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Dressing the Masses: How to Start a Successful T-Shirt Company

Getting a new business off the ground isn’t easy.

If you love t-shirts, then you know how lucrative t-shirt businesses can be. Every time you get a new tee, you’re spending another $20, $30, $40, and beyond to be able to wear a cool slogan or image on your shirt. 

In theory, it seems pretty easy to run a small t-shirt business. All you really need is a designer, a shirt supplier, equipment to print the shirts, and a website to sell your shirts from, right? 

Wrong. While those are the main components of running a t-shirt company, you’ve got to have some business acumen to get things off the ground. Fortunately, there is more than one way to start up a business like this. 

In this post, we’re going to help you start your company with a step-by-step guide. After reading this, you’ll have a good idea of how to get started, but you’ll need to put the work in to make it a success.

Your originality and creativity are going to help you a lot, but you’ll need a guide like this to give you the tools and motivation for success. Let’s get started.

Starting a T-Shirt Company from Scratch

Like any young company, regardless of your scope or how much money you start with, you’ve got to get your thoughts in order. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with your t-shirt business and then figure out how you’ll make it happen.

Find Your Corner of the Market

Designing and selling t-shirts has become one of the more popular business ideas in the age of the internet. For this reason, you’re going to face a lot of competition right off the bat. 

Don’t be discouraged, though. What you need to do before anything else is figure out what your niche is going to be. What message are you trying to send with your products? Who are the people that you want to be wearing your stuff?

Answering these questions is key to finding your niche and that’s one of the major keys to setting yourself apart from the competition. You can’t afford to be broad with your scope, especially in the beginning, so zero in on the market that you want to attract and don’t be afraid to be weird.

The word “niche” gets thrown around a lot when discussing young companies, but it’s truly important in such a competitive sector. Doing a lot of research is going to help you find it.

Follow a path that you find interesting and then look into subreddits and Facebook trends to find out how many like-minded folks are out there. Sticking to themes that you know and love will keep you interested in your company long-term.

Finding a Tee Dealer & Manufacturing

After you’ve figured out what corner of the t-shirt market your company is going to occupy, you’ll be ready to start making your product. Find the right t-shirt wholesaler and buy your shirts in bulk.

Don’t be tempted by profit margins when it comes to shirts. Go with a higher quality product and sell for more if you have to. Selling low-quality, uncomfortable shirts will hurt your reputation and sink your company immediately.

Look at reviews of different t-shirts and order some samples before you commit to anything. This may seem like a boring part of getting your startup going, but it’s arguably one of the most crucial aspects of your success.

You’ll also need to figure out how you’ll be printing these t-shirts of yours. Basic screen printing equipment is pretty affordable and allows you to take on the task of printing the shirts yourself. It’ll pay for itself if you start selling shirts right away, but you’ve also got to learn how to use it.

Another option is to print through a third-party company. Outsourcing your printing will be easier to do, but it’ll get expensive and curtail your profits. The better choice at the start is to print them yourself and expand as your business grows.

Design and Branding

Odds are the reason that you wanted to start a t-shirt company is that you’re a graphic designer yourself or you love design. In this case, you’ll probably have an arsenal of designs that you’re dying to get on to the shirts.

Design things that fit into the niche that you’ve found for yourself. Don’t be too much of a busybody in the beginning because you’ll confuse and overwhelm your prospective customers. Instead, stick to a few designs that have a cohesive look to them and try to build a brand.

Brand building is a concept that all companies of all sizes have to wrestle with. It’s one of the hardest things to do, but absolutely one of the most important. This is how customers will identify you and spread the word of your great new company.

Your brand will encompass everything about your company, notably your niche, designs, and your style. It should be likable and instantly recognizable from other t-shirt brands, like this shop here. Let your personality shine through and you’ll attract people from all walks of life.

Your Online Store & Promotion

At this point, you’ve thought through everything and you’re ready to launch your online shop. Choose a site builder and a web host, then start building your store. The most popular page builder is WordPress, which should be perfect for building something simple like an online shop.

Your host is important because you need your page to be secure and handle the right amount of traffic. You can start with a basic package and move on from there. Choose a domain name (hopefully your company name is available) and launch your store!

Once you’ve launched, you’ll need to promote yourself online to build awareness around your company and your launch. This is where all that branding brainstorming will come in handy. 

Learning digital marketing concepts will help your business thrive. In the beginning, you should be on all of the major social media platforms accruing new followers, who will become customers one day.

Keep your look and voice consistent with your brand across your online shop and all your social media accounts. Become recognizable to your followers and your potential leads.

When you’ve begun implementing SEO and the many different types of digital advertising, you’ll slowly begin to notice everything surrounding your business grow. Always try to learn more about these marketing practices because they’re always changing. 

Start Brainstorming Today

Your brand new t-shirt company awaits you. Start out small while you learn the ins and outs of the industry, then you can use the things that you learn about digital marketing to grow your business slowly.

Eventually, you may find yourself with extra money in your pockets and down the road, you could end up hiring employees and moving into a t-shirt production facility. There’s no telling where great design, great branding, and a strong work ethic could take you, but there’s only one way to find out.