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The Fine Print: Let's talk about tees!

So You Want To Start A T-Shirt Brand

tshirt brands

T-shirts are an in-demand apparel product for comfort and self-expression, and most likely always will be. The humble t-shirt started out as a form of underwear that became outerwear and was popularized during World War II. T-shirt stardom continued to rise with glamorization from Hollywood icons like Marlon Brando and James Dean which resulted in making it a wardrobe staple.

The meteoric rise of t-shirt designs and sales make it a very attractive possibility for entrepreneurs with awesome design skills and fashion sense. However, there are a few things to consider before you bulk print t-shirts and start selling.

Understanding your potential consumer is critical

Who is your target audience? If you’re hoping to sell to college age people, think about what college age consumers are interested in. This hold true for the design absolutely but also for the apparel product you want it printed on.

There are cheap t-shirts that a lot of people can afford but choosing a product solely on its affordability isn’t always the right strategy. We’ve learned working with lots of t-shirt brands that quality is a worthy consideration, especially if you want repeat business.

niche shirts

Sorority consumers are looking for high fashion, fraternity consumers are looking for the same and comfort. Don’t make the mistake of saving up front and losing repeat business because your apparel product of choice tends to shrink after washing or is a boxy cut that fashion minded individuals won’t appreciate.

For design strategy, coming up with a totally unique idea is going to be tough, however designing is not always about originality. Sometimes your design can stand out from the rest because of your font choice, color composition or even high end print methods like glitter or metallic

A great design won’t take off without marketing

The digital age is an unprecedented playground for marketers. Promotional gateways that made it extremely tough for small businesses to gain a foothold are really no longer barriers with communities like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. You don’t need a lot of money to promote but plan to spend an extensive amount of time marketing your t-shirts.

jumping into branding

If designing for a specific niche, compile a list of relevant and trending hashtags to accompany your posts. Starting locally narrows down your chances of huge, quick gains but building a following of happy customers that will refer you to their friends will help you build a solid backing.

tshirt brand marketing

Networking with the right people is a great way to build-of-mouth business. Again, consider your target audience. Go where they hang out, start conversations with business owners, and wear your product.

Developing a relationship with a screen printer

Starting your own t-shirt line or brand is going to require some upfront investment. Screen printing your own t-shirts requires a great deal of skill, energy, and equipment to get the job done right. We suggest you choose which business role you want to be in, a t-shirt line business owner or a professional screen printer. Trying to work both ends of the spectrum and being awesome at both is a huge and exhausting challenge.

When you’re ready to begin a conversation with an expert screen printer remember they have a business to run too. Offering to pay them for their work after you’ve made your sales or trying to negotiate bulk pricing for a really small run won’t get you very far, particularly if they are experts at their craft.

Most professional screen printers are happy to offer recommendations on the best priced, highest quality apparel choices for your chosen niche. You should expect to pay market price for samples of their work and as your business grows and you bring them repeat business with it, that’s when true negotiations on pricing can begin.

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