A Factory45 success story

April 12, 2016


“I’d be in fittings and I’d pull a pair of jeans on and they’d rip in two pieces. The designer would say that it didn’t matter because they only retailed for $10.99.”

This is the reality of today’s mainstream fashion industry that steered Jesse Syswerda towards designing a line of clothing that was made sustainably and ethically in New York City.

Syswerda’s independent clothing label, Eenvoud, is one of many success stories to come out of Factory45, a start-to-finish online accelerator program that takes aspiring entrepreneurs from idea stage to launching an apparel product.

Eenvoud offers its clients a few simple tops and a dress made out of either organic materials or fabric from dead stock – the leftovers from mainstream clothing label factory floors. Syswerda avoids designing entire collections, preferring to design only three garments every three months and keeping the best-selling pieces available year-round.

“This season, we’re using a hand-woven cotton from Guatemala and organic cotton grown and knit in North Carolina,” Syswerda explains. “The goal with Eenvoud is that everything I make is something that I wish I had in my wardrobe. I don’t want to create just to create.”


Syswerda worked in marketing before she decided to switch gears and attend Parsons School of Design in New York City. She became a fit model during her studies and she continues to work as one now on top of running Eenvoud.

As a fit model, not to be confused with a fitness model, Syswerda is a human mannequin of sorts. She has to maintain her measurements from week to week so that designers have consistent sizing in their collections. It’s important for a fit model to know how to speak design language because the model tells the designer how things fit and feel and the more detailed you are, the better adjustments the designer can make.

Being a fit model introduced Syswerda to the sad realities of the fast-fashion industry. “I had just read about the fast fashion industry but had never experienced it first hand,” says Syswerda. “And then I’d be in fittings and I’d pull a pair of jeans on and they’d rip in two pieces. The designer would say that it didn’t matter because they only retailed for $10.99.” Syswerda was most alarmed when she’d leave long fittings and have residue on her skin from the dyes and chemicals in the clothing fabric.


Eenvoud started off as a concept while Syswerda was in marketing. “I had been half-ass working on the line for a year,” she explains. “I went back to school [at Parsons] and that ended a year before Factory45 started.” It wasn’t until her boyfriend shared with her Factory45 founder Shannon Whitehead’s Kickstarter campaign for her first company, {r}evolution apparel that she decided to design a sustainable clothing line. But she didn’t sign up to Factory45 right away. In fact, she made the decision to join on the last day of registration for the program’s first round of online courses.

Prior to this, Syswerda made a few samples but hadn’t gotten the line off the ground. She had a general idea of what she wanted to do but Eenvoud needed more to come to life.

When asked about the challenges of starting a fashion line on her own, Syswerda explains that she wanted a support system, someone to tell her what she should be working on and in what order and the best way to do it. She was trying to figure it out all on her own and it was very overwhelming.

“First of all, I was trying to do all of the design stuff by myself,” Syswerda explains. “All of the tracing, and the samples, the sewing, which I didn’t have a lot of training in. The second I started working with a pattern maker, she did in a week what I did in a month. Factory45 helped me figure out what I wanted the line to be.”


Eenvoud is available online and is now sold in a select number of brick and mortar shops in New York City.

From one designer to another:

  • Don’t try to do everything by yourself!
    • Factory45 helped me hire my web designer, find my pattern maker, find my suppliers, my factory, and my accountant. All those things I was trying to do by myself. That was a game changer for me.
  • Do the steps slowly and calmly.
    • I learned how to break everything down into manageable steps. I learned to do one thing at a time instead of doing everything at once and learned to accept that it would take time.


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