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Discussion Starter #1
How- Why- When Did you start.

I’m asking more for a motivational reason.
I am not a T-Shirt seller, but now that I have been making T-shirts for myself and my kids I have realize I enjoy it.
I always had artistic talent growing up, but never followed a career in it.
You can call me the average JOE 9-5 guy….I go to work , come home, help kids with home work, feed them dinner, and go running, and then practice making my kids some cool silkscreen T-shirts.

So I was wondering how and why, and when did you guys/ gals start.
Was it for fun?
Did you just wake up one day and say I want a T-shirt shop?
I look forward to reading some stories.

Thanks in advance
Rich
 

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For twelve years I languished away from one computer repair job to another. One of my greatest friends was there the whole time at all the jobs and he has great artistic ability. So we hit our thirties and decided we had two options:
1) Keep living a life of thankless, indentured servitude leading to an inevitable exit from the industry at the ages of 40 without a penny of savings.

--OR--

2) Start something we enjoy working tirelessly at and eventually parlay that into a full-fledged design/apparel company. I wear my own shirts everyday and the business is starting to roll in.

Even if we only make it to the same lower-middle class existence, we will have won our independence from a thankless attitude which exists in most companies in America.
 

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Great question; and great response, Shaggs!
I'm in the midst of starting my own story of freedom! I'm actually posting this from my *sigh* cubicle, but as soon as I get home, I'll be putting more work into my business.
In high school my friends and I would do drawings of shirt ideas. We never produced any of them, but we had a lot of fun.
In my early 20's I started to realize that working FOR someone wasn't for me, and that since I'm a web developer and graphic designer, I could probably sell some things online. So I started to gather info from local screen printers.
Never one to let other people make money off of me for things I could be doing myself, I started to research printing methods and equipment. By 26 I had an respectable setup IN MY 1-BEDROOM apartment!
Now I'm 30 and I have a freshly renovated basement, just the right size for all my gear, and my site is FINALLY together and ready to start loading with new products!
It really is an extreme-uphill climb starting a business when you already have a full time job and not a lot of $$$!
Good luck with yours!
 

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I was 19 and working the floor on a drilling rig in Oklahoma when the oil boom went bust in 80-81. My brother was a fine arts major in college at the time and took me around the art department. Going to school paid better than working in the patch so I signed up. The first class I attended was life drawing (figure drawing), there was a magnum of wine on ice and the Moody Blues "Days of future past" was playing. The model, an older (24 year old) black lady was an absolute knock out, and I thought to myself...self you have found your place in this world. At first it was a total scam in my mind, but if your going to sit in front of a stunningly beautiful women without her clothes on in a room full of people intently drawing, your pencil should also be moving. The thing is I found I had a knack for art. I took some prizes and after a a lot of rough edges got smoothed out, embraced creative work completely. The question after art school is then, wheres the money? I worked ad specialty for a good number of years saving up and buying my shop 1 piece at a time. Incorporated a half year ago, punched out and have been learning the joys of sales and promotion since then. :)
 

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I was in college for graphic design from 2001-2005. While in school, I worked as a graphic designer for a local print shop. During my senior year, I decided that I was either going to graduate school for graphic design, or was going to open a screen printing business. I weighed my options, and I decided that I would be happier working for myself to build my own empire, than working as an underpaid graphic designer and build someone else's. The empire is not built yet, but the foundation has been laid!
 

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i was ( and still am) in the bar biz and got tired of spending 7-8 bucks for a t-shirt +set up + screen charge+ art charge........and double that for a hat or 6x for a jacket so i looked into it and bought my own equipment. nothing fancy, a brown pony 6 color w/ dryer under. learned how to make screens, print positives and re-claim (always hate that part) all thru trial and error (oh ya). i then discovered embroidery and bought a babylock single head 6 color. then discovered heat press. the roland vinyl cutter came next to make stickers. my new thing is heat press vinyl, love it ! i now have a nice little sweat shop in my basement and take on jobs as time allows. needless to say my kids sports teams have the BEST uniforms in town and i am doing more than a few other teams that wanna look as good. i'll never make a fortune at it but it keeps me busy and i enjoy it and love the looks on the kids faces when they know they are the best looking team out there.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks for the stories.
It was nice to see how and why other people got into silk-screening.

Keep them coming.

Being new to silk-screening.... I enjoyed reading the stories. And it was also cool to see that other people were kind of like me (average Joe ) when they started, and not some Multi billionaire.
Not that there is anything wrong with being a Multi billionaire.:rolleyes:
It is just fun hearing about the young adventures of people growing towards there dream.

Rich
 

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Good thread, and it seems the common thread is folks either wanting to have control of their own destiny whether or not they make much money, or they simply enjoy creating shirts.

Having made good money and not enjoying myself I am slowly switching gears to something I love, coaching soccer. Shirts for camps, practice jerseys and uniforms will soon be the manufacturing aspect I have avoided in the past (brokering printing and promo products for years). I just get so much more emotional reqard from helping a kid improve their skills. As the poster above said it's also cool to have your kids team gear look awesome.
 

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First of all - great question!

I started because I love Abraham Lincoln, and one of the first Lincoln-related items I ever owned was a T-shirt. (I still have it, but I don't wear it anymore because it's almost 15 years old and I want to keep it in good condition because it's a keepsake. Yes, it still fits me.) I've also always been creative, so I started to make my own Lincoln T-shirts. I figured they'd be a great way to honor Lincoln and to spread awareness of Lincoln and history. I never liked a lot of the tacky touristy Lincoln T-shirts they sell in my hometown, so I made my own with my creativity and my own artistic expression.

At first, it was just for myself, using iron-on transfers. However, I quickly began to get compliments on my T-shirts, and I was sick of having my designs fall apart after 6 washes. So I decided to have all of my future designs screen printed, and try to sell them to local shops (keeping a few of each design for myself to wear). I hit it big in the local market last year with two of my most colorful designs. I even sold one of my designs to a shop in another city for the first time. Late last year, I started my website with my first two designs, and gradually brought it to the five I have now (not counting color and size variations). I plan to keep making more designs and sell them both locally and on my website.

I don't intend to get rich off of this, nor is it full time (since I do other Lincoln-related creative work - like music, and even a video game), but if I do that's a plus. :) I do it because I love Lincoln, and it's a lot of fun seeing his message get out there via my T-shirts, and seeing people look awesome in (and enjoy) my T-shirts. :cool:
 

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I have only been printing now for a couple weeks but I have been researching screen printing for about 2 years. I have been doing graphics for about 5 years and I saw how much stuff I was having to outsource to people to get printed and I wanted to be able to do it myself. I deal with a lot of dog breeders and kennel owners and they are always looking for ways to advertise so I figured this would be a good way to get started.
I work a regular job as a Railroad employee and then when I get home I am in design mode. I love it, everything about it. I bought a 4 color press from Silk Screening Supplies and then it was on. I like to build things so I went out and built myself a screen drying rack, a washout booth and an exposure unit and most recently a conveyor dryer. It is just a blast for me to be able to do down into my work room and be in my own little world and create all these things that people get to wear. It has been a blast so far.
 

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I got a job at a screen printing shop when I was 18 (1985). I worked there for about 6 months. I actually remember it like it was yesterday. It was located in Huntington Beach, California. We would listen to KROQ and have the big roll up door open. The weather was always awesome and it was just an awesome job!. The problem was...I lived in Anaheim and it was a 25 mile BUS ride as I did not have a car. I found a job doing something else closer. I did not touch a t-shirt for 25+ years - except the ones I was wearing - until I closed my photography studio. I was researching the next step and since all I wear are t-shirts I thought...HEY! I can do that again. I've been doing it for two months now and I can't believe 25 years have gone by.
 

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I did it for years and loved every minute! Always creative, always a challenge and I loved the way customers reacted to thier new purchases!
 

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In high school I was in a band and looked into having shirts made. After evaluating the local options I was intrigued at how they were printed. So I looked it up, read up on it, got some inspiration from friends and started my own "shop" in my garage for printing band shirts.

After high school I was recruited to a print shop and worked my way up through the ranks there while attending college. Soon I was married with a kid on the way. We were both working 9-5 jobs but she was making more per hour, so I left my job and started a business just doing artwork and digitizing. Turned out that the services I was providing my employer were substantial, his customers were knocking on my door to get small embroidery work done on my sample single head. Next thing I knew it I was in a 10,000 sqft facility with many employees doing embroidery, screenprint, vinyl, and heatpress.

But that wasn't it for me... I like the thrill of new adventures and sold the business after 5 years and now work for a clothing manufacturer managing their screenprint/embroidery operation. At every step of the way, it's clear that the appeal to this line of work is constant change, you never know what the next customer will bring in.
 

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I initialy viewed t-shirt printing as a second rate environment for design.
But something happend to me when I began designing and printing tee. Those limitations, the very things I complained about, shaped me into the designer I am today. I learned to love designing for the tee. Finding posibilities within the limitations helped me focus on what is essential for communicating vissually.
 

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What a fun thread! Well, I hate to start out as a Debbie Downer but to tell my story, that's how it has to be. I lost my job (Michigan) in December of 2008 and then three weeks later my beautiful daughter was killed in a riding accident at the age of 22. I can't even begin to tell you what happened for the next few months after that, as it's all a blurr.

About 8 months ago, I was wracking my brain to come up with something that I would love to do but that would also honor my daughter in some way. Being in my fifties, devestated beyond comprehension, and having to force myself out of bed to face another day, I came up the idea that I would love to make rhinestone t-shirts. My daughter loved all things pink and all things sparkly. I came up with the idea that I would do home t-shirt parties. I had no clue what I was doing but with the help of t-shirt forums I was able to self-train for the task. I practiced for a few months making rhinestone transfers and borrowed a friends heat press. I ordered some blanks, in several styles including t-shirts, hoodies and tanks. One of each style and size for people to try on. The customers pick the style of shirt that they want and then, they pick out the rhinestone design that they like which I have in a large 3 ring scrapbook. I then deliver the shirts a week later to the hostess and she delivers them to the customers. The designs in the book are forever changing and new ones are added so that it encourages people to have a party to see what's new. The hostess gets 10% of the party's total sales in merchandise that she wants.

My best party to date was several months ago and I sold $900. The greatest thing about that party is that the hostess is an RN at a hospital and every week she calls me and orders about $100 in shirts that her friends have asked for. She collects the money for me and I deliver the shirts to her. Perfect! The first thing I bought with the proceeds from her party was a heat press from ProWorld.

This business has been the perfect distraction and I absolutely love it. In fact, I believe that it has saved my life and has given me a new purpose.
Business is pretty slow right now, but I'll keep things going until it picks up. I also put a little web site together by myself and it needs some work but it will all come together eventually. The entire business is a work in progress.

I would have included a picture of my daughter, Brittany, but I can't figure out how to do it. She continues to be my inspiration and I'm pretty sure that she's the angel that touched me on the shoulder one day and told me to get moving.

Now, If I could just lose some weight....
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Great stories everybody.
And thx for sharing them
I'm going to bump this thread back to the top in hopes that we get more stories.:rolleyes:

Rich
 
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I am a police officer for my city and last year I got a part time job at the local print shop here with the plan to make a few extra dollars on the side. I went in not knowing what a printing press looked like or even a concept of how the business worked. The day I printed my first shirt I was hooked! I knew screen printing was for me. The lady that owned the business had some personal issues and got into a finanical bind and had to let her part time help go. I gradually bought equipment and supplies here and there and started printing small jobs out of my garage. 1 1/2 years later I'm 2 months away from opening my own sporting goods/screen printing store with a friend. I am so excited and hopefully eventually will make this my full time job. I found an awesome deal on some used equipment. The only thing I dont have is the embroidery machine which I will be getting within the next month. I have used this forum as my main resource for reseach and learning. I prob haven't went a day without coming to this site just to read and learn.
 
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