A t-shirt is lightweight and ideal for any age and gender. You can wear it as is or under another garment. You can match it with jeans, shorts, jumper, or skirt. Its versatility makes it a favorite choice when it comes to casual wear.
There are creative individuals with entrepreneurial spirit who transform plain and ordinary t-shirts into colorful and lovely works of art. The t-shirt printing business has grown through the years. It can be a part-time venture or full-time business. Here are some tips if you’re planning to set up your own t-shirt printing business.
1. Learn about the business. Do your own research to establish the right path to a good start up. Gather as much information as you can about t-shirt printing. Look for books, magazines and online references that can help you understand the ins and outs of the business.
Find opportunities to learn about the business first hand. You can visit a t-shirt printing shop and try to observe its operation. Talk to people who run their own t-shirt printing business to get practical tips.
Create a sound business plan by studying important factors such as target market, location, marketing strategies, competitors, etc.
2. Choose t-shirt printing method for your business. Decide what method of t-shirt printing you want for your business.
- Screen Printing – This is an old printing technique that uses a mesh stencil and blade or squeegee to transfer ink to a t-shirt. This process is also called silk screen serigraphy and serigraph printing. Only one color is printed at a time. Several screens may be used to produce a multicolored design.
It’s a popular technique because it is cost effective when printing in bulk. It also creates durable and long lasting designs. Screen printing works best for simple designs. It may not be so cost effective when creating designs with four or more colors. The more colors you add, the higher the cost and the longer the production time.
- Direct to Garment (DTG) – This digital printing process involves printing on t-shirts using specialized or modified ink-jet technology. Inkjet textile inks are applied directly and absorbed by the fibers of the t-shirt.
Direct to Garment is capable of producing full quality color images with precision. You don’t have to worry about distorted images unlike in screen printing.
A fundamental advantage of this method is the lack of set-up costs. It is also cost effective when printing small orders. However, this method does not give room for volume discount for large orders since production time and cost are the same for each shirt. This type of t-shirt printing business also requires larger capital compared to the screen printing. A DTG printer may range from P11,000 to as much as P700,000.
- Heat Transfer – This method uses high quality heat transfer paper. It can easily create full colored designs on demand. A commercial heat press allows you transfer t-shirt designs as you receive orders from customers.
Heat transfer prints may not be as durable compared to screen printing and direct-to-garment. A heat press machine may range from P8,000 to P30,000.
3. Study t-shirt printing process. Learn about the chosen t-shirt printing method by reading materials, watching instructional DVDs or online videos, and visiting related websites. You also have the option to enroll in a business seminar, short course or workshop to gain vital information and learn necessary skills in t-shirt printing.
4. Choose an ideal business location. Consider visibility and accessibility of the location to customers when putting up a t-shirt printing business whether you’re planning to set up the business in your home or rent a small space.
Put up a good signage that highlights the name of the business as well as the type of business. It is important to indicate that you are in the t-shirt printing business to attract potential customers.
5. Provide start-up capital and invest on supplies and equipment. The start-up capital of the t-shirt printing business may depend on the type of equipment, business space and number of staff.
Aspiring entrepreneurs who do not have sufficient capital may consider a home based business in order to save money on rental fees. Invest on t-shirt printing equipment, computer, image editing software, fax machine, printer, scanner, and telephone line.
Set up a working area in your home for your equipment and supplies. You’ll also need desk and chairs where you can discuss orders with clients and suppliers.
Find a good supplier of quality t-shirts. For screen printing, find a supplier of materials such as screen fabric, aluminium or wood frame, emulsion scoop coater, screen printing inks, squeegee bar, emulsion chemical and remover, exposing unit, pressurized hose, and an emulsion rack. For DTG, find a supplier of high quality DTG inks. For heat transfer, find a supplier of high quality heat transfer paper.
6. Get proper registration requirements and documents. Choose a good business name for your t-shirt printing business. Register the business at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for single proprietorship and at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for partnership or corporation. Obtain a barangay clearance and apply for a business permit from the city where you will put up the t-shirt printing shop. Register the business with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to secure TIN (Tax Identification Number). Get Social Security System (SSS), Philhealth, and PAG-IBIG coverage for employees.
7. Select employees. A small t-shirt printing business can start with one to two employees. The owner can add more people during peak season. Provide your staff with proper training.
8. Promote the business.
- Word of mouth is a good way to attract potential customers. Request family and friends to help advertise your t-shirt printing business by recommending your service to people they know.
- Ensure quality service to encourage repeat sales. Satisfied customers are likely to avail of your service again for future t-shirt printing needs and recommend your business to other people.
- Give business cards to clients and suppliers.
- Create posters with your business address and contact details. Post them on local community bulletin boards.
- Use social-networking sites like Facebook and Instagram to promote your business.
- Create a business website where you can post pictures of your t-shirt designs.
- Build your portfolio by taking photos of your work and compiling them. You can show them to your customers.
Photo1 c/o Flickr. Some rights reserved; Photo2 c/o Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a full-time mom to a charming young boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.