Simple Steps for Starting Your Own T-Shirt Line

Simple Steps for Starting Your Own T-Shirt Line 1
Image by: dirty black chucks
By Jessie Marc

Have you ever dreamed about starting your own independent clothing line?  Starting with a t-shirt brand is a great way to get your foot in the door without risking a lot of money, and the creative process can be an absolute blast!

Figure Out Your Style & Write a Business Plan

Ladies, it’s important to map out the overall vibe you want your line to have before you get going – otherwise you’ll have a hard time reaching any specific market.   Take some time to outline your marketing strategy and write a business plan so that you can measure your progress along the way.

Consider Doing Your Own Printing

If you’re willing to get adventurous, you might be able to do the printing yourself.  It cost me around $500 to get a basic screenprinting setup with the ink and tools that I needed, and about $400 for about 100 fashion fit unisex t-shirts. 

While that might sound expensive, it’s actually just slightly more than it would’ve cost me to have a shop print that many shirts, and the press paid for itself when I started picking up a few printing gigs on the side.  The printing process sounds complicated, but with no prior experience, my first shirt came out perfectly after watching a few YouTube videos. 

Get Social

If you’ve got a lot of friends on facebook or a large twitter following, you’ll have a much easier time getting loyal fans of your brand.  Even if it’s going to be a few months before the line is up and running, start promoting it on social media right away. 

Make a fan page, and as soon as you have a few designs ready, share them with your friends and family.  You don’t have to be a photoshop wizard to make a mockup, just take your image and upload it on ShirtMockup.  You can also try using Kickstarter or doing pre-sales of your line to fund it!

Alert the Media

When you’re ready to launch, try sending press releases to your local paper and some of the more popular t-shirt blogs like HideMyArms and TeeGazette. You can also use a free service like HARO to get alerts when a journalist is looking for someone to discuss a specific topic – I’ve gotten a lot of great press this way.

Be Unique

You’ll have a lot of competition out there, so make sure there’s something unique about your brand.  T-shirt guru Johnny Cupcakes has made a killing with his funky brand by only releasing limited editions of his shirts, keeping a boutique feel, and even driving cross-country selling shirts as a publicity stunt. 

Consider Your Options

If you’re hoping to break in to the indie fashion world without spending a lot, check out sites like Threadless where you can submit your designs for consideration – they offer cash prizes and a lot of publicity if your design is accepted for their shop!


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