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How to Be More Productive as a New Entrepreneur

I looked up from my computer and thought to myself,

“Man, I should really be working.”

I glanced at the clock. Two hours had passed since I last looked at it.

It took me a second to process that in that time, I had written copy for the Market45 website (coming soon), drafted the agenda for an upcoming webinar and written captions for several days worth of Instagrams.

“Oh, so I was working.”

Has that ever happened to you?

You get so caught up in your work that you look up and realize your work didn’t actually feel like work?

It doesn’t happen every day. Sometimes it doesn’t even happen every week. But when it does happen, there’s something so satisfying about it.

It’s what productivity experts call the “flow state.”

(You may also know it as “being in the zone.”)

Psychologists describe the flow state as the most productive and creative state of mind in which to work.

Some even say it’s the secret to happiness.

Our goal as entrepreneurs, then, is to enter that flow state as often as possible so that we can create, design and build our businesses in a way that is not only efficient but also brings us joy.

I know, no pressure.

There are tips all over the internet from work performance experts who will tell you how to enter a flow state.

But most of that advice assumes you’re a top performance athlete or a top-level executive.

What if you’re hustling to build your fashion brand as a side job with limited hours in the day?

What do you do then?

Here are the four steps to being “in flow” when you’re a new entrepreneur.

(And because I think acronyms are funny, I’ve put one together so you can remember it: PACE)

1. Prioritize

When you first sit down to work — whether it’s on your computer or in the studio — focus on one task, and one task only. As you practice, you’ll be able to jump to other tasks without leaving the flow state but in the beginning, it’s important to prioritize.

In choosing your task, it should be something “long form.” In other words, it feels like an investment to sit down and complete it. Tasks that are long form are things like: writing the campaign page for your Kickstarter, or mapping out financial projections or designing next season’s collection.

When you complete the task it should feel like a significant accomplishment and take between 1.5-3 hours.

2. Ambience

For me, ambience is everything. You can’t enter a flow state with the TV on in the background or sitting in the parking lot waiting for your kids. You need to know you’ll have two hours of uninterrupted time in a space that feels good to be in.

Turn on music if you like, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, light a candle, put on your “writing sweater” — pick some sort of cue that tells your brain it’s time to get down to business.

3. Challenge

Challenge + Skill Set = Flow State. I didn’t come up with this — researchers say that the optimal way to enter a flow state is to present yourself with a challenging task that matches a capable skill set.

In other words, if you’re not tech savvy you’re probably not going to find your flow while trying to set up a Mailchimp account. If you’re not math-minded, then you’re not going to enter a flow state figuring out your production costs.

When you’re first experimenting with this you’ll want to purposely choose tasks that are the appropriate level of challenging.

4. Energy

Do not try to reach a flow state when you’re exhausted, grumpy, having a bad day, etc. The essence of being in flow requires positive energy — they go hand in hand. Don’t underestimate how important it is to get your energy levels up before you sit down.


Hey, look at that — I just wrote 700 words! I didn’t even realize it until now.

I must have found the PACE to just… flow…

; )

Your turn.

factory45 owner shannon

 


failure

What’s Your Relationship to Failure?

The other night I was watching an interview with comedian and screenwriter Tina Fey.

She was talking about the highs and lows of her career, the missteps and the slip-ups and then she said started telling a story about her early days in stand-up comedy.

She was recalling the multiple times that she performed a set, only to leave the stage in complete misery.

No laughs, no engagement from the crowd — hardly any giggles of pity.

And then she said this:

“Everyone should experience the feeling of bombing.”

I sat with that for a minute, and I started to think about my own experiences of failure.

Like the time I spoke at Eco Fashion Week in 2013 and could barely get the words out of my mouth.

Or the time I tried working for someone else and got fired three months in.

Or the myriad other times I didn’t land the internship or the fellowship or get into my dream school.

Everyone should experience the feeling of bombing.

Because the highs will never feel as high as the lows feel low.

Tina Fey is a New York Times bestselling author, she has a net worth of $45 million, she’s won 9 Emmy Awards, 3 Golden Globe Awards, 5 SAG Awards and the list goes on.

Do you know how she got there?

By failing time and time again… and not letting it stop her.

It’s a cliche story, right?

Everyone loves the hero’s journey and I’m sure you can recount a dozen other failure to success, rags to riches stories of celebrities and athletes.

But what about your own?

As an entrepreneur, regardless of whether you’re established or aspiring, what is your relationship to failure?

Because I can tell you this:

To thrive in this industry and for your business to survive, you have to be okay with mistakes, mishaps, discomfort, frustration and yes, failure.

The only other alternative is fear.

And do you know what fear of failure does?

  1. It stifles creativity.
  2. It promotes procrastination.
  3. It feeds into victim mentality.
  4. And it holds you back from your true potential.

And I don’t think that’s a world that any of us want to live in.

So, the next time you’re tempted to hit the panic button before you can experience the feeling of bombing, I want you to pick one of these Tina Fey originals and hold onto it:

“It will never be perfect, but perfect is overrated. Perfect is boring.”

“Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.”

Or, my personal favorite:

“Confidence is 10% hard work and 90% delusion.”

 

factory45 owner shannon

 


Where to Start

What To Do When You “Don’t Know Where to Start”

“I don’t even know where to start,” I thought to myself.

It was three weeks before my maternity leave was ending, and I was looking at a calendar next to my to-do list.

Pack for Cape Town, finish the baby’s daycare applications, schedule a photoshoot, hire someone to run digital ads, get a haircut for the first time in six months…

I had a million things to do with half the time to do them and everything felt like a priority.

Sound familiar?

Whether we’re really busy or starting something new or feeling pulled in a bunch of different directions, it’s normal to feel a sense of paralysis.

And the statement that most often comes up is:

I don’t even know where to start.

I know you know what I’m talking about because one of the most common questions I’m asked is:

Where do I start?

I get email after email from people who have an idea for a clothing line or product but they don’t know how to make it happen.

How do I know what fabric I need?
How do I create sketches if I can’t draw?
How do I organize all of my ideas? And which one should I choose?

Instead of zooming in on one thing to tackle first, they find themselves paralyzed by the overwhelm of everything else.

And they end up doing nothing.

The thing is, starting a clothing company is a lot more straightforward than people think. And so much of the process can be tackled by…

Simplifying.

That means when you think you should be doing more you should actually be doing less.

And over the next three weeks, I’m going to prove that to you.

If you have dreams of launching a fashion business I’m going to show you how you can simplify and start.

I’m going to walk you through the first THREE steps you need to take to start your company.

And the best part is, each of these three steps will take no longer than an hour to do. (Actually, each one will probably take less than 30 minutes!)

My goal here, and the goal of the Factory45 program, is to make “I don’t know where to start” obsolete.

My goal is to show you that “knowing where to start” is a lot easier than you think.

Next week I’m going to send the very first step to my subscribers. You can sign up here to get it in your inbox.

(It will be especially helpful if you’re one of those people who “can’t draw.”)

Talk soon,

 

factory45 owner shannon

 



 

How to start your own fashion mastermind group

How to Start Your Own Fashion Mastermind Group

Raise your hand if you’ve been given this advice:

Build a community.

Network, network, network.

Success is about who you know.

We’ve probably all heard at least one of those mantras at some point in our lives.

And while I agree with them, there is one piece of advice that’s missing:

Find your inner circle.

I don’t mean it in a Regina George kinda way, I mean a few key people who you can go to about your business.

Your entrepreneurial peers, if you will.

Because let’s face it, your mom or boyfriend aren’t always going to get it.

And as someone who has been in the game for a while (experiencing entrepreneurship with both a co-founder and without), I can confidently say this:

You have to get out of your head.

When we run our own businesses it’s easy to think that the sun rises and sets on it. We get so caught up in the day-to-day grind of keeping things afloat that we often forget to come up for air.

And that’s where your “inner circle” comes in.

About six months ago, I started a “mastermind” group with Lorraine Sanders of Spirit of 608 and Nicole Giordano of StartUp FASHION.

We meet once a month to discuss our businesses — what’s going well, what’s been challenging, new tools and resources we’re using, people we’ve connected with, etc.

And tomorrow (Thursday, 4/27), we’re going to show you how to start your own.

fashion mastermind

But, here’s the deal. This is not like a normal webinar where you sit and watch slides — and it’s not even like Factory45 LIVE when I interview people on camera.

This is a live example of how we (Lorraine, Nicole and I) run our own mastermind. So, basically, we’ll be having a candid conversation – discussing different topics – as a live example of how you can create your own.

And we’ll walk you through how to apply it.

This will be totally unscripted and will give you a first-hand look inside our businesses.

So.

If you’ve ever wondered what we talk about behind the scenes, how we support each other and why creating an “inner circle” is a business’ best kept secret, then this is your chance to join us.

There are 100 spots available on a first come, first serve basis and there will not – I repeat, will not – be a recording!

Please only register if you know you can join us live.

This is all happening tomorrow (Thursday), 4/27 at 3:30pm EST / 12:30pm PST.

Register to attend LIVE here.

And don’t worry, you won’t be on camera, but you will be able to ask questions — so bring them : )

Hope to see you there LIVE (no recording) tomorrow!

 

factory45 owner shannon

 

hard work

Does Hard Work Really Pay Off?

When I was growing up my parents always said,

“Work hard and it will pay off.”

When I knew I really shouldn’t sign up for that AP Biology class I did it anyway because, you know,

“I’ll just work harder.”

When I made an audition tape for an internship with Nike, I scripted out the entire four-minute video, storyboarded each shot and had multiple costume and set changes, because well,

“They’ll see how hard I worked.”

When I applied for a fellowship with NPR, competing against thousands of top-tier journalism grads, I told myself, I’ll get it because…

“I work really hard.”

Turns out, I got a “C” in AP Biology, didn’t get the internship with Nike and wasn’t even asked for an interview with NPR.

(My parents also have many words of wisdom for dealing with disappointment.)

Of course you need a hearty dose of hard work to accomplish your goals.

But the disclaimer of “hard work pays off” should be, “it’s also no guarantee.”

This was never more apparent than when I became an entrepreneur.

I quickly learned that hard work isn’t going to get you that much farther than the entrepreneur next you. 

Because working hard is simply a given.

I’ve spent the past 2.5 years working with and observing other entrepreneurs who have set out to start businesses of their own.

A lot of them work hard. And some of them don’t.

But there are other qualities that make far more of an impact:

>> They’re resourceful. I don’t mean they can forage for wild berries and make a bonfire with two twigs, I mean they have an attitude of, “I’ll figure this out.” Successful entrepreneurs know that every problem has a solution and they aren’t afraid to take action to find it.

>> They’re willing to take risks. Deciding to start your own business feels like a huge risk in itself, but it’s just the first one. Your entire entrepreneurial career will be made up of opportunities to take more risks.

Unfortunately, the word ‘risk’ typically comes with a negative connotation. Most of us were taught to follow the straight and narrow path that has road signs with the word “Conventional” along it.

One of the best things I ever did for my own business, and peace of mind, was start trading out the word ‘risk’ for ‘experiment.’

I’m experimenting with this marketing strategy… I’m experimenting with this type of business model… I’m experimenting with hiring this person…

>> They’re not easily derailed. The true test of an entrepreneur is when things go wrong. How will you handle it? Will it be the end of the world and cause you to curl up in the fetal position? Or will you look at it as an opportunity to try something new and come up with a new solution?

Real success is a series of baby steps and the entrepreneurs who break apart from the pack are the ones who keep their energy up.

They don’t let a tech glitch destroy their mood. They don’t let a confusing email from a supplier derail their focus. They don’t let a botched sample force them under the covers.

I once had an entrepreneur friend tell me that she starts working at 10am and is done by 5pm because, “She gets more work done during that time than the average person gets done in a 12-hour day.”

Needless to say, I appreciated her honesty.

Hard work is not the same as productivity, or attitude, or impact.

Successful entrepreneurs know that “working hard” is just another day at the office.

 

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How to Create Shoppable Instagram Feeds with Your Customers’ Photos

In July I asked if anyone would be interested in a live interview series with different industry experts in the manufacturing, retail, design and eCommerce spaces (like Instagram).

Kind of like a podcast, but on camera and live…

The reaction was an overwhelming ‘yes, please.’

So, I’m very excited to tell you that I’ve started a new monthly project called Factory45 LIVE.

Every month, I’ll offer a free opportunity to hear from an expert through a live, on-camera Q+A. You’ll be able to ask questions (if you want to) and get real advice about growing your business.

The first Factory45 LIVE interview was on August 24th with Aaron Escalona, founder of Popharvest. Aaron is a social media marketing expert and through Popharvest, he has created a way for brands like yours to create shoppable galleries using your customers’ Instagram photos.

A few of my past Factory45 entrepreneurs already use Popharvest for their own stores and have had awesome things to say about it.

In the interview, Aaron and I talked about:

  • Ways to use Instagram to drive more traffic to your online store
  • How to increase sales conversions on your site
  • Facebook advertising and how to get started effectively
  • How to create shoppable Instagram galleries…

And much more.

If your online store is currently up and running or if you plan to launch your brand in the near future, this will be information you won’t want to miss.

Aaron lives and breathes this stuff and shared some gems that you’ll be able to incorporate right away.

You can watch a recording to this Factory45 LIVE interview by clicking here (it’s free).

I’m really excited to bring this new opportunity to the Factory45 community and kick things off with a bang.

 

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live without

How I Run My Business: The People & Tools I Can’t Live Without

Whether it’s the solopreneur working from home with two kids or the startup founder running a team of 40 in Brooklyn, I’m fascinated by the systems that entrepreneurs create to grow and maintain their businesses.

On that note, I thought it would be interesting to introduce you to the tools and people I rely on every day to keep Factory45 running as smoothly as possible.

Before I get started, you should know that it wasn’t until the Fall of 2014 that I felt financially secure enough to make my first hire. So, in case you’re just starting your business now, remember that this doesn’t happen overnight.

THE PEOPLE

Rather than hiring full-time employees, I prefer to stay lean and hire contractors to help with critical components of my business. With sites like Upwork and HireMyMom.com it’s easy to hire part-time contractors, making it a win-win for you and for the person you’re hiring.

The contractor has the autonomy to run their own freelance business, set their own schedule and work from anywhere. The perk for you is that you can hire someone who specializes in the 1-2 skills you’re looking for.

I currently work with seven part-time contractors, who have (thankfully) become a well-oiled machine. I can act as project manager between each moving part, knowing that every person is doing their job as thoroughly and as quickly as possible.

It helps that every single one of them is also an ace at what they do, so building up trust happens quickly.

erika

Erika (Phoenix, AZ) manages the publishing of blog posts and the scheduling of emails for Factory45. So, for example, what you’re reading right now? She made it happen. After I write the content in a Google doc, I send the link to her with the photos to accompany it, and she designs it all on WordPress and ActiveCampaign.

 

Inaina (Atlanta, GA) designs the Keynote presentations that eventually become video lessons in the Factory45 program. She’s a former Apple employee with a profound knowledge of anything related to a Mac, and I was able to snag her off of Upwork nearly two years ago.

 

Shaunshaun (Seattle, WA) is the graphic designer for the Factory45 program. He creates the PDF’s, exercises, to-do lists and visual elements of the online course. I’m always telling him he’s fast as lightning (really, the man can whip up a PDF quicker than anyone I know).

 

Joshjosh (San Diego, CA) is the video editor for the Factory45 program and hiring him has saved me hours of time. After I record a video lesson for the course, I’m able to send Josh the draft so he can edit out any bloopers or mistakes. Rather than starting over every time I misspeak, hiring Josh allows me to record just one run-through.

 

Emilyemily (San Francisco, CA) has done all of the web design and development for the main Factory45 website and blog, as well as the private portal where my entrepreneurs are able to access the Factory45 program. She is the workhorse of the whole online operation and makes sure everything runs smoothly and looks beautiful.

 

Jerodostermeier-cpa copy (West Plain, MO) is my accountant and has managed the financial side of Factory45 as the business has continued to grow over the past two years. I’ve worked with Jerod since 2011 when I was making a poverty-line wage, so it’s been exciting to have him along for this ride. His help has also been invaluable in keeping all of my ducks in a row.


I know a lot of entrepreneurs hire people to do their blog writing and social media posting, but I’m pretty adamant about writing all of the content myself. You’ll never see a blog post with my name on it that wasn’t written by me. And every single word of the Factory45 program was written by me over many, many months.

There are only so many hours in the day, so hiring out “specialists” to take over the work that isn’t my strength, allows me to grow without burning out.

In addition to written content, I take the reins on strategic marketing, relationship building and most importantly, working with my entrepreneurs through Factory45.

THE TOOLS

  • Asana: Seriously, can’t live without it. It’s the ultimate task management resource. I was first introduced to it when I worked a brief stint for Danielle LaPorte in 2013 and I’ve relied on it ever since.
  • WordPress: I use WordPress for the Factory45 website, the blog and the program portal. I know how to create a blog post, but under Emily’s strict orders, I’m not allowed to touch anything else ; )
  • Google Drive: This is where all of my written content lives. I have close to 30 different folders for blog posts, launch strategies, marketing, each of my contractors, media outreach, etc. During the rare times that Google Drive crashes, my brain crashes too.
  • Dropbox: I use Dropbox as a collaborative sharing tool between myself, Emily, Shaun, Ina and Josh. It’s easy to transfer finished content from person to person so that it all ends up where it needs to be.
  • Edgar: For $49 a month, Edgar will save all of the social media posts that you schedule, and recycled them at a later date. Only a fraction of your audience sees a tweet or Facebook post when you send it out, so this ensures that your content doesn’t go to waste after one use.
  • ActiveCampaign: At the beginning of 2016, I made the transition from MailChimp (the email marketing platform I had been using since 2010) to ActiveCampaign. I wanted a fresh start and to clean house with my list, and with more advanced capabilities, I made the decision to migrate and I haven’t looked back.

I want to reiterate again that I bootstrapped for a long time and did everything by myself until I was ready to hand over some control.

When you’re first starting out it’s expected that you run all operations and stretch yourself thin so you have an understanding of everything that goes on in running your business.

 

 

 


 

How to Define the “Why” Behind Your Business

Last week, I was having celebratory drinks with a friend right around the time applications to Factory45 were closing.

“So…” she asked. “How did it go?! Did you have a lot of awesome people apply?”

When I told her yes, that I doubled the applicant pool and grew by 156%, her next question was:

“What’s next then? Are you going to blow this thing up or what?”

I took a sip of my drink, giving me time to try and come up with an answer that wouldn’t disappoint her.

“I don’t think so…” I said. “I like keeping things relatively small and manageable. I like having work / life balance and not being overwhelmed by a ton of other commitments.”

As the words came out of my mouth, I knew how they sounded.

Unambitious, at best.

Lazy, at worst.

My friend, on the other hand, runs a women’s clothing brand and is gunning for an IPO.

Her and her business partner dream of ringing the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, having hundreds of employees to manage, and working out of a big corporate headquarters.

Me? I just want to be able to go to yoga at noon on a Tuesday.

While there was once a time that I dreamed of running a 7-figure business, the “why” behind my work has changed over the years.

And having been on both sides of the spectrum, I can tell you there isn’t a right or a wrong motive for doing business.

What can get you in trouble is deciding to start a company and not having a “why” at all.

Thanks to Sheryl Sandberg, the “Lean In” movement, feminism and the amazing work that female executives are doing to boost leadership, women business owners are being pushed to want it all.

Yes, we hear, you can be a CEO and be a really great mom.

And while I believe that’s absolutely true, it doesn’t mean that you have to want it.

Is it okay to start a business so your family has an extra $1,000/month in spending money? Yes.

Is it okay to start a business so you can quit your full-time job and be at home when your kids are done with school? Absolutely.

Is it okay to start a business so you can work remotely and travel the word? Of course.

And YES, it’s also okay to want to be the next Tory Burch.

At the very beginning of the Factory45 program, I ask all of my entrepreneurs to write down the “vision” for their company in a one-page business plan.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we should all be asking ourselves to write down the “vision” for our lives, as the owners and creators of our businesses.

As you take this big step and make the commitment to embark on entrepreneurship, ask yourself:

What is my “why?”

What are the personal reasons for wanting to start a business?

Is it for fame, for glamour, for wealth, for freedom, for security, for flexibility, for fun?

As time goes on, your answer can change. But it’s your “why” that’s going to keep you moving past the hurdles and the hard times.

It’s your “why” that’s going to define you as an entrepreneur.

And whether you’re the entrepreneur who comes home at 10pm every night, fulfilled by a hard day’s work, or the entrepreneur who works 30 hours a week and has afternoon dance parties in her home office, only you know what will move you and drive you forward.

Define your “why” and you’ll be that much closer to defining your business.

 

 

Photo credit: Bench Accounting


Factory45 Success Story

Factory45 Success Story: VETTA, the Ultimate Capsule Collection

Over the past two months, a certain Factory45 entrepreneur has taken our community by storm.

“How did they move so fast?!”

“Their campaign was incredible!”

“I can’t believe how gorgeous their photography was!”

This community has blown me away with their support and kind words for the latest success story to come out of Factory45.

Yes, I’m talking about VETTA, the five-piece capsule collection that can make up a month’s worth of outfits. All sustainably sourced and ethically made in New York City.

So… how did they do it?

That’s what I want to share today with the hope that you’ll see inspiration and motivation in what VETTA created and take away some wisdom to apply to your own startup.

image-1

I first met Cara Bartlett, one of VETTA’s co-founders, at a coffee shop in South Boston over a year ago.

At the time, I was in the middle of my second Factory45 cohort and Cara had recently left RueLaLa to go full time with her ethical fashion blog, Bien Faire.

We chatted about the fashion scene in Boston, she gave me some recommendations for ethically-made wedding dresses, and we parted ways with plans to host some sort of future event together.

Several months later, when I opened applications for the Factory45 Fall program, I was so surprised to see that Cara had applied for her company, “TBD.”

While she and her co-founder, Vanessa, had been brewing up dreams of starting their own line together, they needed help finding sustainable fabrics, choosing a manufacturer and coming up with creative ways to market the brand for a Kickstarter launch.

I guess you can say the rest is history. I accepted Cara into Factory45 and from day one, she hit the ground running at full speed ahead.

image-2

Here’s what I’ve observed, after working with Cara for the past six months, that can be attributed to VETTA’s success:

>> Cara was working on VETTA full time. My philosophy and the mantra that my Factory45’ers hear over and over is: You have to take the entrepreneurial journey that’s right for you. Is it possible to launch a brand in six months? Yes. Is it possible for everyone? No.

Many of us have obligations, work, children, partner’s and other life “requirements” that take priority over our businesses. If you’re serious about launching a brand on the timeline you’ve laid out, though, then something has to give.

You either have to accept the fact that your brand will take 1-2 years to launch or you have to commit to dedicating everything you’ve got to the 6-8 month timeline you’ve laid out for yourself.

In the past, Cara has driven from Boston to New York City five weekends in a row. She’s flown to South Africa to meet with her co-founder in person. She’s traveled to Los Angeles for a whirlwind few days to shoot her lookbook and video.

When planning your launch timeline you have to figure out what’s right for you. Cara and Vanessa knew they wanted to launch a March 1st Kickstarter from the day they submitted their Factory45 application on September 21st. They kept their eye on the prize and didn’t miss their mark.



>> They built an audience before they launched. VETTA is unapologetically not for everyone. Cara and Vanessa identified a niche and an ideal target customer and invested six months into building a very specific and dedicated audience.

They grew their email list, Instagram following and Facebook page and with the help of beautiful photography, they strategically “teased” out their upcoming launch. They were able to get their target market excited about what they had to offer so that “early adopters” were ready and excited to purchase the VETTA collection as soon as it was available for pre-sale.

image-3

>> They leveraged their network. During and after their campaign, VETTA caught the attention of some impressive press. While some of that was organic, for example The Boston Globe, Cara has told me they unabashedly called upon friends of friends of friends for help.

They networked their way into a meeting with VOGUE to start developing a relationship with the magazine. They tapped into the Factory45 network of suppliers and manufacturers to set up their supply chain. And as a result, they’re working with the same factory in NYC who creates many of Rag & Bone’s garments.

If you are creating something beautiful, intentional and good for the world, people will want to be apart of it. Don’t let fear get in the way of making the “ask.”

>> They had a “share-worthy” story. VETTA could have gone one of two ways. 1.) A collection of sustainably-and-ethically-made womenswear, 2.) 5 versatile pieces that mix + match to create a month’s worth of outfits.

Which version is more compelling? The difference in those two soundbites drastically affects your chance of becoming a “share-worthy” story. When it’s interesting, different and easy to communicate you’re much more likely to tell a friend about it.

I’ve written before about launching a Kickstarter campaign for my first company, {r}evolution apparel, and I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to leverage a concise message and story to represent your brand.

VETTA did just that and gained the attention of WHO WHAT WEAR, Brit + Co., Darling Magazine, BostInno, VentureFizz, The Wall Street Journal and other well-known press.

More than that, though, they gained the attention of 527 new customers.

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This is all to say that VETTA reached its $30,000 goal in five days and was featured by the Kickstarter Staff as a “Project We Love.”

By the end of their 30-day campaign, they had nearly tripled their goal to raise $88,954. Shortly after, Cara and Vanessa competed in the Sak’s Emerging Designer Showcase and won. Their second capsule collection will be available in Sak’s Fifth Avenue stores in the near future.

It goes without saying that I’m so proud of what VETTA has been able to accomplish and I want to emphasize that this kind of success is not out of reach for the aspiring entrepreneurs who may be reading.

It’s not going to be easy — but as Cara and Vanessa can attest, it will be worth it.

 

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Photos courtesy of VETTA and Sak’s Fifth Avenue


entrepreneur

Introducing the Entrepreneurs of Factory45 Spring 2015

We’re five weeks into the spring session of Factory45, and I want to give you an inside look into some of the projects coming through the program.

This year’s cohort is made up of 32 companies from all over the continent and we’re working together to source fabric, set up manufacturing, create a launch strategy and raise money to fund production.

Over the next few months, I’ll be introducing you to some of the entrepreneurs coming through the program, as well as the different products they’re working on.

In addition to the startup stories I’m highlighting today, we created this infographic to give you an overview of the group.

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Today, I want to introduce you to a few Factory45’ers who are working on very different products and serving a variety of markets. If you see entrepreneurship in your future, I hope they inspire you to see that ideas can come from the most unlikely of places.

laurie-landsness1Laurie Landsness is an interior designer, mom of twins and immensely passionate about skin health. Because of her daughter’s skin condition that causes extreme sensitivity to sunlight, Laurie joined Factory45 to create a line of children’s clothing with built-in UV ray protection.

As Laurie told me in her Factory45 application, the majority of skin damage happens before the age of 20. It’s imperative that parents start thinking seriously about daily skin protection for their kids, and Laurie wants to make it easier for them with her company, Mack & G.

hanna-baror-padillaHanna Baror-Padilla and I first met through her sustainable fashion blog, Sotela. Highlighting and photographing many different designers’ pieces, Hanna was inspired to create a clothing company of her own.

What started as maternity wear, has evolved into a line of womenswear to be worn through every phase of life. Taking on a bohemian chic aesthetic, with inspiration from popular lifestyle blogger Kelli Murray, Hanna is out to prove maternity wear doesn’t have to be discarded after nine months.

sarah-resnickSarah Resnick lives a mile down the street from me and we met last year when Factory45 had just launched. She was already running a wildly successful baby wrap company, but was looking to expand to a different market where she saw a bigger market need to fill.

Sarah joined Factory45 this year to grow her new company, Advah Designs, a line of Jewish prayer shawls and wedding chuppahs. Entering one of the oldest industries in the world, Sarah is injecting a freshness and new light to the Judaic community with brightly colored prints and original artwork.

rachel-schon-and-melinaRachel Schohn and Melina Harper are friends, moms and business partners in Marin County outside of San Francisco. Seeking timeless, durable clothing that could be passed down from one son or daughter to the next, they started to experiment with their husband’s old dress shirts. As their friends caught on and started asking for pieces of their own, Petite Marin was born.

Through Factory45, Rachel and Melina have set out to scale production by working with a sew shop in the Bay Area. They’ll also be upping their ecommerce game, creating a marketing strategy and building a crowdfunding campaign for a full-scale launch of their first production run.

dyan-reevesDyan Reeves fell in love with Japanese kimonos at the age of 8. Years later, she’s now stationed in Japan with her military husband and has been creating scarves, bags, ties, passport holders, clothing and other pieces from upcycled kimonos. Her company is called Cultural Detour.

She will begin manufacturing with a production partner in the U.S. when her husband is relocated — until then, she is working to fill the current demand from her neighbors and local military wives while setting up an online presence and determining the best way to scale.

This is just a small sampling of some of the projects coming through Factory45 this year, and I’ll be sharing other stories sporadically over the coming months.

In case you’re considering Factory45 for the fall or in the future, here is what some of the current cohort are saying about the program:

“Worth every penny. The format is perfect – you lay it out for us brick by brick.” – Laurie

“I have to say joining Factory45 has made such a difference! I’m so glad I joined :)” – Mariana

“I am loving how this process pushes us to think more deeply…” – Niki

“I have really been enjoying Factory45 thus far! I love the videos and how easy and clear they are to understand and follow.” – Kaya

“Loving the class so far, btw. You really break things down for us newbies and help me from feeling overwhelmed. This group is AWESOME too. Loving all the resources everyone brings.” – Tiffany

 

factory45 owner shannon