I’d love to share my story with your listeners.

Plus, as a dad, you might appreciate that my inspiration came from sitting inside my infant son’s closet, cursing at onesies through bleary eyed delirium.

SproutFit is an adjustable, sustainable baby clothing company thoughtfully designed with growth spurts in mind. We were recently 142% funded on Kickstarter and #BackedByAxe (Showtime Billions’s fictitious Axe Capital VC – meant to bring to life the core values of Axe Capital by supporting real-life innovative companies on Kickstarter).

Before my son Beckham was 12 months old, we had accumulated totes upon totes of clothes he grew out of, or never got to wear. When something finally fit him comfortably, a month later he needed the next size. It became time-consuming and frustrating to weed through clothing that wasn’t solving any of our problems – in fact, they just created more.

Babies triple in weight by their first birthday and will outgrow at least 7 traditional sizes between 0 and 24 months. Parents know and anticipate this when creating a baby registry and prepare for baby’s arrival.  In essence, childrenswear companies have gotten away with creating the fastest revolving door in fashion (even in comparison to brands churning out new styles every week!).

For the worst offenders of fast fashion consumption, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who replaces their entire wardrobe 7 or more times in 2 years. But, blindly, that’s what we parents expect to endure with our babies. I felt duped and wanted to change the paradigm.

Modern, minimalist and sustainable in both design and materials, SproutFit saves parents time, money and hassle. The first collection includes short and long-sleeve bodysuits, reversible leggings for double the outfits, bandana bibs and essential blankets.

Let me know if you have availability to discuss further should you have an interest in speaking with me.

All the best to you,

Whitney Sokol



A Note from Shannon: I want to highlight a few reasons why this pitch works really well – even though it’s longer than a typical pitch. First, it’s very obviously personalized – in the second paragraph, Whitney says “Plus, as a dad, you might appreciate…” Generic pitches rarely work and the sooner you can show you’ve done your research the better.

Second, in the third paragraph, Whitney uses the social capital she has already earned to set herself apart from some of the other pitches NPR receives. She shows proof of concept by mentioning how much she surpassed her goal on Kickstarter and uses a well-known name like Axe Capital to keep the reader’s attention.

Third, and most importantly, Whitney pitched a compelling *story* that NPR’s target audience would resonate with – she’s not trying to sell her product. There’s a huge difference between writing an engaging pitch and writing a commercial. Whitney nailed it.

NPR, Sprout Fit, interview

How did you feel before the interview? Were you nervous? Any imposter syndrome? If so, what did you tell yourself to overcome it?

After a fact-finding call, they scheduled the actual interview to take place the morning after I was supposed to arrive at a conference across the country. Because the interview required me to have one phone to speak into and one phone to record on (and I only had a cell phone), I sucked it up and held the call in my hotel room, knowing I’d be incurring hundreds of dollars in long-distance phone charges!

That part didn’t exactly ease my nervousness. You should have seen me pacing around the room – making sure the air conditioner was off, drinking tea so my voice wouldn’t crack, arranging my notes like I had OCD… yes, I was just a little nervous!

A quote that I repeat when I’m feeling the imposter syndrome sneak up is from H. Jackson Brown:

“Remember that everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something and has lost something.”

It helps level my outlook and speak to the person instead of getting caught up in being intimidated by their success. So, after a couple minutes into the call, I hit a stride and the nervousness melted away.

That is until the call was over and I realized I hadn’t been recording on my iPhone. I felt my chest and face get hot and actually cried in the shower. I was SO mad the entire day of meetings!

After letting the HIBT team know about my mistake, they said they’d circle back with me soon and that it happens all the time. The whole day I felt like an idiot. Like I blew it.

Not thinking they’d be calling me back, I got back to my hotel room late that night and recorded some of the answers to the questions I remember them asking. I wanted them to know that I respected their time, and at that point, I didn’t have anything to lose!

The next afternoon, they emailed me and we reschedule. I was so relieved! The second time around went much smoother. Maybe it was a blessing the first one didn’t get recorded.

How has the reaction been? Did the episode drive traffic to your site?

The reaction has been very positive. I’ve had multiple orders, 36x more traffic to my site and engagement on social media. It’s amazing how far social proof goes for a small business, especially if it’s in the form of a mainstream outlet like NPR.


To listen to Whitney’s segment, fast forward to the 40:00 minute mark of the “TRX: Randy Hetrick” episode here (or just listen to the full episode – it’s excellent). And to check out Whitney’s startup, SproutFit, go here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


interview NPR

childrenswear

How the Founder of SproutFit Raised Over $14K to Start a Childrenswear Brand

How do you start a business when you’re a busy parent and working full-time in corporate America?

Whitney Sokol, the founder of SproutFit, is going to tell us.

I’ve introduced you to Whitney through a blog post she wrote about her experience in Factory45.

But tomorrow, she’s going to share the exact steps she took to launch her brand while working on it part time.



Join me and Whitney tomorrow, 5/24 for a live, on-camera interview about how SproutFit came to life in just nine months.

In this episode of Factory45 LIVE, Whitney will tell us:

  • How she came up with the idea and what she did to get started.
  • The steps she took to set up her supply chain and find a manufacturer.
  • How she raised over $14K for her first production run.
  • What she did to find her first customers even before she launched.
  • And she’ll answer your questions…

Whitney is a straight shooter and a goldmine of insight into what it takes to launch a startup clothing brand.

Bring your own questions and we’ll open it up to live Q+A at the end of the call.

It’s all going down tomorrow, Wednesday, 5/24 at 3pm ET / 12pm PT and space is limited to just 100 spots!

Register to join us here.

“See” you soon,

factory45 owner shannon

 


Amanda-testimonial-rectangle-resized

Introducing milo+nicki

Introducing Milo + Nicki: Cruelty-Free, Ethically Designed, Derived from Indian & Zambian Roots

This is an interview with Factory45er Nicki Patel about the launch of her brand milo+nicki, a cruelty-free, ethically designed fashion line derived from Indian & Zambian roots. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Nicki is raising money for the production run of her first collection.

Please give us a brief overview of your brand and the pieces you’re pre-selling.

Through our made in NY, designed in ATX pieces, we hope to empower you, the ever-evolving woman, to conquer your fears, take a leap of faith, never give up on yourself, and live a life full of color.

By combining our vibrant, cultural roots with our passion for sustainability, living cruelty-free, and our bold personalities, we hope you feel strong, confident, and empowered while tackling all things thrown your way while letting your true colors shine.

Our 6-piece collection is cruelty-free and ethically-designed, with handwoven certified Ahimsa silk and GOTS certified organic cotton blend from India, hand dyed with plant-based indigo in the US, printed with non-toxic, water-based dye in the US, and made in NY.

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

Kickstarter is a great platform that allows small budget entrepreneurs to bring their big ideas to fruition. Being a solopreneur, I self-funded the venture thus far which includes everything behind the scenes:  sourcing sustainable fabrics, doing product development locally, creating tech packs for each design, creating samples and patterns, finalizing fit and creating another round of samples, hiring a fit model then a model to shoot the editorial images and video, setting up a shop, and marketing and miscellaneous expenses along the way.

With all these costs, when it came time to launch, I needed the extra push to bring my collection to life, and Kickstarter was the best option. It allows me to pre-sell the collection to my day 1 supporters at a lower price and fund my first run of production, all while testing the market and seeing if people love or hate what I am creating.

milo+nicki

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

Honestly, creating the Kickstarter campaign has not been as tough as campaigning these past 11 days. I have been really blessed with an amazing team (shout out to Falcon Related) that shot the perfect images and created the most beautiful video. It is exactly how I envisioned and I couldn’t have done it without them.

You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?

Love and passion for what I am doing. I believe that our story can empower and inspire women in all walks of life. It isn’t just about what the pieces we are creating, it is about the story of what you wear and the story you create wearing the pieces while pursuing what sets your soul on fire.

But, I am not going to lie. It has been tough. Not just being a solopreneur, but the entire process. You have your highs and lows, which as an entrepreneur are expected, but I have had some major setbacks. I have lost my fabric supplier not once, not twice, but three times?! Fabric is everything to a designer and I almost crumbled when I lost my last supplier only a few weeks from when I had previously planned to launch. What kept me going was the friends and family around me, my goal to empower women, and my vision to inspire change in the sustainable and ethical fashion movement.

 




Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?

The Kickstarter campaign thus far has been tough. I believe that I have a good community of supporters that really believe in my mission and want to share my story.

Approximately 2 months prior to launch, I began to reach out to sustainable and conscious lifestyle bloggers, writers who were covering topics that pertained to my story and continued connecting with individuals through social media by sharing our story, mission, and teasers of our collection. This really has helped me build a tribe of people who really believe in what I am doing and want to share it with others.

Something that hasn’t worked so well is reaching out to nationally recognize writers and editors maybe due to lack of brand recognition and product interest. This has been the toughest part because the campaign has really slowed down in momentum and has really limited our audience and reach.

What do you do when self-doubt starts to creep up?

I feel truly blessed because I had the opportunity to work with Amber Rae, the guru and creator of the W.O.N.D.E.R  Way. When I have self-doubt, I usually use the strategies she has taught me to bring back my focus to the bigger picture and what I am truly wanting to accomplish. I also have had amazing guidance from individuals who truly care about the wellbeing of our brand such as from you, Shannon, and the production partners I have worked with. When all else fails, I look to my amazing friends, my super supportive mastermind group, the love of my family and then leave the rest up to faith. There is only so much you can do to prepare for everything, right? I am definitely learning to go with the flow through the journey of entrepreneurship.

milo+nicki

What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?

I am totally biased because I love the entire 6 piece collection so I would say the All or Nothing reward. You are getting 6 pieces that are made out of 100% hand-loomed, made-to-order cruelty-free Ahimsa silk and GOTS certified organic cotton fabric which is hand-dyed with indigo, screen-printed with water-based, non-toxic dye, and cut and sewn by hand in the US, all under $1000!

If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?

Plan early, be prepared and don’t give up. As I am working through my Kickstarter campaign, I feel like the same thing that led me to creating milo+nicki applies to my campaign and launch. The journey is never easy, but it is important to remember to listen to your gut and follow your heart. I constantly remind myself that no dream is too big, no passion is too small, and no routine is unbreakable.

There are always going to be those naysayers or doubters trying to bring you down or days in your campaign where everything seems to be going south, but don’t listen, they don’t matter and that one day doesn’t matter. If you believe in something bigger, something different, or want to do something no one has ever imagined possible, do it. You are your only limitation. Just remember that the journey is never easy so stay persistent, think positively, have faith, and envision the bigger picture with you reaching your end goal. This will lead you to unimaginable places.


To check out Nicki’s Kickstarter campaign and the pre-sale of milo+nicki click hereTo read more about Nicki’s experience in Factory45, read her alumni story here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


crowdfunding factory

Introducing NIA

Introducing NIA: Eco-Friendly Knitwear for an Unpredictable Life

This is an interview with Factory45’er Merica Kahn about the launch of her brand NIA, an eco-friendly knitwear company. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Merica is raising money for the production run of her first collection.

Please give us a brief overview of your brand and the pieces you’re pre-selling.

NIA is eco-friendly knitwear for an unpredictable life. I came up with the idea commuting to and from New Jersey to New York City five days a week for the last eight years. I wanted to design a clothing brand for the minimalist fashionista who loves to look stylish but who needs comfort for her active lifestyle. The first outfit I have designed and am pre-selling on Kickstarter is a cropped pant, a tank top, and a choker. These pieces easily mix and match with other staple items we all have in our closet and as a full outfit can be easily dressed up or down creating a versatile look that can take you through a whole day.

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

I feel Kickstarter has a very eco-conscience audience and could connect with my project. Since this is my first time launching my own company, I think Kickstarter is a smart way to learn about the customer and get positive feedback to help get the support I need to create the ideal garments. I think Kickstarter makes it really simple to achieve success and it felt like the right place to start as a young entrepreneur.

Eco-Friendly Knitwear for an Unpredictable Life

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

Surprisingly, it’s been the marketing side and building my audience. I love social media and have always been engaged in connecting with people but raising awareness for a new small fashion business is really tough! I am learning more every day and, although it’s not easy, I do enjoy the challenge and creativity in it.

You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?

Talking to people about what I’m doing, 100%. I tend to get in my head and sometimes that can be negative. When I speak to people about what I’m doing it is so amazing to have people agree and be excited about what you have to say. It always surprises me when people thank me for the information about the ecological impact fashion can have because they didn’t know. That keeps me going because it truly is important to raise awareness about it.



Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?

I’ve started by connecting with people that are close to me and trying to spread the word through Facebook and Email marketing as much as possible. I am constantly talking about my project everywhere I go. The most success I have had is directly talking to people about what I’m doing and them being into the idea, which leads to them becoming a backer.

What do you do when self-doubt starts to creep up?

My first reaction is to analyze what I’m doing and think about why I started this journey. I am definitely an emotional person and I think meditating and yoga has really helped me to learn to accept the curves that are thrown my way. After I go through an internal review I immediately reach out to my Factory45 peers, family, and friends. I get as much advice from people who have already been through what I’m going through or have their own businesses. It really helps to hear that they experience the same emotions and situations.

Eco-Friendly Knitwear for an Unpredictable Life

What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?

I love the NIA cropped pant. They are so comfortable. I have literally worn them all day and even fallen asleep in them. I love being able to slip them on and get out the door quickly.

If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?

Do not rush the launch of your campaign. When you’re ready to launch, you will know. Preparing everything beforehand as much as possible, is the best thing you can do. It will take a ton of pressure off of you during the actual launch and span of the campaign.


To check out Merica’s Kickstarter campaign and the pre-sale of NIA, click hereTo read more about Merica’s experience in Factory45, read her alumni story here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


the crowdfunding factory

Introducing Ife Medow

Introducing Ife Medow: Sustainable Bags Inspired by The Four Elements

This is an interview with Factory45’er Toyin Ajayi about the launch of her brand Ife Medow. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Toyin is raising money for the production run of her first collection.

Please give us a brief overview of your brand and the pieces you’re pre-selling.

Ife Medow is where made in the USA meets the African touch. The Elements Collection is based on the four elements, so I created 4 unique color schemes for the exteriors of each piece using sustainable materials.

I complemented the exterior color schemes with lining each piece with African prints, this allowed me to incorporate my culture. I’m half Nigerian and half Ghanaian so that’s where the name comes from. Ife means “love” in Yoruba my language and Medow means “my love” in Fanti my Ghanaian language. I like to say each piece is made with love. Ife Medow provides gender neutral pieces with RFID protection. We have wallets, clutches, totes, and travel duffles.

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

There are a few reasons. I didn’t want to start a fashion brand and have to give away equity in my company just to make it. So many people (except Shannon) encourage you to go through venture capitalists or get a bunch of loans, but I didn’t want to give my business away in pieces just to get started or start with a bunch of debt. I also wanted to be able to offer pieces at a discount to early adopters and Kickstarter is a great way to do both.

Ife Medow: Sustainable Bags Inspired by The Four Elements

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

I wanted to make sure I was giving people enough information about the unique layers of my brand, but I didn’t want to overwhelm them. Ife Medow has the layer of sustainability, culture, RFID protection and unisex pieces. So the key was to find a way to share this with everyone without bombarding them with information.

You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?

While I was doing prep, it’s a rollercoaster but every time I finished a new sample I was refreshed. Positive feedback, meditation, reminding yourself why you set out to do this is really important. It’s also important to practice self-care so you don’t get burned out.



Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?

Truthfully, I had a full PR strategy and interns up until two weeks before my campaign. Due to unforeseen circumstances, my publicist had to step away and so did two interns. I was really distraught but I knew I had to pull my big girl panties up and get to it.

I wrote a press release to get the campaign in front of more eyeballs than I would be able to personally pitch. And then I had a master media list that I’ve been emailing, this stuff can take time so only time will tell about how successful that will be. I would say the best thing I’ve done was create excitement leading up to the launch; showing the pieces, answering questions and counting down.

What do you do when self-doubt starts to creep up?

Light candles and pray, talk to positive friends and family, have a glass of wine and relax my brain and anxiety.

Ife Medow: Sustainable Bags Inspired by The Four Elements

What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?

Tough question! But if I had to choose it would be the Air Clutch or Water and Earth Duffles. Those are my 3 favorite separate pieces. I offer sets and capsules for each Element as a reward too so I do love having those options.

If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?

Take your time, do lots of research, be adaptable and go for it!


To check out Toyin’s Kickstarter campaign and the pre-sale of Ife Medow, click hereTo read more about Toyin’s experience in Factory45, read her alumni story here.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


the crowdfunding factory

Introducing SproutFit: Thoughtfully Designed with Growth Spurts in Mind

This is an interview with Factory45’er Whitney Sokol about the launch of her brand SproutFit. With the help of a Kickstarter campaign, Whitney is raising money for the production run of her first collection. (She’s already reached her goal but is still taking pre-orders!)

Please give us a brief overview of your brand and the pieces you’re pre-selling.

Hey there! I’m Whitney, the working mom behind SproutFitAnd as a mom, I can tell you one thing for sure: babies outgrow clothes fast! Every parent experiences those pangs of guilt from wasting time and money buying and replacing adorable clothes (that may, or may not, ever be worn!).  This simple fact inspired me to create a smarter approach to clothing babies.

SproutFit is a size-adjustable, eco-friendly collection of better baby basics — thoughtfully designed with growth spurts in mind, and responsibly cut-and-sewn in America.

Sustainable in both design and fabric composition, our  bodysuits and reversible leggings fit up to a year through growth spurts – 4x longer than most baby clothing brands! These pieces come in two simple sizes: 0-12 months and 12-24 months. Gone are the days of sifting through baby’s closet trying to figure out what fits and what doesn’t, mourning the adorable outfit that never got worn! Also included in the flagship collection is our stylish, functional bandana bib in one-size-fits-all through 24 months, and our essential blanket that works overtime as a swaddle, car seat cover or nursing cover.

Bodysuits, leggings and essential blankets are made from 100% bamboo jersey knit, and the bandana bibs use the same bamboo fabric on the front, with a super-absorbent and anti-microbial recycled polyester fabric on the back.

leggings, bibdana, body suits, children clothing

Why did you choose to launch your brand through Kickstarter?

While sustainable fashion has made incredible strides in educating the general public the past 7+ years, being a startup fighting for mindshare proves difficult on a national scale! But, that’s where Kickstarter was a perfect fit. Committed to lifting up the creative entrepreneur, this platform has been a jump off point for countless sustainable brands. There was no question in my mind that SproutFit would have the best chance for success by utilizing Kickstarter.

What was the most challenging aspect of creating your campaign?

I started building my Kickstarter page in October 2016, about 2 months before my F45 class ended. From October to December, December to January, and even from January to mid-February, the scope of my campaign changed as I adapted to the challenges that came with developing the collection. So, my biggest challenge was staying true to my core message, while discerning what I could be flexible on.

You’ve done months of prep. What helped you keep up your momentum and motivation?

Factory45 taught me to talk about the campaign well before it launched, and that worked out to be a self-perpetuating motivator! Getting constant emails from moms asking when the collection is launching, and if they could be brand ambassadors with “prototypes, I don’t care, I just want to be the first to rep this brand!” were exciting moments pre-Kickstarter that helped keep me motivated.



Can you give us a little insight into your campaign strategy? What has been working and what hasn’t worked as well?

Building rapport with bloggers/influencers prior to Kickstarter has been great from a credibility and reach standpoint. I’m also glad I took the time to create social media content to align with when interviews, spotlights, and guest blog post were set to go live. I’ve learned that it’s much better to be over prepared and pull back when you need to adjust, versus reacting to every little bump in the road.

I’ve been experimenting with giveaways, so from an ROI standpoint, it’s hard to quantify those right now. But it’s been a blast to tinker with Facebook ads, Google Analytics and the Kickstarter analytics page to see what moves the needle.

children clothing, leggings, ethical fashion

What do you do when self-doubt starts to creep up?

Having a supportive tribe early on was key for me. I don’t have a fashion or design background, so my F45 class has been an immeasurable source of support. Beyond support, having the tools to build myself back up when need be has also been crucial. Early on in my corporate career, I built a folder that I store personal and professional “wins” in. Some wins are huge, some are microscopic. Now, that folder is an evolving reminder of where I’ve been and how I’m making a positive impact in my own life, or someone else’s. I’ve even taken screen shots of texts and sent them to that folder!  It may seem a little cheesy, but I’m telling you, it comes in handy when you need to read something positive and re-set. 

What’s your favorite reward being offered in your campaign?

I love the Mini-Capsule Collection. Just 8 pieces can create 60 unique outfits, truly bringing to life a less-is-more approach for that time in life that desperately needs simplification. Parenthood is taxing enough without sitting in a closet sifting through baby’s clothes kicking yourself for buying too much in one size and not enough in another.

If you had one piece advice for someone considering launching a Kickstarter, what would it be?

Don’t take the planning part lightly! Bounce 10 versions off a trusted group of people in your target market before hitting that submit button.


To check out Whitney’s Kickstarter campaign and the pre-sale of SproutFit, click hereTo read more about Whitney’s experience in Factory45, read her alumni story here.

 

 


crowdfunding factory cat