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Discussion Starter #1
If I were to create an online t-shirt shop, what would be the least number of designs that I should start with? And how many of each design should I have to begin with? I'm trying to get a feel for what my startup costs might be.

At this point, I'm assuming that I'm not going to do the print-on-demand route, because I want to have the best quality and I expect to print a lot of designs on dark-colored shirts.
 

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On new designs, I start out with less than 10 per size and only one color. Once I am satisfied with the sales then I can order more. This allows me to hold down costs in the event that a design doesn't sell well.

Hope that helps.
 

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When I'm ordering a new design for the first time, I usually do about 25-50 of the new design, usually based upon how well I think the design will sell.

For my demographic, I usually do about 5 Medium, 10 Large, 10 XLarge, 5 XXLarge or something like that.

If I think the design has potential, I'll order enough to get to the 50 piece price bracket and maybe through in some smalls (5 Smalls, 10 Medium, 15 Larges, 15 XLarges, 5 XXLarge).

Like fatdoug said, I usually stick to one garment color for the design because it makes it much easier to manage inventory (like if you sell out of a particular size).
 

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Also largely depends on where the price breaks are for the screen printer you're using. Try to find one where you can do all different sizes of shirts of the same design in the same print, this way you can do the minimum or the next step up and still have a diverse size distribution.

Whaty I'm doing is starting with my heat press and on-demand printing, and then I'll see what designs are the most popular as well as ask buyers which designs they'd like to see on dark shirts, THEN I'm going to do them based on that.

Another option is Plastisol transfers. This is basically screen printing to paper which can then be heat pressed into a shirt - it'll look and feel like it was screen printed, and this way you can stock only transfers and drop them on the desired color/size as needed.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
How about the number of different designs to start with? Is 10 enough of a selection? 20? Or should I have more?
 

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I only started with a couple designs and have expanded as I have had the cash flow and ideas. I am trying to pay as I go so I am taking it a little slow.

I wouldn't think that starting with only a couple would hurt you in any way. You may have less sales at first but it shouldn't hurt you in the long run. Plus you can get used to managing a few shirts (shipping, inventory, emails, etc..) instead of having 20 designs dropped on you all at once.

I would also think that the sooner the better for you to get your site out there. I have found that the longer the site is out there and more people that are wearing the shirts the better it is for people picking up on your site.
 

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I think 10 is a good number of designs to start with. 5 is also good for a startup company.

If you start of with 5 or so, you can always add a newsletter to your site that encourages people to signup to find out about the new designs that you'll be adding over time. That way people know you're a growing company with fresh ideas and new shirts coming out often.

Sometimes, when you have only 2 designs to choose from, customers feel like they don't have much of a choice (even if your 2 designs are awesome), so they may feel like they don't have a lot to choose from.

I definitely agree that you should get your designs out their as soon as possible. Of course you should make sure your website is professional (if you are designing it yourself or having it done) and all the ecommerce stuff is in place, but it does take a while for people to find your site, get to know your site and start buying your shirts.
 

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It's not about how many designs you have, it's about QUALITY over QUANTITY :)

I would rather have 5 top selling designs than 100's of generic designs, but to answer your question I would say around 20 designs should be good
 

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Always start with a small inventory. I've noticed that sites with an incessant flow of shirts are pretty cheesy. Try to stick to a theme or be completely original. The theory in Entrepreneur Magazine seems to be that if you have less inventory and appeal to a more eclectic crowd, your market will be smaller but your targets will be reached easier and a higher conversion of sales will ensue.

I know many people who would generally eschew sites where there are , for example, pro abortion and anti abortion shirts on the same page.

Just remember, Sony started off selling kitchen appliances.. their stuff sucked.. now they are one of the most known electronic companies out there. So, even if you feel your inventory is sparse, launch it anyway... it's great for feedback. If you stay in the business, you will change your site and inventory hundreds of times.

cheers,
 

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Hey everyone, thanks for replying to the "newbie"! I'm sorry I didn't make my question more clear...I assumed you could read my mind. Ha!

I am actually wanting to know how much blank product (shirts, bags, caps, etc) *NOT DESIGNS* to keep on hand. I for sure believe quality not quantity and slow n steady!

I have always done clothing and accessories for my other company for clients upon ordering. I am seeing a hike in sales for my own designs sold to individuals and the growing demand for the apparel part of my old business. I sold the previous company and started this new one focused on screen printing (heat pressing) embroidery, and bling. I am in the very first stages of "startup costs" so I would like to carry a certain amount of blank product on hand, but I don't want to make the mistake as lots do by carrying to much or to less.
This is my actual question to my original post.

I hope I didn't confuse anyone to much.
 

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It depends on how many colors and styles you are going to offer and how close you are to the distributor. Stocking hoodies and sweatshirts in a few colors and all sizes will add up quickly and end up spending $1,000s.

In my case I am a 30MIN drive frome mine. I keep my inventory for hoodies and sweatshirts at 6 per size per color and offer 5 colors each since it's summer. For t shirts/tank tops I keep no less than a dozen per size and color. I do ebay retail and it works perfect for me. I stock uponce a week.
 
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