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Starting a T-Shirt Business Online With No Money – A Complete Guide

Are you about starting a t-shirt business online? Do you want to learn what it takes to run a T-Shirt printing business successfully from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a t-shirt business from home with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample t-shirt business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample t-shirt marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for t-shirt businesses. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a t-shirt printing business online. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Table of Content

  1. T-Shirt Printing Industry Overview
  2. Market Research and Feasibility
  3. T-Shirt Printing Business Plan
  4. T-Shirt Printing Marketing Plan
  5. T-Shirt Printing Name ideas
  6. T-Shirt Printing Licenses and Permits
  7. Cost of Starting a T-Shirt Printing Business
  8. T-Shirt Printing Marketing ideas

Starting a T- shirt business is not a herculean task. However, there are due steps that must be taken in order to start on the right footing. As there are business ideas that abound, all over the world, so there are businesses that can be started even from the comfort of your home.

With the T-shirt business, you can be sure to penetrate the market to a large extent. This is especially when the design being churned out is good and meets the fashion market requirement. Why is this so, you just might ask? The truth is that nobody wants to wear a tacky cloth. This is one of the reasons why the quality has to be good in order to penetrate the market.

Why Start a T-Shirt Business?

If your wish has been to start a t-shirt business, then the fact remains that you can start their own clothing label from the very comfort of your home, on a small scale and service a customized market. On the flipside, if you have got the resources, or can be able to raise the required fee to go large scale, then you can open a clothing factory and dominate both the U.S. market and the international market.

One constant factor with starting a t-shirt business is the point that there is always a ready market for manufacturers of clothes. All that you have got to focus fully on is carving a niche, and work hard and smart to build a brand name that can be accepted beyond the city of operation.

What Does It Take to Start a T-Shirt Business Online?

The t-shirt business just like most businesses, flourishes when there is a high taste of creativity, branding (media hype et al) and good business skills. This means that if you have a knack for creativity, then you can be sure to make good money in this trade.

How you intend to start, either small or big is not of essence, especially when you are sure to start on the right foundation and with the right combination of skills and talents. This is because there are great brands today that started by selling on the streets, and are a household name today in t-shirt production.

Yet another very important thing to be considered in the t- shirt trade is the brand name. Whilst some folks may be attracted to a brand because of its name, yet others might not be too concerned. Be that as it may, the idea is to have a brand name and perhaps the logo that is attractive.

For those who are doing really well in the industry, you will find that one of the things that help them is the name and the type of logo they create that best communicate how they want people to perceive them. Once you are able to secure a good name for your t-shirt line, plus have a very creative graphic artist that helps you create a compelling logo, then you are good to go.

So, if you have the desires to start your own t-shirt line, then it is only natural that you take all that you see in this read really seriously. Furthermore, you can decide to start your t-shirt business from a small location in the United States of America or in other parts of the continent and before long you will find that you will break even.

Starting a T-Shirt Business Online With No Money – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

Beyond every reasonable doubt, the t-shirt trade is such that has great returns on investment. This is simply because of the myriad of people who see to it that they are well clothed. More so, the love for t-shirt cuts across all gender of life. As a matter of fact, both the young and old, as well as male or female gender likes to wear t-shirts.

The Statistics that has it that in 2010, American households spent an average of $1,700 on apparel, footwear, and related fashion products and services further buttresses the point that the t-shirt trade is a money spinning one. In the same year, the global profit made from organically grown cotton was worth well over $5 billion.

  • Interesting Statistics About the T-Shirt Printing Business

In the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, and Italy and in other part of the world, it is a known fact that folks spend a fortune on clothes; and this has to do with renowned clothing brands. In the US for instance; it is known that people who live in Manhattan spend the most cash on wears.

People also spend precisely an average of $362 per month whilst shoppers in Tucson, Arizona, spend the least on apparel – they spend an average of $131 per month. In the United Kingdom, the figures is also on the rise, as consumers have an estimated £30 billion ($46.7 billion) worth of unworn clothes lingering in their wardrobes.

The bureau of statistics stated that employment in the U.S. apparel manufacturing industry (with the t-shirt product inclusive) has declined by more than 80 percent (from about 900,000 to 150,000 jobs) over the past twenty years.

However, labor productivity in the U.S. manufacturing sector more than doubled from 1987 to 2010. Labor productivity also more than doubled over that period in U.S. textile mills and nearly doubled in footwear manufacturing sector as well.

In the time past, precisely in the 20th century, clothing was handmade based on demand by individuals. After the 20th century, that the sewing machine (industrial sewing machines) was invented, it became pretty much easier to produce clothes in tons.

It wouldn’t be an overstatement therefore, to say that to a large extent, technology indeed is responsible for opening up the t-shirt and the clothing industry in general. It is for this reason that clothes can now go through the various factory system of production and still maintain its quality and sizes.

  • Is the T-Shirt Printing Industry Growing or Declining?

The t-shirt industry is growing and without mincing words, it can be said that there are loads of opportunities for entrepreneurs to launch their own t-shirt line from the scratch and still become a globally recognized clothing brand.

With the remarkable progress that have been achieved over the years as the computer and computer software begins to expand, crafting clothes can has become a lot easier and designers can reach out to the world market by putting up his products (clothes) for sale online; Instagram, YouTube et al are good platforms to promote this type of business.

Starting a T-Shirt Business Online With No Money – Market Feasibility Research

  • Demographics and Psychographics

When it comes to t-shirts, there is no restriction to the market demography; the market for t-shirts, as earlier mentioned cuts across male and female, young and old and just everybody on planet earth. Why this so, you may wonder?

This is so because basically humans need apparels to cover their nakedness. Be that as it may, statistics also show that the women folks are more liable to spend more on t-shirt and clothes in general. Overall, everyone whether young or old would purchase a t-shirt or more.

  • List of T-shirt Business Niches

The t-shirt business just like all other types of businesses may require that you specialize in a niche. Even though the business may seem straight jacketed, however the truth remains that one could still create a specialty. Here are some of the limited areas you may consider to carve a niche in. Some of the niches in the clothing line industry are;

  • Children T-shirts
  • Female T-shirts
  • Men’s T-shirts

There may also be cases where you want to specialize in more than one area. This is very well allowed. However, it is needful that you get the skills involved in practicing in more than one area. This is so important because there are cases of folks who thought they could handle more than one area, but in the long run failed woefully. As such care has to be taken so that you learn the skills properly and then engage in an area that will promote your t- shirt business.

  • Competition in the T-Shirt Design Industry

Inspire of the fact that more and more people are thronging the industry, and thereby causing the competition in the trade to be stiffer, yet everyday more and more people have continued to settle in the trade. Despite this known fact, the t-shirt market is still a vast one.

People can make huge profit in this line. In this industry however, what makes one stand out is the level of creativity. As such, if you are able to come out with distinct designs, then you can be sure to survive the stiff challenge.

Also, just like every business goes through a teething stage, you have got to be ready to pay your dues in this regard. However, if you are very hardworking and creative, then you can shorten the teething stage. Yet another way through which you can wriggle out of the stiff competition may require that you create your own market entirely, by producing a brand or type of shirt that isn’t common.

  • Internationally Recognized Clothing Brands / Designers

There are several t-shirt brands that started locally, but have grown to becoming a global brand. Some of the internationally recognized t-shirt brands are designers who are also into the manufacturing of other apparels. They include;

  • Ralph Lauren
  • Calvin Klein
  • Gucci
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • TM Lewin
  • H & M
  • Levi Strauss
  • Dockers
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Atmosphere
  • Mulberry
  • Burberry
  • Hugo Boss
  • Adidas
  • Nike
  • Puma
  • Old Navy

Economic Analysis

The fact that there are over 7 Billion people on planet earth means that there is indeed a very large market for the t-shirt industry. For instance; if everybody in the world owned a t-shirt or more, then bottom line is that it could interpret as over21 billion t-shirt users. It is for this reason that if proper analysis is being done, then in the true sense of the word, t-shirt lines shouldn’t struggle to get consumers.

Coming to the issue of whether one should cater to the rich or poor; the mass market to a huge extent has to take care of a wide range of customers that cuts across both the rich and the poor. This is why to cut cost of production to the barest minimum is important to some brands; most t-shirt manufacturing companies in the United States of America now manufacture their clothes in Asia; this is because it is far cheaper when compared to manufacturing in the U.S.

Most of the new brands try as much as they can to produce designer imposters. What they do is this; they use the model or design of a top winning brand of t-shirt, and they replicate it. However, they may not be able to use an equally durable material as used by the real designer brands. Even at that, you can bet that there is a ready market for the purchase of these products.

Yet another reason why this type of lower standard t-shirts move is because of the cheaper rate at which they are being sold. This means that the cost of production wouldn’t be as expensive as that of the original t-shirt brands.

  • Starting a T-Shirt Business from Scratch Vs Buying a T-Shirt Printing Franchise?

For entrepreneurs who want to start their own thirst business, it is pertinent to note that there is no franchise in the industry. As a matter of fact, it pays to start your own t-shirt business from the very beginning. Good news is that you can choose to start small and serve a specific market segment and then grow as you so wish.

One of the major advantages of stating a t-shirt brand from the scratch is because of the ability and the prerogative to build your business the way you want it,   without a strict restriction. For instance; if you bought a franchise, you may have so desired to drive the business in a particular way; however because of the standard that may have been set by the franchise brand, you may be restricted and as such required to spend more.

  • Possible Threats and Challenges of the T-Shirt Business

Are there business all over the world that doesn’t have challenges and possible threats? The answer is a capital NO. This is because there is often no business venture that does not come with its own fair share of challenges and threats.

The t-shirt manufacturing business like every other business has its own challenges and threats. One thing is certain; once the proper process is followed in setting up a business, overcoming challenges and surviving threats wouldn’t be a major issue. This means it would surely be a hurdle that can be surmounted.

Some of the common challenges that t-shirt brands face are lack of fund to sustain the media hype and advertisement needed to successfully sell a t-shirt brand to the general public. Other challenges are economic downturn, unfavorable government policies and the arrival of competitors.

Starting a T-Shirt Business Online With No Money – Legal Aspect

  • Choose a Name for Your T-shirt Brand

If you are conversant with the trend in the t-shirt industry, you will realize that the name you choose for your brand, can give you leverage in the market place. The truth is that if the name of your clothing label sounds nice and appealing, people can easily accept your brand.

Before arriving at a name for your brand, it wouldn’t cost you anything to go online and check out the names of the leading brands in the clothing line industry. This is so that you can take a cue to see how these names to a big extent help to drive and promote the t-shirt business too.

In some cases, some folks may want to purchase your t-shirt because of its name. So care has to be taken in coming up with one. For instance; you may consider naming your brand after your name. If your name is Andrew Bells, your brand name could as well be ‘Bells or ‘Andrew’ or even’ ‘Andrews’.

In some case you may want to give it your full name; Like; ‘Andrew bells’. In the long run, it pays that you know that there is no hard and fast rule as to how or what your brand is about.

Writing a Business Plan for your T-Shirt Business

If you have been an ardent follower of business trends all over the globe, then you may have noticed the importance that is more often than not attached to writing a business plan. What really is the business plan all about?

Business plan is the blue print that is needed to successfully run a business. You are required to write a detailed business plan that can pass reality test when subjected to it. The whole idea of writing a business plan is not just for the sake of having a business document in place; but a detailed guide on how to effectively run the business. Your business plan should outline and cover strategies on how you intend to manage your T- shirt trade.

The rule of thumb in writing a business plan is that you just try as much as possible to be realistic and never go over board when   putting figures on income and profits et al. As a matter of fact, it is safer to underestimate when writing a business plan, than over estimate, so that you won’t be so disappointed when reality sets in. There are different areas that make up a business plan document. They include some of the following;

  • Executive summary and Company’s descriptions: Here, you are expected to write about the concept of your business, descriptions of your company, your company’s vision statement, mission statement and where your company will be located.
  • Other key components that should not be missing in your clothing line business plan are product offering, SWOT analysis, marketing and sales analysis / strategies, pricing, costing and financial projection, publicity and advertising strategy, budget and start – up capital generation.

Choosing a Location for your T-Shirt Business

When it comes to a t-shirt business, any location is ideal for the business -especially when other key factors have been taken care of. The truth is that, if you have though it through and are convinced that you want to start from the home, then you can start a small scale clothing line business from your home.

The fact that you chose a location that is in the outskirt of town does not in any way stop you from selling your clothes nationally or even in the international market. The idea is to have a place that is cost effective, and can be most ideal for the kind of business that you have chosen to do.

Some of the few factors that can influence the siting of at-shirt manufacturing company are closeness to cheap labor, closeness to source of raw materials and stable power supply amongst other factors. If you study the trend in the clothing line industry, you will realize that some of the leading clothing line brands in the United States prefer to setup their factory in countries in Asia where they can cut the cost of manufacturing. India, Thailand, and China are some of the most preferred destination.

Starting a T-Shirt Business With No Money – Technical & Manpower Details

The advent of industrial sewing machines and computerized system facilitates mass production of clothes. Good enough; some of the machines that are used in t-shirt manufacturing factory can be bought as fairly used, but if you have the money, it is better to purchase brand new machines.

If your intention of starting a t- shirt business is to cover a large market, then it pays that you acquire / lease a factory or warehouse that can easily be converted to your clothing line business. But, if you just want to cover a specific market and you don’t intend to start big for obvious reasons, then it will be more economical to rent a facility for the business.

Basically, there are key employees that are needed when starting a clothing line business. You will sure need a fashion designer, tailor, factory worker / machine operators, sales and marketing officer and factory manager. On the average you will need an estimate of 15 employees for small scale clothing line company, 50 or more employees for medium scale clothing line business and over 100 employees for large scale clothing line business. These are some of the machines, equipment and tools that we would need to start your t-shirt line business;

  • Industrial sewing machines
  • Pattern makers for crafting designs.
  • Women and men dress forms used for garment building.
  • Scissors
  • Hole punchers
  • Straight and curved rulers
  • Pencils
  • Measuring tapes
  • Notchers for marking seams.
  • Pins
  • Slopers
  • Dotted pattern paper.
  • Sewing machine needles
  • Hand sewing needles.
  • Threads
  • Sketching books.
  • Drapings tools.
  • Dressmaking Stick pins
  • Muslin
  • Style tapes
  • Fabric shears
  • Soft lead pencil
  • Marking pen
  • Pattern plotter.
  • Pattern making software.
  • Computer
  • CAD tools for designs
  • Digital drawing tools
  • Digitizer board for pattern scanning.
  • Heat transfer machines for T-shirts.
  • Print tables.
  • Racks
  • Slat wall
  • Mannequins
  • Hangers
  • Labels and Tags.
  • Packaging materials
  • Industrial pressing irons
  • Supply of fabrics

The Production Process Involved in a T-Shirt Business

The production process for mass production in a t-shirt manufacturing factory is a little bit different from small scale production of clothes. There are different stages that are involved and it is imperative to note that these stages have got to be started and completed meticulously, so that nothing is left haphazardly done. Here below are some of the stages involved;

  • Sketching Stage

The first stage in the production of t-shirt starts with designing and sketching stage. It is the fashion designer that is responsible for designing the kind of clothes that the company wants to produce. At this stage of the production process, the designers are permitted to free – style and come up with a sketch that will be subjected to screening by a panel of designers.

  • Pattern Making Stage

After the first sketch has gotten its approval from the panel of designer, the next stage is for pattern makers to develop the first pattern from the initial sketch. At this stage, the pattern maker can adopt a standard size and thereafter other sizes will be created.

  • Sample Making

The next stage is for samples to be made from the pattern that was developed. The patterns that are developed goes through the sewing department for it to be coupled into an apparel. At this stage, the pattern created will be stitched on calico or muslin which is an inferior quality of fabric and it reduces cost. After this process, the sample garment will be subjected to review by a panelist of designers. If it is approved, it moves to the next stage and if not all the necessary adjustment and correction will be made.

  • Mass Production Pattern

The next stage after the sample garment has been approved is to develop a production pattern which will be used for mass production of apparels. This is one of the important stages that must not be handled with levity. As a matter of fact, it must be handled by a very skilled employee.

  • Grading

The other production sequences that will be followed are grading; the essence of grading is to develop patterns in different standard sizes (S, M, L, XL, and XXL et al). Grading a pattern simply means scaling a pattern up or down so as to create multiple sizes. Thereafter; markers will be created on the fabrics; usually it is done with the aid of computer software. The next step is to spread the fabrics with the aid of spreading machines before the fabrics are cut to sizes.

After cutting to the required specification, the materials are then sorted out before they are transferred to the sewing and assembling department. What is more, once the clothes come out the sewing department, they are transferred to the pressing and finishing department where the clothes will be properly ironed and packaged.

The final stage in the production process in a clothing line factory is to inspect the finished clothes in order to identify defects. Once a defect is identified, they will be amended before the clothes are finally packaged and shipped to outlets where they will be sold. At this stage, the t-shirts are sorted out based on sizes, colors, and designs et al

Starting a T-Shirt Business With No Money – The Marketing Plan

Marketing your clothing line business requires creativity and aggressiveness. No doubt there is an avalanche of competition in the t-shirt market, but if your designs stand out, you will be able to attract a portion of the available market.

One of the key strategies in marketing clothes is to create hypes around your designs. Creating hypes around your t-shirt labels involves attending fashion expos, leveraging on the both online and offline media platforms like TeeSpring and Shopify to promote your clothing brands. Instagram and YouTube are some of the potent social media tools in promoting a clothing brand.

Another major leverage in marketing a clothing line business is to get well known celebrities in different fields to endorse your brand. For instance; you may consider approaching a well-known artiste and telling them how they could be your ambassador. The truth is that if a celebrity wears your t-shirt, he or she will definitely help you generate traffic to your clothing line brand.

Others are through word of mouth, the internet and other strategies that you must continue to work at so as to attract all and sundry.

  • Creating a Suppliers/Distribution Network for your T-Shirt Business

Running a clothing line business requires that you enter into business relationship with suppliers of cotton and wools, supplies of threads, suppliers of stiffeners, suppliers of dyes, suppliers of packaging materials et al. One of the places where you can get to network with business partners is in chambers of commerce and industry, and fashion expos et al.

Another major business relationship that is required is the relationship with wholesale distributors and even retailers. The amount of cash in – flow in your business is determined by the number of wholesale distributors that you have. One of the ways to attract loads of wholesalers is when you have very durable and quality products. Bottom-line is that no one wants to be responsible for retailing substandard clothes. This is why you have got to produce quality so as to have loyal wholesale distributors.

It is important to create a win – win business relationship with merchants and wholesalers if indeed you want your clothing brands to penetrate the market. You might want to sell below the average price in the industry especially if you are new so as to attract customers. It is no longer news that one of the ways to attract all and sundry to your business if you are new, is to keep the price lower than normal.

Tips for Running a T-Shirt Business Successfully

The success of any business is the combination of the daily activities that takes place in the organization. In order to run a successful t-shirt business, it is important to create standard operating processes that run on autopilot. This means that you have got to be ready to create systems and processes that can help your business scale.

Every day’s job should start by reviewing the previous day’s job, reviewing all the set targets and goals before setting a new target or goal for the day. If an organization must succeed, all hands must be on deck; everybody should be involved in promoting the brand of the organization. It should not be left to the PR or marketing and sales department. Everyone has got to run with the vision and mantra of the business, so as to make great progress.

Furthermore, the management of the organization should ensure that they review the operating processes from time to time in order to develop better and faster ways of doing things. If it is possible, they can hire the services of business consultants to look into the process and then make recommendations on how best to carry out a job description et al. Recommendation could mean suggesting customized software for a specific process in the clothes production.

With all the information that has been put into writing here’ it also pays that you work hard and also attract only those that believe in the vision and mission of the trade. This is so that you do not have to work with people who do not buy into the vision of your t- shirt business. One of the disadvantages of working with people who do not buy into your vision is that things may turn bad.

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