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First, thank you so much for your support in spreading the word about The Clean Living Podcast last week!

I know most of you follow me because you’re looking for help in launching your sustainable fashion brand, so I really appreciate your patience as we paused “fashion related” content this past month.

But let’s get back to it, shall we?

I have three new YouTube videos for you below about product testing, legal protection and “Made in the USA” — pick your own adventure : )

 

Apparel Manufacturing[NEW] You spend years dreaming up the perfect apparel product. You spend months meticulously creating it. You tweak and stitch and hem and haw over it until… It’s perfect. But have you tested it to make sure it’s also perfect for your customer? In this episode, I’m sharing the two most important phases of product development.


Apparel Manufacturing

How do you move forward through the production process without your unique product being knocked off? There are the legal routes to help protect yourself, and then there are common sense precautions you can choose to implement. In this video, I’m sharing them with you.


Apparel ManufacturingHow do you create a sustainable fashion brand that's made in the USA? While navigating the world of sewn manufacturing may be new and probably a little intimidating, there are ways to set yourself up so that you don’t come off as a “newbie.” I’m sharing five tips for creating a “made in the USA” apparel company. 


THIS WEEK ON THE PODCAST

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

CLEANING SUPPLIES Have you ever thought about the ingredients in your household cleaning products? Listen to this episode to detox your cleaning supplies.

LIPSTICK When I found out one of my favorite cosmetic products contains a neurotoxin, I was so tempted to turn a blind eye. Instead, I switched to these clean beauty brands… 

TOOTHPASTE Did you know there are ingredients in some of our most popular toothpastes that are actually banned in Europe? Here's what I did to change my family's oral care.


Have a great week and don’t forget to VOTE on Tuesday!

 

 

 


factory45 youtube

 

legally protect

Have you ever wondered if you need a patent for your product idea? 

Or if you should file for a copyright instead? 

What are the legal ways to protect your fashion brand?

And what are some of the ways to protect your brand without hiring a lawyer?

In this video, I’m going to tell you.

Click the image below to watch this week’s video, “How to Legally Protect Your Fashion Brand.”

 

legally protect

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 


YouTube CTA

How do you feel when you read the words: 

Product Development

Excitement? Anxiety? Confusion? Fear?

When I talk to designers about patternmaking and samplemaking, many people say they feel paralyzed.

The upfront costs for creating your first pattern and sample can look so intimidating that it becomes the most frequent point of giving up.

Especially if you don’t have the accountability of a program, peers or mentorship behind you.

So, when we reached this point in the Factory45 accelerator program this year, I brought in Lenese Calleea to talk to everyone about product development.

LC Apparel Consulting

Lenese is the owner of LC Apparel Consulting in New York City and her business is focused on educating new designers, specifically around product development.

Typically, these live classes are exclusive to the Factory45 program but I wanted to share one piece of Lenese’s wisdom because it’s such a common question that comes up.

And it’s the importance of reference samples.

Reference samples are example garments that you bring to your pattern/samplemaker to accompany your spec sheet or sketches.

Providing examples of seams or stitches or binding or pockets or sleeves or collars or whatever you have a vision for will help immensely in the communication with your product development team.

So often I find designers are afraid of “copying” existing garments when, if done correctly, this step is critical to your patterns and samples being developed the way you envisioned.

Should you bring in a pair of Lululemon leggings and tell your samplemaker to make an identical replica?

No.

But there are ways to combine elements of different garments so that you’re not starting product development from scratch.

Factory45 alumni mentor Hannah McDermott put together this screenshot of reference samples she used to develop her swimwear line.

Product Development

This is just one tidbit of advice that Lenese shared that I felt was imperative to shout from the rooftops for anyone about to go into product development.

It will save you so much time, money and frustration if you’re able to gather these reference samples in the beginning.

And your pattern and samplemaker will definitely thank you : )

 

 

 

P.S. If you’re interested in working with Lenese and her team, you can learn more about her services here. She also hosts a podcast called BlackNFashion that you can listen to here.


manufacturing kit

the mask project featured image

The past five days have been a whirlwind — to put it lightly.

It started on Friday when I received three emails from people interested in sewing masks for medical workers.

As the day went on, I kept hearing from our factory partners that they wanted to help, but they didn’t know where to send the masks.

So much of my experience through Factory45 is based on connecting entrepreneurs with manufacturers. 

It got me thinking about how I could translate that into connecting hospitals with manufacturers.

And that’s how The Mask Project was born.

The Mask Project

In record time, we launched a website on Saturday night (thanks to Emily Belyea Creative) and with the help of a 70-person email chain of sustainable fashion influencers, we started spreading the word about the project on Sunday.

Kathryn and her team at Good Clothing Company got to work designing a more efficient pattern for the mask.

JOANN Fabrics stepped in to donate thousands of yards of fabric and as of Tuesday afternoon, we have 54 factories willing to sew medical masks. 

We’ve also received requests for over 100,000 masks from hospitals all over the country.

I’ve estimated that with our factory network, we could manufacture over 500,000 masks per week — two million masks per month — for medical professionals across the U.S.

But here’s the thing: right now, these factories are donating their time and labor.

While they’re pivoting their business models to help with the mass shortage of medical supplies, they also need to keep themselves in business.

This is different from the home sewers and hobbyists making 100 masks a week and donating them. It’s still amazing, but it’s different.

The real impact in this mask shortage can be made by our network of U.S. factories that want to keep their sewers employed.

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve learned more about hospital supply chain, government funding and the intricacies of budget restrictions than I ever thought I would.

It’s clear that the city government and hospital funds are maxed out. The money that they do have should be spent on N95 respirators and ventilators directly in contact with COVID-19.

The masks that we’re making are meant to be used in sterile environments and operation room settings to free up the “real masks” for treating contagious disease.

And while I’m working on strategic partnerships with influencers who can amplify the message for funding, it’s ultimately going to come down to individual donations.

So, in what I thought would be a very different blog than what I’m posting today, I’m asking you to consider supporting these factories that want to help and that also want to stay in business.

You’ll see a “Donate” button on The Mask Project website here.

In the meantime, I’ll be working on alternative ways to get mass amounts of funding for our manufacturing partners, while continuing to research hospital supply chains (if this is your area of expertise, please email me!)

Thank you to so many of you who have already spread the word and supported the project on Instagram this week.

Our community is the best.

Gratefully,

 


 
 


 

Do you know the number one reason that new fashion brands lose money or go out of business in their first year?

Manufacturing mistakes.

From over-ordering inventory to garment construction errors, starting production is the most vulnerable time for new fashion brands.

I’ve heard the stories.

The brand blames the factory… the factory blames the brand… and when all is said and done, only a fraction of the production order is good enough to sell.

And both parties lose money.

In the case of the new brand, it’s enough of a loss to put them out of business — before they’ve even started.

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Because the primary reason for manufacturing mistakes is a lack of communication.

The tech pack isn’t specific… the sew-by sample isn’t perfect… the brand and project manager haven’t had enough conversations about the end goal of the product.

The good news is: Communication is something that can be improved upon.

And while yes, the factory manager could probably be quicker about responding to your emails or returning your phone calls, effective communication is the responsibility of you — the founder and designer of your brand.

Can you control the skill set of the sewers? No.

Can you control the attention of the quality control manager? No.

But you can control the clarity of your expectations and needs up until production begins.

And that’s everything.

Between the free resources in books, blogs and YouTube, there’s really no excuse anymore to go into apparel manufacturing knowing nothing at all.

So, I’ve put together a little quiz for you, so you can better understand where your knowledge lies… 

Which of these questions can you answer?

  1. What is a “time study” sample?
  2. Name the three things you need to be able to start product development.
  3. What’s the most important question to ask a pattern/samplemaker before you hire them?
  4. What’s the number one way to save money in production?
  5. Should your production partner sign an NDA?

If you were able to confidently answer four out of these five questions, then you’re in good shape!

But if you know that you’re new to the manufacturing industry and you have plans to start an apparel or accessories brand, then it’s imperative that you arm yourself with the knowledge and know-how to get through production without losing money.

And that’s why I created The Manufacturing Kit for you.

It includes eight resources that will answer the questions above, as well as teach you other valuable information like:

  • The 14 things you need before starting product development. 
  • How to translate your sketch to a spec sheet template so you don't have to pay to have one made.
  • 9 questions to ask a pattern/samplemaker before you hire them.
  • 9 questions to ask a manufacturer before signing a contract.
  • And more…

You can check out The Manufacturing Kit in more detail here.

And if you have any questions about it, just reply to this email — I’ll personally get back to you.

As they say, “knowledge is power” and my goal with The Manufacturing Kit is for you to be able to confidently and calmly go into production without wasting time and losing money.

To your success,

 


 
 
 


If you’re like most of the entrepreneurs I work with, then you know this:

  • You want to start a fashion brand that’s socially-conscious
  • You want to do something to combat the “fast fashion problem” 
  • You don’t want to be just another fashion brand

In your heart, you are committed to building a sustainably-made and ethically-manufactured brand, but where do you even start?

While I run an entire six-month accelerator program to help with exactly that, I want to get you started with the first four things to consider right now.

In today’s episode of Factory45 TV, I’m sharing where to begin when you’re building a sustainable fashion brand from scratch.

These four things are not generic answers like, start a business plan or research your competition or trademark your business name.

Click the button above and in four minutes you’ll have four steps to building your sustainable fashion brand right now.

Enjoy!

 


 
 
 


manufacturing kit

Want to know how fun I am at the ripe old age of 34…? 

I spent most of the past weekend live-streaming an entrepreneurship conference.

Party. Time. Amiright?

While this isn’t something my 21-year-old self would ever understand about who I’ve become, this is genuinely my version of a rip-roaring good time.

I just said “rip-roaring,” so yeah.

Anyway, of the entrepreneurs on stage at this conference — all of whom we’d categorize as successful — there seemed to be one common thread of advice.

The vast majority said something like this:

“I wish that I had invested in my business sooner.”

And they weren’t talking about hiring or outsourcing or seeking VC money.

They were talking about education.

One of the business owners said she’s spent tens of thousands of dollars on courses, programs, masterminds, digital products, coaches and mentors over the years and only wishes she had done it sooner.

Because every time she made a single investment in her knowledge, her business improved.

As someone who is a huge advocate for online education (for obvious reasons), I also spend a significant part of my own revenue each year on learning something new about my business.

I’ve taken courses on digital advertising, email marketing, Instagram, media outreach, YouTube, business law and a multitude of other topics at different times over the years.

And what I’ve noticed is not only does this investment in your business give you the inspiration to learn, but it also gives you insight into what you’re capable of doing yourself and what makes sense to outsource.

After the digital advertising course, I knew I wanted to hire someone to do it for me. (Numbers… do not compute…)

But email marketing, Instagram and YouTube? Those programs empowered me. They made me feel like I could conquer those important parts of my business on my own.

And that’s what The Factory45 Shop is all about — it’s why I created it. 

Because if you’re ready to start now, then I want you to feel empowered to take action.

If you’re waiting for Factory45 applications to open in May, then The Fabric Sourcing Kit is for you.

If you’re getting ready to go into product development and production, then The Manufacturing Kit is for you.

If you’re ready to start building your brand with the goal of a pre-sales launch campaign, then The Crowdfunding Factory is for you (enrollment closes tonight at midnight ET!)

And if you’re facing a specific challenge that you just can’t seem to conquer, then I’m offering 1-on-1 strategy sessions until December 20th.

The chance to invest in your own business education is here for you.

And according to over a dozen seasoned entrepreneurs speaking to a packed audience, you won’t regret taking it.

 


 
 


Crowdfunding

To the person hustling through nights and weekends to launch their brand,

To the person waiting for applications to Factory45 to open,

To the person not knowing where to start…

I made something for you.

The Factory45 Shop is a new platform exclusively created for startup fashion entrepreneurs.

Over the past 5+ years of running Factory45 once a year, from May to December, I kept getting the same requests…

“I’m ready to start now!”

“I don’t want to wait until May of next year!”

“What can I work on while I wait?”

And now I have an answer.

I’ve created three digital products that offer immediate access, so you can start working on your fashion brand right now.

Whether you plan on applying to Factory45 in May 2020 or not, these three resources will answer some of those immediate questions you have about starting a fashion brand.

Not feeling confident about reaching out to fabric suppliers?

The Fabric Sourcing Kit is for you.

Want to avoid costly mistakes in product development and apparel production? 

The Manufacturing Kit is for you.

Need to raise money to launch your brand — without giving up equity? 

The Crowdfunding Factory is for you.

There is also an opportunity for established brands to connect with me for a 1-on-1 strategy session through December 20th.

It’s all here.

Read through the details and if you’re not sure which kit or course is right for you, then just email me at shannon@f45staging.wpengine.com — I’m happy to offer recommendations.

Wherever you are in your fashion business, this is an opportunity to take action. Grab onto it.

I’m cheering you on,


 
 


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

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

What questions do you want to make sure you ask?

What mistakes do you need to avoid?

What questions should you be prepared to answer?

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

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

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

Enjoy!

 


 
 
 


How do you find a manufacturer for your clothing line?

…especially as a new brand without many industry contacts?

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

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

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

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