Starting a screen-printed T-shirt business is an adventure filled with creativity. Whether you print your own designs or those of your clients, getting the image just right takes practice and ability. Have your business and marketing plans ready to ensure your success. After you receive your business licenses and permits to operate and resell products, you're ready to buy your equipment and start the printing process (see "Resources").
Purchase the equipment to run your screen printing business. You will need supplies, such as a screen printing press, squeegee, ink, screen exposure unit, dryer and T-shirts. You also need to ensure that your space for production is well-ventilated with the proper electrical voltage and disposal system.
Create your own designs that you will imprint onto the T-shirts to sell. Also, customize graphics for your customers using your graphic design software. Make them exactly as requested and have your customer sign proofs of the design before you begin to print the T-shirts. Always seek approval prior to production.
Perform market research at schools, colleges and other locations where T-shirts are popular to determine the type of designs that people are purchasing. Ask for input from students, teachers, coaches, companies and others for their opinion. Also, set up a booth at sporting events or car rallies to see which design sells the best.
Sell the products that you print. Place ads in the local newspaper. Create a website that features actual shirts that you've made. Print flyers and distribute them to local schools and businesses. Offer customers your design with their choice of shirt color and graphic colors.
Market your business to those who want to print their own design on a shirt. Offer your graphic design service for an extra charge. If the customer has the art ready to print, ensure that it is in the proper format before you start production. Create a Web page on your site that highlights your customizable products and services. Decide what your minimum quantity will be to make the most profit.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce in order to network with other business owners who may use your services or refer you to others. Also, become a member of the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association for business support and to show your customers that you are a professional in the field.
Obtain commercial liability insurance to protect you, your business and your customers.
Always place an undercoat on dark or red shirts with light print. Failing to do so will cause the shirt color to bleed through the design. Make sure to charge your customer accordingly for this process.