The Design Business Show 227: Sustainably Going From Idea to Launch with Shannon Lohr

Director : Melissa Burkheimer | May 8, 2023
Check out episode 227 of The Design Business Show with Shannon Lohr to learn about creating sustainable brands.

As the Founder & CEO of Factory45, Shannon Lohr works with idea-stage entrepreneurs to launch fashion brands that are sustainably and ethically made.

Shannon got her start in 2010 when she co-founded {r}evolution apparel, a sustainable clothing company for female travelers and minimalists that was featured in The New York Times, and Yahoo! News.

Through her online business school, Factory45, Shannon has worked with over 500 entrepreneurs in the sustainable fashion space, many of whom have gone on to launch some of the most transparent supply chains in the fashion industry.

Shannon has worked as a consultant for crowdfunding projects that have surpassed their goal amounts by as much as 300%, and has worked closely with startup apparel companies from all over the world to create ethically-made products with a focus on environmentally-friendly materials.

Shannon is a strong advocate for increasing supply chain transparency through sourcing, localization and storytelling. She’s been named a thought leader for the future of fashion and was nominated as a “Woman of Note” by the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s what we covered on the episode:

Creating a Sustainable Fashion Brand + Visibility

  • How Shannon started a sustainable fashion brand in 2010 that led her to open Factory45, an online business school that takes sustainable fashion brands from idea to launch
  • It took Shannon nearly 2 years to launch her fashion brand, and she shares how hard it was to launch a physical brand that was sustainable, which is why she is passionate about helping others easily launch their brands
  • Shannon shares how her first business became the highest-funded fashion project on Kickstarter in 2011 through preordering and raising money before they went into production – this is the strategy she now teaches
  • The breakdown of fast fashion and how the fashion industry is one of the top 5 industries contributing to environmental damage and human rights issues
  • When it comes to attracting your ideal customer for fashion or physical brands, Shannon says that photography and copywriting are the most important  
  • Shannon says as an independent startup, the founder is the one making most of the decisions, so if copywriting, photography, or graphic design, for example, aren’t your strengths, outsource them 
  • One mistake Shannon sees a lot of people make when launching a new business is not taking the time to build an audience before they launch because otherwise, you’ll be launching to crickets  
  • Shannon explains why it’s important to validate your idea, test, and make sure there is a market for what you want to sell – with all of the platforms available to us to build an audience, there is no reason to launch a business blindly  
  • Once you have enough data behind your brand, Shannon says you can presell your product/service, which allows you to have that money upfront, validate your idea and market your idea
  • Something Shannon tells her entrepreneurs is that visibility is so important when you’re first starting, but it’s not something that gets less important as you continue to grow
  • Shannon breaks down the difference between content and visibility 
  • One of the best things Shannon did when starting Factory45 was focus on visibility by doing guest blog posts, interviews, and getting in front of other people’s audiences
  • Visibility today for Shannon looks like being a guest on podcasts, hosting a live show on Instagram every week, and focusing on their YouTube channel


 How Factory45 Sets Themselves Apart 


  • Factory45 does 1 – 2 big launches each year, and in between, they do book a call enrollment to learn more about the program and an evergreen workshop that focuses on raising money for your fashion brand through preselling 
  • 80% of people in Factory45 just have an idea, the other 20% have started their fashion brand but haven’t gotten to a sustainable launch or where they want to be, and there is a small percentage who are actively selling but want to be surrounded by a community of mentorship and coaching 
  • Every person who comes through Factory45 is matched with a mentor who has been through the program before, in addition to Shannon’s coaching and consulting
  • We talk about having diverse streams of revenue and creating merchandise just for the sake of creating merchandise without thinking about doing it sustainably or where it will end up 
  • Shannon shares that she is proud of how far the sustainable fashion movement has come because the brands that have launched from Factory45 and other independent sustainable fashion brands are having those conversations and educating consumers 
  • We talk about consumer culture and how consumers have the power to drive brands to become more sustainable, which was not always the case 
  • Factory45 is getting ready to launch a sustainable fashion mastermind called Founder, which you can join after you launch your brand; it will focus on growing sales and revenue in a sustainable and mindful way 
  • The personal coaching and consulting program called CEO Hour that Shannon is launching will focus on people who are running online businesses that want to scale to multiple six figures
  • Shannon tells us who is on her team at Factory45 and says that getting a team is how you create a sustainable business
  • Factory45 is a lifetime program, which sets them apart – it used to be a 6-month program, but Shannon realized it wasn’t enough time to go from idea to launch 
  • If you are interested in starting any fashion or accessory product brand, you can go to and book a free discovery call
  • Check out Factory45 and the Start Your Sustainable Fashion Brand Podcast


Links mentioned:

Factory45 Website

Book a Free Discovery Call with Factory45

Start Your Sustainable Fashion Brand Podcast with Shannon Lohr


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