I recently received an amazing newsletter from Shannon Lohr, founder and CEO of Factory45 - an online accelerator program for aspiring sustainable fashion entrepreneurs. The subject line was “You are capable of more than you think”. I really appreciated the reminder.
If you had told me a few years ago that I would be designing activewear for women made with recycled plastic bottles, I would have looked at you in disbelief, and probably ordered you a taxi home. That was before I crossed paths with Irina, the founder of Fabcycle and Frameworq at one of her local clothing fix-it events. When I told her about my fantasy of creating an active lifestyle brand that is ethical and eco-friendly, she mentioned an online program that helps people with no fashion or business background do exactly that-- Factory45.
How could there be an online program that could help me launch a sustainable fitness brand? It sounded too good to be true...but curiosity got the best of me. I went online to investigate Factory45 and knew it was for me as soon as I read their brand statement: “Factory45 is for the entrepreneur who has an idea, or even an existing small business, and wants to take it to the next level. We are committed to bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. and sourcing sustainable materials. The overarching goal is to do as little harm as possible by creating inherently good businesses.”
I looked that gift horse right in its mouth...and liked what I saw. So I signed up for the online course and jumped on my entrepreneurial journey. It’s all been a bit of a blur since then. I started my gym apparel business, changed my brand name one too many times, spent thousands of dollars on graphic and web designers, sample and pattern makers, fabric suppliers, and garment developers. The next thing you know, a couple of years later, I’m ready to launch.
The journey to this point has been challenging at times, but I learned so many things about myself (and business!) in the process. At times, it has been hard to remain motivated. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with a local tribe of change-makers who help keep me moving forward. I believe that, even in the darkest times, the joy I feel from connecting with new people and learning from them will always keep me going back for more.
Fake it until you make it
I have made many mistakes, and will probably make many more. Until I made my first sale, I felt like an impostor...but that’s ok. Creating ethical and sustainable outfits for recreation that raise awareness about plastic pollution and empower women to embrace their uniqueness are goals worth fighting for. It has definitely been worthwhile.
So, next time your inner voice is trying to stop you from trying new things, remember that nothing new ever came from following the herd and remaining in your comfort zone. Get out there and create your own path. You can and will surprise yourself by achieving things you thought were out of reach before. You really are capable of more than you think!