Blog, Industry Tips, Marketing, Promotional Products, T-Shirts

How NOT To Start A T-Shirt Company


Rule #1: Think!

Think. This is probably the most important. And obvious. But we didn’t. Oh, we thought we wanted to own a business. We thought it should be t-shirts. We even thought of a cool, trendy name with a pretty neat message (“You’re different. And so are we.”). But we didn’t THINK about anything that would be involved. We envisioned drawing up a whole bunch of designs, creating a fancy website, and selling a million of them. There are so many nuances to owning any business. This one is no different. We were flat out wrong. We thought about nothing.

tshirtRule #2: Plan Everything

From day one, keep your pen and paper handy. Write down absolutely everything. We thought we were writing down everything. We weren’t. We were more worried about organization and looking the part than we were actually caring about the important things. A business plan isn’t a joke. You don’t now how your brand is going to do. Not on day one. And certainly not on day 366. But you need to plan like you do. Write out projects. Objectives. Goals. Everything. Do it. And do it now.

Rule #3: Brand It

Start a t-shirt company logo. There is no screwing around here. A brand is a serious thing, you need to take brand seriously. Once again, we didn’t. We enjoy helping others. Our idea was to assign a different charity to each design we created. One shirt, one charity. A nice idea. But in order for an idea to become a reality, it must be executed. And execute, we did not.

websiteRule #4: Your Website Should Kick Ass.

Your website doesn’t have to do a ton. It doesn’t need to be flashy and full of scripts that will knock a customer’s socks off. It just needs to show your products off in a way that is in line with your brand. Make sure everything flows and matches and represents what you’re trying to come across as.

Rule #5:Capital

Do yourself a favor and save some cash and do it the right way. If you’re putting it on a credit card, make sure you get approved for 0% APR. With something as bootstrappable as a t-shirt company, there is absolutely ZERO reason to screw yourself over.Learn about your write-offs. These are important. Use your state’s guidelines. There are plenty of things you can save a ton of money on if you simply do the research. Gas and mileages from craft, art, and music festivals, business meetings (with printers and store owners and the like), printers and ink, stationary, computers, office space (sometimes), inventory, etc.


About Erik Mickelson

Erik Mickelson is the author of Northwest Custom Apparel's blogs. Erik has been with Northwest Custom Apparel since 1996 after graduating from Washington State University and is the founder of the Apparel Graphic Academy. Trained by the custom graphic apparel industry's best, Mark Venit, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Embroidery Adventure blog. As they say, 'Experience is the best teacher.' We are proud to have Erik as part of our team!

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