119 | Sustainable sourcing in fashion with Kelly Shanahan, The Ziran

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Behind every great business is an even better story. Kelly Wang Shanahan, creative director and founder of the Ziran fashion design company has just that - an amazing story. Kelly officially started her line in June, 2016 after becoming disillusioned with the luxury fashion industry, particularly its waste and fast fashion mentality.

While researching ancient fabric techniques in China, Kelly discovered a special fabric called Xiang Yun Sha silk and instantly fell in love with its luxurious beauty and cultural significance. Today all Ziran pieces are made from this special silk, which is imported from China, and designed and manufactured locally by Kelly in Los Angeles. 

Today on Episode 119 of Proof to Product, Kelly shares the long process of finding the silk, building a relationship with the silk boss in China, and gaining exclusive rights to use it with our products. Kelly shares her passion for sustainability, what inspired her to keep going through this long process, how she leverages story and influencer marketing, and why relationships are a key component to business success. 


  • The Ziran products and what makes them unique

  • How Kelly traded “the lawyer plan” for fashion entrepreneurship

  • Hurdles that product based businesses face 

  • Finding customers and leveraging social media 

  • The sales channels and marketing channels Kelly utilizes 

  • How Kelly got connected with the right vendors and manufacturers

  • Misconceptions about influencer marketing

  • The importance of building relationships for the long term

  • Building a network in the fashion industry

  •  Kelly’s advice for others starting out in the business

  • Coming up next for The Ziran...

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“I went to China, I visited the silk farm. I saw how they made it. I was completely blown away, and then that's when I was like, this is what I want to do.” - Kelly Shanahan

“I feel like especially with social media, there's so much noise, so I try to make everything ... every collection or drop have a deeper story and have a meaning behind it.” - Kelly Shanahan

“I've tried to be more strategic with the influencers that I align with to make sure that they are actually supporters of the brand in an authentic way, and they actually vibe with it.” - Kelly Shanahan

“I'm proud that I've been able to do that and help bring this ancient thing into modern times and make it relevant today.” - Kelly Shanahan

“You work so hard on this thing and then you send it off into the world and you hope it brings everyone else just as much joy as it did you.” - Katie Hunt

“What kept me going is just wanting to continue ... wanting to preserve and save this craft.” - Kelly Shanahan

“In a world where everybody is consuming everything so quickly, lots of machines are making things, there’s just a tangibleness to these handcrafted products, I know it's something different, there's nothing else like it.” - Kelly Shanahan

“There's kind an openness among those of us who are making clothes in Los Angeles where we're open to share what we know, because we all know how hard it is and we're in it together.” - Kelly Shanahan

“When one of us finds success, all of us gain success from that. And the more we can share, the stronger all of our individual businesses will become.” - Katie Hunt

“You got there for a reason on your own, so you should follow your gut and your intuition too.” - Kelly Shanahan


Website: The Ziran | Facebook: @theziran | Instagram: @theziran | Vimeo: The Ziran Way

Connect with Katie Hunt

Katie Hunt is a business strategist, podcaster, mentor and mama to four. She helps product based businesses build profitable, sustainable companies through her conferences, courses and coaching programs.

Website: prooftoproduct.com  |   Instagram: @prooftoproduct

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