The imprinted T-shirt industry is a multibillion dollar industry.
Almost everyone wears T-shirts and other imprinted garments. With a
keen eye on the bottom line and attention to detail, it is not
difficult to turn a profit in the T-shirt printing business.
Determine which type of printing you want to do. T-shirts are
traditionally printed with screen printing. In recent years,
digital imaging has become a popular method for printing T-shirts.
Which technology will you use in your shop? Screen printing is
good for one- and two-color prints and for multicolor prints on
long runs. Digital imaging is good for full color short runs.
It is possible to purchase an ink-jet printer for less than $100.
With this, some T-shirt transfer paper and some blank T-shirts you
will be set up to create a run of T-shirts. Likewise, many art supply
stores can sell basic screen printing kits for $100 or less. However,
to create professional quality work, it is best to use professional
tools. Consult the website Screen Printers for basic information about
all things screen printing. They also sell direct-to-garment digital
imaging printers, which cost close to $20,000. The more direct line
to a profitable business is to set up a screen printing shop with a
manual T-shirt press. One outstanding supplier is Midwest Sign. A
complete screen printing shop can be set up for under $10,000. It is
also possible to set up a screen print shop with basic or homemade equipment.
Create a business plan. Who is your target market? If you live in a
university town, you may choose to focus your sales and marketing efforts
on the university community. Do you live in a tourist destination? You may
focus your sales efforts on selling to retailers catering to tourists.
Perhaps you are aiming at schools, summer camps or some combination of
target markets. Spread the word about your new business with various
marketing techniques, including online listings. Create business support
materials such as brochures, cards, price lists and a website.
Develop a price structure. Research the cost of blank T-shirts from
several wholesalers. Consult with other T-shirt printers and collect sample
quotes to familiarize yourself with prices. Each job will consist of the blank
shirt cost, the markup on the blank shirt and a printing price. Calculate
an hourly shop rate. Most T-shirt printing shops need to pull $50 to $100
profit (before fixed costs) per production hour to be profitable. Know
fixed costs such as rent, electricity and loans to determine your monthly
bottom line. Determine your terms of business, such as requiring a 50-percent
down payment and the rest upon delivery, with credit terms of net payment due
in 30 days to credit-worthy clients.
Set up shop. Determine your square footage, plumbing and electrical needs.
Rent your space and set up your equipment. Test your equipment on sample
jobs before running a commercial job.
Tips & Warnings
1. Whether on inventory, marketing or equipment, do not spend one dollar you don’t
have to. Do not stock blank T-shirts; simply order them on a per job basis
from your blank shirt distributor and use the client’s down payment to buy
the shirts for each job
2. It typically takes a new business a year or more to reach profitability.
Most new businesses close in the first year.