We get by with a little help from…our Accelerator Program, Factory45!
“Factory45 was created as my personal way of combating fast fashion. As more and more consumers start to seek out ethically and sustainably made products, it further affirms that there is a need for the companies created through Factory45. It’s my goal to provide alternatives to the apparel products found in the traditionally wasteful and thoughtless fashion industry. With every new crop of entrepreneurs that comes through Factory45, I have hope for a better future for fashion.”
Shannon Whitehead, founder Factory45
Reading about the state of the garment industry through Elizabeth Cline’s Overdressed, we scoured the web for more information on slow fashion, green fashion and eco fashion. Multiple blogs mentioned a Boston-based sustainable fashion guru named Shannon Whitehead. Being born and raised in Massachusetts, I was intrigued. Who was she?
I read that Shannon and her then co-founder, Kristin, had created the highest funded fashion Kickstarter campaign of their time by launching their slow fashion Versalette, a woman’s apparel piece that can be worn multiple different ways. Impressive.
We contacted Shannon for help, and she, thankfully, obliged, and asked if we’d be joining her Factory45 program for sustainable fashion start-ups. Really? No! We’ve been doing this for a year now; we’re well beyond the start-up phase. Why would we spend limited funds to learn how to do what we’re already doing?
Thank goodness we came to our senses a few weeks later, met with a local woman who had participated in the first Factory45 program, and she sold us on it. She already had a wildly successful handbag business (produced overseas), but had joined to learn how to make things ethically, in the US and with sustainable fabrics. We were convinced and applied (and were accepted) into the program. It’s been a game changer.
Shannon had the resources and in-the-trenches knowledge to help us revamp our business. We gained insight from Shannon and the rest of the Factory45 group we joined- full of 31 others starting their own sustainable fashion lines, from sexy lingerie to surf wear to prayer shawls and everything in between. While our customers and final products may vary widely, we are all following very similar paths from idea to market. From creating a business idea that fills a need to sourcing sustainable fabrics (full disclosure- there is no single truly sustainable fiber) and finding ethical sew shops, we received valuable information about fashion, pattern making, fabric production and social media- learning that there was so much more we didn’t know.
Melina and I are grateful to be part of such a great community of supportive entrepreneurs with Shannon as our fearless leader! We’re all striving together to make the fashion world a bit cleaner, greener and more beautiful, one garment at a time.
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