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 company How NOT To 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 logo How NOT To Start A T Shirt CompanyThere 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

draft lenslm19538804 1339707904A How NOT To Start A T Shirt Company 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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  • Graphicnatured

    This is a great read. Thanks for taking the time to post valuable information for those considering taking the big step in to the apparel/tshirt
    business. As a lead designer for a streetwear brand, I’ve seen first
    hand how easy it is to make mistakes, and this business is very tough.
    At least, a lot tougher after 2001 with the economy the way it is.

  • Justin

    Hello, all. Justin here. Just writing to let you know that because of your comments, I’ve decided to turn this article into an e-book. It is about double the size of this article, containing everything you read here plus more. It is $4.99. I priced it much cheaper considering most of the t-shirt e-books are similar in size but charge upwards of $18.

    Here is the link:

    And thank you again for the love!


  • Justin Mermelstein

    A combination of both. They don’t treat their employees very fairly, especially when you are on the technician side of things.

    I have actually been a writer for most of my life. I’m just trying to make a living doing it now (next to my 9-5).

  • Justin Mermelstein

    Changed the price to $3 after some thought. Enjoy!

  • Ashley Louis

    Hey Justin
    I must say it was really fun and informative reading your article.
    I have a similar passion and couldn’t help getting excited by the personality that comes out of your writing.
    I’m a bit hyper excited myself, and in a tight crunch and share the same desperation of getting my business started quickly.
    I thank my Lord that he made me rewind and come back and your article was confirmation about a lot of things.

    I can’t believe I actually read that entire long article to the end. You’ve got a serious talent there, everything was done excellently the points flowed perfectly.

    I love how despite your own loss, you genuinely wanted to help others do better, it’s evident in your article, and you sound like you’re over it too.
    I just wanted to Keep doing what you doing..
    People with that spirit like you and I are destined for great things….

    Keep working hard and encourage yourself and doing whatever it takes.
    I pray that God will do great things in you and then for you…

  • Ashley Louis


    just adding to my previous comment…

    I seriously can’t believe I read the entire thing from top to bottom. Most people express that similar sentiment…

    Do you have a blog or something? I don’t usually read blogs and stuff, but now I’m like I would actually be a fan of your blog……
    Justin I’m expecting great things from you. You had the discipline to actually write this article so precisely and all….great job….
    So like I said previously…..don’t give up…you’re destined for great things….
    You got a passion, find the right purpose(which you can only find from the one who created you in the first place, so ask him) and go for it….

    I’m not sure if you’re familiar or care about the bible but, there is a scripture that says

    (James 1:9Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass[c] he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat andwithers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.)

    An interpretation of this says that a rich man will fade ways in his many pursuits.
    God aint got nothing wrong with people being rich but why,how and what value they place on it.
    I said that to say, if you have the right purpose i.e. its for the right reason, not just to be rich, but a passion and it’s in his plan…Believe it and trust him and it is yours..That book of James also speaks of faith….

    so continue to be diligent pursue the passion and work hard, and live in purpose, his purpose! I won’t say good luck because I believe once a person has that, it is all good…….. :)

  • Saule Wright

    Love the article. Any thoughts on spreadshirt or companies that will print and house your designs for you and you just make commission?

  • Andrew Spaugh

    I’ve had this bookmarked for 3 months. I keep coming back to it b/c it’s probably the most concise article out there about starting any business really. Good writing too!

  • Rocky1923

    Thanks for this article. I related well to your experiences. May not be in the tshirt business but in another endeavor I went through. Thank you too for sharing your thoughts on this because this is sort of a to-do and not-to-do stuff. I am inspired to do what you of course weren’t able to do and those realizations you had are the most enjoyable part of your article. Way to go! :)

  • Justin

    Best of luck!

  • Justin

    Looks great! You guys have done a spectacular job!

  • Justin

    Well, I appreciate the kind words. Good luck with everything.

  • Justin

    I’ve never used Spreadshirt personally, and I don’t really love the idea of drop shipping, though many other people do and are successful with it. It’s all about what works for you. I love the idea of taking my physical inventory to a craft show/brick and mortar store or even just holding them in my hands and inspecting them for great quality.

    Good luck!

  • Krystal K.

    This was truly an amazing article. Even though I have a bit of experience working for my dad’s t-shirt company in school, starting your own thing is so different (especially since the t-shirt company landscape has changed a lot since the early 2000s). Thank you so much for having the humility to share your less-than-perfect moments! What you wrote was truly helpful.

  • Justin Mermelstein

    Sure thing. Is there a such thing as less than less than perfect? :)

  • khalid

    wow..!! what an amazing and interesting article…

  • Richard

    is purple and chrome huge?

  • Kelli Fassbender

    Loved this article. I too read every word- educational, humble, entertaining. Thank u

  • Matt

    Absolutely brilliant article, thank you Justin for being so honest and forthcoming with the problems you faced!! I’ve taken a lot of notes and will be buying your ebook as soon as I can find where I left my kindle! Cheers, Matt

  • Amy Venters

    Thank you! I actually read your article. I have had three failed artistic businesses. I have learned much along the way. In thinking of my next creative project I am doing a lot more research. The paperwork part I despise and the taxes and filing ICK! So necessary and glad you touched on it. Wonderful idea to put your lessons online for others. This is a wonderful idea. I am forever designing and writing and coming up with ideas but like you now a bit fearful/ I did hear a phrase I like a lot and it got my thinking. If I “fail forward” then it’s worth the success! Best wishes and thanks for the article & site.

  • ed

    Good article. I have a couple of friends who started t-shirt “companies” and they weren’t even moderately successful. I think I have some strong Ideas. I’ve been wanting to start a t-shirt company for a while and this article is just the sort of stuff that I need to read. Thanks.

  • Tony Gohagan

    Thank you..
    the best written, most comprehensive and inspiring Article, on this Subject, I’ve ever read.
    Funny too.
    Now I’m going to your Website.
    Thanks again.
    Good Bless You.

  • Canny

    Thank you for this. At the beginning of a clothing brand myself and this has affirmed some of my own thoughts. Have spent the past 3 months developing ideas and looking into the business side of things. Like many people below I have booked marked this and is the first article in a very long time that caught my attention enough to compel me to read every word to the bottom. It is unfortunate that your story ended the way it did but maybe you are destined for greater things.
    Again thank you Justin…….well done that man!

  • Judge Hilary

    Your article has definitely helped me and I am really glad/thankful that I read your article before continuing to pursue my clothing line. Great article, hands down! Thank you!

  • Tyree Bailey

    CANDID!!! Super appreciate your testament man. Hope and wish you and ya brand all success and prosperity. R1creations

  • ces one

    Thank you!!!

  • dee

    Great article. You had a lot of good information. I will use this as a reference tool as well as inspiration while building my own business. Thanks for sharing.



  • amazingdreamer

    This was a great read. Im knew to the industry so this was a great help. I know more now and will use the information to my advantage.

  • Anthony Dunnings

    Wow that was really good and very insightful! I’m actually starting up my own t-shirt company and I wanted to ask you a few questions. My email is thanks in advance!

  • Gabriel

    I really enjoyed reading your article. Usually people focus too much on the successes stories not thinking that in order to have success we need to stretch ourselves; meaning that we need opposition. Hope you find success on whatever you do. Thanks

  • Lawanna Bullock

    Justin, excellent article! Informative, frank, honest, and your integrity and character show through your words. Thank you!

  • Haley

    I really enjoyed this article, and is the only one i have actually found helpful. I bookmarked it and took notes. Now i definitely still have questions, is there a way i can contact you to get answers?

  • Kyle

    Just what I needed!!! Man was I in for A LOT of trouble! Thank You so much!! I saved me a lot of wasted time! Now I can see a much bigger picture of what I need to do!

  • Tejas Patel

    Great article. A

  • Tejas Patel

    Great article. A massive DONT in business.

  • Awalker79

    Your article was amazing! I have learned a lot from it and have encountered some of the issues you did with beginning as a startup. But your article will help get me on the right track! Thanks for taking the time to write this!

  • Megan Kirkpatrick

    I am with ant…this is the only article i’ve ever read online, word for word, from top to bottom. I laughed out loud throughout the article, yet took it seriously. thank you so much for this information!! I think you should keep up with writing. I love your style! Aloha!!

  • Travis Warren

    Dude….this article freaking rocked. I felt like I was there with you and your lady…Great advice, hate things didn’t work out for you guys. You definitely helped me a great deal, I was about to run head long into some of the same mistakes.

  • K33tababy

    VERY informative!!!!

  • Amber Lynn

    Wow. Really great info here. I am just getting started making fitness style shirts and more with Vinyl. Your article is really going to help me get started. Thanks

  • Jeff Turner

    I’m in the process of starting my own clothing company – a concept I’ve been stirring on for over 2 years and am ready to take the plunge. I research EVERYTHING before I do anything and I came across this article. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to have found this and grateful that you took time out to consider those that aren’t as smart about business, helping them prevent mistakes. I’ve taken notes and will update as I go through the process. Brilliant! Thank you, Justin!

  • lila

    Your a good writer. Screw thu shirts,, write a book. :)

  • Likolehua Tangaro

    I really appreciate you taking the time to do this! After reading word for word there’s a lot that still needs to be done before we start our t shirt company! I don’t think I stressed enough to my husband about the logo and what it means to the name! Now he understands. You added your humor, pains, and triumphs which is awesome! Thank you for sharing and I wish you the best in the future!

  • Cherry Twiss

    I agree! Definitely made me rethink some things for our line… Thanks allot! Really appreciate it…

  • steve

    hey this is stevpaul jr… I am and have been working on some designs for quite sometime. I hear you about the 9-5! It was something that we well most of us are not fit to live!!! I thankyou for this article. I read every word and it has strengthened my business plan and mental thoughts. I plan on becoming one of thee greatest designers ever. STEP by STEP though. if you have a contact… we def… should talk! Yah bless you and your wifey and lil one! Spaul jr.