How Do I Start a T-Shirt Business?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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There are a number of different factors to consider if you want to start a t-shirt business, including production, distribution, and any potential competition in your intended market. Production can be handled by various screen printing and embroidery services that are available online, though you may prefer to purchase your own equipment. You may choose to sell your shirts online or partner with local stores or boutiques to carry your products. After you have done all of the necessary research, you can consider financing. If you will require some type of funding, you may want to draw up a business plan and then apply for a small business loan.

The first step to start a t-shirt business is to create a detailed plan. If you are not already familiar with the industry, you may want to do some research. You will also need to decide what types of t-shirts you want to sell and determine your potential market. After you have identified a target market, you can look for any competition in that segment and determine how you will stand out.


Another important early step is to figure out how you will actually produce the shirts. You can take advantage of a local screen printer or various online services, though this can cut into your bottom line. It is important to know exactly how much profit you would make per shirt using each available service so that you can make the most informed decisions. Another option is to purchase your own silk screening or embroidery machines to improve your profit on each shirt, though purchases such as these can be significant capital expenses.

You will also want to consider distribution before you start a t-shirt business. Many successful companies use online distribution to sell directly to the public, but another option is to speak with local boutiques or other clothing stores. Starting an online shop to sell your t-shirts can provide you with the best profit margins, but you will need some way of driving traffic and connecting with potential customers.

After you have done all the necessary research to create a viable plan to start a t-shirt business, you can examine your finances. Depending on the choices you make it may be possible to start a t-shirt business with very little out of pocket expenses, particularly if you use online services and do your own design work. In other cases you may need a significant amount of capital to get started, in which case you may want to apply for a small business loan. Having a solid business plan in place can be helpful during this process because it shows you have put the necessary thought and work into being successful.


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Post 6

A good way to make money printing and designing T-shirts is to get in with the local sports teams and youth organizations. Baseball is big where I live. Between the youth leagues and the church leagues, you could make a good bit of money printing custom T-shirts during baseball season here.

Post 5

As a small business man, I am always looking for new businesses that have the potential to generate a steady income. What I like about the proposition of starting and operating a screen printing business is that you can start out very small and with a relatively small investment.

You can buy a screen printing kit for a few hundred dollars. This is one of the simpler kits. The more advanced screen printing equipment can cost well into the thousands of dollars. However, with the small kits you can do the basic T-shirt designs with one color. If you want more colors then you will have to pay accordingly.

I think this a great business for a young kid with a business head on his shoulders. I wish I had discovered a similar type of business when I was a teenager. I could have printed the shirts in the garage and made a little extra money.

Post 4

My aunt gets the T-shirt sizes for all of our family members and then she has a guy she knows make T-shirts for all of us to wear during the family reunion each year. She gets a different color and design T-shirt each year and then we can keep them like souvenirs from the gatherings.

The guy who prints them has his own printing equipment, and he gives her a really good deal. I think this might be a good business to start because people are always looking to buy T-shirts with original designs for their special events. My aunt alone, buys about 100 shirts from him each year, and she is one of his smallest customers.

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