How to get into T-Shirt business

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by HudsonsHalfHour, Sep 28, 2009.

  1. HudsonsHalfHour macrumors member

    May 19, 2009
    Researched online and I’ve found a bewildering amount of information but it’s simply made me even more confused about the initial steps I need to take to get into making t-shirts and selling them.

    Would like to hear from people who have tried making money from their designs, the equipment they invested in and start-up costs associated with t-shirt printing.
  2. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2004
    One word, DON'T.

    Everyone and their mother has a t-shirt design and unless you have something SOO Amazing, SOO breath taking that the world needs to see, you'll be investing money into something that everyone else has already done and tried.

    That's my only word of advice :)
  3. HudsonsHalfHour thread starter macrumors member

    May 19, 2009
    lol, well that's lucky because my ideas are SOO Amazing and SOO breath taking so if anyone else out there does have some constructive advice, i'm still all ears.

    You can say 'I told you so' when I end up with 1000 unsold t-shirts :eek:
  4. wongulous macrumors 6502a

    Dec 7, 2002
    Well, since you obviously have confidence in your work, I'd say you shouldn't find any trouble working your way up from Cafepress and submitting designs to threadless ($2500), to making custom corporate gift shirts (easy money) and putting your shirts in local shops (whatever your scene may be), to making your own online storefront and getting your own screen printing rig... then you'll be where it seems you want to be. Unless you have ten grand lying around right now, in which case you could just jump to where you want to be.
  5. HudsonsHalfHour thread starter macrumors member

    May 19, 2009
    ok, say I had 10k lying around, what equipment would you say I should look into?

  6. Kwill macrumors 68000


    Mar 10, 2003
    Look for the equipment that put the hole in your head. Then wire the 10k to me. :D

    T-Shirt screen printing has become a mass-marketed commodity. Translation: low profit.
  7. cantthinkofone macrumors 65816


    Jul 25, 2004
    Missouri, USA
    I need a few shirts. What you got for sale there?
  8. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2004
    Lol, you got it. If you can do it, I'll eat my own words!
  9. HudsonsHalfHour thread starter macrumors member

    May 19, 2009
    Kwill, I took your advice on board and went home to the missus and told her what you said. We’re both in agreement that you’re absolutely correct and we shall shelve our plans based on your advice. I guess it’s back to the day job sorting Netflix DVDs. Aren’t you pleased your advice has helped another human being?

    I have a few 'I know who killed Laura Palmer' shirts left but they're going like hot cakes. I might need ChicoWeb to design me a site at this rate, although the web business is SO saturated I'm not sure how long he will be in the game :D[/I]
  10. sigmadog macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2009
    near Spokane, WA
    I could use a good "Who Shot JR?" shirt. That or anything with Magic Johnson would be a hot seller.
  11. jecapaga macrumors 601


    Jul 1, 2007
    Southern California
    I can't believe a simple, smart response completely changed a life decision involving 10k. :eek: Get back to sorting and sending my Netflix :p . Do you rub them around on a scratchy surface ever?
  12. Kwill macrumors 68000


    Mar 10, 2003
    I'll be more pleased when the 10k wire transfer clears the bank. ;)

    (Actually, T-shirt projects that involve licensing are most profitable -- things like Disney character shirts sold at Disney theme parks or in connection with Disney movie releases. Otherwise, you might as well be one of the thousands of artists hawking wares on
  13. camomac macrumors 6502a


    Jan 26, 2005
    Left Coast
    Look at bigcartel for a store front.
    Look at for equiptment.

    Why has MR gotten so unhelpful lately?
    If you can't answer the question move on.
    Seriously this is getting to be BS.

    (begin flames now)
  14. KeithPratt macrumors 6502a

    Mar 6, 2007
    I'm with you on that.

    If you're going to insult someone, make it funny. If you can't manage that, stick to the rabid mutterings into your chest.
  15. sarge macrumors 6502a


    Jul 20, 2003
    I thought about doing this myself once upon a time and found these guys. They seemed to have a pretty fair price on offer:

    Never worked w/them though as I spent my 10 grand on underwear and socks or god knows what else...

    Grain of salt but...The NYtimes did an survey yesterday on street vendors in Union Square on 14th street and there were t-shirt vendors and other artists claiming they were clearing $2000 a week. The daily average claimed in the article was something like $200 a day which is probably generous...
  16. oldschool macrumors 65816


    Sep 30, 2003
    the only way this will work for you to make money is to get your designs made a tshirt factory in china. use half the 10k to bring in some tshirts...i'm sure you can find a factory on that will do this for you. then bring them to local skate shops or clothing boutiques. don't try to print'll just blow your margins because you won't be able to buy blank tshirts less than 5 bucks.

  17. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Make sample T-shirts with the inkjet printable things that you iron on.

    Wear them, see how many people approach you and give you compliments.

    See if those people will provide you their email in case you do sell them. Keep in mind that for every 100 emails you collect, you might only get a few sales, if you do have the product available.

    Note inkjet heat transfer don't last long, and should not be sold as a product.
  18. ezekielrage_99 macrumors 68040


    Oct 12, 2005
    Please don't waste your time and money on this... It's a really bad idea like eating a pack of mentos then washing it down with a Diet Coke chaser...

    T-Shirts (beside the premium brands, which takes extremely good branding and marketing) fall under what they call FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), which in marketing terms means they are low profit per item but on mass you make a decent return.

    Marketing like this falls under Presence and Relevance Brand Modeling, so the more exposure you have the greater the chance of selling.Unless you have a MASSIVE distribution network your basic return will be under 10% if you're lucky.

    Out of experience I've seen people sink mind numbing amounts of cash into T-Shirt and Calendar projects only to see them with a whole heap of stock they cannot sell. In fact I worked with a person a few years ago who printed out 15K calendars only to sell less than 1K of them.
  19. ibook30 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 4, 2005
    2,000 light years from home
    Not a flame! But a different opinion- I think folks are being helpful by warning that this line of business is tough. I do agree that this kind of feedback is better when it's funnny and doesn't imply "you're an idiot for asking...".

    With that said.... I've made some T-Shirts before, and it's fun! If I had to make my living at it, I'd be very poor.
    My experience involved making very short runs of home made designs for Grateful Dead shows and other events that draw hippies. We created our own designs, made silk screens, and pulled them in the garage (one color, any more and it can be a nightmare lining up the multiple screens necessary) . I can't remember the cost per shirt, like 5 bucks I think, we sold them for $15 or $10.
    Usually we would sell 20 to 40 in a day. Not a lot, by the end of the day, you work pretty hard for little pay off. On the other hand, had a lot of fun!
  20. GeekGirl* macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    I owned a T shirt shop in key west Fl, its agreat way to make money our T shirts cost us 1.75 each for fruit of the loom and wesold shirt up to 100.00 each if you need help or just want to chat drop me a line. I still have a machine left if you would need it I will be happy to send it free of charge just pic up shipping...
  21. Sweetfeld28 macrumors 65816


    Feb 10, 2003
    Buckeye Country, O-H
    I wouldn't say its a hard business to get in, but a little harder to turn a profit.

    I would say, if its a hobby you looking into starting, then i would look in your local papers, or craigslist, for used equipment to start with. A friend of mine started his business this way; and now he has two new screen press's and one brand new automatic press. But it took him years of saving to get where he is today.

    I would also say that if you were a print/design major in college looking for a co-op, or a summer job, i would recommend looking into getting a job at an ink manufacturer. This will gain you valuable info & knowledge about the industry. i.e. Kiwo This same friend of mine did a paid co-op, over the summer for this company.

    Another way to gain some knowledge about the industry would be to find a local printer. A simple way to do this would be to call your local HS, and find out who supplies their teams with shirts and such. I know in my area, there are at least 2 screen printers, doing multiple schools gear. This way you might find a part time job at one, gain some experience, then go on to start your own company.

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