I’m so excited that Factory45, the incubator that helped me launch Poppy Row, is now open for applications!
This only happens once a year + this year, as a mentor (which I announced last week over on IG), I’m so excited that I’ll be able to personally help make your dream of your own clothing brand happen!
I've had more people than I can count over the last few years ask me how we raised nearly $32k with Kickstarter + what my secret sauce was for making this brand a success.
Factory45 is how.
I've done a lot of research of the options out there but there’s no other program I’d recommend doing, especially in today’s world. In 2016, a year before joining Factory45, I spent $8k to do a summer design program in Italy + learned nothing about how to actually launch a clothing brand (though I'm much better off having lived like a European because it's transformed my life in many ways).
3 years ago, I was a stylist sick of running my online style school teaching women how to bandaid their style around a broken industry. Now I’m actually being the change I want to see in the fashion world. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In the 3 years since then, these are the top 4 things I've learned about starting a clothing brand:
1. Think to the future.
The forward thinking brands that are digitally native + listen to consumers are the ones who will be leading us into the future. Not brick + mortar giants - look what's happened in the last 2 months!
Factory45 teaches you how to validate + launch your brand via pre-sales. I believe this is a model of the future, beyond Kickstarter.
You validate your idea.
You get valuable customer feedback.
You don't waste thousands on creating a product nobody will purchase.
Also...You get raving fans from day 1 - this is why 50% of our sales have been re-orders. Not all brands can say that. (Thank you to all our ride or die supporters.)
Pre-orders have given us incredible feedback that's helped inspire our entire business model (more on that coming next Wednesday). This is the way of the future!
2. Don't guess, ask!
I'm always surprised when I see posts from designers saying they don't know what to launch for their target. 99.9% of the time when I ask if they've talked to them the answer is NO!
Really!? People want to tell you what they want, you just need to ask!
This is a big focus of what Shannon guides you through in Factory45. Going through the steps Shannon taught me allowed me to speak right to my audience when I launched + I had many people post saying it's like I created it just for them. Well guess what, I did! I used their feedback prior to launch + merged it with my vision + idea to create our first pieces. Truly, this is a piece so many people miss + it's baffling - it's not rocket science!
3. Mentoring + Masterminding is the Key to Success!
24 hours into my Kickstarter in 2017 - my factory fell through + my PR agent completely dropped the ball with absolutely no press (only paid opportunities after I had already paid her).
Know what got me through? My mentors + Mastermind Communities.
Within a week, we worked up a plan to do consistent FB lives, I had a new factory lined up (thank you Lefty for saving me!), and we got connections leading to articles promoting us in The Curvy Fashionista + Bustle - 2 dream publications!
This is also why I'm so thrilled to pay it forward as a Factory45 Mentor!
4. The Time is NOW, really!
I may be young, but I've been in retail all my life. I grew up in a billion dollar retail empire my "Poppy" started. Growing up, I wanted to take over my Poppy's company. I know retail like it's part of my DNA + I truly believe there is so much opportunity now.
WWD reported yesterday brands are still getting very sizable investments - especially digitally native brands. Beyond the fact nobody's been able to shop IRL for a couple months, the thing that digitally native brands do is actually listen to their customers. They don't operate on antiquated retail models, like my family's brick-and-mortar company that was recently sold did. They think to the future.
If you do a program like Factory45 now, while things are not even back to the "new normal", by the time they find a vaccine, have more treatments, or whatever, you'll be in prime position to launch. I'm actually a bit jealous of where you sit now because you can truly build a brand for the new future, not have to pivot like many of us are by selling masks + adapting to the changing times.
So, what questions do you have for me about launching your brand? Drop a comment below.
P.S. If you want to #askmeanything around running a clothing brand + Factory45, I’ll be on IG LIVE at 3pm tomorrow with Shannon taking all your questions!