Hi guys,

I'm interested to find out peoples personal experiences with starting their own t-shirt companies, after giving it some thought these are the initial hurdles I think I would come across.

- Thinking up a brand (designs, target market, etc)
- Deciding which T-Shirt brand to print on
- Finding the right company to provide and print these shirts
- Deciding which colours, sizes and the quantity of each size you need printing.
- Funding and storing the initial print run of these colours + sizes
- Creating your own or deciding which online store to sell these shirts on
- Marketing your brand and getting customers
- Keeping up with demand (good problem to have) not being able to shift the initial print run you made (bad problem to have)

It would be good to spark up a conversation on how people got over these issues, have I missed anything? Are some of these assumptions incorrect?

Thanks in advance.
  • Dot_Company

    Hey Cambridge!

    I'd say that starting a t-shirt company in a nutshell is... one hell of a ride. There are so many factors that are at play. The thing that still gets me at times, is the fact that you think you have it all planned out... and you're ready for ANYTHING. Then there is always something that manages to surprise you somehow, you're learning something new everyday!

    -Thinking up a brand

    This is by far the most complicated part. You have to think about what your brand is going to stand for, who your target market is going to be (It can't be everyone), what you're going to design on your t-shirts, and most importantly all of this has to sync. Your brand can't stand for "x" factors, and your designs show something different. Your target market has to have some sort of interest in your designs, if your target market isn't interested, re-think your strategy.

    -Deciding which T-shirt Brand to print on

    Quality! The blank t's you choose play a MAJOR role in your t-shirt quality. Think about what your target market wants in a shirt. We personally use hanes, we like thick shirts, and we believe our target market likes thick shirts as well. Our target market consists of Bmx riders, ages 15-18 (roughly). It's an action sport, meaning there's a lot of "contact" we want a shirt that will last and that can take that "contact". So we choose thicker shirts.

    -Finding the right company to provide and print these shirts

    Yes! Very important to find someone who you can work WELL with. Think about the process you will be using as well! When we first started, we were DEAD SET on screen printing. When we got to the printing process, we realized screen printing wasn't going to work on our designs. There was just way TOO much detail that screen printing wouldn't be able to produce. So we went with Direct On Garment printing, every process has it's pros and cons. Research! If you're curious, Check out our website for a look at our designs. Www.DeterminationOvercomesTalent.com

    -Deciding which colours, sizes and the quantity of each size you need printing.

    This is a bit personal, and it'll vary from person to person. Always keep in minding your target market! Will your target market wear these specific colors, what sizes are the most likely to wear, etc. We are an action sports based brand, we realize if we print on pink t-shirts they're not going to sell. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. We ordered more Mediums thinking they would sell more... and to our surprise, Large and Xl's have been selling more. Our target market likes shirts that fit a bit more loosely, next time we'll be aware of that!

    - Funding and storing the initial print run of these colours + sizes

    Everyone has different business plans and funding. This is up to you to figure out, but you are on the right track! Be careful of who you trust, and research the people you hire! Starting out... we actually got duped off around 1.5 grand, we trusted the wrong person... it sucks, move on! Don't use pity to get people to buy your things, we got a real cold wake up call... people don't care.

    - Creating your own or deciding which online store to sell these shirts on

    Definitely get an online store, online sales make up a huge percentage now-a-days! We decided to go the "our own website" route, a bit more costly... BUT we have total control over it!

    - Marketing your brand and getting customers

    THIS!!! Times 10000x It reverts back to the people simply DON'T CARE. You could be the best brand out there, nobody cares! You have to market your brand and tell people what you're all about. Communicate with your target market, listen to your customers! How can you produce better products, a better website, lower prices, free shipping, etc. Marketing plays a big part in your brand.

    Keeping up with demand

    Always a good thing to have to keep up with demand, and not the other way around! Word of advice, "rome wasn't built in a day" Our first day we sold 2 t-shirts, then it sort of stagnated from there, and it has slowly been picking up over time. Don't get frustrated, building a brand takes time, keep pushing and keep on marketing! Participate in forums, talk to your audience, send emails to local companies etc.

    Once again we'd like to remind you that things take time! There will always be something you're unaware of, don't be afraid to fail, most importantly... take the plunge! People who are afraid to fail, and never take the plunge, never get anywhere! Fail fast, learn fast!

    Feel free to check out our website, Instagram page, send us an email with your opinion if you'd like!




    Don't try to get out of taxes!!! haha

    Best of luck Cambridge!!
  • miles to go

    check out
    http://howtostartaclothingcompany.com and
    http://milestogogreg.com I write industry related articles on my site

    I would add packaging to that list, custom or regular mailers? Maybe add a misc category for stickers/badges too.
  • ReVap_apparel

    This is great info. More than I got from doing research.

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