If you have ever thought about starting a custom-printed merchandise business, you should know that it’s not as difficult as you might think. All you need is some designs and the right equipment.
You can start your online store with t-shirts initially and slowly branch out into mugs, caps, mobile phone covers, and other merchandise. We suggest this strategy because the online original design t-shirt market is growing.
Market Research company Ibis World predicts that around $586.8 million in revenue was generated through this niche segment in the US in 2022. Thus, there is plenty of room for growth in this direct-to-consumer bespoke industry.
Read on to know how you can go about setting up your own business in this line.
Create High-Quality Designs
When designing your merchandise, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First, the design should be aesthetic as well as in high resolution so that it looks good when printed on a shirt or a mug. It should also be suited to the tastes of your target market.
You should gather up your favorite designs and start making them into merchandise. Check the quality and finetune your technique till you are confident of the design.
Get the Right Printing Equipment
A good quality heat press and printer are the most important equipment you will need to set up your custom merchandise printing business. You can also print on mugs and other merchandise with a heat press setup.
You can try an entry-level heat press machine that has enough power for basic heat transfer printing. We suggest you check useful online resources that guide you in detail about the different heat transfer printers available today before making a decision.
After this is set up and ready to go, all that needs to happen now is uploading your design file from your computer onto a compatible printer. This design will be pressed by the heat transfer printer onto your t-shirt. Pressure applied evenly across multiple layers of material at once will cause the design to get imprinted on your t-shirt.
Build Your Tech Infrastructure
When you’re starting a custom-printed merchandise business, you need to have a computer with internet access. You also need graphic editing software programs like Photoshop or Illustrator. These programs will help you create artwork for your products that are high quality and professional looking.
You also need a good-quality printer to produce high-quality results on your custom-printed merchandise. If you don’t have access to one at home or in your office, companies like Staples and Office Depot offer affordable printing services where they can print both sides of the shirt for you within 24 hours.
Grow Your Social Media Presence
To spread the word about your business, it’s crucial to create a website and social media profiles for your business. A professional website not only sets you apart from competitors but also helps build trust with new customers.
Social media can be used to promote your products and services, as well as your brand or business. Insider Intelligence, a marketing analytics website, reports that today 30% of Gen Z adults spend more than 3 to 5 hours checking social media.
On the moderate side, another 42% spend one to three hours browsing social networks. For your brand to make its appeal felt, an engaging social media presence is a must.
Create a Vendor Network
You should buy blank merchandise from a supplier. This will let you have more freedom to design and produce the product without having to worry about making your stickers or designing the whole thing yourself.
You will need a network of suppliers of plain, blank merchandise like t-shirts, hoodies, cups, and caps. Choose vendors who can deliver timely and will accept returns if there is any transit damage to the delivered goods.
As a responsible business, we suggest you ask your vendors to be compliant while sourcing blank merchandise. You should check if sustainable practices are employed by the producers and manufacturers of your raw materials. If you focus on sustainability at all touch-points of the supply chain, you will build more connections with today’s environmentally conscious consumers.
For t-shirts, you can check the standards suggested by Textile Exchange, a global non-profit organization protecting the rights of the communities and creatures at the heart of the textile industry. Global Recycles Standards or GRS, Recycled Claim Standard or RSC, and Organic Content Standard or OCS are some of the compliance standards your end products can sport.
We hope that this article has helped you understand the basics of starting a custom-printed merchandise business and encouraged you to go out and try it yourself. The best thing about printing custom T-shirts is that it does not require much investment or experience. All it takes is some passion for creativity and a healthy risk appetite.