Ever thought about starting your own t-shirt business? A quick scan on Instagram will reveal you’re certainly not alone… There’s so many new t-shirt labels and unique tee brands that it seems like everyone’s at it!
If you know Kuji Shop, you’ll know that we aim to support and nurture emerging talent, and that includes the best quality indie t-shirt labels. We’ve worked with enough to pick up some great tips on how to start a t-shirt brand, so thought we’d share some of the best advice from ourselves and the experts.
How to start a t-shirt line… Our top tips!
Mark, from Sheffield indie tee label The Level Collective, shares his insights on what to do before anything else:
1. “Brand Brand Brand!
Before you do anything – spend lots of time refining exactly what your brand is about: Your core values, the things you are, the things you aren’t – write them down. It will help you to form your core values and the things that you stand for, which will:
– Distinguish you from being yet ‘another t-shirt company’
– Give you a basis from which to make little and big business decisions. e.g. if your values are high quality / premium – don’t compromise of excellence throughout your whole product and brand experience.”
Understanding what your brand is about and who your target market are shapes everything about your visual communications – photos, fonts, website, tone/voice, etc
To do this you will need to…
2. “Research Research Research!
Look at other brands you like the vibe of and aspire to be; learn from them, get inspiration from them – that’s inspiration – NOT imitation!”
Patch Apparel director Tom, gives his advice on starting up a t-shirt business too:
3. “Think outside the box! The world of clothing is pretty saturated nowadays – and the companies that tend to stand out and accelerate are the ones with their own individuality.”
Patch Apparel pocket tees are all handmade, and each pocket design is unique to the brand. Focusing upon the latest print trends, each tee is truly unique… More than can be said for the majority of high street brands – so practice what you preach!
Underground label Minus61 works with emerging artists to produce limited edition tees. Stocked in a number of boutique and independent shops across the UK, brand manager Ed has this advice for those thinking of starting up a t-shirt company:
4. Quality of the garment: Does it wash well? Is it soft to touch? Is it a suitable fit? Colour options?
5. Photography: I can’t stress this enough – if you are not a photographer, get a semi pro/professional to do it. It doesn’t cost the earth and you will get a result that makes your brand stand out. Choose a model that is relevant, if your designs are based around surfing, then get a man or woman who fits the bill.
6. Advertising is expensive! Don’t get sucked up in the world of magazine adverts. Yes they do work for some (more established/bigger budgets) but when you are starting out and your budget is tiny, don’t go spending £250+ on something that doesn’t guarantee you sales.
The best way is to meet your customers face to face. T-shirts designs events, creative market stalls etc. You will be able to talk to these people and tell them what makes the brand tick, plus you don’t come across as a faceless brand.
Also use self promotion: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr… all good social media tools. Tell your customer what’s happening with your brand, from design stage to printing, photo shoot and bagging – keep the customer interested but only post things that are relevant.
7. Be loyal to your customers, these are the guy’s building your brand – get people to sign up to a monthly newsletter which offers special discounts to it’s members.
8. Consider your price point: ‘Yeah but so-and-so is selling their tees for £10 less then me’ So what! Remember what your brand is about and how you want to come across to your customers – too cheap and they might wonder about quality, too expensive and they might run a mile.
Here at Kuji Shop, we stock independent t-shirt brands from all over the world, so our next slice of advice comes directly from Australia. These tips are global! Manager of bright and bold street-wear brand Nemis Clothing is Simen, he says this:
9. “My best tip is to listen to others, but stay true to yourself.
Everyone will have an opinion on what you’re doing. Your designs, your fabric choices, your photography, your marketing… It’s great to take tips from others, but don’t turn 180 just because someone else have another view.”
Did you know we also produce our own range of limited edition t-shirts and sweaters with our own-brand label, TeeBag Designs? Each design comes from an emerging artist/illustrator/photographer/creative and they are paid for their work and earn commission from each sale. Since launching our label we’ve learnt a few things on how to start up and manage a t-shirt label, including these tips:
10. “Make a business strategy then analyse it, dissect it, and work at it. Once you are happy with it, stick to it! How are you getting the cash to print your t-shirts? Where are you sourcing your stock? How and to whom are you selling it? Think about every nitty-gritty detail and figure out a plausible way to overcome the obstacles before they happen.”
So there you have it, 10 Top Tips on Starting Your Own T-Shirt Company. Did you find this useful? Do you have some tips of your own? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear your stories or experiences starting up a business.
http://www.kujishop.co.uk is an independent, online boutique. We take pride in sourcing the best quality, underground and emerging labels. From independent designers to the next-big-thing, we’re always on the lookout. If you have a t-shirt label and would like us to consider selling your products, get in touch.