A couple of years ago I got into the t-shirt selling business. I was young and inexperienced, but I loved the products, I loved learning about new developments and techniques in the trade and I loved networking so if you are passionate about these things then you will go far.
There is no doubt that starting a t-shirt business is one of the most competitive things that you can do if you want to start a business and that is why you have to come up with something unique. You also have to come up with something that you know will sell. It is no use producing a range of t-shirts that are so far fetched that will only reach a tiny segment of the market.
Finding a place to sell your wares is also a huge factor. If your main market is the sporty type then you have to go to festivals and events as often as you can where you will find the right kind of people who will be interested in your t-shirts.
I was quite lucky to find that tie-dye t-shirts had come back. There were also a lot of my friends wearing t-shirts with rock bands like Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain. This is the kind of thing I was wearing as well so I already knew my target market. I didn’t have an official business plan, which was a mistake, but I had a spot to stand which attracted a lot of young people as well as students.
I went to rock festivals and almost ran out of stock. I left some of my t-shirts with a couple of shops on a consignment basis. I learned how to tie-dye myself and later on I learned how to screen print. You can always hire these services, but like with any business it is best to start small, especially if you don’t have much capital to start off with.
How to start a t-shirt business online
When I started my business, the internet was still young and websites were just beginning to grow. Nobody had heard of things like e-commerce and online sales, but today this is a common thing and if you can get yourself an established website then you can wind up with a very successful t-shirt business.
There is also a lot of competition in this industry, but it is possible to beat your competitors if you have the determination. You have to know that it takes time to get your website established and you will have to learn what the best way is to get it off the ground without spending a lot of money.
Once it begins to grow then you can invest and get professionals to help you out. There are various ways you can go about this. You can open a simple eBay store, which can be a hassle because you have to post every item off. You can also get the middle man to do it with a process called drop shipping. Having a good design is always good, but the promotion aspect is what you have to focus on.
T-shirt printers for your T-shirt printing business
If you go into printing as well you have to realize that there is a little more to it. Your start costs will be greater for one thing. T-shirt printers are not cheap and the manual way is not really worthwhile because it just takes forever.
I would rather buy a machine then employ people to help with silk screen printing. This, however may be an option when you first start out and when you get more busy you could invest in one of the more heavy duty printers. If you are starting a small t-shirt printing business from home you may not need something so big. You could just start printing t-shirts for people in church groups and volunteer organizations.
Types of t-shirt printers
- Screen Printing – This is also known as silk screen printing and the most well-known form of printing. You can learn to do this yourself with the use of different screens and inks. You will use a wire mesh with a stencil which blocks the ink in places which you don’t want it to reach the t-shirt. There is also a machine which is automatic and rotates around with different screens.
- Heat Transfers – these come cheaply with iron ons, combined with screen printing or with a machine. You can also get special paper for your computer printer. It is better for a small batch so it would be well suited for home use. It is also quick so it is perfect for the small business.
- Digital Printing – this is more expensive than screen printing and you would only usually see this in a commercial basis