I knew from the moment I had the idea of owning my own fashion label, ethics was going to be the driving force behind it. I chose to celebrate the American worker and the great industry that was developed here at the start of the industrial revolution (yes, America is responsible for RTW) and has evolved into one of greater practices. Fashion production is not perfect in the US, (LA has improvements to work on) but having access to the factory and the people making our clothes is key to assuring our collections are produced in good working conditions.
This is Han Lee, he over saw the production of the Capsule Collection at Fine Line Studio in Manhattan, New York.
Han and his staff were responsible to cut fabric, sew our products and package each item – ready to deliver to our customers.
Pictured here is one of the employees at Fine Line Studio – sewing the Demi Crop Top and packaging The Gia Wrap Top.
Knowing the people who make your clothes are being paid fair wages is gratifying and we are so proud to share their hard work and great skills with you.
It has always been important to us to be an ethical fashion brand with care and concern with how our clothes are being made. We are proud to be Made in the USA, where the heart of RTW was established and in New York where the concerns of factory conditions have improved the quality of garment factories and workers. We, as women are a huge buying power, it us up to us to lead the fashion revolution, buying products that are ethically made and demanding to know, “Who is making our clothes”.
This article was originally posted on the Factory45 blog on August 23, 2017.
This is a guest post by Factory45’er Dina Chavez who launched a Kickstarter campaign this spring for her womenswear line SixChel. Dina raised over $17,000, exceeding her goal amount, and learned a lot along the way. Today she’s sharing her “do’s and don’ts” for launching a sustainable fashion brand through crowdfunding. Here’s Dina:
-Shannon, Founder of Factory45
It’s been about a month and a half since the launch of my fashion brand’s first sustainable capsule collection via Kickstarter.
The campaign was definitely a whirlwind, but now that the dust has settled and we are at the beginning stages of production, we have been able to clear the air and evaluate the process.
I realized that there were definitely a few things we should have done differently before and during the campaign and definitely a few things we should not have done at all.
It is a lot easier to look back and say, “I should have…” and because this information is no longer beneficial to us as far as Kickstarter campaigns are concerned, I decided to share my experiences with you in hopes you do not make the same mistakes I made.
DO think about public relations: If you have the budget to hire a public relations team, I definitely encourage you to do so. I was fortunate to work with Lorraine Sanders of PressDope, a DIY PR company “increasing earned media mentions” for FEST brands.
Months before the launch of the Kickstarter campaign, we were able to create public awareness of our brand, our story, our products and our launch which helped us increase our audience.
>> TIP: Start planning your PR strategy and media outreach now; you can never start preparing early enough
DO review the Factory45 “Preparing to Launch” module: If you are a current member of Factory45 or are thinking about becoming one, this has been one of the biggest benefits for me.
The information provided by Shannon during the “Launch” module is very beneficial and should guide you to a successful campaign. I reviewed everything about Kickstarter through the module about a few weeks before I launched.
>> TIP: Review the “Launch” module about a month or sooner before you launch.
DO plan an announcement launch strategy: In order to have a big boom at the beginning of your launch, it is important to have a strategy to announce your launch.
Your audience needs to not only get excited about your brand and product, they also need to get excited about the actual launch. This will help them spread the word out to their friends and family, increasing your audience.
>> TIP: Find a creative and exciting way to get your audience excited about your launch and eager to make a pledge on the first day.
DO host a trunk show or two: Selling products online can be tough, especially if you are a new fashion brand because people want to see and feel the product. We hosted four trunk shows throughout the campaign (unfortunately, we came up with this idea a bit too late into our campaign) and because of these trunk shows, we were able to show the brand in action on social media which did bring added attention to our campaign.
Trunk shows also helped keep up the momentum and eventually, turning interest into pre-orders, email sign-ups, followers, etc. Most importantly, because of the trunk shows, we were able to share images of our products on “normal” or “non-model-esque” women.
> >TIP: Find a location to host a trunk show where you can get good foot traffic. Also, think about asking friends to host private, more personal trunk shows amongst their friends.
DO be creative and have giveaways: People love the word “free”; anything anyone can get for free, whether an item or knowledge, will peak their interest. Offer an item, a selection of items, or a donation on their behalf in exchange for emails, follows, and/or pledges. Sometimes we need a bit of encouragement to find a reason to give a part of ourselves.
> TIP: Consider having small items to giveaway at your trunk shows in exchange of email addresses.
DON’T forget to have your products related to “real women”:
It helps to have “real” women/men (depending on your product) wear the clothes and/or use the product. When I say, “real,” I don’t mean fashion influencers or professional brand ambassadors; I mean people like you and me. Ask “real” people to wear the garments, take pictures and talk about how great the product is on their social media accounts.
>> TIP: Create a list of friends and/or acquaintances who would love to wear your products for a day. Create a hashtag that will help increase awareness about your brand.
DON’T let people procrastinate: People truly do procrastinate and it is up to you to find a way to get them motivated to make a pledge and to pledge right now. It will be vital to find different ways to motivate people to act “now.” This is a hurdle throughout the entire campaign.
>>TIP: Be creative in your incentives; they truly need to give the audience something in return.
DON’T feel bad about approaching people: This was difficult for me because I am not much of an aggressive person in this way, but you will have to personally message people individually and ask them to consider pre-ordering and/or making a pledge.
Most of our pre-orders came from personally messaging people about our mission and campaign. The response you get will surprise you. Most people were gracious and extremely honest and the best part about the messages was the words of encouragement that were sent back.
> TIP: Don’t get upset or frustrated with the rude people; there are always the people with no compassion for your honest hard work. Just ignore them.
DON’T get caught up with bloggers/brand influencers:During this process, I have definitely made great connections with wonderful bloggers and/or brand influencers. It is important to know that not all bloggers and/or brand influencers are created equal.
You will find some who are just interested in making money and not truly interested in sustainability and or properly promoting your brand. Find those who are genuine to your cause.
>> TIP: Pay bloggers/brand influencers who you know do honest work and who create write-ups that excite their readers about your brand.
DON’T give up: I think you can prepare, over prepare and then over prepare the wrong way. No matter what happens when you launch your Kickstarter campaign, remember you have 30 or so days to reach your goal.
I have to admit, I completely freaked out the entire first week of the campaign, ask Shannon. Plans A, B and C completely fell through for us and for a few days I was having no luck creating new ideas to promote the campaign. Luckily, I found a great group of women to network and brainstorm with and together they helped us reach our goal.
>> TIP: Gather a list of your network and resources, you will never know who will be able to help you when you find yourself in a bind.
Launching our collection via Kickstarter was a great way to get our brand out into the community and to move forward with production. We now know, that as a first time user of Kickstarter, you are definitely in for an experience. Good luck and much success on your launch!
“With mainstream fashion heavily relying on mass production that isn’t environmentally friendly or ethical, paired with clever glossy marketing campaigns, many of us have become reliant on consistent seasonal wardrobe updates, changes and the need for new things. It is thanks to brands such as SixChel that are focusing on slow design and wardrobe versatility that encourage positive change. This capsule collection is not just stylish and creative, but also makes us think about the way we buy and wear our clothes. Dina has created a collection that is based not on over complicated layering and multiple items, but on core interchangeable pieces that allow you to style various different looks using relatively little. As Westwood famously said:
The month of June was definitely an experience for SixChel as we conducted our first, and it is safe to say, only Kickstarter campaign. It was a success for more reasons than just reaching our goal to fund our first production run. Because of the campaign, SixChel hosted a number of trunk shows and we were able to talk to you, the consumer and find out more about your thoughts on sustainable fashion. We learned that you are generally interested in living a healthier lifestyle whether it be the type of foods you put into your mouth or the type of clothes you put on your body.
I could pass along information and facts on how bad the fashion industry is for our environment, thus bad for us, but I will spare you. All I ask is that you keep an open mind into sustainable fashion and try these 3 easy-to-do tips for you to begin your journey into living a sustainable and fashionable lifestyle.
1. Alter or Re-purpose Your Clothes:
Find a local tailor/seamstress, dry cleaners or an alterations business that is able to perform alterations and repairs. Most dry cleaners do perform small alterations and repairs on clothes. Find one you like and fits your needs. It is always a good idea to develop a good relationship with the owner and staff of the service you choose to use. Since most donated clothes do not reach people in need and are usually sent to landfills, it is always a great idea to alter and/or repair your well-made clothes.
2. Buy “Eco-Friendly” or “Conscious” from Large Brands:
We are seeing larger fashion brands such as, H&M and ZARA venture into the sustainable fashion realm and are expecting more brands and companies to follow suite. As the demand for Eco-friendly, sustainable, conscious products (there are so many labels, mostly for marketing purposes) increases, more of these types of products will be made to fill that need creating more options to choose from for you to buy. So, I encourage you to purchase eco-conscious items when available. BUT I do recommend for you to still read the label and find out “how” sustainable the product truly is. Unsure? Ask the retailer questions, ask the brand questions and if you are still confused, email me and we can have a discussion about it.
3. Search the Internet for Sustainable Fashion:
There are many businesses and products with various price points
and ethical practices out there. Conduct a Google search and find the sustainable brand(s) that feels right for you. Look for items on sale or websites offering a
first time purchase discount. Styles with classic cuts and styles with a silhouette you are used to are usually great starting points when you are familiarizing yourself with a new fashion brand. Read the brand’s size chart. Ask questions. Most sustainable fashion brands are small businesses and invite conversation and/or questions about their brand and products.
Remember, the whole idea of sustainable fashion is to help create healthier lifestyles and help reduce pollution from our industry. You can help us accomplish our mission and do your part. Buy sustainable! Here are a few links to get you started:
For me, it is very important to get my “head in the game” before I tackle another workday and although I love being the creator and designer of SixChel, there are times that it is just, too difficult to wake up in the morning and get going. I have been following a group of newsletters, bloggers and entrepreneurial gurus that “have been there and done that” and share their experiences and advice. Right now, there are 2 newsletters that have been getting me going to start a great and productive workday. I encourage you to subscribe to their newsletters, I promise, you will not regret it.
Who They Are: Peaceful Dumpling “is where you can find your latest healthy eating and health news, holistic tips, fitness and yoga tutorials; cruelty-free, feel-good beauty ideas; delicious vegan recipes; eco-friendly style and conscious living tips; and your motivation, inspiration, confidence, and kindness”.
Why I Love Them: Peaceful Dumpling has a great mix of content for a healthy lifestyle with my favorite being delicious vegan recipes that do not even seam to be vegan, great cruelty-free beauty products and inspirational passages from the editor of Peaceful Dumpling.
Who They Are: “Professional writer, business woman, smart ass, and founder of the unconventional career and small business website, The Middle Finger Project, Ash Ambirge is on an international mission to help the lost, the confused, the disillusioned and the “how the hell did I become an administrative assistants?” of the world become more unf*ckwithable in their work—and lives—by learning how to trust themselves unflinchingly and build a unique, modern, gloriously independent career using that great, big, free thing we call The Internet”.
Why I Love It: The Middle Finger Project is a wonderful kick in the a** to get moving toward reaching your goals. Ash, has a way of telling you “how it is” without making you feel bad about yourself and instead ignites motivation to make you the entrepreneur you need to be to reach your business goals.
2 New Interviews that Share My Story
A big part of owning your own fashion brand is getting your story out there for the public to know more about the creator, designer and the brand itself. It is not easy for me to open up about my personal life, however certain circumstances I have lived through are the reasons why SixChel is an ethical and sustainable fashion brand and I would like to share them with you.
The Blog: Spirit of 608 “is a small but mighty media services studio led by longtime fashion journalist, Lorraine Sanders”. In this interview we discuss what I see missing in the sustainable/ethical market, why I switched gears with SixChel and the book I read to get my head in the game.
SixChel is committed to improve our ethical and sustainable practices as we grow. We want our customers to not only feel good because they love how they look wearing SixChel, we want them to feel proud that through their purchase, they are making a positive impact on our world. –Spirit of 608 Interview
The Blog: Selflessly Styled is “a lifestyle blog and an online resource for conscious
consumers”. Ellie, the blogger behind Selflessly Styled, and I discussed the fashion industry, the inspiration for SixChel and what a typical day looks like for me.
SixChel is an ever evolving fashion brand. We, too are learning about sustainability and ethical practices and as we become more evolved in these arenas, we hope to pass the knowledge along with great products to help you live the eco-friendly life style. –Selflessly Styled Interview
Fashion X Austin
SixChel is based in Austin, TX and I can’t express how much I love my Austin Fashion Community. This week, Fashion X Austin kicked off to celebrate Austin designers as well as designers from around the world to the best city on Earth, Austin. I was so honored to make a blouse for Kylie Bollwitt of Fashion X Co, the producer of Fashion X Austin. This blouse was made from Peace Silk and can be worn in at least 3 different ways. Kylie, definitely gave this blouse a unique and beautiful style. SixChel will present The Capsule Collection on Thursday, May 18th at the JW Hotel in downtown Austin. Purchase your tickets here.
I’m sure some of you feel as I do, the weekend was great, but just not long enough. Work is the last thing on your mind and being productive is definitely not your concern at the moment. For me, there is nothing better than reading inspirational quotes while I drink caffeine (in some form other than coffee) to spark my Monday morning. It is truly about getting your head focused on your goals and forming a game plan to achieve them. Here are 3 #MondayMotivation quotes to inspire you this beautiful Monday.
Make it POP like pink champagne…there is no point in doing anything unless you are having fun.
Self-Confidence is the Best Outfit, Rock It and Own It…everyone fears a confident woman because they know she will get it done.
Be In Love with Your Life Every Minute of It…because you may not get to tomorrow.
I was recently interviewed for Haute In Texas, where savvy public relations meets passionate blogging influence. Aquila and I had a great conversation where we discussed SixChel, our upcoming launch and the choice between pancakes or waffles. Here is a quick snippet:
I, too am at the beginning of becoming a conscious consumer and know it is definitely a work in progress, but the little we do, is a step in the right direction. The fun part about being a consumer, is that retailers actually pay attention to our buying habits and concerns.
Fashion Revolution Day was April 24th and I attended my first Fashion Revolution event in Austin, TX. Held at Soma Vida, a group of designers, entrepreneurs and consumers interested in better working conditions in the fashion industry came together to discuss how we can help make a better tomorrow. Yes, you, too can help make a difference. Be curious. Find Out. Do something. Read more about Fashion Revolution and what you can do be a part of this movement.
SixChel is launching The Capsule Collection soon. Make sure you are signed up at our website: www.sixchelbydinachavez.com to receive information about our upcoming launch.
It could be just me, but as I get older, my love and need for beauty products has increased. Not for purely vanity purposes, but because they make me feel good about myself. However, I do not want to put foreign chemicals that can cause more harm than good on my face. My skin is too sensitive and I do not feel the need to harm animals nor increase my chances of getting some sort of disease or illness for beauty. I am always on the hunt for natural beauty products and these are my go-to top 5 right now.
You probably have heard about Burt’s Bees or have even purchased a product or two. This company has been around for a couple of decades on the mass market. Their products are made from natural ingredients with ethical practices…even the packaging is sustainable.
Why I Love It
I have been purchasing their lip balm for a number of years now and it is one of the best lip care balms on the market. The tinted lip balm is even better with a variety of natural colors for a simple day look. All of the skin care products I have used from Burt’s Bees are light with a natural feel and always leave my skin looking and feeling soft and radiant.
“Our ingredients—right down to the packaging—are simple, natural, and responsible. We practice what we preach—and we hope to set the example for others to follow.
It’s called The Greater Good. And it’s how we’re going to help change the world”.
An aluminum-free and paraben-free deodorant for women and men. Made of all natural ingredients with a few scented options such as lavender and rose (the scent I use), coconut and vanilla or unscented. All deodorants are Made in the USA.
Why I Love It
It’s natural, made in the USA and it feels as if I am not wearing anything. What surprised me the most was that it was so easy to wash off. Most importantly, it works!
“Leading antiperspirants contain aluminum, which is linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s. Native Deodorant is aluminum-free and paraben-free”.
“We are natural, organic, sustainably-produced goodness. Made with love for you and your body. Pioneering fair trade through Community Commerce at home and abroad. We strive to be sulfate free, paraben free and more, whenever possible. Tested on our family for four generations. Never on animals”.
Why I Love It
The main product I use from Shea Moisture is their African Black Soap Clarifying Mud Mask. When I notice my face breaking out a bit more or if it’s a bit dull, I apply a layer of the mud mask on my face and apply extra over the blemished spots. It leaves an invigorating feeling, brightens my face and reduces redness along with decreasing the appearance of blemishes.
An all natural beauty line believing beauty is you. They are the first beauty brand to achieve 100% Non-GMO Project Verification on all of their products. Today, they are the #1 natural skin care brand on the market.
Why I Love It
I have been using the Polished to Perfection – Konjac Facial Sponge Duo and the natural exfoliation from the sponges leaves my skin silky-smooth. The anti-aging sponge has helped decrease the appearance of those laugh lines around my eyes. The green tea sponge definitely illuminates my face making me feel energized and younger.
“Superior Source Ingredient Standards include Non-GMO Project Verified and Gluten Free Verified, Certified Organic, Organic, Nature Derived, Vegetarian, Vegan, Sustainably Sourced and Fair Trade Ingredients, and always Cruelty Free”.
Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils available through Wellness Advocates creating a personal buying experience. Their oils come from farmers in over 40 countries. Through the Global Botanical Network, doTERRA supports generational farmers creating ethical jobs around the world.
Why I Love IT
I had been on a shampoo and conditioner hunt for a few months since my hair had become dry, hard and flat. Initially, I thought, “shampoo with essential oils, it’s just going to leave my hair oily and stringy”. The opposite has happened. My hair is soft, the color is as bright as the first day of my treatment and my hair is actually easier to style.
I am a huge advocate of telling women and especially young girls that beauty is not the most important component of who they are. However, I still love to feel beautiful and look as if I am not aging.
There will always be a need to find the best natural beauty products that are right for me andI encourage you to find your own and experiment with them. You will be surprised by the results and notice that they are as good as your department store non-natural products. If you have a list of your favorite natural beauty products, let us know and tell us why you love them by clicking on “Leave a comment” under the main headline at the top of the page. Thanks!