Selling t-shirts on Threadless, etc.

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by Lau, Sep 11, 2008.

  1. Lau Guest

    #1
    I have a few t-shirt designs that I'd like to sell, and I'm trying to decide the best way to go about it.

    I have (or soon will have ;)) my own website, and I have a seller's Paypal account, so could deal with it through my own website, and use one of the new decent direct-to-garment printing sites to print them on demand. Apparently the quality is pretty good (I'm planning to order one to test it to check).

    The other option is to submit them to Threadless, and hope they get picked. It would be nice to be paid a large sum upfront, but then they own the design, and I couldn't sell it myself. However, if it sells well and gets reprinted, it could do well, and I'd no doubt sell more through them than I ever would myself.

    Has anyone had any experience of either of these methods?
     
  2. barrysfarm macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2005
    #2
    When I was starting out I put a handful of design on threadless. It's a fun experience, but overall it felt like a waste of time. Even if you have the highest voted shirt, there was a very slim chance of getting it printed. They may have changed it, but it never felt worth the effort.

    I found it much more enjoyable (& profitable) to launch my own shop, first using an on-demand place like spreadshirt or cafe press, then moving to a local printer for quality & price. Eventually we found that our other items sold better than our shirts, so we focused more on them.

    If I was going to do it over again, I'd skip the threadless part.
     
  3. Lau thread starter Guest

    #3
    Thanks for your opinion, that's most useful. I remember seeing your stuff a while back on here – both the t-shirts and the sleeves, purses, etc. and seeing it suddenly take off! Nice work, by the way. :)

    Unless Threadless is going to be incredibly useful, I'm thinking that DTG is the way to go for now, so thanks for pointing me further in that direction!

    Is it still just the two of you doing it or have you had to outsource work now? (If you don't mind me asking, of course).
     
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #4
    I think one thing in favor of Threadless or a similar company is that you get good t-shirt stock (i.e. t-shirts that actually fit people properly) and not shirts printed on random low quality Fruit of the Loom (in the US) type shirts....

    You might look for a smaller designer that has Lauesque design principles and also makes high quality products and approach them? One that doesn't necessarily use a voting system but decides for themselves whether they like your work?

    I'm just thinking out loud that I've bought some ... four t-shirts from Threadless this year and I've never bought anything from, say, CafePress.
     
  5. Lau thread starter Guest

    #5
    No, I totally agree, and I definitely would want something that's good quality (I too have bought several as I love the fit of them). I was looking at Bountee in the past. They, apparently, can print one-offs on decent t-shirts (they give you the option of American Apparel) and it's comparable to screen printing, and can print light on dark, and they have a good selection of colours. It sounds great in principle, but I'm going to upload a design and order a sample to see if it really is as good as they make out.

    They also feature your designs, like Threadless, if they like your designs, but you can just use them like Cafepress to create and sell them.

    It would be cheaper in a larger scale (and possibly in the future) to get someone to screen print, but I think this would be the best way to test the water, rather than pay out a lot for stock and screens upfront.

    Definitely though, I wouldn't want them badly printed on some random crap t-shirt.
     
  6. BreederCreature macrumors member

    BreederCreature

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    CT, USA
    #6
    I would definitely skip threadless. I've submitted stuff before with the allure of a large sum of money and a bunch of publicity, but in the long run the chances of getting printed are very very low. Also, I believe you can't use the design (even if it's not chosen) for a period of time after its been submitted :/

    I recently bought a shirt from threadless that had something like a 2.1 rating, which I thought was very low for them to print. It's all up to them really, so you never know.

    That Bountee site you linked to seems awesome! I'd say that's the way to go if you're leery about finding a screen printer.

    Although, my band has new shirts that we had screen printed at a local screen print shop and they are awesome. We went with a 2 color design on Gildan 50/50 shirts and they came out really well: http://www.academyprintwear.com. They're also cheaper than a couple of other screen printers I've seen (my old band used one that was more expensive and double charged my credit card!)
     
  7. barrysfarm macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2005
    #7
    It's still the two of us, we're just doing it full time now. The only thing we're outsourcing are our shirts, and they're being done by a couple that owns a screen printing place. Everything else we're making & is usually made to order. We've discussed manufacturing our products, but there are too many perks about doing it the way we do. It's a lot of hard work, but it's enjoyable.

    That Bountee place looks great. I wish that it existed when I started.
     
  8. Lau thread starter Guest

    #8
    Thanks guys, that's really helpful.

    I think I am going to do it myself through the Bountee place and see where it goes.

    Thanks for the screen printing info, BreederCreature, that's good to know. I'm thinking of three designs to start off with, and between that and wanting ladies and mens styles, a few sizes and a couple of colours, I think the outlay might be a bit high for something that might not sell.

    If they seem to sell well though, I'd like to get over to screen printing as soon as I can.

    barrysfarm, that's good to know too, thank you. The fact that you're making it work is really inspirational!

    I'll order a Bountee t-shirt in one of my designs and post pictures to let anyone who comes across this thread later know what the quality's like.
     
  9. BreederCreature macrumors member

    BreederCreature

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Location:
    CT, USA
    #9
    Oddly enough, the screen printing place just released a little tip book (107 tips I think) on how they got successful in screen printing. It's a download, but when I tried to order it, they charged a shipping fee. I'm talking to them now and they're trying to figure out how to get rid of the shipping fee, since the product is digital.
     
  10. iGav macrumors G3

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2002
    #10
    LauLau, have you considered Supermarket?
    That's where I hope to begin selling some of my artifactual things. ;o)
     
  11. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #11
    I've nothing useful to say regarding where to get them done, but you've got at least 1 customer here when you get it sorted. Are you going to sign them?
     
  12. Lau thread starter Guest

    #12
    Ooh, sounds good!

    No, but it looks good, thank you! My problem at the moment is more with production than distribution, but that looks promising. A bit like Etsy, but less crafty, more designy, yep? Ooh! Let me know, bitch. :p

    Thanks. :D Maybe I should get a rubber stamp made of my avatar face and start a Lau brand. ;) I'll sign yours if you like though!
     
  13. onegirlcreative macrumors member

    onegirlcreative

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    #13
    Try this website:

    http://www.cafepress.com/

    I have a client who has his designs on here all the time, and I guess he does pretty well. The nice thing is, you don't have to have a bunch of t-shirts on hand, thus making your overhead ridiculous if you don't sell anything, as they provide it for you.

    You just provide the design and whenever someone orders your design, they choose what they want it printed on (i.e. mousepads, mugs, t-shirts, etc.).
     
  14. shecky Guest

    shecky

    Joined:
    May 24, 2003
    Location:
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    #14
    the quality of cafepress is crap.

    i have sold shirts and getting them done yourself is really not that expensive. the issue is mostly inventory - how much money can you spend in inventory lying around.

    the benefit is high quality shirts that have real silkscreening. we paid about US$8 delivered per shirt for American Apparel 2001 shirts with a single image, one color silkscreen. additional colors or images would have been about $2 per. our silkscreener has inventory of shirts he can get within a day and screen within another day. so if we had an order for a bunch of shirts we could order it from our guy AFTER it was ordered by the customer. that was it was more like a "just in time" inventory.

    the negative is you will have at least some $ tied up in inventory. the other negative is that no matter how great you think your design is and how much everyone will want one, almost nobody actually will. selling hundreds of shirts a month from an independent website is EXTREMELY rare.

    what you may want to look at instead of all of that is just licensing your design to a 3rd party, and getting a commission/royalty on it.
     
  15. Lau thread starter Guest

    #15
    I've heard bad things about Cafepress quality as well, but thanks for the suggestion, onegirlcreative.

    Actually, I want the exact opposite of that – I want control over what colours, items etc that it goes on! Screenprinting on limited colours would be ideal, it's just tying up money in the inventory, as shecky says.

    Thanks for the information, that is really good to know. I'm not intending to set up a huge website or sell hundreds, really, it's just a sideline (which is why printing on demand would work really well). It's more as a sideline to (and to help with promotion of) my illustration (and three designs would work really well as a set of designs to sell as shirts – keeping it fairly simple, etc). If I sell a few I'll be happy, and if I sell more, I'll be even happier. ;)

    That's good to know about the printers turning it round so fast, though. I might look for a local printers who might be able to do something like that, as I don't mind shelling out a bit for screen costs and a few shirts upfront. Screenprinting would be ideal, as every DTG site seems to have some disadvantage to it. Thanks for the suggestion about licensing it as well, that hadn't occurred to me and has given me an idea of who I might try, cheers. :)
     
  16. shecky Guest

    shecky

    Joined:
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    #16
    you should be able to find a local person who has a shop. our guy has a few lines of shirts he can get without ordering (think of them as his 'house shirts') so they are always in stock. its then a matter of how many he will screen, our guy asks we do at least 12 or so at a time, but in any size and color (same design). that way we could fufill a variety of orders for colors and size and not have to get 12 of a certain color in a certain size, etc... thereby keeping our inventory fairly low. since he is a friend he waived the US$25 screen setup fee to shoot the screen, but even with that fee it is only a one-time cost per design.
     
  17. Lau thread starter Guest

    #17
    ^

    Thanks, that's great. It's just occurred to me that if I did do them like that I could release them one at a time, maybe one a month. As a promotional thing that could work quite well.

    If I was then only worrying about sizes, and male and female cuts, I could get, say, 12 printed in various cuts and keep going virtually on demand after that. I'll research some local screenprinters and see what they quote and see their quality. Thanks, shecky!
     
  18. shecky Guest

    shecky

    Joined:
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    #18
    i would say smaller 1-3 person shops will be a lot more accommodating than big shops.

    good luck!

    i will take a 2XL when you get them done :)
     
  19. onegirlcreative macrumors member

    onegirlcreative

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    #20
    Oh wow. I didn't realize that, as I have never ordered anything direct from them. But that is really good to know. I'm sorry I recommended it knowing it was crap. Otherwise, I wouldn't have.

    Good for future reference.

    Just out of curiosity, what's crap about it? Just poor quality, stuff like that?
     
  20. shecky Guest

    shecky

    Joined:
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    #21
    it feels like a somewhat high-quality iron-on. which is to say, it looks and feels like an iron-on :) its now better than it was when they first started out but its not remotely comparable to a real screened shirt. i also personally find the way you can add virtually anything from a coaster to a jumpsuit to your store with your design on it to just be... well... high on the cheeze factor. its like i see someone offering something at cafe press and i think "there is someone who could care less about offering something good."

    you also have no real control over color, shirt quality, etc.... its just not good.
     
  21. onegirlcreative macrumors member

    onegirlcreative

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Colorado
    #22
    Yes, all extremely valid points. I agree. Nothing beats a true screened shirt. It's the best.
     
  22. 7on macrumors 601

    7on

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Dress Rosa
    #23
    I got onto Jinx, but i don't know if it's as hard or easier than threadless.
     
  23. Lau thread starter Guest

    #24
    Thanks, 7on. I haven't heard of Jinx before.

    After looking into silkscreened shirts locally, I came to the conclusion I'd use one of the on demand places to get started off. In the end, I decided to try the updated Bountee place, now called MySoti, as they did American Apparel t-shirts as an option. It arrived today, and it's really nice quality. It feels pretty much like silkscreen, and it means I can get the subtle layered colours I couldn't have done with silkscreen.

    The one real disadvantage is that I'm not making nearly as high a percentage through a company like that as I would have done going it alone, but then I haven't got all the stock worries and investment in it, so it seems to work well for now at least. It can get featured on their front page as well, so it could end up working like Threadless, you never know.

    Here are some pictures of the quality, if anyone wants any more or any other info let me know.

    IMG_0851.JPG IMG_0852.JPG IMG_0850.JPG

    Oh, and here's the link to the t-shirt if anyone fancies buying one. ;)
     
  24. jayeskreezy macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2005
    #25
    on average how long does it take to receive a product from mysoti?
     

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