Shannon Whitehead

Founder, Factory 45

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.

What first piqued your interest in sustainability and the movement around it?

It was a gradual process for me over the course of about two years. It started when I was traveling and living overseas after college. I experienced different cultures and people who lived with far less than I did back home, and I discovered an appreciation for it. For me, the sustainability movement started with a personal decision to buy less, waste less, and live with less -- simply because I couldn’t justify abundance, luxury, and excess knowing how others live.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a female entrepreneur?

Like many women, I often fall victim to the “perfectionista” mentality. I want everything to be perfect before the rest of the world sees it. It can be something as small as a font combination or sentence structure, and I’ll toil over it instead of just committing and getting it out into the world. Sometimes I have to remind myself that perfection is totally overrated.

You started {r}evolution apparel four years ago. What was the hardest part about bringing a conscious clothing line to fruition?

When my co-founder and I decided to start a clothing company we didn’t have fashion backgrounds or a clue about what went into making clothing. The more we researched the more we realized how incredibly damaging the traditional fashion industry is on the environment. The most difficult part was setting up a supply chain that was ethical that we could feel good about. It took us a year and a half.

What advice would you give your 18-year old self?

You think you want the corner office, but you don’t. You’ll see, everything is going to work out better than you could have ever dreamed.