Have you always had the dream of setting up your own t-shirt line, but you’re not quite sure where to start? Well, that is an understandable way of thinking – you might have a great idea that will appeal to consumers, but actually turning that idea into a reality is a tricky process.
In fact, starting your own t-shirt line involves much more than printing and distributing your designs. If you want to achieve sustained success, there are various points to take into consideration before you enter the world of owning a clothing line. That said, below are vital steps to take on your journey towards starting a t-shirt business.
Choose your market
Before you break out the pen and paper, make sure that you do your research on the intended subject matter of your t-shirts. You’re not only going to have to pick something that will appeal to a sizeable portion of customers, but also something that hasn’t been overdone and saturated the market.
Take, for example, designs that revolve around cats or pugs. These are topics that have been covered by a countless amount of company’s at this stage – including major corporations. So along with having many others to compete against, you will also be undercut by those selling at highly competitive prices.
However, this doesn’t mean you cannot cover popular subjects – you just need to be creative and add a different angle on proceedings. For example, you could take the primary idea of cats, but combine that with a twist on a famous movie poster. Just keep in mind: you have to stand out from the crowd, and not just simply join an ever-growing pile.
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Of course, on the other side of the coin, you also have to try and not be too niche in your market selection. Do so, and you will have a stack of t-shirts that you are unable to shift.
Outsource or in-house design
When it comes to crafting a design, you have to decide whether you will do this yourself, via an in-house worker or by outsourcing. These choices have various plus and minus points, and it is down to your situation as to which route to take.
If you are already a talented graphic designer and have done digital designs before, that’s great. You can essentially skip this section and move onto the rest of the article. However, if you are a gifted artist but don’t know how to translate this to digital media, there’s a learning curve involved. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools available at your disposal to see if you can adapt to the digital design life. For example, try a Photoshop online free trial and see how you go.
If you are hopeless with translating your ideas into an eye-catching design or you can’t come to terms with the likes of Photoshop, outsourcing is arguably the second best option. Admittedly, you will be paying a sizeable chunk of cash if you’re working with the best freelancers or design firms out there, but that will result in a professional design that is ready-made for printing.
Make sure to look into laws regarding copyright if you’re going to be utilizing licensed trademarks in any way.
Decide on the quality
If you are starting a t-shirt company, you will no doubt want to produce products of real quality. However, when you’re looking into those all-important margins, the temptation to go ‘cheap’ will always rear its head.
While cheap doesn’t necessarily mean bad, you want to avoid making it noticeable. For instance, you could get a design done on a budget-platform like Fiverr, but the quality of said design will have a strong possibility of being amateurish and weak – i.e. not exactly the way you want your brand to be represented.
Therefore, make sure to work out the figures and not place too much emphasis on the potential profit per t-shirt – a professional product will deliver a larger reward in the long run.
How will you print your t-shirts?
One of the biggest dilemmas for an aspiring t-shirt business owner is how they will print and distribute their designs. Thanks to the growth of the Internet and technology, there are plenty of picks available when it comes to getting your tees printed.
First of all, you have the choice of doing it all yourself. That means purchasing the likes of blank shirts, getting all the color inks needed, a printing device, and so on. Now while this provides an abundance of freedom and more scope for larger profit margins per t-shirt, it also involves a hefty initial outlay to get started. Plus, maintaining quality control and producing a professional product can be tricky.
If you don’t fancy the production side of things, enlisting the help of a t-shirt printing firm is a safe bet. You give them your design; they will print it onto a set number of agreed upon tees, add any garment extras such as tagging and bagging, and send you the finished results. While this will generate a high-quality product and give you, you do have to gamble with getting plenty of t-shirts printed at once (and the higher the number, the more that need to be produced).
Another option is to use an online platform like Teespring. Here, you can upload your design and leave all of the printing and production to an external firm. This is the most risk-free pick as you don’t have to pay a single penny towards getting t-shirts printed. Although, while it is a safe bet, it typically gives you less profit-per-tee and limited scope for producing exactly what you want.
Market your creations
At the end of it all, it is highly important that you get the word out about your designs. After all, even the best t-shirt designs won’t leave the store if people don’t know about them!
Therefore, along with promoting on the usual social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram, post your work on design-based websites. If the designs are particularly striking, they could build a considerable following on sites such as DeviantArt, Behance and even Reddit.