Introduction: How to start a tshirt business at home
I think you may agree with me that a t shirt business can be really lucrative? As we know clothing and apparel is really a huge market. Also clothing is really end of the day one of those essential items each person needs to own. In this article I will share my experience of dabbling in the t shirt print business and will explain how to start a tshirt business at home. I will discuss your various options from starting without any start up capital to starting with some capital.
How to start a tshirt business at home if you have some capital
When you have some capital to work with you could potentially start printing your own t shirts. There are a few options in this area. You options are the following.
What equipment you might need to start your t shirt business
Digital print for t shirts
Digital print allows your to in almost full color which opens doors for your printing business. How digital print essentially works is that it will be able to print directly on a material known as video flex. Video flex is a type of vinyl which allows you to transfer it and it’s shape to cotton and polyester based t shirts. The benefit of this is the material used is really rugged and will not easily be removed from the t shirt. It will really create a t shirt with excellent print quality. However the downside is the amount of work which needs to go into it. Vinyl based print usually requires cutting which can be done by a vinyl cutter.
You essentially have two options one where the digital printer has a built in vinyl cutting function. The other the digital printer basically just prints on the vinyl and you have a separate cutter for cutting out your design. This can be tedious because you would need to perfectly align your design with your vinyl cutter each time. So it is recommended if you are going to go the digital print route that you get a digital printer with cut option built in.
Often the both print and cut printer can be quite expensive. However is very ideal for home use as you can get smaller models which can fit in a 6 ft by 4 ft space. Ideal for home users.
Plain old vinyl for t shirts
If you are starting out and would just like to get going with something which opens up doors. Straight old video flex vinyl print can be the best. You can start off with a vinyl cutter and heat press. Even though you will be restricted by the complexity of designs you can do. You do however have more options with a vinyl cutter you can start doing signage and other forms of printing as well as vehicle branding. Also this combination is more cost efficient for beginners. Also the equipment is small enough to keep in your bedroom and to do printing.
This type of print however is not suitable for mass production. However if you are selling extremely niche shirts which come in at a higher price you can easily make enough out of this combination.
This form of printing hasn’t had the greatest reputation due to it’s inconsistent results. However if you are starting from home and need to upgrade. This solution allows for more colors and more complex designs. This form of printing usually has issues with discoloration and mainly only works on polyester based material. The great thing about it though is you just need a conventional printer, which has sublimation ink cartridges and transfer paper which will allow you to transfer your designs to shirts using a heat press.
Silk screen print
Silk screen is more ideal for people who want to take their home t shirt business to the big leagues. This form of printing is more suited for mass production. Silk screen uses a screen template for printing on to the shirt. Thus it is not very efficient to use this printing method for lower volume prints as creating the template can be quite costly. Also the equipment involved is quite large and needs a bigger space to work in.
Embroidery is a print created by stitching patterns into your products. Usually used on golf shirts and caps. This print can really give that professional look and feel. You may want to consider this as well. Also the equipment needed can be ideal for home use as it also does not take up too much space.
Most of these methods use heat transfer methods. For those who haven’t guess what this is yet. Heat transfer print is usually some form of transfer material which can only be transferred via high heat. For this form of printing we make use of a heat press which can transfer these types of materials over to your t shirts.
Some common mistakes to avoid when printing t shirts at home
- Vinyl or video flex type prints are to always be mirrored as when you transfer these onto your t shirt it will be reversed.
- If using vinyl print do thorough quality inspection. When your cut outs get done there can be small pieces of vinyl still stuck on your transfer film and this will transfer onto your shirt. Make sure there is none on your transfer film after cutting out your vinyl.
- If you are doing any heat transfer prints. Make sure that your heat press has reached your desired temperature and also make sure to not press your print for too long or too short as this may effect the bonding process with your shirt.
If anyone is interested in actual printing methods and what it all involves please leave me a comment and I will write a blog post or create video on this particular topic.
The benefits of doing everything yourself
One of the first benefits obviously being that you have absolute control over the quality of the product. Which allows you to have absolute confidence in the product being delivered to your customer. Another is that is can be some what more cost efficient if you are doing it yourself and are able to choose your own suppliers. You should be able to find some of the shirts for an excellent price if bought in bulk.
The downsides of doing all your printing on your own
It can be extremely labor intensive. When having a small business you should rather try to shift your responsibility. Manufacturing,marketing and other business activities could easily become over whelming and most of the things you will be doing won’t directly influence your income. Think about the amount of time you may be putting in to each component of your t shirt business at home. Activities don’t just include printing it also can include packing and shipping and more.
The learning curve may also be quite steep when you are not experienced in the printing industry.
How to start a tshirt business at home if you have little to no capital
Many of you may just be tinkering with the idea of starting your t shirt business. For this reason you may want to minimize your capital outlay. There is definitely options and I recommended the following for anyone who wants to get up and running quickly. Drop shipping printed items can become a very quick and fruitful way to start. For those who don’t know what drop shipping is. Drop shipping is when you have a supplier or manufacturer which does all the heavy lifting for you including the manufacturing, picking and packing and shipping. How it essentially works is you get a customer the customer pays you and you pay your supplier and they ship to your customer.
For many reasons this is ideal for start ups with little capital. For one you will not need your own equipment to get started. You can recruit the expertise of a supplier which has experience in the manufacturing of t shirts. They also will handle the printing, shipping and packaging of your t shirts. Due to the drop shipping component there are premium charges on items from your supplier usually as they are doing all this work on your behalf. However especially for someone starting a t shirt business from home this can save a lot of time.
The other benefit is that if there are issues on quality with your supplier you can query it. Unfortunately you will lose the benefit of controlling the quality on your own, but there is still some form of support for your products you are selling to your customer.
Drop shipping will allow you to focus on what is important. So you will have more time for brainstorming your next awesome t shirt design. Have more time to spend on marketing. Over all your business will be more focused on what creates cash flow.
What you will need to make a success of your home t shirt business
If you happened to have a lot of friends interested in buying your t shirts. You may be able to completely build a business which doesn’t have an online presence. However in our day and age this can be somewhat unrealistic.
The steps to take to work on your online presence
- Create your website, for this you can simply start up a word press website. I wouldn’t recommend any of these free services they will not allow you to scale in the long run. Get yourself a hosting company which can provide you with a domain name and a word press installation. Word press has plugins like WooCommerce which will allow you to sell your products online.
- Open up your facebook page for your business. Make sure to create a complete profile. Customers are very sensitive on the completeness of your facebook page profile. Make sure it’s neat and complete.
- In the t shirt business pinterest can play a big role in making your shirts go viral get a pinterest account and start tagging your designs.
- Consider opening a youtube channel which show cases your shirts being worn by friends, family and others.
- Get yourself a professional logo which can become a identifiable brand.
- Create engaging content on your word press site to start attracting search engine traffic.
- Build trust ask customers to review your products.
- Make sure to have a good open channel of communication with your customers. Have some type of way they can easily get answers from you.
- Have a faq page on your website to show that you are thinking of your customers and that you are credible.
- Tell your story of how your t shirt business came to be. Be honest about what it is you are doing and what you wish to achieve. Put this up on your website for your customers to see.
Conclusion of how to start a tshirt business at home
I hope in this how to start a tshirt business at home guide you have learned some important things about starting your own tshirt business. Let me know in the comments below if there is anything you would like to me discuss further or add or revise.
Sublimation printing might still be of a concern to you due to the discoloration here is some more information on the technique.
For more info on how to start a online business check out this article : How to start a business online