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blogging

What do you think of when I say the word, “blog?”

Is a blog something you’ve thought about starting for your fashion brand?

If not, do you know how you can strategically use blogging to create a customer-base and make sales?

It was with the help of a blog that I personally raised over $64K to fund my own sustainable fashion brand.

And it wasn’t through advertising or affiliate links or sponsorships.

Blogging is a tactical marketing strategy that any fashion brand can use to make sales and grow a brand online.

And in this week’s Live Show I’m going to share how to do that.

blogging

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

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

See you on Thursday!

 



Did you miss last week’s episode of Factory45 Live about using Instagram to grow your fashion brand? You can watch the replay by clicking below!

instagram

As you start to build an audience for your fashion brand, one of the things you might be wondering is:

Do I have to be on every social media platform?

From Facebook to Twitter to TikTok, it’s normal to feel the pressure that you have to do them all.

But I’m here to tell you that you don’t.

Five years ago, would I have recommended that every new business be “omnipresent” across all social media platforms?

Yes.

But we’re living in a different time.

A time when quality is more important than quantity.

A time when I would rather see you master one platform and grow an engaged audience really well, than try to be everywhere all at once.

So, what’s that one social media platform I recommend for fashion startups?

Instagram.

This will likely come as no surprise — it’s the most visual, it has an ecommerce element and it has a track record.

The question is: with all of the noise and competition for attention, how do you use Instagram to grow your fashion brand?

In this week’s Live Show, I’m going to tell you.

instagram

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

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

See you on Thursday!

 

 


 


Did you miss last week’s episode of Factory45 Live about creating an email marketing strategy? You can watch the replay by clicking below!

marketing

What’s your most important marketing asset as a fashion brand?

And often the most underused?

It’s your email list.

It’s the people who subscribed to hear more about your brand and buy from you.

And the truth is, most fashion startups aren’t using email marketing as often or effectively as they could be.

Yes, it’s a marketing strategy that can feel complex and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.

And that’s what I’m going to teach you in this week’s Live Show — how to effectively use email marketing as a fashion brand.

So that you're not only building brand trust and awareness, but you're also making sales when the time comes.

With just a quick Google search, the marketing experts agree: Email will continue to thrive in 2021 and beyond. 

It’s still more effective in driving sales than social media (yes, even Instagram), so you want to make sure you have a plan for it.

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

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

See you on Thursday!



Did you miss last week’s episode of Factory45 Live about building an audience before you launch? You can watch the replay by clicking below!

Build a Following

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

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

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

Except for one little problem…

They don’t have an audience to launch to.

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

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

You don’t make many sales.

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

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

build a following

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

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

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

See you on Thursday!


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

Create Fashion Brand

In order to build something successful, you have to offer something that people want. 

Pretty straightforward, right?

In my experience, over the last decade of starting my own fashion brand and then helping other people start their own, I’ve noticed two key factors that set apart successful brands from unsuccessful brands. 

And that’s what I’m sharing in today’s video.

I’m also going to be talking about this a lot more during Session 1 of my free 4-day workshop on May 3rd.

To build something truly long-lasting and successful, you have to start with positioning. 

What gap are you fitting into in the market?

What is the hole that you’re filling?

When it comes to fashion, and a massively competitive market, where does your brand fit in?

Spoiler: you can almost always find your place in the market with the right positioning.

If you’re interested in exploring this more on May 3rd you can sign up to the workshop here.

Ready? Click the video below : ) 

Talk soon,

 

 

 

P.S. I’m going live tomorrow in our private group to talk about building relationships with suppliers and factories. Click here to request access so you can join us!


Instagram Growth

Oh, Instagram… we love it. We love to hate it. And sometimes, we just flat out hate it.

Whether it’s changing algorithms, or limited reach, or the feeling of being on a hamster wheel, Instagram strategy and growth can be overwhelming for new fashion brands.

Every new follower can feel like a struggggggle. 

And just when we feel like we’re in a good place with Instagram Stories, they introduce Instagram Reels.

If you’re someone who has struggled with Instagram growth for your brand, I feel you.

And while I wish I could give you a quick fix to all of your IG woes, I do have three strategies that will make a significant difference in the quality of your following and your ability to grow.

Click the play button below for Instagram growth tips for your fashion brand.

And make sure to tell me in a comment below the video, which of these strategies have you tried and which one are you going to try next?

 

 

 


strategy

“Huh, I’ve never put it like that before…” 

I was reading a book by an internet marketer that described a strategy to grow any online business.

As the author described the strategy that he’s used again and again to scale his software company to $100MM (without investors), I realized something.

What he was describing was the same process I had used to launch my clothing brand back in 2011, it was the same process I had used to launch Factory45 for the first time in 2014 and it’s the same strategy I teach today in the Factory45 program.

He had just put a name to it:

“Your Dream 100.”

As I continued reading, it dawned on me that the reason I love this strategy so much (and have used it for nearly a decade) is because it’s timeless.

We live in an age when marketing trends literally change by the month. One platform is hot, the next year it’s not. One strategy sells like hotcakes for a few weeks and then it flatlines.

While so many online businesses — particularly fashion brands — are dependent on the whims of Facebook and Google advertising, this strategy doesn’t require a cent.

And it will never go out of style.

Here’s how it works:

Your “Dream 100” is a list of 100 brands, influencers, media, podcast hosts, bloggers and business owners who have one particular thing in common —

Their existing audiences are made up of your ideal target customer.

In other words, the people following them on social media, reading their blogs, subscribing to their email lists, and listening to their podcasts are the same people who would love your brand and the products you’re selling.

In the Factory45 program, we make this a list of 20 but 100 is even better if you can do it.

Once you’ve made that list, the next step is to “dig the well” with your Dream 100 — i.e. build relationships.

So before you ask to write a guest post for their blog, or be a guest on their podcast or review your products, you have to put in the time commenting on their Instagram posts, replying to their email newsletter, leaving a review on their podcast, etc.

Like any business relationship, you give before you take.

The question you’re asking yourself is, How can you serve this person who has an audience you want to get in front of?

Once you’ve taken a few months to build these relationships, then you can make the ask.

The best part is that after you’ve been on their podcast, or done an IG Live together or written a guest post, then it’s a million times easier to ask them to promote your products and brand.

And here’s how the numbers pain out:

If just 30 people out of your Dream 100 agree to promote your brand, and each of those people has a minimum of 10,000 followers, that’s 300,000 new people who could potentially be introduced to your brand.

There’s no way to get that kind of free reach on your own.

And even better, this isn’t a strategy that will ever go away — the platforms and methods may change, but relationship building is timeless.

When I started my sustainable and minimalist fashion brand nearly a decade ago, my then co-founder and I used the year leading up to our launch to build online relationships with all of the minimalism influencers, travel bloggers and fashion writers that we possibly could. 

It resulted in us raising enough money to quadruple our first production run.

When I launched Factory45 in 2014 I reached out to 50 eco-fashion bloggers, media outlets and sustainable fashion influencers and wrote 25 guest posts and interviews in two weeks. 

It resulted in me selling out every spot in the six-month program, having never run an accelerator before.

The Dream 100 is truly the strategy, that if you commit to it, that will serve your business for years to come.

And it’s this same strategy that I’ll continue to use this Fall as I build my newest project.

Stay tuned for more on that : )

 

 

 

P.S. The book is called Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson and it just hit the New York Times bestseller list this week. He gives the book away for free on his website — you just have to pay for shipping.


CTA-Factory45 SHOP

I recently got an email from one of my current Factory45’ers asking if I had any tips and advice for life as an entrepreneur:

“You’ve done such an excellent job sharing all of your knowledge in building a fashion business which has been invaluable for me. Would it be possible for you to even share some tips & tricks in regards to more general topics…”

And then she went on to list some of her specific questions that I’m going to answer for you today — Q+A style.

Thanks to Franziska for asking the questions — I hope the answers are helpful to all of you!


BEST PRODUCTIVITY HACKS?

If there’s anything I’ve learned about productivity it’s that different systems work for different people. There is no “one size fits all,” so I can only tell you what works for me.

1.) Create triggers. Triggers are very small things you do to signify the start of a certain task. (Yes, this is what Pavlov did with his dogs and it works.) So for example, I light a candle before I sit down to write. Or I drink iced coffee instead of hot coffee to signify the start of a bigger task. Or I turn on classical piano when I need to outline a big-picture project.

2.) Choose a location where you can get “in flow.” I’ve written more about this here. I’m most productive when I’m working from the desk in my home office or at the library.

3.) Look for big chunks of time instead of small spurts of time. I know that I need at least 1.5 hours to really sit down and get something done. If I have less than 1.5 hours, then I designate that time for answering emails, writing Instagram captions or organizing my to-do list and calendar.


HOW DO YOU ORGANIZE YOUR WORK DAYS?

This is easier now that I’m a full-time entrepreneur and not working a side-job as I did when I was first starting out. 

To be honest, when I was bartending from 7pm to 2am and working on my business during the day, I don’t even remember how I organized my time… it was a blur. 

But this is what my week looks like now, once my son is off to daycare:

9:30-10:30AM | Go through my to-do list on Asana, answer any pressing emails, get organized, drink coffee, settle in.

10:30-12PM | Accomplish one medium-sized task before lunch. It could be something like writing an SEO brief for an upcoming YouTube episode, or creating an email for the Market45 newsletter, or outlining a new email automation series.

12-1PM | Break for lunch. And I mean, really break. I’ll usually read or watch a show or the news.

1PM-3PM | Accomplish one big task. This would be something like writing a blog post, writing a YouTube script, filming or recording a new project, or researching, brainstorming and outlining upcoming big projects.

3-3:30PM | Then I usually reserve the last half hour for any wrap-up admin that needs to be done before I leave to pick up my son.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve limited my daily to-do list to only trying to accomplish two significant tasks per day — no more than that. 

It keeps me from getting overwhelmed or disappointed when I’m not able to do “all the things.” And as far as productivity goes, it’s worked out so far.

work/life


DO YOU HAVE A SELF-CARE ROUTINE?

I wouldn’t call it a routine, but I definitely prioritize my self-care. I’m very lucky to be married to another entrepreneur who equally co-parents. It makes all the difference in being able to take care of myself mentally, emotionally, intellectually, etc… 

  • I don’t check social media during the day (for the most part). This helps me avoid distraction, the comparison game and all of the other negatives that come from being sucked into an Instagram hole.
  • I’m an introvert so I need alone time to recharge. I’ll curl up with a book, go for a walk, listen to a podcast or lay down and close my eyes — even if it’s just for 30 minutes.
  • I have a hard “no work on weekends” rule. Even before I had a baby, I was pretty strict about not opening my computer on the weekends. This allowed me to truly reboot for Mondays. I know this isn’t always possible when you’re first starting out because weekends are your free time to actually work on your business. In that case, I would pick one or two other times during the week to designate as your “no work” zone — even if it’s just every Tuesday night or some other random time.

HOW DO YOU COMBINE BEING A FULL-TIME ENTREPRENEUR WITH HAVING A FAMILY?

Probably the same way as people who work full-time jobs! It’s not easy. I know I’m lucky to have the means to hire childcare and I wouldn’t be able to run my business without that help. 

One thing I like about having a business and having a kid is that there’s a finite beginning and end to my workday. I’ve been forced to consolidate my work schedule, and I’ve found that I’m more productive during that time because I know I have a deadline.

But I definitely look back on my time before parenthood and wonder what I did with all of that freedom! To those of you out there who are working a “real” job, while starting a business and raising kids, I truly applaud you. 

work/life


DID YOU WORK ANOTHER JOB WHILE BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS?

Yes, and I do not subscribe to the common advice that you should just “Quit your job and follow your dreams!” 

One of the best decisions I made was to work a side job until I truly knew I had a business that could sustain my lifestyle, as well as some money saved for back-up.

As I mentioned, I was a bartender for a really long time before I took the leap to full-time entrepreneurship. I didn’t want to be stressed about money and by working for as long as I did, I didn’t have to strain my business to pay my rent.


HOW DID YOU FINANCE BEING AN EARLY-STAGE ENTREPRENEUR?

I saved up $5,000 working after college and I invested all of it into starting my first business, {r}evolution apparel. My then co-founder also invested $5,000 and that lasted until we opened sales a year later. 

When we launched with a Kickstarter campaign, we were able to pre-sell our product so our customers essentially paid for the cost of production. Our first production run was over $40K and we didn’t have to spend a dime of our own money.

I also used this pre-selling model when I launched Factory45. I opened applications in March 2014, participants paid for their first month of tuition in May and the program didn’t start until June. 

This gave me an influx of cash to create the first module and a little time to get things up and running. I invested all of the money from the 2014 cohort back into the business for 2015.


HOW DID YOU STAY MOTIVATED WHEN YOU WERE FIRST STARTING OUT?

The main thing that kept me motivated and held me accountable when I was first starting out was blogging. It was so helpful to have a process to document the journey of creating a business and a clothing company and it was the audience that the blog attracted that pushed us to keep going.

On a more general scale, I’ve noticed something over the past nine years of entrepreneurship that’s been hugely impactful. And it’s the simple act of declaring something to the world.

Tell the world you’re going to do something and you’re that much closer to actually accomplishing it.

 


 
 
 


YouTube CTA

 

How to Increase Your Fashion Brand’s Sales by 15%

In the lead up to becoming an entrepreneur, I was a waitress.

I’ll clarify:

I was a waitress at a rowdy Irish pub turned late-night bar in the tourist district of downtown Boston. 

I spent the summer of 2009 working six nine-hour shifts a week, serving up to 24 tables at a time — often by myself.

We were constantly understaffed, with myself and three other waitresses on rotation, and we spent the entire summer clamoring over each other for the chance to be promoted to bartender.

The best shift was Thursday night.

It was just one waitress and Ian, the Thursday night bartender, and the waitress had control of the entire floor which meant you got to keep 100 percent of your tips (there were no bussers in this place).

When it was my turn for this shift, I would mentally and physically prepare. 

I’d make sure I was stocked up on silverware roll-ups, that the menus were wiped down from yesterday’s beer sludge and that the outside chalkboard clearly promoted our daily special of 2 dollar Molsons.

And then from 4-11pm, I would work harder than I have ever worked before. 

At the peak of it all, I remember holding a menu and someone’s check in my mouth while pouring a draught beer with one hand and balancing two plates of food on the other hand.

After several shifts like this, I came in one Thursday night and Ian said something I haven’t forgotten in 10 years.

“Shannon, our food and bev sales are always up 15 percent every time you work. What are you doing differently from everyone else?”

At the time, I didn’t have a good answer for him.

But years later, I often think back to those days in the service industry and now know exactly what I did differently.

(And no, it’s not that I worked harder — I didn’t bring you through this entire story for that.)

It’s something that you, as a fashion entrepreneur, can duplicate and implement:

Make a Frequent, Specific Ask.

Instead of, “Can I get you anything else?”

I would say, “Another IPA?” before the pint glass was empty.

Instead of, “Are you ready for the check?”

I would say, “Our brownie sundae is amazing. The best in Faneuil Hall.”

I was on a constant loop around the restaurant, ensuring that no one was sitting around waiting for me when there was money to be made.

And that ties back to the mistake that I see so many startup fashion brands making.

You’re waiting for your customer to come to you. 

You’re not sending out emails every week, you’re not making it clear what your brand has to offer and you’re not enticing the sale.

It’s all well and good to say, “Well, I’m not salesy and I’m going to do it my way and Shannon, you were just promoting binge drinking and diabetes.” 

And while, okay, that may be true (a girl’s gotta make a living) — if you don’t make the sale, then you don’t have a business. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling beer, brownies, jackets or dresses.

Instead of sending out an email to your list once a month about your entire collection, send out an email once a week featuring one specific product in that collection.

Frequent & Specific.

Build a 2-3 part email series around each product that highlights certain defining features, such as fabric or fit or customer feedback or its insanely low return rate.

Frequent & Specific.

Create a two-week, daily social media campaign around the re-launch of your best-selling product.

Frequent & Specific.

Every time you get in front of your ideal target customer, whether it’s through email or social media, you’re asking for them to get behind your brand, support what you’re building and show that support by purchasing from you.

The way you make that Ask matters.

I should know — the next summer I came back as bartender.

 

 

 


crowdfunding cta

The fashion industry is competitive — there’s no doubt about it.

And yet, it’s not hard to find new, successful brands popping up across the industry.

No one knew about Everlane until it became Everlane.

No one knew about Reformation until it became Reformation.

And no one knew about Summersalt until… well, you get the idea.

There is room for you and the brand you want to create.

The key is to position yourself in a way that sets you apart from everyone else.

In today’s video, I’m going to share three ways to market your brand so that it attracts customers.

What’s your brand’s “X factor?” I’ve provided three different ways to think about.

Now it’s up to you to define that X factor for yourself.

Need some help? Leave a comment below the video and we’ll talk it out : )