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My wife and I are working on a business idea. We're more interested in selling simple designs, more like a boutique. I've been most inspired by www.theryde.com. I'm not much interested in doing bulk screen printing orders but may have to in order to go to the next level as far as investing in capital.

I have a background in photography, graphic design, and working with my hands so it seems garment design fits well with me. I also have my own webhosting business so the website part will be taken care of. I've been screen printing shirts off an on for a couple years with a single screen, no press, just the screen. It has worked fine when I use it. Again, the designs I'm attracted to are simple, single-color designs. Maybe 2-3 color later on.

To take it to the next baby step and make a business out of it, I've been looking into plastisol transfers. I need one-off printing and getting a DTG printer is not even on the radar. It seems from my research hot split plastisol transfers get me the closest to one-off printing (as far as pressing different color/size shirts with different designs) while keeping quality higher than traditional inkjet transfers. CafePress is attractive until you look at the base costs. For the service they provide, it's fine but I'm looking to start bringing in some of the work in-house.

My thoughts are to invest in a good heat press, outsource the plastisol transfer printing, stock my own Ts, and build a solid, attractive site to sell the shirts. Shirt color options will be limited. I'd like to think shirt color should be part of the overall design. This should reduce the amount of blanks I need to stock.

I see the next step after I prove the business is to buy a press setup and bring the plastisol transfer printing in-house (still using transfers to maintain one-off order fullfillment). This would also give me the ability to print larger orders to help recover the capital invested. Ultimately, the goal is to go DTG. Maybe when that time comes, my readiness and the lowering costs of the machines will intersect.

Please give feedback if you have any. I'm looking to make a move in about 2 months. Any ideas I've missed that would fit my model? Again, I'm looking for a good balance of cost, capital and quality. Being able to start out small and grow without huge immediate $$ commitment.

Thanks ahead of time,
Scott
 

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Ultimately, the goal is to go DTG...

...any ideas I've missed that would fit my model? Again, I'm looking for a good balance of cost, capital and quality. Being able to start out small and grow without huge immediate $$ commitment

Sounds like you've thought it out well.

The only idea that you may not have considered is to contract out a DTG printer (not Cafepress/zazzle, but a business that runs a DTG printer who can do similar work at a lower cost) instead of buying a heat press.

That would require less up front costs in equipment and you could focus just on the design and marketing and allow someone else to focus on their strength (printing and production) while you build capitol to do it all yourself later on and flesh out the viability of your designs and how you're able to market them.
 
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