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Hello Everyone!! My name is Matt and I run Thriving Ink. I've been up and doing what I am doing since July 1, and have experienced some pretty cool success thus far. Success in this industry may mean different things to different people, but to me, success is selling shirts, and at least breaking even. On top of doing both of these things, I have been able to begin networking and making friends along the way. My business model allows me to do this in the first month, and I am here to help anyone who needs it.

So first of all, let me explain my current business model (however I am very adaptive and this may change as I gain more customers and sell more shirts).

Thriving Ink is my t-shirt company based in the SF Bay Area (SF, Oakland, Piedmont, Berkeley). We cater to SF Bay Area residents by creating t-shirts that represent the culture, history, people, and life in the Bay Area. However, we do not limit ourselves to designs ONLY featuring Bay Area elements, because we would like for people all over the place to be able to wear our tees (but a majority of our grassroots marketing efforts go into our niche market - Bay Area Residents).

My t-shirt line is print on-demand (and everything is done in my basement). I am lucky to own a iDot direct-to-garment printer (i make a payment of roughly $400 a month on it).

The Process:
1. I come up with a design (or a fellow artist does).
2. I print a sample (sometimes multiple on different colors).
3. I resew the neckline, and print a size label.
4. I sew on our clip tag (to me, a sign of a quality garment).
5. I photograph it in my home photo studio.
6. Upload to web, and begin marketing!

Our tees are VERY high quality. I tear out and resew the neckline, do a printed size label, and sew on a clip tag at the bottom of the shirt. This is all done by hand, by me (which I am finding that people really appreciate!).

It generally costs me anywhere from $5-$10 to create one t-shirt - so there is not much risk for me to put up new designs. The best part about it, is that people are seeing actual product shots on the web, rather than just digital mocks, and this is something that the customer appreciates.

Say the design I print doesn't sell. Well, that's quite alright, as all it cost me to do it was the money I spent on printing the garment, and my time (vs. printing 36 via screenprint and being stuck with them!). If it sells, sweet. I'm in the money.

With the printer, I am not only able to run the retail aspect of the business, but I am able to print wholesale samples for stores, tradeshows, affiliates, and sales people (I have yet to utilize all of these resources to grow the business, but I do indeed plan on it).

So, right off the bat, my only overhead is my DTG payment of around $400 a month and my web hosting fee, plus whatever I decide to spend on printing samples (I clearly have other expenses as well at this point, however most are insubstantial. DTG is the essential aspect). Pretty awesome and low risk, which is exactly what I was looking for.

I decided to take it to the next level, and start a printing company as well, offering no minimum, full color printing. I also offer bulk orders, and will print up to 50 tees on my DTG. Beyond this, I broker out the work to reliable screen printers that I have worked with in the past. In this first month, the printing company has made me as much or more money than selling my shirts retail!! Incredible.

I have been able to sell 70 t-shirts in the first month (retail). On top of that, I've received custom orders for 12, 20, 50, 100, and 200 shirts.

Screen printing is awesome - but the fact that you have to order at least 36 of one design immediately poses a risk to your business. You now HAVE to get rid of these 36 shirts you have. On top of this, it is a lot of money to come up with at the beginning.

Anyone out there with a DTG looking to do a print on-demand t-shirt line, please don't hesitate to ask questions! Hope you guys enjoyed this introductory post.

Matt Dronkers

[media]http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f325/mattyd144/Subwayfinal.jpg[/media]
[media]http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f325/mattyd144/triclassicfinal.jpg[/media]
[media]http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f325/mattyd144/goldenblackfinallimited.jpg[/media]
[media]http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f325/mattyd144/thrivingjuly4limited.jpg[/media]
 

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Screen printing is awesome - but the fact that you have to order at least 36 of one design immediately poses a risk to your business. You now HAVE to get rid of these 36 shirts you have. On top of this, it is a lot of money to come up with at the beginning.
Equipment costs between DTG and screenprinting are comparable. Just as you avoided a large upfront equipment cost on your DTG printer by using financing and paying it off monthly, you can do the same with screenprinting equipment.

None of which undermines the other benefits you've outlined of course.

Although if you're doing your own screenprinting, it's also not that cost prohibitive to just print a single shirt and see what happens. It doesn't give you the same print on demand options for fulfilment (printing single shirts as orders come in would be a nuisance), and it's not practical for some projects - your full colour photo, for example, is something you'd only want to screenprint if you were doing a large quantity.

But there is a basic principle underlying all of this - if you own your own equipment, no matter what that equipment is, then you have more options than if you outsource. The biggest reason you can't buy 1-5 screenprinted shirts isn't that it would cost more than the shirts are worth to print them (it doesn't), it's that a printer could more easily make more money doing something else instead. They're only expensive when the middleman adds his 100-200% markup.

Avoiding middlemen where possible is always going to save you money.

Not trying to detract from your good points about how DTG is working for you, and could work for others. There's just a lot of misconceptions out there about the flexibility of screenprinting, so I like to address some of them as they arise.

Screenprinting can't do what you are doing with DTG, it can just do more than people (including yourself) give it credit for.

Anyway, no-one wants this to devolve into yet another print methods argument. Just correcting the record in case impressionable newbies are reading ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Equipment costs between DTG and screenprinting are comparable. Just as you avoided a large upfront equipment cost on your DTG printer by using financing and paying it off monthly, you can do the same with screenprinting equipment.

None of which undermines the other benefits you've outlined of course.

Although if you're doing your own screenprinting, it's also not that cost prohibitive to just print a single shirt and see what happens. It doesn't give you the same print on demand options for fulfilment (printing single shirts as orders come in would be a nuisance), and it's not practical for some projects - your full colour photo, for example, is something you'd only want to screenprint if you were doing a large quantity.

But there is a basic principle underlying all of this - if you own your own equipment, no matter what that equipment is, then you have more options than if you outsource. The biggest reason you can't buy 1-5 screenprinted shirts isn't that it would cost more than the shirts are worth to print them (it doesn't), it's that a printer could more easily make more money doing something else instead. They're only expensive when the middleman adds his 100-200% markup.

Avoiding middlemen where possible is always going to save you money.

Not trying to detract from your good points about how DTG is working for you, and could work for others. There's just a lot of misconceptions out there about the flexibility of screenprinting, so I like to address some of them as they arise.

Screenprinting can't do what you are doing with DTG, it can just do more than people (including yourself) give it credit for.

Anyway, no-one wants this to devolve into yet another print methods argument. Just correcting the record in case impressionable newbies are reading ;)
To me, screen printing is irreplaceable. I am not trying to rally people up to buy a DTG. I was simply sharing my current experience with digital printing and how it has done well for me. But by all means, it seems that owning your own equipment or doing the printing yourself is the way to go!

I did not credit screen printing simply because the post was regarding my digital printing business and the benefits of such. I am actually taking screen printing classes right now to learn the art and will be buying a 2 color press in the next few weeks! It wasn't my intention to start a conversation about DTG vs. Screen Printing, simply just to get my information across and share my personal experience.

Thank you for your feedback and knowledge!!
 

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It wasn't my intention to start a conversation about DTG vs. Screen Printing, simply just to get my information across and share my personal experience.
I know, and it's a good post based on some good personal experience.

Hopefully others will have something more directly relevant to contribute than I did.

I think people can get stuck in a certain way of doing things. They get to where the only options they see are the traditional options other people have told them about. Which is not what thriving business is about.

Encouraging flexibility - like your post does - is a great thing.
 

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im just starting too but if your going to buy a screen press then you should probably get at least 4 colors... and 2 stations would be nice (mines only 1 and it has been a pain before, but now i learned to just print wet on wet and it isnt so bad)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
im just starting too but if your going to buy a screen press then you should probably get at least 4 colors... and 2 stations would be nice (mines only 1 and it has been a pain before, but now i learned to just print wet on wet and it isnt so bad)
Thanks for the heads up! I'm looking for a used one on craigslist at the moment. Hoping to find a nice deal!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Matt
Did you purchase thriving ink recently? I thought I ran across the company quite a while ago, and they had a storefront in California, and they originally started the company in Texas?
No Sir, I am the original founder! We started the company in Pleasanton, then moved to Austin, then moved back and opened a shop, then closed the shop!! Haha! Now we are solely online. Are you from around the Bay Area?

Matt
 

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No Sir, I am the original founder! We started the company in Pleasanton, then moved to Austin, then moved back and opened a shop, then closed the shop!! Haha! Now we are solely online. Are you from around the Bay Area?

Matt
Thanks for the explanation. I am just outside of Chicago, but try to keep my eye out for new and interesting ideas, and knew I had heard the name, and remembered seeing pictures of the shop.
 

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Pretty interesting thread. However I clicked on his links and they're no longer up. It's been less then a year since he posted about what seemed to be his thriving business. Wonder what happened?
Is the t-shirt business that cut throat? One minute you appear to be doing good and the next bam you're done.
Matt if you're still around, what happened?
 

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Hey matt you still there?




Hello Everyone!! My name is Matt and I run Thriving Ink. I've been up and doing what I am doing since July 1, and have experienced some pretty cool success thus far. Success in this industry may mean different things to different people, but to me, success is selling shirts, and at least breaking even. On top of doing both of these things, I have been able to begin networking and making friends along the way. My business model allows me to do this in the first month, and I am here to help anyone who needs it.

So first of all, let me explain my current business model (however I am very adaptive and this may change as I gain more customers and sell more shirts).

Thriving Ink is my t-shirt company based in the SF Bay Area (SF, Oakland, Piedmont, Berkeley). We cater to SF Bay Area residents by creating t-shirts that represent the culture, history, people, and life in the Bay Area. However, we do not limit ourselves to designs ONLY featuring Bay Area elements, because we would like for people all over the place to be able to wear our tees (but a majority of our grassroots marketing efforts go into our niche market - Bay Area Residents).

My t-shirt line is print on-demand (and everything is done in my basement). I am lucky to own a iDot direct-to-garment printer (i make a payment of roughly $400 a month on it).

The Process:
1. I come up with a design (or a fellow artist does).
2. I print a sample (sometimes multiple on different colors).
3. I resew the neckline, and print a size label.
4. I sew on our clip tag (to me, a sign of a quality garment).
5. I photograph it in my home photo studio.
6. Upload to web, and begin marketing!

Our tees are VERY high quality. I tear out and resew the neckline, do a printed size label, and sew on a clip tag at the bottom of the shirt. This is all done by hand, by me (which I am finding that people really appreciate!).

It generally costs me anywhere from $5-$10 to create one t-shirt - so there is not much risk for me to put up new designs. The best part about it, is that people are seeing actual product shots on the web, rather than just digital mocks, and this is something that the customer appreciates.

Say the design I print doesn't sell. Well, that's quite alright, as all it cost me to do it was the money I spent on printing the garment, and my time (vs. printing 36 via screenprint and being stuck with them!). If it sells, sweet. I'm in the money.

With the printer, I am not only able to run the retail aspect of the business, but I am able to print wholesale samples for stores, tradeshows, affiliates, and sales people (I have yet to utilize all of these resources to grow the business, but I do indeed plan on it).

So, right off the bat, my only overhead is my DTG payment of around $400 a month and my web hosting fee, plus whatever I decide to spend on printing samples (I clearly have other expenses as well at this point, however most are insubstantial. DTG is the essential aspect). Pretty awesome and low risk, which is exactly what I was looking for.

I decided to take it to the next level, and start a printing company as well, offering no minimum, full color printing. I also offer bulk orders, and will print up to 50 tees on my DTG. Beyond this, I broker out the work to reliable screen printers that I have worked with in the past. In this first month, the printing company has made me as much or more money than selling my shirts retail!! Incredible.

I have been able to sell 70 t-shirts in the first month (retail). On top of that, I've received custom orders for 12, 20, 50, 100, and 200 shirts.

Screen printing is awesome - but the fact that you have to order at least 36 of one design immediately poses a risk to your business. You now HAVE to get rid of these 36 shirts you have. On top of this, it is a lot of money to come up with at the beginning.

Anyone out there with a DTG looking to do a print on-demand t-shirt line, please don't hesitate to ask questions! Hope you guys enjoyed this introductory post.

Matt Dronkers

[media]http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f325/mattyd144/Subwayfinal.jpg[/media]
[media]http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f325/mattyd144/triclassicfinal.jpg[/media]
[media]http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f325/mattyd144/goldenblackfinallimited.jpg[/media]
[media]http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f325/mattyd144/thrivingjuly4limited.jpg[/media]
 
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