View Full Version : Looking for Advice

11-11-2009, 07:10 AM
Good Morning Everyone!

Hello!, my name is Ryan, and I would like to start a small business. About 2 years ago, my friends and I would draw pictures, retrace them using computer programs, and then get them printed on shirts. Many people seemed to like our shirts. We talked about making a small business out of this, but sadly, life had started to weigh more upon us. For me, school was requiring a lot more time and effort, and most breaks that I would have would be spent working. Time has moved on and I cannot stop thinking about this business.

I would like to create a small t-shirt company. Something that would allow us all to take part of as well as still have time for school. Luckily, I still have a few sketchbooks as well as a couple of shirts that were made from a couple years back. Where do I start? I cannot promise that I will be able to spend all the time in the world on this business, as school is my number 1 priority. But I can promise that the time I spend on the business will be well spent, and I will give it my all.

Some skills that I feel I should mention are that I am familiar with website designing/creating as well as computer programs used in this line of work. As far as money, I am limited to a certain, small amount. Currently, I am not able to afford any machinery that would allow me to print these shirts at my house.

Another benefit that I should mention is that most of my friends are "distributed" around the state. So I can definitely have them help me out as far as publicity. (Most of them are in college/university).

I Thank You all for reading this, and I am truly thankful!

11-11-2009, 09:46 AM
One of my favorite marketing stories of all time is a guy they call Johnny Cupcake. Google him and research his story. He is young and has no education and knows more about marketing than most so called experts.

Oh, did I mention he prints and sells t-shirts. Do a search about him on a forum for t shirt printers.

T-Shirt Forums (http://www.t-shirtforums.com/)


11-11-2009, 12:22 PM
Welcome to the forum Ryan. There are a lot of companies out there that will print your design on a shirt and you can sell it through their site. Naturally they'll take a cut of the sale. CafePress (http://www.cafepress.com/) is one for example. They'll also print your designs on calendars, and coffee mugs, and a bunch of other things.

You might want to start with one of those sites simply for the low (almost no) cost of startup and the ease of producing the t-shirts. It can also give you an idea how much people like your designs.

Assuming they sell well you can take the money you earn and put that into starting your own company selling your t-shirts.

Just a thought. Of course you can always skip the above and go right into starting your own company. Either way we'll be here trying to answer any questions you might have.

Thanks for joining the community.

Harold Mansfield
11-11-2009, 01:03 PM
Usually when something is nagging at you like that, it's a good indication that it's worth a second look.
As VG pointed out, there are places that will produce the shirts for a small fee, all you need to do is design them and sell them.

I have a friend that does T-shirts and he started out doing designs for small clubs and groups, (card clubs, bowling leagues, high school clubs, senior citizen groups, etc) using a local printer to do bulk. It basically grew out of word of mouth, the more people that wore his shirts to different functions, the more people asked "Who did your shirts?", and now he does shirts for groups all over the country.

I am sure that there are enough groups clubs and organizations on campus to get you started and get your feet wet, and I know that there has to be someone in the area that prints shirts.

11-11-2009, 03:17 PM
If you are at a University - there is a ton of resources there for you.

I would suggest that you talk with the dean of the business school. You might get a class (with professor help) to help you think out and develop the concept - most would be customers as well.

You could also get several other students to work with you on the entire business - thus, while some of you are in class or away - the others are working on the business.

Lastly, if you really want to get this business up and running - you have to make the time. Use your creativity to make it work - like VanGogh stated, there are companies that can help print your shirts to keep cost low - that is creative.

11-11-2009, 11:29 PM
Some schools also network with small business development centers and try to encourage students to pursue businesses. Take advantage of all these opportunities.

If you are working with others, I strongly recommend creating a partnership agreement. Granted you really don't want to focus on the accounting/taxation and legal issues now, these are considerations. My suggestion is to test the waters before you start deciding to organize more formally (LLC or corporation). No legal entity is going to shield you from lawsuits, and sufficient insurance is what you really need.

With the partnership agreement, you don't need to contain all the legal mumbo jumbo at this point. The good news is that state laws have a lot of defaults if you don't specify how you want to run. If you're fine splitting profits equally (based on the number of profits), great. If you want some other type of arrangement, you need an agreement (and get it NOW while you agree, not later when things are disputed, because then the statutory default kicks in). You may also want to specify what each person is going to contribute, the name of your organization, and who is suppsoe to do what.

11-13-2009, 01:28 PM
There are a also ways to start printing t-shirts on your own relatively economically. Look into sublimation or "dye sub" printing. You can set yourself up with a printer and ink and a heat press for a couple thousand dollars. The learning curve is fairly small too.

The only issue you may have is that sublimation works only on polyester. There is, however, a process called ChromaBlast that works on cotton, so it is possible to do both.

low bidder
11-14-2009, 11:00 AM
We had a friend who had a tshirt business and was quite successful, despite not being a very good business person. He had a group of good artists who designed images for him and he paid them per shirt that sold. That gave him very good artwork for the shirts, which is what sells the shirts. He went to trade shows and got gift shop accounts there. He was quite busy.

Humorous Illustrations About Business and Life (http://www.monroeartist.com/)

11-14-2009, 04:53 PM
i made my own tee shirts in highschool graphic arts class...it really wasnt very difficult...Ill bet you could make your own silk screening maching/jig....or look for someone going out of busines and buy their used machine..im sure its in the hundreds or low thousands...

not sure how much budget you have for the equipment?

if a 8th grader who barely cared about school could do a 3 color tee shirt Im sure an adult who cares alot could do the same or better

good luck

think of a unique idea for your shirts...something no one else has thought of...be original

have you heard about those 'lifes good' shirts???? i dont quite get it, but they are millionaires and pretty dorky....steal it ='lifes great'? or 'lifes bad' for the depressed?

11-16-2009, 09:02 AM
Dear All,
I thank you for the amazing responses! Every post was very descriptive, and I will be sure to take every possible piece of advice. Thank You again for your kind and informative responses.:D

I think as a plan of action right now, I will produce 5 new designs. I will try to sell them through CafePress, or another "middleman business." This will be my experiment and I will be sure to keep you all updated!

Best Regards,

11-16-2009, 09:53 AM
It's great seeing you be so receptive, Ryan. Good luck to you. Keep us informed as you progress. It's always interesting to see another business flourishing. Plus, we learn, too, as you describe your journey.

Keep posting!

11-16-2009, 11:58 AM
Good luck Ryan. Do let us know how things are working for you.

11-16-2009, 01:35 PM

Good luck to you. Using a POD service like CafePress or Zazzle can be a great way to start.

Let us know how it goes.

By the way, and I don't generally do this, especially pimping another forum on this forum, but in this case I do think it will be helpful to you, so I'm passing it along. There is a forum called T-Shirt Forums (http://www.t-shirtforums.com/) that is devoted entirely to garment decoration, including printing t-shirts. I think you'll find a lot of useful information there. I'm EnMartian on that forum if you do stop by.

12-08-2009, 02:27 AM
True. Because you still have a difficult time both managing school and startup business, work it out on printing companies while you take on creative designing. As a start, this can be effective enough as they pay for the shirts sold. Then while you earn and save more, you can actually put up your own after you graduate, making it no-need for you to hunt jobs because you already can make this talent work for you. :)

Good luck.

The Entrepreneurs Network
12-13-2009, 08:31 AM
Hi Ryan,
I just joined the forum and noticed your post from last month and felt that I should respond. Firstly. You have your priorities right. Finishing your education is #1. However, that should not stop you from starting your own business. The sooner you can get started the better, even if it is part time and with limited funds. Before you jump headlong into it, consider what is involved with starting a business and whether you have what it takes.

<please set up a signature>

12-31-2009, 02:32 AM
Hi, ryan,

university campus if a good way to sell T-shirt, if it's good design and great quality.
but, just like any other design item business, a very attractive web site is very necessary, and it does not cost much (or may be free of charge).

make a good web site first, and then do marketing to show your products on all campus across the nation.

actually, a fast way to make money is to make design related to currrent political issue.
such as last year's president election, the Obhama T-shirts were sold like a hot cake!
so, try to use your idea and make quick reaction to market change.

01-13-2010, 09:11 PM
Hi Ryan,

Very interesting idea. Why not start it? Perhaps, you could test the concept by developing a few t-shirts, and then asking people for feedback. My hunch is that you are on to something big...

Best of luck!