How NOT To Start A T-Shirt Company

Thinking of starting a t-shirt company? You might want to read about my experience before continuing.

start a t-shirt companyMy name is Justin and two and a half years ago my fiancee and I started a t-shirt company named Anomalous. Well, rewind a bit further. From a very young age there have been two things that interest me more than anything else. Art and entrepreneurship. Two of the most conflicting ideologies when it comes to trying to make a living. If you’re here, I’ll assume that you, at the very least, share one of those two qualities. However, most of you probably share both.

I realized that designing a t-shirt was a lot like painting on a blank canvas or drawing on a fresh sheet of paper. There are restrictions, as there are with any art medium, but for the most part you have the freedom to do what you’d like. That enticed me. What I failed to realize is that slapping some ink on a shirt and blindly creating an attractive website doesn’t equate to a solid business plan and ongoing sales. It’s a mere fraction of what it took to start and run a t-shirt line.

I’m not here to tell you how to keep your new, fledgling brand afloat. That is something that I do not have experience with. What I am here to do, though, is explain how NOT to start a t-shirt company.

Rule #1: Think!

*Note: None of these are in any specific order. Take from them what you will.

Think. This is probably the most important. And obvious. But we didn’t. Oh, we thought we wanted to own a business. We thought it should be t-shirts. We even thought of a cool, trendy name with a pretty neat message (“You’re different. And so are we.”). But we didn’t THINK about anything that would be involved. We envisioned drawing up a whole bunch of designs, creating a fancy website, and selling a million of them. There are so many nuances to owning any business. This one is no different. We were flat out wrong. We thought about nothing.

Inspiration is easy, but it’s also dangerous. Inspiration can cause spur-of-the-moment decisions. Let things soak in, but on the flip side, don’t battle yourself. There’s a fine line. Watching a video like the one below was something that propelled us to make certain decisions we probably weren’t ready to make.

Johnny Cupcakes

Rule #2: Plan Everything

It’s hard to watch the video above and not feel like you can take over the world with your little doodles and vector images. The fact remains that companies like Johnny Cupcakes are one in a million. They find fame through luck and bunch of other outlets that aren’t necessarily available to the average person. That’s not saying you shouldn’t try or expect great things. But you shouldn’t expect them right away. There’s a difference.

This is where planning comes in. From day one, keep your pen and paper handy. Write down absolutely everything. We thought we were writing down everything. We weren’t. We were more worried about organization and looking the part than we were actually caring about the important things. A business plan isn’t a joke.To this day, I still don’t know how to write a real business plan. But that’s okay. You don’t have to. You can figure it out. There are plenty of online resources and templates that can help you out. I stumbled across my “business plan” from Anomalous only a few weeks ago. It’s half done. Very indicative of why I’m writing this article and not filming artsy videos.

You don’t now how your brand is going to do. Not on day one. And certainly not on day 366. But you need to plan like you do. Write out projects. Objectives. Goals. Everything. Do it. And do it now.

Rule #3: Brand It

start a t-shirt company logoThere is no screwing around here. A brand is a serious thing. Even if your company’s name is “Orange Oompa Loompa Sweat”, you need to take that brand seriously. Once again, we didn’t.

I’ll tell you a little about our brand… or lack thereof.

My fiancee and I try to be good people. We enjoy helping others. Our idea was to assign a different charity to each design we created. One shirt, one charity. A nice idea. But in order for an idea to become a reality, it must be executed. And execute, we did not.

I registered the business name and we drew up some designs. Why is that a mistake? Oh, right… there was no LOGO! The single most important part of your company. A logo. And we didn’t bother to make one until well into the designing process. “Just design one before opening up shop,” one might say. Errrrrr. Wrong. Your logo defines your shop. It says everything about who you are. Your colors. Your style. Are you gritty? Are your chic? Maybe you’re gritty and chic. Maybe your colors are cinder and black, but your logo is script. That’s okay. As long as it’s telling of who you are.

My fiancee is a wonderful letterer. She draws up some excellent fonts. One night in particular, I had the epiphany that we needed a font at that very moment. I finally felt the need for a brand identity. So I asked her to draw something up after a few failed vectors.

Now, let me stop right there. You don’t need to be a graphic artist to own a t-shirt company. There are plenty of hand designed lines out there that don’t let their designs touch a computer screen until they’re getting ready to be printed. And that’s just fine. But you’ll be paying a small price in terms of color separation and art set up. A suggestion? Learn your basics. Take a crash course on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Either that, or hire a designer/artist

Back to the story. She drew up a few prototypes within about five minutes. I didn’t like any of them. After five minutes. Such a long time to wait. Perhaps I should’ve realized that we don’t live in a movie and that the first design to hit the paper wasn’t necessarily going to be THE ONE. A few sketches later and she drew up something I thought looked neat. So we went with it. I scanned it in. Didn’t vectorize it at all. And we had our hand drawn logo. The only problem was that, to me, it was only neat. It wasn’t fantastic. It wasn’t something we were both in love with. I spent the next year disliking it more and more. And the last thing you want to do is change your logo a year into your company’s life. We did. And our company was dead a month later.

Like I said… this is how NOT to start a t-shirt company.

Graphic Design Tutorials

Give yourself a head start. If you aren’t a designer and you don’t plan on heading to school to become one, use these as a resource. You’ll thank yourself later.

  • Jeremy Shuback’s Photoshop Crash Course Jeremy Shuback gives a 4 hour Photoshop presentation that will blow your socks off. It’s weird not to have socks on after it, but it works!
  • Tutvid Nathaniel does an incredible job in his tutorial videos.

Rule #4:Capital

This was something we struggled with for a very long time.

I’m a very impulsive person. My fiancee is not. What she is, however, is very easygoing. I’d lost my job in December of ’09. Anomalous was up and running by February 3rd of 2010. Coincidence? No.

We’d just had our daughter in May and were struggling to pay rent in our one bedroom apartment. The job prospects were little to none. We went for it all. Our first order of t-shirts went on my credit card in the amount of $3,500 dollars (more on how asinine that was later). In the end, we finished down a little bit more than $3,000 in the red. The damage wasn’t awful, but that’s because we were smart enough to pull the plug before we were completely in over our heads.

Do yourself a favor and save some cash and do it the right way. If you’re putting it on a credit card, make sure you get approved for 0% APR. With something as bootstrappable (a word I just made up) as a t-shirt company, there is absolutely ZERO reason to screw yourself over. And learn your taxes. In NJ, clothing isn’t taxable. It’s considered a necessary item. We were lucky that we chose t-shirts, because sales tax is a pain. With that said, there were plenty of other legalities and tax issues that came along with owning a business. I chose to register my business using my name as the DBA. I figured we would register as an LLC if things got serious (which they never did). Do yourself another favor. Cough up the couple hundred bucks and register as an LLC. They may be a pain in the butt to dissolve, but you’re a whole lot more protected.

Learn about your write-offs. These are important. Use your state’s guidelines. There are plenty of things you can save a ton of money on if you simply do the research. Gas and mileages from craft, art, and music festivals, business meetings (with printers and store owners and the like), printers and ink, stationary, computers, office space (sometimes), inventory, etc.

*Not all of those things may be a tax write-off, depending on where you live. This is not legal advice, just a simple heads-up that these thing are out there to be researched and understood.

Sub-rule, or Rule %4.5:

Keep track of everything!

I just spoke about tax returns, and that’s really the tip of the iceberg. Keeping track of everything will make your life much easier in the long run. Something we didn’t do well, either. Organization reigns supreme. Keep your finances in check. Keep a business checking account (which we actually did) so that you can show exactly what you put in or what went out. Keep all statements. Keep receipts from hangtag orders, etc. Keep track of how much inventory you have, from the t-shirts, right on down to the mailers you ship them in. Everything should be accounted for.

Rule #5: Start Small.

Okay, there is a lot of debate on this particular subject, but I’m going to tell you what did NOT work for us. Twelve initial designs, on both unisex and women’s t-shirts, some different colors, styles, or material. Horribly. Bad. Idea.

The point of establishing a brand is to gain a following. In order to gain a following, you have to be nearly perfect. I don’t mean perfect as in, the best company ever created. I mean perfect as in, the most perfect company for your style. And only you have your style, unless you’re blatantly ripping someone off, which will not work (and won’t work for long if it works initially). So unless you have a high bankroll, a phenomenal branding idea with tons of flow, and breakneck designs that you’ve worked on for years and years (and already have a great following of fans, which is absolutely possible… but extremely rare), stick with a few designs off the bat. Get people excited about your company. And for dog’s sakes, put out a logo shirt. Your art can be great, but there are plenty of great artists who are sitting at home not making a dime (I’d like to think I’m a decent artist that doesn’t make much of a living in that respect). People need to become fans. They need to be your legions. They need to spread the word like wildfire. Put out a few designs and put out a logo shirt – or at the very least, a shirt that is a play on your logo. Some get away with not doing a logo shirt initially, but even then, they have a bread and butter design that becomes the face of the company.

Also, printing tons of designs from the beginning can make your inventory a nightmare. If you’re like us with a shoestring budget, you’ll only be able to order a limited amount of sizes and styles. Instead of being able to order a dozen of each size (or more), you’ll be getting 3 or 4 of each size. Add in the fact that XXL is a real life size that real life people wear (and XXL and XXXL and… you get it), and that you have to pay an additional $1 a shirt in most cases, and you’ll want more bang for your buck instead of having to make special orders to satisfy the larger crowd. Also, something a lot of people do not seem to think of when choosing materials and sizes is the neck tag. The more materials, the more varied the necktag orders will be. And if you get them printed directly into the shirt, you’ll need to have multiple screens made (more $$) in order to satisfy the different materials your shirts are made of. And you can’t bypass this out of laziness – it’s the law. Like, the actual law. Not the unsaid law. Well, it’s an unsaid law, too. Just freaking do it.



I should write this entire section in capital letters because it’s absolutely essential to a t-shirt brand. This was the single most bitter area of our entire endeavor.

Think about this simply. Your shirts are your canvas and your printer is your brush. 99% of screen printers out there (and literally mean 99%) are house painters, not fine art painters. These are people that bought a printing press, installed the clip art editor that came with their 1997 Gateway computer, and started printing crappy quality shirts, jersey, and uniforms for local schools, companies, and sports teams with crappy quality inks and crappy quality attitudes (can you tell that we’re bitter?). These guys don’t need to have any real graphic design and printing experience because the Hanes Beefy t-shirt with the thick plastisol ink displaying “Local 560 Annual Spring Picnic” was good enough to use for one day and then become a housecleaning rag. Then, someone with real artistic aspirations approaches said crappy quality printer with crappy quality attitude, and he tells them, “Sure! I can do anything you want!” They listen, because, really, do they know any better? Not to mention they’re seeing $3 a t-shirt and drooling at the idea of saving some money. I promise you, you are saving nothing. You are costing yourself more money and time in the long run, both in printing costs and in reputation costs. No one is going to be happy (yourself included) paying $25 for an indy t-shirt that can double as a snowboard.

Another problem with a crappy quality printshop, is that most of them have workers that are even worse than they are. These are guys that haven’t a clue what they’re doing and don’t really care to learn. I can not tell you how many shirts we had to return to our first two printers (first two in the span of three months. Try running a business that way. You can’t.) because they had ink splatters, inky thumbprints, or, you know, gigantic holes from being stretched too roughly over the palate (the flat surface of a press that t-shirts are printed on). They’ll deny it. The crappy quality printer/owner will then deny it, and you’ll be up dookie’s creek without a paddle.

I got into an all-out screaming match (and I’ll admit I have a temper, but this was absolutely provoked) with a printshop owner because he claimed that minor discrepancies are a part of the process (which they are – most companies allow a 5% screw up rate. Screen printing is far from a flawless process and the more accustomed with the process you become, the more you’ll understand that). By discrepancies, in this case, I’m talking about the ink stains and holes that I mentioned previously. We went at it for nearly half an hour with the guy throwing things at me like “I just filled an order for Vera Wang!” Luckily, I actually did the one thing I preached about in Rule 4.5. I kept track of everything. We sat down with our initial 250+ shirts and scoured them for blemishes that were worth complaining about (minus the 5%). We wrote down every single thing, which I was able to show him, point blank. At the end of it all, he relented and refunded me nearly 1/3 of the original price. Not bad, except that I had to take my work elsewhere, get reacquainted with a new printer, get all set up, and then go through that same process all over again. And, yes, nearly the same bleeping thing happened with the second printer.

The way to go about it is simple. Reputation, reputation, reputation. You will most likely not be able to find someone in your immediate area. It’s sad but true. Unless you live in NYC or another urban area with an artistic, understanding shop, you’ll be resorting to an online shop. I can vouch for one in particular, lucky for you, and I will do so below. However, do this at your own risk. One man’s treasure can also be another man’s trash. You may have never heard it that way, but in this case it’s absolutely true. Do your homework and make your life and business so much easier. ESTABLISH A PRINTER.

T-Shirt Printer

When it comes to T-Shirt  screen printing, not all companies are created equal. Screen printers come in all shapes and sizes and finding a solid one can be harder than you think! From inexperienced “garage shops” with one manual press to experienced “industry shops” with 500 shirt minimums, quality and price run the gamut. We used the screen printer advertised on How to start a clothing company, on their screen printing page and they did an incredible job and I was amazed at how meticulous they are. Our order had the neck tags removed properly and carefully (unlike preview printers, who simply cut them but left the hidden part of the tag under the seam so it was completely noticeable). There wasn’t one discrepancy (not saying there won’t be in your order), either. They also print posters, hangtags, and a bunch of other cool stuff. We had buttons done by them and they came out great.

Rule #7: Money. Not The Same As Capital.

I’m going to divide this section into two: Bootstrapping and Pricing.


I mentioned this a few sections back. Bootstrapping is essential. We bootstrapped in all the wrong areas. We bootstrapped our time instead of our money. While time does = money, it doesn’t always = debt. Bootstrapping time and not money can = debt. It makes sense in my head.

In the beginning, time is endless. It needs to be. And if it isn’t, you’re not doing it right. You can not, can not, CAN NOT build a business without the proper time. If you’re rushing to make money because you’re out of a job like I was, you need to supplement. It just doesn’t work any other way. Trust me, I wanted it to work another way. I hate working for other people. I willed it to work this way. We set an unrealistic launch date for Anomalous. It was so ridiculous that we were taking product shots up until half an hour before the launch. Try editing and touching up photos of 24 different designs in half an hour. We had to push back our launch a full day. Not a great start.

I did take away some great skills from rushing and learning quickly, however. Becoming skilled in web and graphic design was a result of starting Anomalous (more on your website later). I took that and made some good money on the side of my regular job. It’s a nice little skill to have to make extra money while starting a brand.

Bootstrapping your money is important, as well. But there are areas where you absolutely can not. Printers are one of them. You’ll spend upwards of $10 per shirt if you’re doing the whole nine. Printing cost, American Apparel shirts (the go to for most t-shirt companies, though Anvil and Alternative Apparel make a decent alternative (bad unintentional punt) and also have a nice organic selection) tag removal, tag printing or sewing, shipping, etc. This is not the place to cut costs. Packaging material is important, as well. You need to protect your investment. Having to re-send a ruined shirt eats into nearly your entire profit.

Where you can cut costs, however, is on things like hang tags (which can double as business cards if you have a hole puncher and some string), home office (your regular, run-of-the-mill computer is just fine when starting out), and anything else that doesn’t effect the quality of your product. You’ll learn as you go along. We wanted the best of the best of everything. And it just cost us more and more money. We tried bootstrapping on things like craft show and music festival fees. We went for the cheaper events. That’s not saying you can’t make money at those type of events (we made $400 at our cheapest event – $70 for the table), but you can find a balancing point. The more expensive events generally get more attendance and traffic, but the overpriced events are just trying to make money on its venders. Again, do your research.


Most companies seem to stay in the low to mid-$20’s category. There are some more expensive brands, but they seem to build as it goes along. We started with our cheapest shirt at $24 and our most expensive at $32. It wasn’t horrible, but it was fairly expensive for a t-shirt. Factor in $5 for shipping, and you’re paying a lot of money. There is no mold for this. It really relies on how much your printing costs are. You always have to factor in your wholesale costs. If you plan on getting into stores, you’ll need to set a wholesale price. The algorithm is generally as follows:

Cost x 2 = wholesale x 2 = retail.

It’s not always so cut and dry, but that’s a general rule. Play around with your price before hand, but stay consistent once you set them. You’ll need to be confident once you do put it out there.

Rule #8: Your Website Should Kick Ass.

Well, it should look like it kicks ass.

At least to the layman. Ours didn’t. At first. It was gaudy and ugly. Now, a cheaper website set up doesn’t have to mean ugly. A great web design firm tried to charge me $6,500 for a website. Hey, that’s right on par in terms of pricing, but it was too much for us. I learned it all myself. The problem (eventually a positive) was that I wanted to learn it all. It’s my nature to try and be great at something. In this case, I didn’t need to be. I just needed to be sufficient. There are a ton of templates and themes out there that you can purchase for $35 to $50 and install with minimal effort. The day I discovered WordPress was one of the greatest days of my business life. Take your time to check out the tutorials I posted above and check out the theme links below. Google WordPress installation and tutorials and learn about it. It’ll change the way you look at web design (in terms of how good you really have to be to get a decent website off the ground).

Your website doesn’t have to do a ton. It doesn’t need to be flashy and full of scripts that will knock a customer’s socks off. It just needs to show your products off in a way that is in line with your brand. Make sure everything flows and matches and represents what you’re trying to come across as. A few links are all you need:

  • Your Homepage: Some cool pictures, a coupon code or two, your social media links, etc.
  • About your company: Can be on the homepage if you’d like, or a separate link
  • Gallery: Your product in action!
  • Shop: There are plenty of e-commerce themes and templates out there, but one blows them all away – Big Cartel. Big Cartel is an online shopping cart CMS (content management system). It allows you to edit code and match it exactly to your website. It starts out free and the more products you have, the more it is per month (and even then, it’s nothing out of control). There is another choice: Storenvy:  it’s all free! It’s a great alternative.
  • FAQ and policies: A page or two noting your most frequently asked questions and the policies in relation to returns and exchanges, etc.
  • Contact: A way to get in touch.

Get yourself a Facebook business page and a Twitter account. We got on the Twitter train late (granted, this was ’09, when Twitter was infantile-ish). A piece of great advice? Get yourself genuine Facebook fans. We invited everyone and their mother. My fiancee’s younger sister’s entire high school graduating class was one of them. We had nearly 1000 fans in a few months. It was exciting. Except that none of them really cared. We threw a “tee-party” (crafty, right) and invited all of our Facebook friends. We got about 100 people “attending”. Five showed up. Two of which sat there the entire time and gawked at my sister-in-law and talked our ears off about Lord Of The Rings or some other crap. It was torture. I went upstairs and nearly cried about how much of a failure we were.

Most people will click “like” when asked to. Again, you want genuine fans. 200 real fans are worth more and will contribute MUCH more than 1000 fake fans.

In summary, make your website usable and fun. Don’t go overboard. It’s just another thing to stress yourself out about. You don’t want to be side-tracked with any more stressful additions than need be.

WordPress And Themes

WordPress is amazing. You purchase your domain and a hosting plan and install WordPress. Most hosting control panels will have something that will do it for you (Fantastico, in most cases). Places like Host Gator have it built in. You can always ask their “Live Help” representatives.

  • WordPress can be used to create a website or a blog. Or both. It’s free and it’s great. There are tons of support articles and forums to help you along, as well.
  • ThemeForest ThemeForest carries a ton of themes for extremely cheap. Their system works great, as there is a rating system, previews, and most of the developers have a forum for support.
  • Graph Paper Press This one is a subscription. It provides you with a bunch of themes (that you can keep forever, even if you cancel the subscription) and a ton of support for as long as you are subscribed.
  • Elegant Themes Elegant themes is another subscription-based theme website.

Rule #9: Be Fresh

There is nothing worse than being cheesy. I really believe that. Especially as a brand. We’re pretty granola people. We’re both almost strictly vegetarian. We buy mostly local or organic. We recycle and reuse things. We are minimalistic in our lifestyles. When creating our “brand”, we figured it was necessary to use all of that. I don’t mean one or two of those things – I mean all of it. We were a brand of browns and greens. Trees and grass. We had designs that preached recycling and erasing your carbon footprint. Some of them were pretty cool. Others, not so much. Like I mentioned earlier, we really rushed a lot of our designs and never finalized anything. It was a pump-them-out mentality.

We were somewhat unique and original, but the green fad has been played on for a long time now. Peace signs are dead. And there is no worse business strategy than chasing a trend – especially one that is already done for.

There is a simple resolution to this. BE FRESH. Be the trendsetter. And as soon as you are, evolve it. If you’re original and fresh, you’ll never run into a problem. Get the creative juices flowing.

Rule #10: Have Fun

Just as important as anything else is to have fun.

By the end of Anomalous, my fiancée and I were at each other’s throats. To this day, she’s extremely hesitant to start another business with me. And I don’t particularly blame her. Anything we disagreed about was initially taken offense to (primarily by me). We pretended to wonder why things weren’t working but we knew exactly why. I remember looking her in the eyes one night in particular and asking, “If you saw our clothing in a store window, would you buy it?”

That was the moment we knew it was all over. Granted, there were a few kick ass designs that I still wear today, but they were few and far between.

I can’t promise you anything, but I can imagine that if you avoid most of the pitfalls that I’ve spoken about, you’ll find yourself in decent shape. Running a company can be a blast. There were times (when our blinders were thick) when I knew this was something I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It still is. The problem is that I’m completely gun shy at this point.

You’ll never avoid every single thing that I’ve mentioned. And that’s okay. No business is perfect. But you’ll have to compensate for your mistakes quickly. Be fast on your feet. Intuition is important.

Do it right from the start, and you won’t have to worry about looking backwards while walking forward. Then maybe you can write an article called “How To Start A T-Shirt Company, Successfully.”

Written by Justin Merm

I’m Justin. I’m a writer, artist, and a father. Not necessarily in any order. Except the last one first. I’ve owned a failed t-shirt company and am a designer by trade. I used to work for Apple. It really, really sucked. I’m a jack of all trades and I like to ramble incoherently about all of them.

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  • Vineet gaur

    Thanx for such. An information. Very! Helpfull

  • http://currentlyworkingonit Anthony Garcia

    I loved the article, thank you so much brother. Im also a father, artist. Although, I used to write poetry and I would like to include a visionary and a proud vet (for the people, not the house). I was medically discharged after 9 yrs and had no idea what or where to go. So I went to my outlet and went to school for graphic and web design and have 2 GenEd classes for my Associates. I’ve recently discovered that you need much more than that. Im a father of 3 plus my girlfriends 3 and i need an income. I was giving a MacPro and CS6 MS so I ok there, I hope. Im trying out something different with photoshop and want to test it out on graphic tees. I believe the VA will help me out with a small business loan. I have a few designs that people like very much. While I was reading this, it encouraged me a bit because most of it was what I had planned. The only thing I was missing was the finance part. If there is any extra help you can think of, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. You seem like such a down to earth person, someone Id definitely drink a beer with, and theres not too many people Id say that about. Im sorry it didn’t work out for you the first time, but it did teach valuable lessons, and we thank you for showing us how to crawl. That being said, dont give up. People like us are not 9 to 5ers, we are innovators. Quitting should never be an option, just have to stand back re evaluate, adjust and hit it harder and smarter. Really hope to hear from you.

  • Amit Rai

    awsum story man … i am about to start a business my self don’t know if it will be sucessful or not but will make sure not to repeat the mistakes that you made just a quick question genuine fans are harder to get when you start . how am i supposed to get them when starting? thght of running adwords & fb ads for a while hope it helps me . do tell if any suggestion ! again thanks very much for sharing

  • Mike White

    Thank you thank you. My flaws. The business side.I have a wonderful marketing idea, excellent motto,a nice logo, and a large sphere of influence.if not for this article I would have rushed pour and made the same mistakes

  • vanesa

    Great article! Thank you so much for sharing your experience in order to help others. More people should do this. Not fail, just share their pitfalls so others can learn from it too. I do hope that your next project is much more successful, I wish you all the best! I have made notes of all your tips and suggestions 😉

  • Demetrius Battle

    Thanks for the information. It was very informative and I feel great about the way I am approaching my t-shirt business. I have been purchasing books lately that give me some of the same advice that you’re giving. I started my LLC in may of this year with plans on just learning all the ropes. I have some things printed up just for me to do photo shoots for my website but a lot of people are asking when they will be available to buy. My answer is always the same, “I want it to be right”. Anyway thanks for the information and if you have any other suggestions please email me.


    I never post comments BUT this was damn good, unbiased and honest as hell. Can only respect it. I’m launching a brand in several months and currently in the initial design phase; with a guy from (guess it’s like kissing a bunch of chicks until you yet to your Queen,lol). I’m using this as 1 of my serious go-to guides, when it comes to T-shirt start-ups. Great way to capture your audience man. You should be a T-shirt consultant, hint hint…..

  • Vernita

    I am in the very (VERY) initial stages of starting a clothing line, and I have written down most of what you said here! You might just have saved me from complete failure as your ‘Start small’ rule is the one thing no one around me has had the balls to say. It has really struck home and I am absolutely positively convinced about the way forward. Thank you!!!!

  • Scott

    Thanks for a great article, very helpful!
    You mentioned (We used the screen printer advertised on How to start a clothing company,)
    can you share who this company was. Was it “Forward Printing”?
    Thanks again,

  • joseph

    Thanks for your advice.
    Your story is very similar to mine.

    thanks again

    sweetb T-shirt

  • LaQuasia

    This was definitely a great read and very much appreciated. I’m in the phase of searching for a printer and a concrete logo so this helped me in so many ways. I will be referring back to this guide while continuing on this t-shirt journey. Thank you

  • Joshua

    Perfect read. Getting a small clothing company going and have been doing a lot of research. This article is raw yet informative. Thanks for the information and the beautiful read. Best of luck in your endeavours.

  • Holly Carrera

    this has to be the best article ever… i research day and nite this one made me made me laugh i pictured the whole thing… and most importantly i got alot from it…. thank u.

  • Farah Fashions NYC

    I feel you boo! Last February I start doing t-shirt business. I have a full-time job as a teacher. I really want to do something I really love. I research about it. I have experience in screen printing but NYC law and I live in small apartment I cant do screen printing. I was able to design my logo and I am proud of it. I learn a little bit of photoshop, web design, and somehow social media marketing. My husband is an accountant he always advise me that I am not ready yet. But I was stubborn. I sold some shirt on bazaar not on-line. I am not giving up on my dreams. I know I can do more. I am planning to enroll in design school. In the meantime I am learning more about the business and writing content for my blog gain more audience.

  • DL Lyon Jr.

    This article is incredibly helpful – you can feel the struggle and the rocky path you followed. I really appreciate you shared your experience with the world.

  • Pound Town

    This was a fantastic read. I taught myself how to screen print because I have found people are more likely to buy my shirts if they know I personally made them. It’s been a lot of time, money, and late nights trying to figure it out but I didn’t give up. I’ll definitely have to bookmark this article so I can always come back to it. Thanks for the insight!

  • Travis Wolf

    Awesome Justin, I’m taking a first step down this road, my ideas are fresh, I have guts and great big dreams.. this article grounded me perfectly. I need a little realism, I still see myself in this arena, so thank you man, I really needed these ideas, networking, and plain talk from you. Good luck brother. -Trav :)

  • GamerBoi

    This article is just great and very helpful! I’ve read it from start to finish. I’ve been planning to start my T-Shirt company since I was in college and now I’m a full time working professional. Now that I have enough resources, I can use your article as a guide and checklist to begin my venture to the industry.
    Gelo A.

  • Jared Irvine

    Yes I have been looking for stuff like this! I have read about 10 articles in the last hour, and THANK YOU GUYS!

  • Kandyce Johnson

    I am so glad I read this article, a good friend of mind gave me the idea of starting a clothing line even though I have thought about it for a while on my own. I am also a manager at a very popular retail store as well as a business major at my school. I knew a lot of the things that were mentioned but just the fact that I read this and followed my gut with all my decisions has made me 100xs more confident in myself and my future. Thank You SOOO Much you don’t understand how helpful this article is to me.

  • Big Ice Bastardman ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    I am seeing a lot of comments saying “from top to bottom,” like reading articles online is so rare for people. What the fuck is going on? Are these comments paid for?

  • Big Ice Bastardman ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    I am seeing a lot of comments saying “from top to bottom,” like reading
    articles online is so rare for people. Are
    these comments paid for?

  • Trish Catapang

    yeah I’m same as you. thanks for this article. I absolutely read it from top to bottom.

  • jonkruse

    I didn’t pay for them hahaha.

    Guess it is rare for people to read whole articles they have to post about it :)

  • Lamech Onyango

    I am trying to start a clothing line and ended up on reading this…read to the end. Very helpful and your sense of humor is crazy. Thanks so this info and I’m buying your e-book because you deserve it.Mary

  • Adiel Corchado

    I read the whole thing from top to bottom. Good stuff!

  • gregmca

    As I scrolled down to the bottom, and I again scanned the content I had just read from top to bottom, I literally thought to myself, “Wow, I read the f*ck out of that”, only to read the first “top to bottom” comment. Awesome. Agree with all of you. Exactly what I need to give me more perpsective into the operations and economics of the project I’m preparing to get off the ground. Thank you for your candor. Do you have any update from us all?

  • Ivanna Cervantes

    I actually took some time to read the whole article. I loved it, it’s so useful. It made me laugh and made me want to rethink my whole plan with starting a clothing line. I’m so new to this, I literally came up with the idea today with my friend who lives in Canada. I know it’s going to take some time and a lot of help. I took a lot of notes and I want to say thank you. This page is amazing and I am glad that I found it.

  • Sam Clark

    Awesome Article.. I own a couple of online clothing brands, and you sir have hit the nail on the head with this..
    I would only add stay true to your market,.. they are your core followers, they are your bread and butter (rent And Bills) until your ready to start employing people.

  • Justin

    Hello, good people! Someone asked for an update. Well, the most important update is that I’ve changed my name on the ebook to “Jason M. David” due to a conflict with my fiction writing. I didn’t want to keep the name the same and confuse people. Unfortunately, people know me from this article as Justin Mermelstein. I’m going to see if we can have it changed/updated so that no one is misled. I also hope to edit this article a bit to update it/fix some errors and typos.

    I’m incredibly glad this has helped so many people. I hope it brings you all lots of success. My wife and I have not taken the plunge yet; however, we are planning a kids’/family line! Starting small and having a good time with it. I’ve focused much more on my writing as of late. Check it out when you get a chance!

    I’ve promised another article to this website 3 separate times and haven’t delivered. The truth is, I don’t really have much more in the way of good advice. I can work up something lame, crammed with filler, but I don’t want to do that. Perhaps one day I’ll write another article chronicling the success of our new line. Hopefully. Thanks again, my friends. I appreciate you all and hope for nothing but the best! Top to bottom! :)

  • Justin

    Surprisingly, they are not paid for. Very rare that you’ll see so many positive comments on one article. I’m extremely grateful for that, but it goes to show the quality of people interested in this industry. Good to see.

  • Derek Shepard

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I have spent the last 15 years working for big food companies and now looking to start a clothing line. I’m finding more losses than wins at this time but working toward success. Your article mentioned a lot of “issues” I haven’t given thought to. Best of luck in your adventures.

  • Bob Maverick Stanford

    Excellent information. I found your article by accident searching for a T-shirt printer.
    An “Honest”, comprehensive case history can teach an aspiring entrepreneur more
    than volumes of repetitive “How to start a business” books. My first business was a T-Shirt and Real Estate
    Signs silk screen shop, and I can verify that every word in your report is valuable and helpful training.

    At age 68, an international business consultant and business author, I too read your complete article,
    and that is very unusual for me. I would like to contact you for permission to add your case history
    to a new entrepreneurial course I’m developing for, scheduled to launch
    January 2, 2016.

    Kind regards,

    Bob “MAVERICK” Stanford
    President, CEO
    Brentwood Institute

  • jonkruse

    Hey Bob this article was by Justin Merm. I would suggest contacting him about permission to post this article.

    If you want to contact me there is a contact form at the bottom right of the site.