Securing Custom Apparel School Sales

They’re all over every community in every state across our nation. They’re a veritable gold mine in terms of garment decoration opportunities. And they provide perfect word-of-mouth advertising opportunities too. We’re talking about schools obviously. Sports jerseys… club / organization shirts… spirit shop items… parent / pride shirts… special event items… and that’s just the school itself. That doesn’t count the other business that could come your way through the students and the people who see your name. And the best part is that there are schools everywhere. Here in our hometown of Mentor, Ohio we have a total of 20 schools that we can think of right off the top of our heads, and that counts from elementary to high school as well as public to private. And while it’s true that an elementary may not need sports jerseys per se, some of us are certainly still young enough to remember getting t-shirts with our elementary’s mascot on it.


QSL-210 custom transfer on a hoodie

Let’s start at the beginning though – the schools themselves. Crack open your laptop, bring up your tablet’s browser, and hit the internet. How many schools are in your city? What about the next city over? And don’t accept the mentality, “I think they get their shirts from _________.” Making the attempt to get business is half the battle. And you never know when someone may want to try getting shirts from a new company they didn’t existed before (hint: you). And not just public schools, but private schools as well. When you locate a school, hit their website. Do they have a sports program? Do they have clubs? Does the website have a school calendar? Because that’s a great place for hints as to decorating opportunities. What about a spirit shop? And most importantly: what are their school colors and mascot?

Once you have an idea of these things, you’re read to to work up some kind of example of what you can offer to the school. Using our Easy View Online Design tool you can access thousands of designs that you can personalize, change, and add to. After you’ve made a design you can export and create a sales flyer! Pick a sport or club the school seems to focus on. If nothing jumps out, focus on general spirit wear as well as sports basics (football, basketball, soccer). Work up several designs using the schools colors and as close to their mascot as you can get and then using either our premade flyers or making up one of your own, put together a sample of what you’re capable of. And perhaps one of the most important things to remember: you need to stand out. Your designs need to be interesting. They need to get the kids attention otherwise the school won’t have any reason to entertain your offer. Find a balance between an economical amount of colors… and not going too “high concept.” Sometimes some well placed splatters, distress designs, or printed patterns can go a long, long way. And somewhere on this flyer you’re creating you should go a step further and advertise that you’re capable of more than just shirts. Think OUTSIDE of the tee! Mousepads, cinch sacks, laptop cases, rally towels, and more.

So by this point you’ve got your flyers made up or in the works. The next question is vital. Who at the school do you send it to? Simply mailing the flyer to the school’s general mail address isn’t always the best idea. There’s a pretty good chance that a secretary is going to get the “junk mail” vibe and throw away your chance at business. So if your flyer is sports oriented, locate the name and mailing address of the athletic director. And while you’re at it, what about the coach of the sports you made the flyer out of? Get those names and mail a copy of your flyer directly to those people. You can even include a brief letter of introduction explaining what your business does; make sure to keep it brief and to the point. And here’s where we can get a little creative. If you decided to make up a flyer of spirit wear for a school that does NOT currently have a spirit store, the letter you include should briefly explain why your business is perfect for their spirit store. The transfers you provide them with can be printed a few at a time as they are needed with no expensive screen fees. And the stock isn’t committed – if the school wants some of that design on a shirt… and then some on tote bags, no problem! The custom transfers can be pressed on almost anything. And of course, make the offer than you can discuss this further with the school by contacting you via phone or email. These flyers and letters should be directed to the principal, vice principal, or other members of the school’s leadership.

When you have your foot in the door with the school, you can begin to show them all the other options you’re capable of. With your foot in the door you can locate the faculty advisors of different clubs and after school activities (Spanish Club, Computer Club, Chess/Games Club) or even the in school programs (Tech Prep, Career Prep, Vocational). All of these different groups need t-shirts, hoodies, sweat pants, yoga pants, mouse pads, and more. And even the sports themselves – don’t forget to show them what you can do beyond the jerseys and tees. Sports bags and cinch sacks for the players. Flags and rally towels for the parents. And the usual array of garments for the rest of the school.


QAL-413 custom transfer on a tote bag


Lastly, the real magic happens when you break out of the school. Tagless tees are perfect because you can print your company’s info on the tag itself, including company name and website or phone number. Another great trick is to use the sports players themselves. When you print their jerseys, bag each jersey individually and include a flyer inside the bag showing family reunion, church, or other activities to appeal to the general public. Throw a business card in there while you’re at it too. You NEVER know where word of mouth advertising will take your company. And if you’re located IN the community then sending flyers home with these athletes is a great way to get your name out to your friends and neighbors and show them what you do. Speak with the athletic director and see if the school will permit you to set up a table with your heat press at the next football game. And while you’re there, bring some of your flyers for the community. And of course, there’s always offering to help with a fundraiser! Come up with a unique school spirit design, and offer to donate a percentage of every sale to the school… or the football team… or the booster club… or whomever else is currently trying to drum up funds (ps: this is a great idea for those clubs whose budget is really low or non-existent).

In the end, securing the school’s business is going to take some work and you’re going to need to do some homework. But the sheer amount of business you can get is worth your time. Just be creative. If you children of your own or have friends or family with the right age children, test your designs on them. Find out from them what’s popular. The goal is to make your product stand out. The sky is the limit!

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