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Will a Kickstarter Campaign Work for your Fashion Brand?

Will a Kickstarter campaign work for your fashion brand?

This is one of the most common questions holding people back from using crowdfunding to launch their brand.

Whether you have one signature product or a full 10-piece collection, today I’m going to show you that it’s absolutely possible to raise money for your brand no matter how many products you have.

With the help of crowdfunding, these four Factory45’ers successfully launched their brands through Kickstarter:

kickstarter

1 PRODUCT

The World’s Most Comfortable Blazer by Trace Fashion

Founder Kristin Salat launched her Kickstarter campaign based on one signature piece, the Kimono Blazer. Similarly to how I launched the Versalette in 2011, this approach lives and breathes one product that’s presented in a variety of colors.

If you look at the rewards column of Kristin’s campaign, you’ll see that she was able to create multiple rewards even though she was only selling one piece.

She raised $32,949 in pre-orders to fund the first production run of Trace Fashion.

kickstarter

2 PRODUCTS

The First Leggings Inspired to Dress Up or Dress Down by Parallel Connection

Mother-daughter co-founders Allie and Carol Levy took it a step further by creating a Kickstarter around two products. They designed two styles of leggings that were only slightly different from each other — a classic legging and a slim pant legging.

By offering two different styles, they were able to appeal to a wider audience of women including those who wouldn’t typically buy leggings. Additionally, Carol and Allie made a conscious decision to offer a larger than normal size range from XXS to XXL, as well as multiple prints.

They raised $19,518 in pre-orders to fund the first production run of Parallel Connection.

kickstarter

6 PRODUCTS

The Ethical Women’s Capsule that Redefines Loungewear by Nine56 Studio

The capsule collection is the most popular approach I’ve seen from the entrepreneurs I work with. Whereas the two campaigns above offered multiple colorways, founder Meg Rohs launched her capsule collection with only two colors — black and white.

Because of fabric minimums, some brands choose to limit the color options so that they can offer more products and styles.

Meg raised $15,510 in pre-orders to fund the first production run of Nine56 Studio.

kickstarter

10 PRODUCTS

Naturally Dyed & Size Inclusive Lingerie by Unity Outfitters

And then there’s the 10+ product approach that is the least popular campaign choice, but definitely still possible. Founder Katina Gad is a trained seamstress so she was able to create all of her samples and patterns without outsourcing and paying the upfront cost.

She pre-sold a range of products, styles and colorways, while also offering a size-inclusive range for all body types. Because naturally-dyed lingerie is more niche, it was important that Katina expand her offering to reach as many women as possible.

She raised $8,626 in pre-orders to fund the first production run of Unity Outfitters.


So there you have it, crowdfunding can work for one signature piece and it can also work for a full collection.

Although I only shared examples of womenswear brands, it’s important to note that there are plenty of men and childrenswear brands that successfully launched on Kickstarter.

If you’re ready to raise money for your fashion brand, enrollment my self-study course The Crowdfunding Factory is now open here.

This is the course that teaches you the complete strategy to create a fully-funded Kickstarter campaign.

If you’re considering joining Factory45 in May but don’t want to wait to get started, this self-study course is a great way to get ahead.

It’s open for one week only.

Click here to enroll.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

left edit

Spotlight on Factory45’er Left Edit, Essentials that Make an Impression

What do you get when you pair two style-obsessed women with a shared passion for sustainability?

You get a womenswear brand with bold colors, custom-designed prints and fashion-forward silhouettes.

Meet Left Edit, essentials that make an impression.

You may recognize Kestrel Jenkins as a longtime sustainable fashion advocate and the voice behind the Conscious Chatter podcast.

Teaming up with Holly Stavnes, formerly the founder of accessories brand Hera By Day, the duo has created a responsibly-manufactured and sustainably-sourced fashion brand for women.

At the end of last year, Holly and Kestrel successfully launched a Kickstarter campaign to pre-sell their first collection of five dresses.

In 30 days, they raised over $20,000 to fund their first production run.

Left Edit 1

The five dresses were designed, prototyped and tested to ensure ease of movement, versatility, longevity, quality and community — putting responsible manufacturing at the forefront.

The fabrics are lower-impact than conventional fabrics, including Tencel linen, 100% Tencel and Cupro, and they boast bold colors and bright prints in an industry that’s already thriving in the basics and neutrals department.

Over two years ago, I met Kestrel and Holly for drinks in San Diego where they first presented the idea of Left Edit to me.

Shortly after, they joined the Factory45 program and spent over a year establishing a brand presence on Instagram, growing a following, designing and redesigning their first collection, sourcing fabric, meeting with factories, and more.

Leading up to their Kickstarter campaign, Holly and Kestrel seamlessly “teased out” the brand reveal so that by the time they launched, there was an eager fan-base of customers waiting to pre-order.

As they gear up to ship their first batch of garments this spring, the five debut dresses are still available for pre-sale on the Left Edit website here. (I pre-ordered The Eve : )  

You can also follow along and connect with Left Edit on Instagram: @leftedit

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

P.S. If you’re considering a Kickstarter to launch your own brand, you’ll want to look at Left Edit’s campaign for inspiration (it really was seamlessly executed.)

And if you want access to the strategy used to create a fully-funded Kickstarter, I’m opening enrollment to The Crowdfunding Factory on Monday. Sign up to the waiting list here to find out more about this course.


factory45

This is the Most Overlooked Skill by Fashion Startups

For the past three nights, I haven’t been able to fall asleep.

(Sleeping is one of my best talents, so this is highly unusual.)

And as I’m laying there, I end up doing the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to be doing when you can’t fall asleep:

I start scrolling through Instagram.

(I know, I know… I’m only human!)

But last night, as I was scrolling, I started to pay attention to which captions I clicked to read.

And I realized something…

There is one very crucial skill that I see many new fashion brands lacking.

And that’s the ability to write compelling sales copy.

If you’re not familiar with the term “copy” it refers to any text you write to represent your brand.

In other words, your emails to your list, subject lines, blog titles, any “call to action,” Instagram captions, blog posts, the “About” page of your website, the product descriptions on your shop pages, your social media bios, etc.

To be honest, if you asked me why some fashion brands are successful and others aren’t, I would boil it down to two main marketing components:

#1 Great product photography

#2 Great sales copy

And it’s #2 that I want to talk about today, because I think this skill is detrimentally overlooked by startup fashion brands.

To be able to sell *anything* online, you need to be a strong writer.

Before you throw your hands up in the air and tell me, “It’s just something you’ve never been good at!” hear me out:

I’m not talking about the type of writing you learned in high school English class.

The writing skills that are required for the internet are far more attainable than learning how to construct a 42-page essay analyzing Jane Eyre.

(Bleh, aren’t you glad those days are over?)

To write compelling sales copy, it simply requires you to write how you talk.

Back in high school, Mrs. Sullivan would have called this “the vernacular.”

That’s where I want you to start.

I want you to write in a way that’s conversational.

And as with anything you practice over and over, you’re going to get incrementally better at it.

Even if you think you “can’t write.”

But here’s what I would not recommend:

Hiring someone to write your copy for you.

(Unless you have endless amounts of money that you can pay this person for as long as your brand exists… and who really has that?)

Copywriting is a “teach a woman to fish” type of situation.

You really and truly do not want to rely on someone else to be the voice of your brand when you’re just starting out.

Sure, if you reach $1M in revenue, then go ahead and hire a marketing team — but in the beginning, your brand is relying on you to hone your chops at writing.

There are courses out there to teach you how to improve (CopyHour is run by my friend Derek and Marie Forleo has a program called The Copy Cure.)

There is also plenty of free content if you google, “How to become a better copywriter.”

But the bottom line is this:

You need to be able to effectively communicate what your brand has to offer.

That requires you to be clear, genuine, persuasive and most of all, compelling.

Because if you aren’t, then you’re going to train your followers (i.e. potential customers!) that your words aren’t worth reading.

And if your words aren’t worth reading, then how will they know that your products are worth wearing?

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


free resources

5 Must-Have Resources for Your Fashion Brand

As we all know, the internet can be an amazing place for free resources and advice. But it can also be a place of extreme excess and anxiety.

With so many resources available to overwhelmed fashion entrepreneurs, which ones should you use and which ones aren’t worth the time?

Well, here’s a place to start. I’ve narrowed down my top five resources for startup and sustainable fashion brands below:


1.) TECHPACKER

Anyone who’s tried creating a tech pack from scratch knows how frustrating (and time-consuming) it can be. Enter Techpacker, a software that helps you create a professional tech pack in minutes.

The platform gives you (or a team) the ability to manage product development all in one place. You can see some of the main features that Techpacker has to offer here and get started with a free 7-day trial here.


2.) STARTUP FASHION

StartUp FASHION is an online community where independent designers are given a platform to receive and offer advice, form friendships, create business collaborations, let off steam, share victories and belong to a network of peers who are tackling similar challenges.

Run by Nicole Giordano, enrollment to StartUp FASHION only opens twice a year and is currently accepting new members until tonight. You can sign up for $39/month here. (Update: Enrollment is now closed until September 2019.)


3.) MAKER’S ROW

Maker’s Row is an online platform that connects product-based companies with factories in the U.S. In addition to a database of thousands of factories, suppliers, printers and other manufacturers, Maker’s Row offers resources, tips and free advice through their email workshops and YouTube channel.

Brands can join the platform for $35/month and browse the growing list of over 11,000 factories across dozens of industries. You can search by location, response rate and other capabilities by signing up here.


4.) COMMON OBJECTIVE

Common Objective is a U.K.-based platform that evolved from The Ethical Fashion Forum. With a focus on sustainable fashion, members of Common Objective can learn, connect and collaborate while being matched with the people and resources to succeed.

With a network in 141 countries, Common Objective is dedicated to supporting fashion people do better business. You can join for free here.


5.) FACTORY45

And then there’s my own program, Factory45… not biased ; ) A six-month online accelerator program that takes sustainable apparel companies from idea to launch, Factory45 will help you source fabric, find a manufacturer and raise money to fund production.

Applications only open once a year and enrollment for the 2019 program will open on May 15th. Until then, you can get free advice for starting your fashion brand here and see some of the companies that have launched through Factory45 here.


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

repeat customers

How to Create Repeat Customers as a Fashion Brand

On the move? You can now listen to Factory45 blog posts on audio! Just plug in your headphones and click play…

My husband tells me I turn everything into “a festival.”

This is his loving way of saying I turn everything into a production.

Take our Christmas tree, for example.

We couldn’t just decorate the tree on a random Sunday. There had to be holiday music playing, a fire burning, mugs of hot chocolate, candles lit and just the perfect amount of cozy lighting.

Believe me, I’m eye rolling at myself.

And I’ll admit, whether it’s Thanksgiving or a picnic in the park, my one and only goal is to turn that event into an experience.

I’m sure there are times when my husband wants to tranquilize me, but there is an upside to the madness.

Especially when it comes to running a business.

Even more, when it comes to running a fashion brand.

When so much of online sales is dependent upon repeat business and accumulating a loyal following of ongoing customers, you are required to provide an experience for them.

The process of shopping on your website, receiving a “thank you” email after the purchase, getting your product in the mail…

All of that accounts for the unique experience that you’re providing for your customer.

And it’s when you make it memorable, easy, fun, enjoyable or some other positive adjective that sets you apart from other brands selling a similar product.

It’s what turns one purchase into a future purchase.

So, this holiday season, when your sales are at an all-time high for the year, what experience can you create for your shoppers?

Can you build a custom email series that introduces them to other products on your site?

Can you include a handwritten ‘thank you’ in their package?

Can you send a free small gift that will surprise them?

Can you make the online shopping experience so seamless that the purchase is a no-brainer?

What can you do that will transform just another e-commerce transaction into something special?

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

email list

5 Ways to Get More Engagement from Your Email List

On the move? You can now listen to Factory45 blog posts on audio! Just click the play button below…

I talk a lot about your email list being the most valuable marketing asset you have as a fashion brand.

If you’re not building your list, then you are missing out in a big way.

In fact, I can’t name one successful, modern-day business that doesn’t have an engaged email list that is actively growing.

But growing your number of subscribers is only half the battle. It’s making sure that they’re engaged readers that really requires the hard work.

Here are five ways to get more engagement from your email list* so you can create customers for your brand:

*Note: When I’m talking about your email list I’m not referring to your list of contacts in Gmail. An email list for your business has likely been created on Mailchimp or another email marketing platform and your subscribers have “opted in” to receive marketing emails about your brand.

1. Subject lines, subject lines, subject lines.

It doesn’t matter if you have the most compelling, beautifully designed and articulately written email if your subscriber doesn’t open it.

Your “open rate” is largely dependent on the intrigue of your subject line. It has to elicit a curious response from your subscribers that entices them to read it.

As an example, what’s a more interesting subject line to you?

5 email marketing tips

OR

This is why your subscribers aren’t reading your emails

Of course this takes practice. For every email I send out to you, I write five subject lines before I narrow it down to the winner.

Your subject line should be a focal point of your entire email — not an afterthought.

2. Don’t underestimate the “readability” of your emails.

This is the simplest and most basic rule of email marketing, but I can’t tell you how many emails I receive from new brands that make me question if I need reading glasses.

When in doubt, use a 12 point sans serif font in black. If you make your readers squint at their screens, then they’re going to click delete.

Other “readability” factors: avoid large block paragraphs, bold phrases are your friend, create plenty of white space.

Take note of the emails that you’re subscribed to and notice the formatting – what stands out? What makes it an easy read for you?

3. Start with a story.

Research has shown that when a person starts reading a (compelling, well written) story, it’s very difficult for them to stop.

What does that tell us about email marketing?

Start with a personal anecdote.

Your subscriber is not only more likely to read to the end, but starting with a personal anecdote also builds trust and connection with your reader.

And it’s trust and connection that turns a reader into a customer.

4. Give one “call to action.”

Your call to action is what you want your reader to do after they open and read your email. Your CTA is essentially the whole point of sending out an email in the first place.

If you’re already selling, then your only goal is to move your reader from your email to the shop page of your website.

If you aren’t selling yet, then the goal of your CTA can be something else that helps you grow your following (forward this email to a friend, follow us on Instagram, read last week’s blog post, etc.)

The key thing to avoid here is giving multiple calls to action. I see a lot of emails that ask the reader to shop AND follow us on Instagram AND read our blog AND forward to a friend AND…

Asking for too much creates decision paralysis for your reader and instead of doing everything, they’ll do nothing.

Pick one CTA and test it one week. Choose a different CTA and test it another week. Use another CTA and test it the next week…

Which leads me to,

5. Track your analytics.

No matter which email marketing platform you’re using (Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Klaviyo, etc.), there is a dashboard that gives you a series of very important stats. Do not overlook these!

For every email you send out, you need to be tracking your open rate and your click-through rate, with an additional glance at your unsubscribe rate.

I say “glance” because I don’t want you to obsess over how many people unsubscribe from your list. It’s normal for a healthy list to have unsubscribers so don’t dwell on it. However, if you notice a significant increase at any point, then you’ll want to be aware of what could have possibly triggered it.

Above all, tracking your analytics will provide insight into sending better emails. It will help you become better at writing subject lines, it will give you valuable data about what your readers want to see and it will help you increase traffic to your online store.


A final thought: So often new brands get caught up in the number of subscribers they have. And while yes, the goal is to grow your list as much as possible, I would much rather have a small highly-engaged list than a large list that isn’t engaged.

This goes back to what I wrote about how you only need 100 “True Followers” to launch a fashion brand. In this case, bigger isn’t always better.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


P.S. In the coming weeks, I’m sending out an ethical fashion gift guide to subscribers of Market45. If you’re looking for more simplicity and joy this holiday season, subscribe here and join us.

marketing

How to Go from “Hating” Marketing to Loving It

Last week I launched Market45 to start selling some of the brands that have graduated from the Factory45 program.

In the build up to launch day I was interviewed by a media outlet that asked me the following question:

What have you learned about yourself in launching this new business venture?

I know that I was probably supposed to say something heartwarming like, “I’m capable of more than I think” or “Hard work really does pay off”…

But instead I said,

“I love marketing even more than I thought I did.”

I know, not the most inspirational sentence I’ve ever said, but allow me to explain…

When you live in an industry of creatives, “marketing” and “selling” are often seen as dirty words.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this sentence from the designers I teach:

“I just feel so ‘sales-y’…”

And each and every time, I want to take them by the shoulders and say,

“Well, yeah, because you’re trying to make a sale…

In the Factory45 program we talk exhaustively about the “pre-launch phase.”

It’s those crucial months before you launch your business when you’re building up momentum, trying to attract an audience and getting ready to sell your product.

Having recently been in that pre-launch phase for Market45, I can confidently say:

I live for this phase.

To me, there is nothing better than building anticipation for your audience and getting them excited about what you’re creating.

But like many new entrepreneurs, I didn’t always feel that way.

There was a time when I worried about coming across as pushy or self important or annoying.

And here’s what I realized:

In order to run a successful business, you have to embrace the sale.”

The good news is,

When you believe in what you’re selling — that’s really easy to do.

My guess is that if you’re on my email list or reading my blog, then you have a product or idea or current business that is a better option than what the fast fashion retailers, or Wal-Mart or other big box stores offer.

And that’s something to immediately believe in.

Whether it’s a more ethical / sustainable / independent / conscious option compared to what else is on the market, you are providing an alternative that yes, the world needs.

So, the next time you question whether you should send one more email to your list or post one more Instagram about your Kickstarter or create one more Facebook ad, I want you to repeat after me:

>> The world needs to know that my product provides a better option.

>> My customer wants to hear from me because my product is solving a problem for them.

>> The industry needs independent brands like mine to succeed.

Because the future of fashion depends on it.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

 

 


Market45

The Factory45 Marketplace Launches Next Week!

For over four years, I’ve worked with designers and entrepreneurs to launch fashion brands that are sustainably and ethically made.

I’ve had the unique perspective of seeing these brands build their supply chains, think carefully about their business models and bring value to shoppers who are looking for better options.

It’s been a ride, and I’m so proud of the work we’ve done.

But, like any serial entrepreneur, I know there’s still so much more to do.

Two years ago, I envisioned a platform where I could sell the products that have launched through the Factory45 program.

I wanted to create a marketplace that would make it easier to shop sustainable and ethical fashion, all in one place.

So, what did I do?

The same thing I do every time I come up with a new (sometimes hairbrained) idea.

I hopped on the phone with my creative director to walk her through the vision:

  • I want to launch with 20 Factory45’ers to start.
  • I want to send traffic to their online stores.
  • I want to offer a discount incentive to shoppers.
  • I want to make enough money to break even.
  • But ultimately, I want to help the brands grow.

Could we make that happen? I asked her. From a tech perspective, is it possible?

And for the sake of full transparency, at first we couldn’t.

The platform I initially envisioned was just too complicated — there were too many moving parts.

So, in June we decided to scrap the whole project.

But what usually happens when you take a deep breath and walk away?

You find clarity.

And thankfully, that’s what happened.

We put aside the ideal for “perfection” and came up with the “good enough” option. (This is a beneficial lesson for any entrepreneur.)

Six months later, we are one week away from launching Market45, an ethical fashion marketplace.

Featuring 20 invite-only brands that have launched through the Factory45 accelerator program, the marketplace will make it easy to shop sustainable and ethical fashion, all in one place.

Before we launch on Thursday, November 1st you can join our VIP list here and get 10% off any Market45 order.

By signing up to the Market45 email list, it will also ensure that you’re one of the first to know when we launch next week.

I can’t wait to show you what we’ve been working on.

Grateful for your support,

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45

marketing

Struggling with Marketing Your Fashion Brand? Follow the 30/70 Rule.

If you’re running a fashion business, it should be no surprise that marketing is a huge part of your day to day.

If you want to sell, then you have to promote — right?

We know this. It’s on our to-do list. We have a strategy in place for it. But…

How often does promotion get overlooked?

Here’s a scenario that I see too often:

  1. You’ve spent several hours crafting the perfect blog post.
  2. You finally click “Publish” and the post goes live.
  3. You sit back and wait for people to come across your post and praise its brilliance.

When put that way it sounds a little ridiculous.

And yet there are so many of us who expect it to happen like this.

The internet has made us live by the adage of, “If you build it, they will come.”

But nobody arrives.

If you’re struggling with marketing and being seen by your ideal target customer, then I have one rule for you to implement right now:

“30% content creation / 70% content promotion

What does that mean exactly?

It means that 30% of your time should be spent on creating marketing content. We’re talking blog posts, emails to your list, guest posts, photography, etc.

But 70% of your time should be put towards promoting that content.

It’s not enough to share a blog post on Facebook one time. That same blog post should be sent out to your email list and shared on social media over… and over… and over again.

“But, Shannon, won’t my audience get sick of seeing the same stuff?”

No, because unless it’s your mom, they’re not paying attention that closely.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s an example:

For the past month I’ve been promoting the launch of Market45, an ethical fashion marketplace, that will go live on November 1st.

I’ve mentioned it upwards of six times on Instagram and it wasn’t until the sixth time that I got a text from my own sister saying, “Just saw you’re launching a marketplace! Great idea.”

And while yes, she’s busy with her own life going on — so is everyone else.

You can’t count on people to retain your message, read your blog post or engage with you on social media the very first time.

Or even the second time… or the third…

And I know what you may be thinking, “Man, this sounds exhausting. I can’t keep up with all of this marketing.”

But what I’m telling you is actually good news.

Because the content creation (i.e. the 30%) is the part that’s usually hardest for everyone.

I know how many of you worry that you’re not a good writer or that it takes forever to write a blog post or newsletter.

But with the 30/70 rule, once it’s done you get to focus the majority of your time on promoting it.

And while it still requires writing, crafting a promotional Facebook post or Instagram caption is a lot less work than writing full content.

To put it in perspective:

I spend at least 1.5 hours every Wednesday scheduling social media to promote that week’s blog post. My assistant spends another hour putting that blog post on WordPress and scheduling it to send to my email list.

That’s 2.5 to 3 hours dedicated to content that took me 30-45 minutes to write.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

So whether it’s an upcoming launch, a Kickstarter campaign or something small like a blog post, focus on doing more with less.

You can’t argue with that.

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Market45