=unnamed (7)

SHANNON WHITEHEAD

Founder & CEO, Factory45

Boston, MA

icon-twitter  icon-instagram


Tell us about your professional background.

As a journalism major, I fell into the fashion industry haphazardly because I wanted to
start a business.

In 2010, I co-founded a sustainable apparel company that was featured in
The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes and Yahoo! after becoming the
highest-funded fashion project in Kickstarter history at the time.

A few years later, I sold off my portion to my co-founder and transitioned into the
consulting/education side of sustainable fashion. I now run an online accelerator
program called Factory45 that helps aspiring entrepreneurs start clothing companies
that are sustainably and ethically made in the USA.


What is the best career advice you ever received and from whom? 

“Success is never about being the smartest person in the room.”  – My dad

Answer this question from Nicole Cardoza, August’s Up Close & Notable featured
member: What would you do with an extra day in the week?

I live a pretty balanced life, so I’m not one of those people who feels like there aren’t
enough hours in a day or days in a week. With that said, we should definitely have
three day weekends. I’d probably spend Sunday like Saturday and use the extra day
for errands, laundry and the boring stuff. Two Saturdays would be awesome.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

After bootstrapping Factory45 in 2013, I’ve tripled the number of applicants, grown
revenue by 270% and become a six-figure business after one year. The entrepreneurs
coming through Factory45 are going on to start some of the most exciting new apparel
companies in the country.

Entrepreneurial pursuits are known for requiring dedication and presenting
challenges. Did you learn any hard lessons while launching your business?

I learned what self care really means. When I was starting my first company, I was also
bartending to pay the bills. I would get home from the bar at 4am and wake up a few
hours later to work on my startup. After nearly three years operating at that pace, I
realized how unsustainable it was. When I started my current company, I made a
promise to myself that I would do it differently.

Name something you believe every woman should know how to do.

Live on a wardrobe of 33 items or less. The average woman wears 20% of her closet,
which means the vast majority of what we buy is never worn or is wasted. The best thing
I ever did for my productivity and my sanity was aspire to become a minimalist. Joining
Project 333 is a really great place to start.