Every month, we get a few inquiries from ambitious individuals who want to start their own t-shirt line. I’ve written about this almost ad nauseam (almost, because I’m certainly not nauseous yet). Hell, I’ve made so many mistakes with our own t-shirt line that I can write an even longer post about what not to do. Today I’ll try my best stick to just one concept.
The one concept for this post is funding, which is probably the hardest thing to figure out in the preprinted apparel business. Most people we talk to come to us with some pretty good design concepts (I’ve even seen some amazing ones). Many apparel entrepreneurs even have a fairly solid idea of what kind of shirts they want. So the most frequent missing part of the equation is how they’re going to fund their fashion empire.
I would say that 90% of the people who inquire about how much t-shirts cost to have printed have no idea at all where the baseline is, or how they’re going to mark up the shirts to make any money. So when we give them a quote, it can be a bit of sticker shock. There’s a lot of “back to the drawing board” thinking that happens after those initial conversations. Some people think the answer is to just start with fewer shirts or cheap quality shirts. Not to get off track here (I promised you once concept today), but those are the wrong answers. You’ll regret it later and that’s the subject of a whole other post.
The answer is to make sales before you buy shirts.
How to Do a T-shirt Presale
I believe in teaching a person to fish, so what I’m going to do here is give you some bullet points and let you fill in the personal details of how to accomplish each step. Here goes.
Attract a following. Whether it’s through social media, friends, relatives, a website, it’s up to you. Before you start selling shirts, you need to have at least a small group of people lined up to buy them.
Show them what the shirts will look like. There’s a lot you can do online and using free software. Get creative, you’re in business. Mock up your shirts and show people what they’re going to get.
Sell your small group the shirts at a lower price than your planned retail price. This step is key. It’s called a Presale. Sell enough shirts to cover your costs for a larger order, then have your shirts printed. Then, when you sell the rest of your shirts later, it’s all profit.
That’s it. Pretty simple, yes? DON’T go cheap to save a buck. DO a presale.
You can do it. Just do it smart.