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Ethical Fashion

One thing you know for sure: 

You don’t want to create just any ole’ fashion brand.

You want to ensure that it’s ethically-made and prioritizes people and planet.

But what does that mean?

And even more importantly, how do you ensure that ethical labor practices are built into your business model from the start?

Do you ask your factory for a list of wages?

Do you look for safe exits and open windows on your factory tour?

And how do you explain to your customer why your prices are 3X higher than the average fast fashion brand?

With so much greenwashing happening in the fashion space, there are five things you need to do if you want to create an ethical fashion brand.

And in this video, I’m sharing exactly what they are — just click the play button below.

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 


LATELY, ON THE CLEAN LIVING PODCAST… 

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

GROCERY LIST | It’s the first episode of the new year and today’s topic was requested by a listener — she wanted to know what my weekly grocery list looks like and some of the food brands I recommend. So, for today’s episode, here is my grocery list…

TAMPONS | Ladies, we have got to stop putting bleach up our hoo-hahs. “Bleach? I don’t put bleach up there…” you may be thinking. But if you use conventional tampons, you are absolutely putting bleach (among other things) into your vagina 4-7 days per month…

MILK | In the years leading up to the “Got Milk” campaign in the 1990s and early 2000s, U.S. milk consumption was at an all time low. The American dairy lobby knew they needed to do something to stay relevant and survive, so with enough persistence (ahem, money) it convinced the federal government to step in. Here’s what happened…


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Are you new to Factory45 and wondering what it's all about? Keep reading for a quick recap of the resources available to you:

FACTORY45 // My online business school for fashion entrepreneurs is the signature offering of the Factory45 brand. This first-in-class mentorship experience takes entrepreneurs from idea stage to building and launch their sustainable and ethical fashion or accessories brands. You can sign up to the 2021 waiting list here.

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THE FACTORY45 SHOP // While you’re waiting for Factory45 applications to open, I have other startup kits, resources and freebies available year-round through The Factory Shop. The shop includes The Fabric Sourcing Kit and The Manufacturing Kit so you can start building your brand now. For more-established businesses that are ready to crowdfund or pre-sell, The Crowdfunding Factory course is on major sale right now. Get started by choosing a digital product or freebie here.

factory45 shop


MARKET45 // Our ethical fashion marketplace showcases and sells some of the brands that have successfully launched through the Factory45 program. We’re always adding new Factory45 grads and we also offer a 10 percent discount for customers who shop through the marketplace. If you’re only interested in shopping ethical fashion, there is a separate Market45 email list that you can sign up for here.

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FACTORY45 TV & THE FACTORY FLOOR // You’ll find all of the 200+ free resources to start your sustainable fashion brand on my YouTube channel and blog. Whether you’re looking for manufacturing help, marketing tips or just a dose of encouragement, you can search by topic and go down the rabbit hole of all things “fashion business.” Start with my most popular video here.

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THE CLEAN LIVING PODCAST // For those of you who are interested in eco-living beyond sustainable fashion, this is the show that helps busy women live more sustainably in the areas of home, food and beauty. I release mini-episodes, under 10 minutes, that provide a healthy dose of “real talk” with plenty of alternatives for better living. If you’re only interested in sustainable living, there’s a separate email list for the podcast that you can sign up to here.

clean living podcast

Nothing striking your fancy? No worries — just click the “Unsubscribe” button in your emails and we can still be friends on Instagram : ) 

On the other hand, if you’ve read through everything and are still excited to be part of the Factory45 community, then I am so thrilled to have you here. 

I don’t take for granted one minute of your attention, so thank you for being here.

We already have a lot in store for 2021, so I’ll keep you in the loop on everything as we kick off this new year.

Gratefully,

 

 

 


Sustainable Fashion Brand

I have something a little different for you this week…

Over the past few months I’ve been doing more interviews on other people’s podcasts. 

Pro tip: this is a great way to spread the word about your own brand or business — podcasts are always looking for new entrepreneurs to feature.

So this week, I’m sharing three different episodes where I talk specifically about the steps to launching a sustainable and ethical fashion brand.

Each one is a little different, highlighting sustainability or crowdfunding or marketing, and I’ve included brief descriptions below to help you choose.

If you’re new to me and Factory45, then listening to one (or all three) of these interviews will help you get to know me a little better — as well as my philosophies and what I teach.


Sustainable Fashion Brand INTO THE WILD // How to Launch a Sustainable & Ethical Fashion Brand with Shannon Lohr (41 mins) 

Listen to this episode if you want to learn the #1 mistake new fashion brands make when launching, how to build an audience, the role Instagram plays for fashion brands and much more. >> CLICK PLAY <<

 


Sustainable Fashion Brand FASHIONPRENEUR TALK // How to Launch an Ethically Made Fashion Brand with Shannon Lohr (23 mins)

Listen to this episode if you want to learn the story about how I got started, the tactical and practical action steps to launching a brand, the common misconceptions about crowdfunding and more. >> CLICK PLAY <<

 


Sustainable Fashion Brand THE PRODUCT-PRENEUR PODCAST // Launching a Sustainable Fashion Brand – Shannon Lohr (37 mins)

Listen to this episode if you want to learn why sustainable fashion is important to consumers, the steps to growing a sustainable fashion brand, pre-selling to fund your launch and more. >> CLICK PLAY <<

 


Enjoy!

 

 

 


THIS WEEK ON THE CLEAN LIVING PODCAST

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

CANDLES It’s that time of the year when we’re getting all cozied up, maybe lighting the fireplace, pouring a cup of tea and lighting our favorite candle… the smell of petroleum sludge is just the perfect scent for the holidays. Wait what? Before you strike that match, listen to this episode.

LAUNDRY After visiting a friend and her newborn, I went down a rabbit hole of laundry detergent research — starting with a popular brand marketed for babies. In this episode, I’m recommending that you toss the Tide (and others) and switch to these clean detergents instead.

FOOD DYES There is a common ingredient in our food (often associated with sugar) that I think is worth tackling this holiday season — especially since it’s avoidable once you recognize it. So, in this episode we’re talking about food dyes.


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Fabric Sourcing

When it comes to starting a sustainable fashion brand, what’s the number one thing that takes the longest?

Fabric sourcing.

It can take as long as six months to find the perfect fabric and materials for your line.

That’s why, in the Factory45 program, it’s one of the first things we do.

But once you have an idea of the fabric you need, how do you reach out to suppliers so that you actually get a response?

If they’re receiving hundreds of emails per day from entrepreneurs like you, how do you make sure you stand out from the rest?

How do you make it easy for them to help you?

And what exactly do you say to set yourself up for a successful working relationship?

Because here’s the truth: 

95 percent of new designers are making the process harder on themselves and harder on the supplier.

And it doesn’t have to be that way.

So in this video, I’m laying out the 7 things you need to know to successfully contact fabric suppliers so you get a response.

Just click the play button below —

In the comments below the video, tell me: 

Which one of these seven tips are you going to try the next time you’re looking for fabric?

I’d love to hear from you,

 

 

 

P.S. If you’re looking to take your fabric sourcing one step further, I have The Fabric Sourcing Kit for you. It’s full of resources to help you source fabric in 30 days — including a list of my top 10 sustainable fabric suppliers. You can check it out here.


THIS WEEK ON THE CLEAN LIVING PODCAST

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

LEMON I’ve become a little obsessed with natural ways of boosting my immune system. To be honest, it hadn’t really dawned on me before the pandemic hit how important it is to be preventive and not just reactive about getting sick. In this episode, I’m sharing one little food hack that is as simple as squeezing a lemon. 

HUMMUS In my mind, hummus is the perfect snack — it’s filling, can be spread or dipped onto any number of foods and it’s a great source of protein. So when I saw a study released by the Environmental Working Group about glyphosate levels in hummus and chickpeas, my throat dropped into my stomach.

WATER When I first found out that our Brita water filter wasn’t removing nearly as many contaminants as I thought it was, I went down a deep rabbit hole to find the best water filter at an affordable price. Turns out, the research wasn’t nearly as straightforward as I was hoping it would be… 


fabric sourcing

humiliating

So, last week’s post really hit a chord with people.

If you missed the blog post on procrastination, you can read it here.

It got me thinking more about the whole concept behind “low barrier to entry” opportunities.

If we could make things easier on ourselves, how much more would we do and get done?

Take for example the speaking engagement I did at Eco Fashion Week back in 2013.

I was flown out to Vancouver and asked to give a 10 minute presentation. I proceeded to walk up to the podium in front of 100ish people and absolutely choke.

Short of having a panic attack and passing out in front of the whole room, it was a complete disaster.

For 10 minutes, my voice was shaking, my face was red, and I could barely breathe or get my words out.

If you’re thinking it couldn’t have been that bad, the emcee asked the audience if they had any follow-up questions for me and not a single person raised their hand.

They wanted me off the stage as much as I wanted to run out the back door.

So, did I write-off speaking engagements for the rest of my life?

No… not exactly.

What I realized is that I’m pretty good at open Q+A-style panels or casual conversations with a moderator or interviewer.

What I’m not good at is solitary speeches or presentations.

So instead of passing up every opportunity for a speaking engagement, I committed to choosing the lower barrier to entry option.

I decided that I would still say ‘yes’ to public speaking, but I would limit my commitment to off-the-cuff Q+A style, multi-person panels or I would take on the role of moderator.

By making that deal with myself, I’ve gotten the chance to have some great speaking opportunities that have allowed me to market my business, meet like-minded people and further my message.

So, let’s say in your case, you hate being on video.

Instead of forcing yourself to do on-camera Instagram Stories, maybe you start a podcast to document your entrepreneurial journey instead.

Maybe you don’t feel confident about your writing skills so you’re hesitant to start a blog. If you love being on video, then you could start a YouTube channel instead.

Let’s say you clam up when being interviewed, maybe you ask the interviewer to send you the questions ahead of time so you can plan out your answers.

In 99 percent of cases, there is always an easier alternative that will better set you up for success.

That’s not to say you can avoid discomfort or vulnerability 100 percent of the time.

There will surely be some cringe-worthy or embarrassing moments.

I remember last year when I was hosting an Instagram Live for Maker’s Row. It was a 30-minute live session that required me to be alone on camera, sharing my tips about apparel manufacturing to their Instagram audience.

In the middle of my talk, something caught in my throat and I started to choke — for real.

I couldn’t get my words out because I was too busy coughing and drinking water in a fit of panic.

Again, this was a live session and no one else was on video with me, so it was quite literally an audience of people watching me gag for air.

So embarrassing.

But you know what?

I had five or six other Instagram Lives with Maker’s Row that went really great. 

And I had over 20 people join Factory45 this year because they found out about me from those Maker’s Row live sessions.

Imagine the opportunity lost if I had decided to completely write-off Instagram Live because of the fear of that embarrassing moment happening again.

There are so many instances in entrepreneurship when things don’t go as planned and the only thing we can do is learn, adapt and try again.

As in life, you will miss out on some pretty great experiences by not attempting them at all.

So, I’ll ask you again — what is one thing you can do today to take more action by choosing the easiest route to get there?

And if things don’t go exactly as planned… 

How can you learn and adapt, so it goes better when you try again?

 

 

 


THIS WEEK ON THE PODCAST

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

NATURAL IMMUNE BOOSTERS It’s more important than ever to strengthen our immune systems and gut health. In this episode, I’m sharing three cheap and easy foods to add into your cooking that will naturally boost the immune system of you and your family.

FRAGRANCE When my son was an infant I worried like most new moms do. Was he getting enough calories? Was he sleeping enough? Would he ever eat solids? But as I’m sharing in this episode, I worried about one thing in particular…

PSA Back in September, I attended CleanCon — a virtual conference hosted by the Environmental Working Group — that was focused on clean beauty and personal care products. Throughout the event, there was one message that I kept hearing over and over…


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more action

Lately, I’ve been thinking about why it’s so hard for some people to take action.

This is, by far, the biggest obstacle I see stopping entrepreneurs from getting a business off the ground.

We fall victim to procrastination — which in essence, is fear.

When we’re afraid of doing something, or afraid of the potential result of doing something, then we stop ourselves from taking action.

The threat of what could happen paralyzes us from doing anything at all.

Personally, I have 99 problems but taking action isn’t one.

So I’ve been trying to analyze what it is about my strategies or methods that empowers me to move forward on an idea even if I’m scared or unsure of the outcome.

And I was able to boil it down to two things.

The first one is confidence. 

Because I’ve taken action on enough ideas over the span of my life, I’ve built up the confidence to take action on the next one.

I recognize that this stems from a position of privilege, but it’s true nonetheless. 

Even though some ideas haven’t worked out, I’ve still been able to maintain the confidence from the ideas that have.

The second method is more interesting and was less obvious until I listened to a podcast with a behavioral scientist who studies habits

When I think about most of the ideas I’ve taken action on, they all have one thing in common:

I’ve chosen the lowest barrier to entry.

Let me give you an example.

When I created the Factory45 program for the first time in 2014 I didn’t have the fancy portal and online content that I have now (six years later). 

I started with Google docs, a free Basecamp account and Apple Keynote (or PowerPoint). 

If I had tried to create the customized WordPress site or high production videos that I have now, it would have been too overwhelming and expensive as a jumping off point.

This sense of overwhelm applies to so many things you may be facing: getting your social media going, setting up a website or launching a first collection.

So, what’s the lowest barrier of entry you can take?

Focusing only on an Instagram account instead of managing Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest and SnapChat and TikTok.

A simple above-the-fold landing page instead of a full-on website.

One signature piece for your launch instead of seven pieces.

What I’ve discovered through personal experience is that it almost always works out better by paring down, simplifying and making things easier for yourself.

This has applied to my entrepreneurial journey back in 2010 when I was starting my sustainable fashion brand up all the way through last month when I launched The Clean Living Podcast.

Nearly every example I have is a testament to doing less — not more.

And not-so coincidentally, the podcast I mentioned about forming habits confirms that. 

After surveying 40,000 people, the research found that successful habits are formed by taking the smallest action possible.

Want to start flossing regularly?

Start by flossing one tooth every day.

Want to start exercising every day?

Start by doing one push-up every day.

Want to start meditating every day?

Start by taking five deep breaths every morning.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or someone who wants to improve their oral hygiene, the strategy is the same.

Do less so you can do more.

 

 

 


THIS WEEK ON THE PODCAST

Listen on Apple Podcasts here | Listen on Spotify here

SHAMPOO Personal care is one of the most toxic categories of household products. Shampoo is no exception. What are you actually lathering into your hair every time you shower and why should you be extra careful about the shampoo you use? In this episode, I’m sharing the top reasons to switch to a clean, paraben-free, formaldehyde-free hair care routine.

COOKING OIL Did you know that the oil you use to cook with can impact your long-term health? And it’s not so simple as just switching to olive oil. In this episode, I’m sharing the cooking oils to avoid, the oils to use on low heat and the oils that are safe to use on medium to high heat.

DOGS & GUT HEALTH This episode is uplifting and helpful, especially if you’re trying to convince your partner to get a dog. If you’re already a puppy owner, give that pooch a big kiss on the mouth because this episode is for you.


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insecurity

For the past month, I’ve had a recurring nightmare of not being able to speak.

Sometimes I simply can’t find the words.

Other times, it’s more extreme — like when my mouth is full of rocks.

What I finally realized is that it’s a manifestation of insecurity.

Insecurity about launching The Clean Living Podcast.

Here are some examples of the negative self-talk I’ve been experiencing:

“It’s been done.”

“Nobody cares.”

“Who am I to do this?”

“It’s not significant enough.” 

That last one, in particular, has kept me up at night.

It’s this feeling of, “I’m not doing enough.”

And if I’m really honest with myself (and completely transparent with you), my big fear is that people think clean living is elitist. 

Only for the privileged. 

That it has nothing to do with equity or inclusion.

When in reality, I know that clean living has many different forms. And that with education, it can be inclusive and accessible to everyone.

My goal through this podcast is to show people that thinking more carefully about what we buy, and how we live, doesn’t have to cost more money and can actually save us money in the long run.

But any time you take on a new project, it’s normal to question the process.

Do my intentions align with the final product?

Is there even such a thing as a “final product” or will this always be a work in progress?

Am I prepared to make mistakes, and maybe even fail?

What will that say about my self-worth?

When these questions come up I’ve learned to always have an answer ready.

Here’s what I’ve been telling myself:

If just 100 people find out about a Black-woman-owned clean deodorant brand, then that’s potentially an extra $1400+ in revenue for that business. 

(And it’s 100 people no longer swiping aluminum under their arms.)

If just 100 people learn how to improve the air quality in their home, that’s potentially 100+ kids who are learning remotely with less household pollutants in the air.

If just 100 people learn how to get more nutrients from their food, then that’s 100 families feeling healthier and more energized than they did before.

Remember: Your impact doesn’t have to be huge to be significant.

That’s all to say, if you’re also working on a new project and you’re feeling insecure or discouraged or behind or deflated, I want to remind you that it’s not about making huge waves.

It’s about creating small ripples for the people who matter most to your business.

When we stay in our lane and we focus on the unique gifts we can contribute, that’s when we’re able to impact the right people.

Keep pushing forward,

 

 

 


UPDATE: I’m releasing the trailer for The Clean Living Podcast next week! On Wednesday, Oct. 14th I’ll ask you to kindly listen and subscribe as we gear up for launch.

Also — thank you so much to everyone who helped me choose a podcast thumbnail last week! You can find out which image won on Instagram here : )

Accomplish Big Goals

Do you know what’s nerve-wracking?

Announcing that you’re starting a podcast… 

And not having a single episode recorded.

It’s true, two weeks ago when I was teeing myself up to announce the launch of The Clean Living Podcast I only had a spreadsheet of ideas.

I talk all this game about starting before you’re ready, setting small goals and taking baby steps to do big things… 

But it’s scary.

I’ve been an entrepreneur for a long time, I’ve launched big projects before and I’ve pushed my comfort zone more than once — imposter syndrome is something you simply can’t escape.

So, what did the past two weeks look like?

A series of very small and deliberate steps.

There was one day dedicated to the podcast trailer and intro, another day to write the first three episodes, another day to write the podcast description and landing page… 

Then there was an entire morning and afternoon that I spent sitting on the floor of my closet to record the episodes I had written.

And repeat.

As of right now, I’ve finished the trailer and the first 10 episodes and sent them to my podcast manager for editing.

But do you know what my first thought was when I sat down to record for the very first time?

“Oh, shit.”

And then: “This is so much harder than I thought it was going to be.”

I often say that if we knew how difficult it was to launch a business idea, new project or any unfamiliar venture, then we wouldn’t ever start.

And that’s exactly what I was thinking as I hit record for the 70th time: 

What did I get myself into?

Whether it’s something as daunting as starting a new fashion brand or something smaller like a podcast, it’s time and persistence that are the antidotes of the unfamiliar.

I spent all day sitting in that closet and by the time I emerged, with a sore back, hoarse voice and tired eyes, I had done something I was very worried I wouldn’t be able to do.

And that’s the name of the game.

Want to tackle a big goal?

Declare it to the world.

Want to actually accomplish that big goal?

Break it into baby steps, give yourself plenty of time, expect it to be difficult and persist anyway.

We’re about a month out from the launch of The Clean Living Podcast and next week I’m going to ask you to vote on what you think the podcast thumbnail should be. 

This is the image that you'll see on iTunes or Spotify next to the podcast name — and I’d love your opinion on it.

In the meantime, I want you to remember: We can do hard things

I’m right there with you.

 

 

 


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launching your brand

“We don’t work with new designers,” he said to me matter-of-factly.

This was back in 2014 when I was just starting Factory45 and networking with potential manufacturers for my entrepreneurs. 

He went on to tell me that startups aren’t “worth their time,” newbies don’t have any money and there’s too much hand-holding that’s required.

I politely thanked him and hung up the phone. But I remember thinking: 

I’m going to change that.

So for the past 6+ years, I’ve made it my mission to educate aspiring entrepreneurs who want to create a clothing or accessories brand but don’t know where to start.

In this video, I’m sharing five tips to save you time, money and frustration when it comes to working with factory partners. Click the play button below!

Have you reached out to a production partner before? How did it go? What questions do you have? Leave a comment for me over on this video.

 

 

 


Manufacturing Kit

pen and paper

“So, what are we looking at timeline-wise?” I asked my creative director as we mapped out a new project.

“Well, it will be about two months for the first launch and around five months for the second one,” she replied.

Five months?! That puts us into 2021!

I thought back nostalgically to launching Factory45 in 2014. I came up with the idea around March and it was live the next month.

That “lean startup model,” that had worked so well for me in the past, was feeling very far away.

In the beginning stages of entrepreneurship, you’re told to get a minimum viable product out into the world. You’re told to stay lean, fight perfection, and test the market.

These are still my favorite ways to launch a business.

But when you’ve been running the same company for 6+ years and you’ve built a brand and a track record, you simply can’t come out with a half-assed idea.

Because everyone is expecting a certain caliber.

And a “certain caliber” takes time. 

You’re dependent on other people, other schedules, and it’s just more… complicated.

I know what you’re thinking:

“What I wouldn’t give for a team! You’re so lucky to have resources around you, you’re so lucky to have experience and credibility!”

And those things are all absolutely true. 

My point is, entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily get easier. 

It just gets complicated in different ways. 

You go from struggling to connect your email provider with your landing page in year one — to struggling with pressure and expectations in year seven.

That’s all to say, if you’re planning on an entrepreneurial career for the long-haul, it really is the best.

But I would also say, appreciate where you are right now.

If you’re still in the early stages of launching your first business (it probably won’t be your last), then there’s a unique opportunity in that.

You’re learning more than you ever could in school just by doing and taking action.

And you have freedom — freedom to try new strategies, experiment with different marketing tactics, to explore your voice and your brand.

So, have fun with it. Try to relax. Know that you will make mistakes. 

Remember that every obstacle or “catastrophe” is a turning point in your story.

Because in reality, just by starting a business, you’re doing what 99 percent of people wouldn’t ever do.

And that’s something to celebrate.

 

 

 


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