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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone!

This is my first post in the forums and I'll warn you that I know almost nothing about the t-shirt business. My current status is that I have some shirt ideas but no clue how to go from thoughts to product. After spending some time perusing the forums (you all are great by the way), I decided it's time to start asking some questions.

First off, I'm not looking to build any kind of global enterprise here, although I wouldn't mind if it did. This venture will be half hobby/half income investment. Basically, I figured that in the beginning I'd make some shirts and give them to friends as a way of free marketing and good ol' fashioned friendship.

For this level of production I figured I'd make about 10 shirts a month, just for some experience. Sorry that this is so long-winded, but here's the first question:

Given what you know of my goals and such, what printing process do you think I should invest in and how much can I expect to put into it initially (i.e. startup costs)? From what I've read so far it seems that a heat press would be the best option but I'd certainy appreciate your experienced opinions.
 

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Maybe you should look at it the other way. Who are you making these for? Do you belong to any clubs or social organizations? Word of mouth works when people know you and not so much otherwise.

Maybe writing a simple business plan will help you out.
 

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Atown,

Wow, reading your post, you sounded exactly like I did in February of this year. I started with just an idea or two for t-shirts, got curious and found these forums as well. It's nice to go from concept to something tangible, very rewarding.

Anyway, you are on the right track. Given your goals, I would definitely go the route of the heat press and transfers. From there you need to decide what kind of transfers you want to use:

1. Print your own - You would need to invest in a printer (do a search for the right kind) and particular ink. Then there is the paper you will need, a search can help you with that as well. I hear that a lot of people are very pleased with the Iron All brand.

2. Plastisol - These are basically your designs screenprinted onto transfer paper. When you press these onto a shirt only the ink transfers. You can order these from quite a few companies. I went with dowlinggraphics.com. Keep in mind that you will get higher quality with plastisol transfers but it's more expensive.

3. Vinyl - I'm pretty clueless when it comes to vinyl but thought I'd list it since it is an option.

Seems like you are going about this in an organized fashion, great. Just take your time and don't rush into it.

Good luck and welcome.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the responses guys.

binki: Yeah, as of this point I'm gathering information for the business plan. I have set myself a timeline of a month or two to have my business plan set in stone. So for now most of my questions are for planning purposes only. I definitely need to think about my market though. Thansk for the reminder.

samuraisan: Thanks a lot for the great post. You seem to have compacted a nice little first step for me. From what I've read on the forums, it seems that plastisol is the way to go. I'm willing to shell out a bit more cash for a quality product, especially with all the crap out there.

As of this point, I've been convinced of the benefits of plasitsol and am looking into using it. In the end plastisol solves several problems for me:

1. No initial printer investment
2. Higher quality product
3. Less shirts to eat (wasted inventory), as I would only be wasting transfers that aren't made instead of shirts with transfers on them.

Now that I have that planned out, I'm wondering about designs. How many did you have ready to go when you started out? How many do you suggest I have?

Did you start with a lot of certain designs? Or did you make a few of lots of designs and then see what's popular?
 

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It sounds like you're still checking out your market and that you're not really thinking about a web presence, initially. I think another option for you may be in short runs from a local screen printer. You could print out 12 shirts (three in each size) and go from there...

Advantages would be:

Zero equipment cost at start-up
Zero materials cost at start-up
Expandability (if your initial design(s) take off you can order more for less $ per shirt)

Disadvantages would be:

Limited inventory (probably just one design to start with)
Entry cost per design is higher (screen set-up charges)
Working through someone else to get what you want (honestly though this can be an advantage as well, depending on how you look at things)

good luck with it.
 

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Is it a good idea to just have your shirts printed through a screenprinter each time or would it be best to go ahead & purchase a heat press. I was going the route of going thru a screenprinter each time, but what do you guys think?? I mean alot of these T shirts we see at tradeshows & etc are don ethru screenprinters correct?
 

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Is it a good idea to just have your shirts printed through a screenprinter each time or would it be best to go ahead & purchase a heat press. I was going the route of going thru a screenprinter each time, but what do you guys think?? I mean alot of these T shirts we see at tradeshows & etc are don ethru screenprinters correct?
I think it depends on your business. There isn't just "one" way that fits everyone.

Some people prefer not to worry about printing on demand and buying equipment and they prefer the screen printed quality.

Some people prefer not to carry inventory and like to be able to print on demand. The quality of plastisol transfers is very good.

You just have to decide which you think would be best for you and your business model.
 

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Rodney said:
I think it depends on your business. There isn't just "one" way that fits everyone.

Some people prefer not to worry about printing on demand and buying equipment and they prefer the screen printed quality.

Some people prefer not to carry inventory and like to be able to print on demand. The quality of plastisol transfers is very good.

You just have to decide which you think would be best for you and your business model.
that's what I was trying to get at. You first need to decide what you want to spend your money on, and you can decide between an inventory of finished products or equipment and raw materials.

It seemed like AtownK was only interested in printing a small number of shirts per month, so investing in a bunch of equipment may not be the best way to start out.

But in the end, its up to the individual.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
In responce to chris: Yeah, totally. The reason I don't want to make too many a month is to keep things slow in the beginning. I don't need to take off running with this. I plan to take it easy and learn what I need to so that when I DO endeavor to go "bigger", I can. Investing in the equipment is basically just to make it easier to grow when the opportunity presents itself.
 

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AtownK said:
In responce to chris: Yeah, totally. The reason I don't want to make too many a month is to keep things slow in the beginning. I don't need to take off running with this. I plan to take it easy and learn what I need to so that when I DO endeavor to go "bigger", I can. Investing in the equipment is basically just to make it easier to grow when the opportunity presents itself.
I hear you. Expandability is key as you wouldn't want to paint yourself in a corner. I just wanted you to know that you have options. Good luck with it. :)
 

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I'll give you the screenprinting prices (estimated) since thats the route I went, I also never even printed a shirt before I bought the equipment, just dove in. I'm having a few headaches learning everything, but it's a blast also.

press: Odyssey 4-color, 4-station $2400
flash/cure unit: $350
screens: $20 per screen on average (aluminum)

total I've spent (well, put on a credit card ;))around $5,000 including blank shirts for my first run.

My partner and I just said to hell with it and jumped in. So here's hoping I just pay off my equipment haha.

If you're starting off small I'd recommend doing plastisol transfers. You'll be getting the same quality as traditional screen printing, and you can do it all with a heat press.
 

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What would you guys recommend I buy so I can put designs on different parts of the shirt instead juss it being on the middle?
 

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What would you guys recommend I buy so I can put designs on different parts of the shirt instead juss it being on the middle?
Just about any type of printing equipment (heat press, screen printing) can do that.
 

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ChelNam said:
Is it easy to do?
That's somewhat what I had in mind.
some are and some are not, it depends on the job.

One thing i can tell you is that when it is hard to print or it takes a long time to print each garment because of zippers or layout etc.... , it is more cost/printing-time effective to print the garment panel/parts before they are sewed together.
 

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ChelNam said:
I like how they did the inside of the shirt around the collar. Any tutorials or juss common sense?
...kinda basic. Nothing new really !

I think some peeps in the UK and Morgan DeToi did it a few seasons back. Mind you they they used various materials and inks in their designs, all together.... in funky layouts.

If you can find some of the Morgan DeToi t-shirts from a few years ago on the web, have a look to see what i'm talking about and how complicated they were to make. Of course they had a big budget. :D .....and it did influence alot of us.
 

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y not do both ?i am just getting started also ,no website ,little money ,big dreams ! and im going to be selling to a certain market ,so I have found heat transfers that match that market and I also stumbled onto a screenprinting shop that is giving me great price quotes about the same per shirt as buying heat transfers $1.25-2.00 per shirt depending on quantity,with minumum setup charge.I dont see anything wrong with doing both ,but like I said Im newv and have just been finding and getting my designs together while i find out more .Is there a problem with doing both? ty vm terry d
 
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