FIVE X FIVE: Shannon Lohr
The Tot FIVE x FIVE invites inspiring mamas to answer five questions on motherhood and curate five products they can’t live without. Here we talk to entrepreneur Shannon Lohr, CEO and founder of the sustainable fashion accelerator program Factory45
Shannon Lohr is the CEO and founder of Factory45, an online accelerator program that takes sustainable fashion companies from idea to launch. The inspiring mama of one has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Entrepreneur and The New York Times, sat on numerous textile and fashion panels to advocate for transparency in supply chains, mentored over 150 entrepreneurs and has consulted for multiple crowdfunding projects that have surpassed their goal amounts by as much as 300%.
In 2010, however, Shannon was a self-confessed industry newbie trying to launch a sustainable clothing company and didn’t really know how to walk the walk. It took nearly two years of emailing and calling suppliers, but Shannon and her then business partner finally started making traction. With a recycled and organic fabric supplier locked in and an American sew shop on board, they launched the highest-funded fashion project in Kickstarter history, raising enough money to quadruple their first production order. Shannon’s success continued to snowball in 2014 when she created Factory45, the program she desperately needed when she was first starting out. Today, Shannon and her husband, Project Re-Pat Co-Founder Ross Lohr, split their time between Boston and San Diego with their almost two-year-old son.
Shannon on Motherhood
1. What was your Oprah A-Ha! moment when it came to deciding to only shop ethically and sustainably?
“My “a-ha moment” happened pretty soon after I began researching how to start my own fashion brand. Once I started looking, it took a surprisingly short amount of time to find out how damaging the traditional fashion industry really is.
After discovering how much of our clothing ends up in landfills, or how much polyester is shed into our oceans or the numerous human rights issues associated with fast fashion, I knew that I would never walk into a mall again. (There’s no “gray area” with me.)
The first thing I did was start shopping for second-hand clothes at thrift stores — this was also out of necessity because at the time, I didn’t have any money. Over the years, my wardrobe has evolved into a mixture of thrifted finds and small sustainable fashion brands that I can feel good about supporting.”
2. What’s been your proudest moment with Factory45 so far?
“My proudest moments are always when new brands graduate from my program and launch to the world. I’m really proud of how my entrepreneurs, and Factory45, have contributed to the momentum behind the sustainable fashion movement.
Like I said, back when I got started, no one really knew about this niche industry, and that’s changed because of the independent fashion brands that are leading the conversation.”
3. As an entrepreneur married to an entrepreneur, what type of support systems do you have in place to keep your personal and professional lives thriving?
“Daycare for our son! Just kidding… My husband and I both work from home so we see each other A LOT. There are definitely pros and cons of that, but I’ve learned over the years when and how to stick my nose into his actual business.
He is a co-founder so he doesn’t always crave the sounding board that I often seek out in him and that’s okay. I’ve learned to listen or let him vent and only offer advice if it seems like he wants to hear it.
We work in similar industries and that’s always been more of a pro than a con when it comes to supporting each other.”
4. How do you encourage fellow parents to talk to their kids about sustainability?
“Choose one place to start — whether that’s not eating meat, buying second-hand, recycling, composting your own food, etc. For me, my journey into sustainability sort of spiraled off of one topic (sustainable fashion) and then snowballed into so many other aspects of my life.
Don’t try to change or talk about everything at once. If you conquer one sustainable lifestyle change, then it will likely lead to others.”
5. Because you split your time between the east and west coasts, what are your tips for parents not wanting to buy double of everything, but also not schlep a ton of stuff back and forth?
“It’s not easy! My “minimalist” lifestyle is definitely one of the things I miss most now that I’m a parent. The things that we will schlep back and forth are our pack ‘n play, portable highchair, car seat and stroller. I just can’t bring myself to buy two of all of those things — so much plastic!
Otherwise, we get everything else second-hand (clothes, toys, books) and usually sell or donate it to a kids’ thrift store when we’re done. Now that I’m thinking about it, we even schlep his plate, sippy cup and spoon back and forth… which yes, is probably a little extreme, but I guess it works for us!”
Shannon’s Top Tot Picks
“We’ve spent a lot of time with this changing pad (and the covers) — especially in the newborn phase — so it was always comforting to know there were no harmful chemicals rubbing off on baby’s skin.”
“I love this organic cotton robe for easy-access nursing sessions.”
“Is there anything cuter than a toddler in striped PJs?”
Baby / Toddler / Big Kid
“Considering how much a baby sleeps, we felt like the investment in an organic mattress was worth it in the long run.”
“My son is almost two and I still force him into baby bonnets… I can’t handle these bunny ears!”