Designers and Makers, This is for You: ‘Made in the USA’ Accelerator Program

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Tired of outsourcing? Made in the USA just got easier.

In the past year, I’ve spoken with dozens of designer entrepreneurs all looking for solutions to the same setbacks.

I can’t find someone willing to produce my minimums. I’m having such a hard time finding a sew shop that will work with me. I can’t find the fabric I need.

Without the right connections, the entire process of setting up a supply chain in the U.S. can almost seem impossible.

Those conversations are what led me to create Factory45, an accelerator program created for designers and makers who want to start sustainable and profitable businesses and keep everything made in the USA.


The domestic manufacturing industry can seem closed off. Sew shops don’t usually have websites and suppliers don’t always have email addresses. It can be very difficult to get a foot in the door without knowing the right questions to ask.

I created Factory45 to open those doors. I want local designers and makers to have the resources, tools and mentorship to start their businesses in the USA. We so often hear about the support of accelerator programs in the tech and software industries, but there are very few of the same resources available in the consumer goods space. Factory45 is one way to change that.

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How does it work?

The program is six months, consisting of three two-month modules. Each module focuses on a different part of the process. By the time each participant has completed the program, he or she will have set up a U.S.-based supply chain, built a website and brand presence, created a crowdfunding campaign, and all of the little steps in between.

Through weekly group calls, bi-monthly one-on-one calls, mentorship, interviews with industry experts, and an entrepreneurial community of peer support, Factory45 guides the entire process of starting a business for designer entrepreneurs.

Who is it for?

The ideal applicant is a designer or maker with an idea for a consumer goods product. Maybe you have an idea for a baby blanket collection or a versatile dress or small-batch women’s apparel. You might only have an idea right now or maybe you’ve already made some traction with an Etsy store and want to scale production. If you need support setting up your supply chain, building an audience and brand presence, and creating a Kickstarter campaign, then you’re the perfect applicant.

Who is running the show?

I’m Shannon Whitehead, the founder of Factory45. In 2010, I co-founded {r}evolution apparel, a sustainable clothing company for travelers and minimalists that was featured in The New York Times,, and Yahoo! News. Our signature piece, The Versalette, one garment that can be worn over 20 different ways, became the highest-funded fashion project in Kickstarter history at that time.

After {r}evolution apparel, I moved on to become a sustainable apparel consultant, advocate and writer. In the past year and a half, I’ve worked with dozens of designers, startups and sustainable brands to grow their businesses and expand their reach.
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Want more details?

Everything you need to know is on the Factory45 website here where applications are open until April 28, 2014.

I truly believe in combatting fast fashion by supporting slow fashion. I believe that the local, independent designer has a place in this industry and can compete above and beyond the cheap and disposable goods churned out by big corporations.

The resources, mentorship and connections available through Factory45 will show aspiring entrepreneurs that it is possible to create ethical supply chains and do good business by supporting a revival of the U.S. manufacturing industry.

My hope is that Factory45 will create more entrepreneurs who can change the industry with me

Shannon Whitehead is the founder of Factory45, an accelerator program that gives independent makers the resources to start sustainable businesses in the USA. 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. Shannon has appeared as a speaker at the World Education Congress, ECO Fashion Week, SXSW, and as a guest lecturer at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Applications for Factory45 are now open until April 28, 2014.

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images via Factory45