I can’t remember how I found Shannon, the mentor of all mentors, though I’m sure it involved some internet stalking. I was attempting to transition my business from a hobby to a business. I was no longer able to physically sew all of the bags and could not keep up with production. I knew I wanted to be purposeful about who I hired to sew. I wanted to give the jobs to people who needed jobs, but had no idea how to find them.

Shannon and Factory45 changed all of that. She started Factory45, an online accelerator program that takes sustainable apparel companies from idea to launch, as a way to pass along her experience and wisdom to aspiring sustainable designers. And I am beyond grateful for her and this course and the community of other entrepreneurs. I honestly would never have been able to launch Bevy without her.


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Tell us about your journey to launch Factory45 and the story behind the name.

I created Factory45 based on my experience of starting my first company, {r}evolution apparel. It took my former co-founder and I a year and a half to make any traction — it was mind blowing how difficult it was. It’s hard to start a company, but it’s even harder to start a fashion company with sustainability and ethics at the forefront.

I wanted to make it easier for entrepreneurs and designers to get started, so I created the program I would have needed when I was first starting out.

I’m notoriously bad at naming companies (it’s so hard!) — But the name Factory45 came about one night, with a glass of wine in hand, when I started writing down the key concepts I felt held true after several years of entrepreneurship. By the time I had finished, there were 45 principles listed in my notebook.

I wanted to communicate the “virtual factory” feel of what the accelerator program is and then combined it with ‘45’ to create easy alliteration in the name (all “F” sounds so it’d be easy to remember).

What have been the biggest hurdles and joys?

The biggest hurdles definitely came when I was first getting started and dealing with imposter syndrome.

I think, when it comes to entrepreneurship, most challenges are mental. We are so much more likely to tell ourselves all the reasons why something won’t work rather than cheer ourselves on.

The good news is: the more you celebrate your small victories and joys, then the more your confidence builds. I still deal with doubt and negative self-talk, but it’s so much less often now than in the beginning.

The biggest joys have definitely come from watching my entrepreneurs evolve out of the Factory45 program. For better or for worse, I become emotionally invested in the wins and struggles of the ‘Factory45ers’ I work with, and there’s nothing like watching someone launch their dream company.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Any connection to what you’re doing now?

I wanted to be a “traveling photojournalist,” which may be a career title I made up when I was 7. I did end up getting a journalism degree and interning with Time Inc. in college, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for me.

It’s been a huge leg-up to know how to write clearly and succinctly and it’s definitely helped me in entrepreneurship — being able to communicate your message is half the battle.

In addition to mentoring fashion startups, you are a great advocate for sustainable fashion. What advice do you have for women looking to learn more about the industry and how to transform their shopping decisions and wardrobes?

1.) Read Overdressed: The Shockingly Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline.

2.) Watch Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things and The True Cost on Netflix.

3.) Commit to one month of Project 333.

Can you give us a glimpse at what is coming next for you and Factory45?

For the past three years, Factory45 has focused solely on “Made in the USA” and the program was only open to entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Canada. The reason was that I believe in transparency and localization — not because I believe “Made in the USA” is necessarily better than “Made in [insert other country].”

Unfortunately, with today’s political climate, the American-made message is being tainted to mean something that I no longer agree with. Making goods locally should be a bipartisan issue, but our current government has taken it over to infer something else.

It’s for this reason that the focus of Factory45 will shift in 2017 to a message of sustainability and transparency, and I’ll be opening Factory45 Global for international entrepreneurs who want to launch sustainable fashion brands.

Any advice for women looking to boldly start that thing they’ve been dreaming about?

1.) Have a plan and set a timeline.

2.) Get real about your cash flow.

3.) Don’t go at it alone.

4.) Don’t be so in love with your original idea that you can’t see the better option staring you in the face.

5.) There’s nothing wrong with a side hustle.

6.) Attitude is everything.


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Applications to Factory45 here

Enrollment to Factory45 Global here.