Because of Her
About 3 years ago I had the idea to develop Imbued. The idea was to create a women's bathrobe line made in the U.S. using eco-conscious fabrics. In addition I wanted a percentage of proceeds to support Hawaii non-profits.
I looked into getting a business loan and was told first I needed to present a business plan. When I got home I googled "how do I find a sustainable clothing manufacturer in the U.S.?" The 3rd link down was Factory45.
I clicked on the link and to my amazement I'd stumbled upon an online course for starting a sustainable apparel line. No prior experience needed. That program was called Factory45.
I emailed Factory45 creator, Shannon Lohr and she responded back the next day. I was so impressed with how kindly and throughly she communicated. She explained in a few months Factory45 would be open for enrollment. I awaited enrollment and sent in my application. Two weeks later I found out I was excepted into the program. If it were not for this savvy, bright woman I would not be where I am today with Imbued. In fact I'm not sure if I would have even tried.
Recently I interviewed Shannon Lohr. This was for a 3 part series I wanted to share on Imbued's blog. The focus was to interview 3 female entrepreneurs that inspire me as I work on Imbued. Here's what Shannon had to say...
How did you get the idea for Factory45? How long did it take to bring the idea into reality?
I started Factory45 after co-founding my own apparel brand. I realized there was a hole to fill in the education of sustainable fashion, and I also saw fashion schools teaching the details of pattern making, development and design but not focusing on the business tools you need to start your own brand. As someone who has started a successful “fashion company,” without having a real fashion background, I have experienced the lessons of bootstrapping firsthand and I wanted to pass those lessons on.
I spent a year consulting on a per-project basis before I started Factory45. I tested the idea of an accelerator model with a children's wear company called Noble Carriage and they were gracious enough to act as my guinea pigs. That was in February 2014 and by April 2014 I was opening applications to the first ever Factory45 program.
What do you think were some of the most important steps along the way and most important events/synchronicities?
The most obvious step is that before I could teach people how to bootstrap a fashion business and raise money through crowdfunding, I had to do it myself. When I was running my brand I never would have thought I'd end up launching a program to teach others how to do the same, so that was certainly a synchronicity.
The other synchronicity is that while I spent a year as a "consultant," I hired a business coach to help me focus on a more sustainable business model (consulting can be very "feast or famine" and I didn't like hustling from one project to the next). It was shortly after my work with a coach that I found the clarity to create an accelerator program that was six months long and would afford me the opportunity to work with clients for a longer time frame at a price point that was more affordable for startups.
What are your top 3 core values?
How do you describe success?
To me, success is being my own boss, having financial freedom and waking up (most) mornings looking forward to the day.
As a business owner what advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Start before you're ready. I see so many people wait to pursue a business idea because the timing isn't right. What I've learned is that the timing will never be exactly right. It takes so much longer than you think it will to get started, so don't waste time dwelling on when to start. Map out a course of action and take one step every day to get closer to your vision.
Shannon, mahalo nui for making such a powerful contribution as an entrepreneur with a big vision. Your drive and passion is special. Your generosity toward human kind a virtue I highly regard.