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Business Plan

1803 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Solmu
After all of my "negative" comments, I figured it'd be nice to offer something useful to the community. I've been working on the development of my own clothing brand (t-shirts to begin with, until I build brand and capitol), and I just posted this plan in somebody else's thread who decided to invest their entire budget on a whim, without any success so far. It inspired me to think this up.
(Sorry for the double post, but I thought it would be more useful as it's own thread).

PLEASE NOTE: This is a plan for people that are serious about getting into the t-shirt design business on a limited budget. It is NOT intended for exclusively online businesses or screen-printing shops.

I think the best way to start is to start small (unless you have an unlimited budget). This way, you don't have to spend your entire budget at once. You can learn as you go, and adapt at the same time, spending money only when it is needed (for a new concept/design/style/idea etc), and possibly making some of the money back at the same time, while you're still growing.

Something like this -

1) Buy a few blanks - but not just any blanks. Make sure you get the exact size/style/cut you're looking for, and if it's not just right, keep trying until you find EXACTLY what you're looking for. You don't want to come off as a cheap brand that prints on the first thing they came across.

2) Work a deal with a printer to print a small quantity (maybe 25-50 shirts - enough to begin marketing your brand) at a slightly discounted price, instead of printing hundreds of shirts on a whim that may completely flop. Pick only your best designs to start with - the ones that you have the most confidence in.

3) Distribute these shirts as samples of your brand to local retail shops, and feature them in your online store. Make sure you market yourself as an up-and-coming brand. If the shirts are a hit - continue to build your brand and distribute more and more shirts. If not, start over with new designs, and try again. If this does happen, it's only a small loss - and you've still got enough money to start again - a small price to pay for the learning experience. You're bound to get it right eventually!

4) It never hurts to give a few shirts away as promotional items! People love free stuff, and it's a good way to get your brand out there.

5) Don't forget to wear your own gear - if it's a good style, people will dig it and gain interest in the brand!

6) Continue to work hard. When a few smaller shops carry your brand and see that it is selling, they'll want to come back to you for continued business. Your company will gain credibility and respect. This will also get larger shops interested in your clothing, for even more business.

Of course it's all easier said than done - but nobody ever succeeded without ever trying!

Unfortunately, I've never had one of my designs printed or sold (I'm BRAND NEW!) so I cannot attest to the validity of this plan, but hopefully somebody here can verify that it works!

This thread is open to ALL comments/criticism/ideas/changes/etc.

Thanks everyone!
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As far as a business plan goes, that isn't well thought out in my opinion. If you need help in building a business plan, go to the Small Business Development Center in your community. They are usually located near universities and colleges. They are free help and will help with sourcing and building a plan, and make sure you don't overlook things.

As far as the flaws in your plan, to buy blanks at a decent price, you really need to be set up as a vendor and have your licensing in place. Most contract screen printers will work with you on pricing, but they generally have minimums to get you the best prices. And some of them give different pricing based on the quantity and if they provide stock or if it's print only.

A lot of "brands" use a generic tee that is relabeled with their private label. You have to do a bit of research to find who and what you can get to do that for you, but if you want a specific shirt, you can get it made to your specifications with your labeling in China, but you are looking at large minimums you will have to purchase.

I wouldn't go have a bunch of samples made and then go door to door soliciting. That isn't very professional. You need to find out who is their buyer? Do they only purchase at certain times of year? What do you need to do to get them to consider your products? Call ahead and make appointments. Do your research before you start printing stuff.

As far as that goes, you would be better off to make your samples and go to market in Dallas as a vendor and try your hand at that. It would get you WAY more exposure in a short period of time, but you had better be prepared to fill large orders in a short period of time.

As for me, I have a business. I have had a storefront, and did well with it. I sold that business, and am doing a similar business from my home and through the web. I am not a printer/embroiderer. I contract that out. For me, it is worth the little extra I pay to have someone else pay for the equipment and spend their time and elbow grease making the designs I come up with. I am the salesman, and the concept/design person.

It is very difficult to do both the concept/design and print part of the shirt business, and then to sell and market it too. Most screen printers don't have store fronts with ready made merchandise available. They do custom work for others. Most merchants are not in the screenprint/embroidery business. They contract that part out. You have to ask yourself, WHY? In my opinion, it's because it's difficult to do both and do both well.

Good luck to you. Think before you buy!
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Most merchants are not in the screenprint/embroidery business. They contract that part out. You have to ask yourself, WHY? In my opinion, it's because it's difficult to do both and do both well.
In my opinion, because they lack the financial resources and technical skills. Just because they can't, doesn't mean it's desirable not to.

Trying to do too much is a common trap for the small business owner, so yes, you do need to be very mindful of that.

On the other hand, designers who fully understand the process (that is, designers who either are or have been printers) are better for it.

If you're producing in volume you'd be mad not to contract out the printing to someone else. But even then, large companies do sampling and design development in house whenever possible.

The actual printing of copy #2 through to 10,000+ is better left to someone else if you can (though for a small business, it's more cost effective not to), but copy 1? If you're not able to do it yourself, you are missing out on one key ingredient of the process.

Very few people can manage every aspect of a business (and why should they?), so there'll always be something to miss out on, but to my mind it's one of the more important things to be able to do yourself if you can.

It's one of the things that separate the many "How do I get this done??" posts that end with "Wow, I can't afford that." from the "That's easy, this is what I did..." posts. It allows small labels to produce work that would otherwise take the resources of a significantly larger label.

Each person has to carefully choose what they have the resources to take on (financially and otherwise), but don't kid yourself that you're not missing a big piece of the puzzle by skipping out on production.
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