Pitfalls to starting a T-Shirt Line

“I got a great idea! Let’s make a t-shirt”

My name is Erik Mickelson and I am the Operations Manager at Northwest Custom Apparel. If I could have a dollar every time a person walked through our front doors and said, “I am putting a clothing line together” I would retire a rich man. The truth is to start a clothing line you need a bunch of money. I mean a BUNCH, like investors and millions of

Hawks 12th man shirt

Hawks 12 Design printed using a Kornit Storm 2 direct to garment printer.

dollars. Besides money you need to invest time effort and better have a great design for a t-shirt.  Many think a clothing line is coming up with some cool artwork that they PERSONALLY like and printing 2 dozen t-shirts. My first question is, “What do your friends think of this design?”. Of course the response is, “I love this design, how do I get a shirt from you”.  Reality is, the friends LOVE the design, but they don’t love it enough to release $20.00 from their wallet.  This is where t-shirt lines fail. They don’t do market research before deciding to start making t-shirts. If making a t-shirt line was easy, I would not be here typing this blog and would be found drinking cold IPA’s in Mexico.

Tip 1

Do market research on your design. Show it to people that are NOT your friends. Ask if they would pay for this shirt.

Tip 2

If you have a Blue Ribbon design, start small and order a dozen t-shirts. Sell them to people other than friends and family. If a stranger will buy it, you might have a good idea in the works.

Fife Junior Football Champions 2017

Fife Junior Flag Football Champions 2017, Fife, Washington

Tip 3

Will the design sustain over time or is it a Fad or a special event. Making a Seahawk Super Bowl t-shirt is a special event and not a clothing line. Make sure you can develop a brand.

Tip 4

Do not think you will make money on a t-shirt line. Do it for fun and if you make a couple of bucks, go buy a beer and ENJOY.

Questions: [email protected]

Erik Mickelson