1. Gather Inspiration, Brainstorm and Create a Brand Identity.
One of the first steps to go thorough when starting a business selling t-shirts, hats, tote bags, or any other item, is deciding what you’re going to be printing on these garments. Don’t rush into it, take some time gathering inspiration from all over. In order to try and evaluate the chance of success of your new apparel line, look around to see if other people are already successful with similar products.
Look at existing branding and clothing labels, follow blogs, read magazines and collate as much imagery as you possibly can. This will not only help to inspire you, but it’s an important process as it helps you to find out what’s all ready out there. It’s also vital to define your target customer. Remember that you can not be all things to all people. Take a look at what’s popular, and what is selling, and decide where you fit in. Keep in mind that a logo, design style and even brand name that would appeal to fashion conscious teens probably won’t fare so well with suburban Mums.
Interview members of your market in order to help develop ideas about pricing, marketing and design styles. Take advantage of social networks to conduct polls among members of your target group as well.
2. Brand & Design Development.
Develop a range or graphic T-shirt designs, logos and a brand name using your market research. Every aspect of your brand should reflect the values and tastes of your target market. Don’t try to appeal to everyone, or you may end up appealing to no one. Create multiple graphic representations of potential logos, brand names and T-shirt designs. Test your designs with members of your target audience to help assist in narrowing your choices down.
Take the time to learn about the various print processes. We’ve posted various blog entries on the different print methods and how to prepare your files – the four print processes (screen printing, direct to garment printing, embroidery and transfer printing) we offer are very popular ways of transferring designs onto clothing, but by no means your only options. Study variations of your chosen garment carefully. We’re able to send you samples, so if you’re thinking about creating your own t-shirt line, compare the cut, detailing and fabric composition of your t-shirt options.
3. Know Your Costings.
Having done your research into garments and price per “plain” item, pair these figures with your chosen print process per print cost. Ideally you want to make a profit not just break even. Does your chosen retail price fit in with your target market? This comes back to knowing your audience and understanding their budget.
Think about the kind of designs you’re selling when setting prices. For example, limited edition runs of certain T-shirt designs may do better at a higher price because increased price often implies rarity or special quality to buyers.
4. Have a Marketing Plan.
After you have defined your customer, figured out how much you can charge them for your products, you need a marketing plan that will get your name out there. Take advantage of all the various free marketing/social networking sites that are available (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pintrest, Youtube, etc.) – raising awareness of your brand has never been easier. Also, carefully distributing free samples of your T-shirts or sweaters to influential members of your target market can create a word-of-mouth buzz and viral marketing possibilities at minimal cost to you.
Remember, just because your have a great product does not mean people will automatically know about it. And the more buzz you generate for your product, the more likely stores will sell it. That means in order to get sales, you’ve got to let people know how to find you. And once they find you, you have to make them want to buy. The web has the ability to level the marketing playing field in many aspects. A new start-up t-shirt line has the same ability to show up in an online search right next to the biggest name brands.
5. Choosing Where to Sell.
This really depends on what works best for your target market. Some labels choose exclusively to sell online, or in stores – some sell across both. The people shopping on Etsy (an international handmade and vintage e-commerce site) might not be shopping on Bigcartel (self run e-commerce site) and vice versa. Initially people will buy your garments because they like the way they look/the designs and so forth not for their brand name. Be aware of aesthetics and how you’re visually representing your brand/line – use really strong photography if web selling or focus on your visual merchandising if shop selling. Think about the finer details too – be sure your swing tags and packaging reflects your brand and are of the same high standard.
We hope you have found this post helpful. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions or check out our website for an instant quote. Icon Printing are specialists in creative customised clothing and bespoke t-shirt printing.
We also have a post here on Frequently Asked Questions.
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