How to Start a T-Shirt Business

by Tina Amo; Updated September 26, 2017
T-shirts in store

A compelling T-shirt design and a catchy phrase attract customers. However, there are other details to attend to when you are starting a T-shirt company. These include research into industry practices, securing funding and satisfying legal requirements. Your business’ success depends on adequate preparation, whether you are running it online, at home or from a commercial location.

Target a specific section of the market for your T-shirts. For instance, you could design T-shirts for toddlers, middle-aged male surfers or retired golfers. When you have a target customer, you can research those customers' habits and interests and use the information to determine the type of designs that would appeal to them.

Study established T-shirt companies to learn business methods that could contribute to your success. For instance, examine their designs, the quality of their T-shirts and their methods of promotion. You could research these companies on the Internet through their websites, blogs and customer review websites. Pay special attention to T-shirt companies that are focused on your target market.

Locate the resources you need for your business, such as supplies, equipment and talent. If you can create the designs and print the T-shirts yourself, you will need silk screens or a T-shirt printer and ink. If you plan to have others implement your designs, then you would need a graphic designer, a printer and a source of T-shirt blanks.

Prepare a business plan. This is a formal statement of your business goals and how you plan to run your business to achieve them. It helps you look ahead and plan for problems along the way. Because the business plan also deals with the financial aspects of business, it is one of the documents that lending institutions ask for when you apply for a loan.

Estimate the cost of starting your T-shirt business to determine how much start-up capital you need. For instance, calculate the total cost of renting an office, purchasing equipment and supplies and hiring a graphic artist. Financing options include money from your savings, donations from family and friends and a loan from a bank.

Register your T-shirt business with your city and state offices. You will also have to apply for the licenses that your state requires for a T-shirt business. You could use your name as the name of the business, if you are will operate as the sole owner, or register a DBA ("Doing Business As").

Design some T-shirts. Ask for feedback to ensure that the designs would appeal to your target customer. Family and friends can help, but also get opinions from other people who fit your target market. Make any necessary adjustments, based on the opinions and suggestions, before producing the T-shirts.

Advertise your T-shirts with as many resources as possible. You could promote your business inexpensively on the Internet, around your neighborhood and at events. Newspaper ads and business cards are also effective.

About the Author

Tina Amo has been writing business-related content since 2006. Her articles appear on various well-known websites. Amo holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in information systems.

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