Do you want to start your own online t-shirt company? A simple t-shirt can tell a lot about the wearer’s style, personality and interests. You have an idea for a tee-shirt design that others will love.
Globally, Wix eCommerce stores saw a 151% increase in clothing and accessories sales between 2019 and 2020. In 2020, the global custom-t-shirt market was estimated to be worth almost $4 billion. This is why it’s becoming a popular choice for clothing entrepreneurs to dropship this wardrobe staple.
Start an online t-shirt company
An online t-shirt shop might be the fastest and most efficient way to get into the fashion industry. It is now easier than ever to find an eCommerce website designer that offers templates for designer custom clothing, integration with Printful and Printify, as well as multichannel marketplace integrations that will help expand your brand’s reach.
It doesn’t take a lot of money to start an online custom clothing company. Online entrepreneurs can quickly launch custom tees and begin dropshipping them with minimal investment.
This guide will walk you through the steps of starting a t-shirt company online.
In 12 simple steps, how to start a successful t-shirt company
Create your online store
Your customers will feel confident in their purchases when they shop on a professional eCommerce platform. It is also a reflection of your brand’s identity. Start your online t-shirt business journey by creating and customizing an eCommerce website that embodies your brand. If you have a print-on-demand business model, make sure that your platform allows you to integrate your store with it. Integration with other sales channels, such as Amazon and eBay, and social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram, is a must.
These are just a few other things to keep in mind:
Budget your expenses and start small. You should find an eCommerce platform that will allow you to start your own business for a minimal investment. Some platforms even let you start for free. Pro tip: Make sure you choose a platform that is able to support your business at any scale. Review if the platforms offer advanced marketing and customer management tools to help your business grow.
A platform with a lot of customization and design flexibility is important. You can create a website that is unique to your brand by using this platform. Pro tip: Look for a platform that offers ready-to-go, designer-made, store templates that can easily be adjusted to fit your unique brand.
More than half of all online purchases are made on mobile. Your store should be mobile-friendly to allow customers to make purchases while on the move. Fans of the Instagram-famous cat, OwlKitty, can purchase branded tees through its online store which is optimized for mobile. OwlKitty allows customers to connect their Instagram account to their online store to access fully-optimized product pages.
Pro tip: Choose a website builder who will optimize your site for mobile.
These are some things you should be aware of:
- Give your business a name. Begin by creating a word bank with concepts that are related to your custom clothing company idea. You can also use a business name generator or a clothing line name generator if you need assistance. You can choose a name that is representative of your business, but doesn’t restrict you from growing.
- Choose your domain. Your domain name should match your brand name. This will make it easier for your customers to find you online.
- Your store can be designed. You can customize any template store to reflect your brand and appeal directly to your target audience.
- You can offer payment options. Customers should be able to easily pay you. Multiple options are available to ensure that you don’t lose any potential customers.
Need more help? Use this checklist so you don’t miss any essential steps when building your store.
Integrate with a print-on-demand service
What is print on Demand?
Print on demand is a form of dropshipping that allows you to make and dropship custom clothing online without the hassle of managing inventory, fulfillment or shipping. Dropshipping is a Wix feature that allows you to launch your store 15% faster than other online retailers.
An online store is the first step in achieving print on demand success. If this is the business model you prefer, connect your online store to Printful or Printify and begin creating your tees.
Many of these services even have mockup generators that let you virtually place your design on tees and see how it’ll look on models. These product images can be used on your website to let your customers know exactly what you’re dropshipping.
Integrating your website with a print-on-demand platform allows you to dropship graphic tees from your online shop. After an order has been placed, the service will print the product and send it to your customers anywhere in the world. This business model reduces your initial investment and makes it easier to start.
This video will show you how to add Printful into your Wix Store.
If your website was built with another platform, you can follow their instructions to connect your store with print-on-demand services.
Although a print-on-demand service is the most efficient way to dropshipping custom apparel online, there are many other options available. These include sourcing and manufacturing. The key is to find the best one.
If you choose to source your own custom apparel and connect with local or international manufacturers, take some time to research the process and learn more about how to start a clothing business. Some entrepreneurs use print on demand to test the market or establish their brand before switching to alternative suppliers as they grow and scale.
Find your niche and reach out to it
There are billions of tees on the market, so why should customers buy yours? Your product was created specifically for them.
You might draw inspiration from your passions and interests to find your niche. Are you a fan of a particular group? Are you a dedicated fan of a particular celebrity, a TV series, or a TV team? Are you an activist or a member of a certain political party?
You can also research what’s hot to find your niche. What topics are people most interested in? Google Trends can help you find the most popular search terms in your country and around the world. This information can be used to validate or inspire your chosen niche.
After you have chosen your niche and identified your target audience, it is time to get to know them.
Reddit allows users to create posts which are voted upon by the community. There are subreddits that break down the site into sections. Each section has a different topic. To see the posts, users subscribe to subreddits they are interested in. Find out what your target audience is reading. To see what content is gaining the most attention and subscribers, explore feeds. This information can be used to create designs and messaging for your custom apparel.
Find niche communities that are similar to your interests. Get to know these people and get their feedback. Ask for their ideas and then test your designs.
Take a look at your competitors.
Find out what works for other businesses, and what doesn’t. Keep track of ideas for how to create a better product that attracts your target audience.
Locate a market that isn’t being used and tap it. Find a niche market that isn’t being reached yet. Create unique custom apparel that resonates with them.
It is important to define buyer personas in order to understand the needs of your target audience. Next, create a business plan that outlines your vision for your tee-shirt brand. You should include details about your target audience, niche, marketing strategy, financial projections, and sales goals.
Little Tail Farms is a family-owned Hobby Farm in Dunlap, TN, that offers tours and farmstays. You can view a variety of animals from miniature horses to alpacas to Nigerian dwarf goats. Little Tail Farms can dropship farm-inspired merchandise by integrating their website with dropshipping platforms like Modalyst and Printful. This can help increase revenue.
Create stunning designs
With original designs, make your custom apparel stand apart from the rest.
Your t-shirt can be used to communicate a message, tell an story, or show off a part of your personality. You don’t need to make complicated designs. Customers will be attracted to a simple and trendy design.
Modern Magnolia Co sell handprinted t-shirts with illustrations and slogans that appeal to a broad range of female users. The t-shirts are American-inspired with a hint of humor and appeal to a niche audience like parents, music lovers, and animal lovers.
To create a great design, you don’t need to be an artist. If you are an artist, this is your chance.
Sketch out a message or idea that you are excited about and then come up with a design. Next, use a design software to create your image. Your hand-drawn letters or images can be turned into vectors, and you can even modify them on your computer. Canva is a great tool to create a logo or if you don’t have the right software.
If you don’t want the background to be part of your design, create an image with a transparent background (PNG) file. Each manufacturer and print on demand service has different requirements. These guidelines should be carefully read to ensure that your design prints properly and in the best quality.
For example, Printful has the following requirements:
- Images should not exceed 150 DPI (dots/inch). You may need a higher DPI for certain brands of custom apparel. Double-check your upload before you submit.
- You can upload your design in JPG or PNG formats.
- Print files should not be saved in CMYK but sRGB.
You don’t have to design a graphic design. A professional graphic designer can do it for your benefit.
- Fiverr: Connect with a freelancer to create a single design. You can filter your search by type of designer or how much you are willing and able to spend.
- Upwork: Use this platform to find long-term freelancers to help with numerous or ongoing projects.
- Behance: Explore this designer-focused social media platform. Behance is a platform for graphic artists to showcase their work, get inspiration, and find work.
- Dribbble: This is another platform where designers hang out. To find the designs you like, scroll through displayed art or filter by style. You can then reach out to the artist for more information.
Select quality products
A graphic t-shirt that is low quality and poorly fitting is not something anyone likes.
Sample your products, regardless of whether you are using print-on-demand services or sourcing your own custom clothing. It is important to make sure that your product sells well and that customers return.
Test the t-shirts that you are interested in dropshipping and buy them. You can try a variety of styles. Are they comfortable to wear? Are the colors vivid? What happens to the color after washing? Is it shrinking? Is the pattern cracked?
Many suppliers offer tees made from cotton or ringspun cotton. Some suppliers use organic cotton that is grown without pesticides or herbicides. Consider these things when selecting your material.
It’s worth looking for tee-shirt companies or print-on-demand services that offer tshirts made from organic cotton and recycled fabrics if your custom clothing business is committed to sustainability. These options are likely to have a higher price per unit, but customers will often pay more for eco-friendly options.
Also, think about the size options that you will offer your customers. Are you looking to create a t-shirt brand that caters to all sizes? Perhaps you are looking to restrict your stock and focus on custom clothing s for a specific size range.
Treat your customers as you would want to be treated. Your customers will return to your brand and be ambassadors by recommending that you make sure they are satisfied with your product.
Select a printing method
Learn about the various printing options for inking your tees. The right printing method is as important as the material.
If you’re looking to print your own images, this is an excellent option.
Plastisol transfers are the most common type of heat transfer. This method involves printing your design on high-quality release papers with a professional printer. Next, heat press the image onto your t-shirt.
This printing method is great for large quantities of custom apparel that have the same design.
Layer by layer, stencil-like mesh screens are used to paint designs onto t-shirts. Each layer can only be one color. You can add layers and different colors to your design, but this will increase the cost.
This method is ideal for large quantities of tees of the same design, as it is labor-intensive.
This is the current most popular way to print designs on t-shirts.
Your design can be applied to garments using an inkjet printer. This is a great option for intricate, detailed designs. The same process is used for both small and large quantities of print.
Sublimated all-over print
You can print outside of the seams to make a unique t-shirt. You can do this with all-over printing.
Make a design that can be printed on your t-shirt. This is not possible for all print on demand companies.
Stitch a unique embroidered design on your tees for a more delicate look. Although you will be limited in the colors and sizes available, well-designed embroidery is still a great way to make a statement.
Printful and Printify both offer embroidery on t-shirts. However, be sure to read their guidelines.
Consider these things when selecting a printing method.
Scale your business
Regular reviews of your spending are essential for scaling your business. Pay attention to these things when reviewing your finances:
- Your net profit: How many tees are you dropshipping each month? How much are your total expenses? What amount of money are you left over at the end after all expenses?
- How can you reduce overhead costs? How can you reduce your production costs?
Think about the cost of expanding your business. Do you need to hire a graphic designer? Are you going to need more inventory? Are you going to need more equipment or storage space? Are you able to scale up on your own or do you need to borrow money from investors or take out a loan?
Are you ready to grow? Here are some ways you can grow your t-shirt company.
- Make a business plan. Your brand’s mission, niche, target audience, budget and financial projections should all be included.
- Create more designs. Keep your focus on your niche. Find out which t-shirts are the most popular and then create similar designs.
- Your marketing strategy should be expanded. Use email marketing to retarget previous customers. To target new customers via social media, use Instagram and Facebook Ads. You can narrow down your audience by selecting specific demographics such as gender, age and interests.
- Pop-up shops are a great idea. Dropship your products at local markets and businesses.
- Consider hiring a Wix Partner. Hire a digital agency to reach more customers, promote your products and grow your business.
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