Blog, Direct To Garment Printing

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

28437-Hawkdollars. 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-Flag-Football-Champions-2017Tip 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


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!