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johnny0313x's avatar

Question about starting my own custom t-shirt business?

Asked by johnny0313x (1855points) December 9th, 2008

So I have been going back and forth thinking about this, and I am by no means a risk taker. I am a Graphic Designer, and have PLENTY of experience in e-commerce sales and marketing because of my current job. I was thinking about starting my own t-shirt website, possibly selling on ebay as well to get the ball rolling and coming up with designs for shirts, not silly ones with strange phrases but nicer things like you would find in the mall. Then selling them at the lowest possible price, for example if the t-shirt costs $5 and the screen printing costed $3 then maybe charging $10 for the shirt plus shipping which I think would be a fair price. However I don’t know how much the screen printing would be I know I would have to do it in bulk in order to make profit and keep the shirts affordable. How hard would it be to do the screen printing myself, Any feedback, warnings, ideas?

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5 Answers

TheKitchenSink's avatar

All I know is that there are many services that do this for you with no risk on your and, such as cafepress or Zazzle, but they tend to be more expensive for the customer.

PupnTaco's avatar

I print & sell T-shirts via my blog. I experimented with printing them myself and can do simple one-color designs that way… but for anything that requires registration, I’ve found it’s best to have them professionally silkscreened by a local printer. I wonder about the quality of Zazzle and the like – essentially a heat-transfer process.

You’ll need a resale license, then you can get wholesale pricing on blank tees (I use American Apparel). For the selling part, I used to run a shopping cart at GoDaddy which required a merchant account and had high monthly fees to accept credit cards, etc. For a while now, I’ve been selling on Etsy and it’s much more cost-effective, plus it provides greater exposure.

Hope that helps.

johnny0313x's avatar

How much is a resale license? And I’d like the print on the shirts to be very soft not like an iron on or plastic feeling. Any rough estimates on screen printing? Also how profitable do you think this could be. I am sure starting when the economy is not dying would be the best idea though my theory is those that stay alive during this time will excel in the end because the smaller weaker businesses will not make it and those that do will have more customers due to less compitition.

PupnTaco's avatar

Resale licenses aren’t much, I’m sure it varies by state.

Your screen printing costs will depend on the number of colors, amount of coverage, the color of the shirt (dark tees may need a “flash” of white under your design).

I make a decent profit on my tees, charging what the market will bear for short-run specialty designs. So, “profitable” depends on your other costs. It’s worth making some calls before you get in too deep. Find out what your screenprinter’s minimum quantity is, etc.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Sounds like Dave’s really got you covered, but I’ll also mention you should be able to get the t-shirts for less than $5 per from American Apparel. I know that ordering custom tees for clubs in college we were usually able to get AA tees for less than $5 per and we weren’t making huge orders.

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