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Discussion Starter #1
I made it a point today to walk through our mall here in lovely Stockton California.. The first place I stopped was good old JC Penny. What I saw did not amaze me as I saw it coming. a few years ago you would be able to buy tee shirts. yes 3 in a pack, white or maybe black. Then you saw colors then pigment dye colors.. Then tee shirts with smiley faces. Then they became big on the web.. Now I want down isles of designer shirts, the same shirts that you find all over the web. the same shirts that a lot of you think you have in your head.. What's in? Whats out.. there is a line in a movie with Robert Redford, I m old so I forget the title, but he is a Skier and he just did the fastest time. But his couch says to him "look over your shoulder because someone is coming down the hill and is faster than you". The point I want to make here.. Know what your getting yourself into. Don't believe for a minute that the idea you have in your head is not in a lot of others also. Do your homework.. I will say this.. if you got something... and you did your homework and listen to wise old people you can succeed. But if you jump in and don't pay attention to sound advice, a lot of which is here, you will fail. So what's in and what's out.. anyone know?;)
 

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Thanks. I think about that all the time. A lot of my ideas have been done recently by other brands At times it sucks other times its motivation. I shall continue to keep on my toes.


What's recently "in" from what I see are these new street brands coming out. A mixture of 80's pop culture, skateboarding and hip hop.

A lot of people wanna feel like they are ahead of the game. Others just want to feel like they are a part of some small movement . Who knows?
 

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Well when I see printed t-shirts for $5 at target and walmart, I think the quality and price are excellent but the selection isn't. I didn't see any design that struck a cord with me. So the advantage that internet sellers have is selection.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Your right. That is my point but so if you start seeing the same funny saying or off color designs then your only kidding yourself. I think if your going to be in this business, now.. you should be unique with your designs. And what you see today on line will be in the stores tomorrow. Don't rest, stay on top of your game. I have the same problem. I removed all my funny shirts yesterday because they were redundant, and really not done well. (Self confession) at least to what I see from some of you young people who are really great designers. But I also am trying to stay on top of my game. So I am trying different things beyond the funny shirts as I sit here working on my webs and adding new designs that I hope work.
 

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This is all true in a way, but there is also a flip side to this thought.

Certainly it is best to have good creative and unique designs.

There are certain kinds of stores, usually smaller mall type stores, that always try to stay "new" "hot" "cutting edge" etc. They of course are constantly looking for the latest design trends and try to predict what the next fad will be. You can look at all these designs to help you figure out what direction you might take when coming up with your next creation.

If you see a lot of the same kind of design theme sweeping through a few different stores all of a sudden, it might be worth thinking about jumping on the band wagon with an original design using a similar theme and style. Riding trends and fads can pay off big time until they fade away. You do not want to copy anything you see. Just be inspired by what you see.

I agree that you do not want to gather ideas from a bunch of shirts that are laying in a bargain bin for $5
 

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Discussion Starter #6
From a marketing standpoint this is true. But when you say "Stores." That is another ball game and one in which I play. But I am talking about the people here who are trying to sell their designs via their web site, as I do on one of my sites ( I have 4) Or those that sell their "product" via cafepress ( I don't). or those that sell wholesale (again which I do) There you see the competition. So I am saying you need to really try to understand the market and how you are going to approach it. web sales? Store sales? If you are in the game and want to stay in the business for the long run and your designs are unique you better think long term and not just run out and buy equipment and put your money someplace where it is not doing you any good. I have people on this board emailing me and asking for advice. Not about the tee business so much but about business and marketing, those people got it. I read all day, hey I am going into the tee shirt business. But I never ever designed a tee before and oh yes what equipment should I buy. Oh by the way what is a heat transfer? And everyone here is accommodating and gives them the answers to those questions. That scares me because I think they forgot the first principle of going into business. " The Plan" I am sorry I go on an on. But I think a reality check is in order. If you ask me about any of those thing I mentioned. I would say, never mind all that what is your buisness plan.
 

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Well, I have yet to see any political t-shirts in department stores, so I dont think my business is in jeapordy. I have seen alot of t-shirts in stores, but they usually arent as good as the ones I see online. They are almost always cheaper though. I think that people that go online are looking for something that is unique...that they havent seen before. Thats why political t-shirts, offensive t-shirts, and others do well online...Becuase you cant get them anywhere else.
 

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The thing about t-shirts, is that there are few businesses that are actually very cheap to get into that can be so much fun and personally rewarding with a real potential to make some money. By no means, a get rich quick scheme. Rather, it's more like a Hey, I'm going to have a blast and maybe make a few bucks scheme. At least that's how it starts for most I would think. That is what we are seeing here with many of the new members, and their questions, myself included. :)

If after spending some time and doing it for a while, if you are still very excited about it, then you do have to really start thinking more business like and a little less hobby like. I've been working for myself for 23 years, and this has been the most fun so far. I'm still very new to all this stuff. So for those of you with a passion for trying this out, go ahead. Jump in head first! ( well, after you read all the advise on t-shirtforums) This is a friendly pool, and it seems like we have plenty of life guards here. :D

I agree with badalou though. Learn about business and you can take it all to the next level. This is good sound advice for sure, and it is something that should be on everyones mind, especially if they really want to turn it into a profitable business.

Taking a few art classes wouldn't hurt either now that I think about it. Let's see, now where did I put that continuing education flier I got from the local college? :confused: Maybe it's in the recycle bin.
 

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I think you can still make a go of even things that aren't "new" per se, if they're new to your market.

For instance, a lot of my twins designs have been done heaps before ("Twin Mums Have Twice the Fun", for instance - I'm sure there must be about a million variations on that theme before!). However what I'm focussing on is bringing multiples items to the Australian multiples community - who at the moment are a tad starved for choice (unless they want to order directly from an American shop, if that shop would ship overseas).

I guess my point is - it's not just about the designs, it's about market placement. I have seen some really poor (not t-shirt stuff) products sell fantastically, because they're marketed well. And then you often hear about the really fantastic product that never sells, because no-one knows that it is there.
 

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funtimesx said:
I guess my point is - it's not just about the designs, it's about market placement. I have seen some really poor (not t-shirt stuff) products sell fantastically, because they're marketed well. And then you often hear about the really fantastic product that never sells, because no-one knows that it is there.
I totally agree. I've seen a lot of older, played out if you will, designs re-surfacing in my market but on different items, style, etc. With artistic products, what you think that it is good may not be the case to others, and just because someone thinks that it is bad doesn't mean that it won't sell. It's all about supply and demand, and as long as you find that demand you will do fine. The great advantage of an online store is low-overhead. So you can sustain a lot longer compare to a regular store if your designs flop. It's good to know what's hot, and what's not out there, but I think it's more important if you know the demand of your intended audience. :)
 

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Wow! From one who has asked and gotten advice both from Badalou and Decal I must say that this post from Badalou has me shaking in my boots where I want to send back my Hix Swingman 16X20 heat press even before it arrives, and hyperventilate in a paper bag. (And I say that with the utmost respect to Badalou) The encouragement from Decal brings me back to taking easy breaths-before I pass out!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
That was not my intent. In fact if I could encourge you to move forward I will. My point is simple.. before you dive into the pool make sure there is water. I have over the years been hired as a consultant to people wanting to get into business. Some after knowing more about what they were thinking of doing stopped because they were not prepared to really move forward. They had not done their home work. They had no plan. No idea how to market their business and most had no money. The others had come to the table with stacks of information. My job was to be there other brain. I know very few people who don't have a dream about being their own boss. Follow your dreams folks.. most of you are young I know. Don't give up what your doing. But take a minute, breath. Okay my next question.. How many of you had a business plan before you started your endever? I think decal and I are on the same page. "Learn about business and you can take it all to the next level" sound advice.
 

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badalou said:
.. before you dive into the pool make sure there is water. ..
LOL I like that one. :) Now if we only knew someone that could turn that into a t-shirt.

Hang in there starprince! That nervous feeling you get is good for you. ;)
 

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I'm jumping in and making some suggestions to the new business owners and young business owners here.

First, I come from many years of marketing/public relations consulting and my partner was in sales for many years.

Be prepared and learn about "being in business". Talk to people. I had a lot of help when I fell into self-employment. If you have the desire, people will want to help you succeed I have found.

I used to get approached all the time about how to become self-employed. Quite frankly, if you are not a "rainmaker" type of personality then you need to partner up with someone who has the ability to drum up sales. I know we're talking about online stores primarily here so maybe not as applicable. These are my opinions.

But at least be willing to pick up the phone and ask questions. Work on being a good conversationalist. Be prepared with questions. I have learned lots by just talking to vendors and suppliers.

No one is going to know about you if you don't know how to market/promote/sell your products and services.

With that said, here's a link to a thread...I posted some entrepreneur suggestions. And the public library is a very good free resource.

http://www.t-shirtforums.com/showthread.php?t=2521&highlight=guerilla+marketing


Also, I highly suggest this book. I just checked Amazon and it's only $8.54 used. It's a book I would suggest buying. It is a good first overview book.
My edition is a lot older (grin)


The McGraw-Hill Guide to Starting Your Own Business : A Step-By-Step Blueprint for the First-Time Entrepreneur by Stephen C. Harper (Paperback - Jun 13, 2003)

Having even an outline of a business plan is helpful. It's your roadmap and will guide you on staying within your budget. There are many books, software and online resources. And the suggested book gets into some detail as well.
 

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As well as what's new I find it interesting to keep an eye on what's old. Occasionally I look through Target/K-mart to see what's totally dead.

Last year it was Che Guevara tees at Target, this year it's Kurt Cobain tees at K-mart. If Kurt had known that was to be his fate I think he would have killed himself sooner.
 

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Sometimes it seems like half our businesses are American... Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Safeway, Starbucks (only recently), Donut King, Burger King (known as Hungry Jack's here, same company), McDonald's (obviously), Krispy Kremes (okay, that one is quite welcome...), Wendy's, and no doubt many many more I'm forgetting. No Walmart surprisingly.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Great advice for everyone. I think there are too many people that believe if I have an idea then I can make a lot of money. Yes but first you have to take the idea though a process. Again if you really want to succeed listen to what people have to say on this forum. There are some really strong business minded people here. If you ask a question, and you should, then I am sure you will find the answer. My door has been open for 35 years.
 

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I think there has been a lot of great advice in this thread that has needed to be posted for awhile. I know we touched on it in another thread about parody text shirts.

I think Lou has a great point and people really need try to find their market niche and evolve as clothing design evolves. I'm almost ready to lauch my site after I get a few electrical problems fixed so I can use my damn spot dryer. My partner and I have been creating our style for about a year now and really trying to do something that you don't see at every shirt site.

In every competetive market you really need to keep your eyes open and not only focused on your own product line. Competition can leave you in the dust if you're not careful.
 
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