The Easiest Way to Start a T-Shirt Business
Are you looking to open a business? Have you ever considered a t-shirt business – whether it’s your own line of t-shirts or a custom apparel business?
It’s easier to produce these kinds of shirts than you might think.
The Traditional Screen Printing Process
The t-shirts you see and buy are usually screen printed with a design. This printing process involves a plastisol ink that is pushed through a screen onto a blank t-shirt. The screen contains the artwork to form a design.
Think of a screen you may have on your house window. Now imagine the screen with much smaller holes – in fact, hundreds per inch! With a special process, the screen holes are filled in where you don’t want the ink to be pushed through onto the shirt. The open holes contain your design, allowing the ink to pass through onto your shirt. In short, that is the screen printing process.
That is the simplified version, but that could cost thousands of dollars in equipment and materials, not to mention the space needed, the time, and the labor to accomplish it. It is a process that takes several steps at each stage, along with the skills necessary, starting at the beginning with the artwork.
You may be thinking, then…
- I don’t know the first thing about screen printing.
- How can someone open and run their own t-shirt business if they have no experience with any of this?
- It seems like printing t-shirts takes a lot of time, resources, and skill.
- There are a lot of t-shirt businesses out there. Are they all using this process?
- I don’t have the money to start this kind of business.
Don’t worry! We will explain an easy way of starting your own t-shirt business and you don’t have to have any previous knowledge or experience.
In this t-shirt business start-up guide, we will cover:
- Getting the artwork you need even if you aren’t an artist
- Screen printing without screen printing
- Resources for running and marketing your t-shirt business.
Creating Great T-Shirt Designs
You don’t have to be an artist to create great t-shirt artwork. There is a fast track to learning how to design t-shirts without purchasing expensive software programs and spending hours trying to learn how to use them.
The easiest and fastest way to design t-shirts is using Easy View®, the free online t-shirt designer. This is a plug-and-play type of designer. You can create a good looking t-shirt design in less than a minute! It is easy to learn and use.
Easy View is loaded with over 5,000 layouts ready to customize for any t-shirt design you need. There is an additional 7,000 clip art and almost 140 different fonts to use as well.
You can also insert your own artwork into the designer if your customer supplies you with their logo or if you have your own piece of art that you would like to use.
Easy View is online, so you don’t have to download any software to your computer. It is also mobile friendly, so designing on the go using your tablet or smart phone is easy, too. As we mentioned above, this is a free tool for you.
Once you finish your design, you are able to preview the design on various apparel choices. Email this preview to your customer so they can see exactly what it will look like when it is finished! Another option is to save or print out the design if you prefer that method.
When you are happy with your design, or your customer approves the design, place your order right from Easy View.
Your question may now be, “What am I ordering?”. This leads us to our next step – the printing process.
Screen Print Without Screen Printing
As we mentioned at the beginning, most t-shirts are typically screen printed. Let us introduce to you, though, a way that you can screen print t-shirts without actually doing the screen printing part. Using screen printed transfers is a faster and easier way for you to screen print t-shirts without the costs and hassle of the screen printing process.
How does this work? We do the screen printing for you, but not on your blank t-shirts. You will still need the blank t-shirts.
We screen print the design you created onto a special release transfer paper. Think of an iron-on transfer that you would use your iron to apply to a t-shirt. This is the same concept, but done on a professional level.
Our printing is not done as an iron-on. It is actual screen printing. We ship your transfers to you. Then, you would apply the transfer onto your blank t-shirt.
Instead of using an iron, you use a t-shirt press to apply the transfer to your t-shirt. This heat press is all you need to run a successful t-shirt business.
With your heat press, you can print all sorts of custom apparel: t-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, shorts, hats, can coolers, bags, scarves, gloves – you name it. Basically, if it fits in a heat press, you can print it.
The Advantage of Screen Printed Transfers
When you decorate apparel using custom screen printed transfers, there is no need for screen printing equipment. We do the messy, long printing process for you. Your transfers apply in just 4 seconds with no mess or clean up.
With custom screen printed transfers, you can:
- Print on demand with no wasted inventory
- Print in a small space – you only need about 3 feet of counter space
- Order as few as 5 transfers
- Get custom orders out the door fast to your customers
- Start printing immediately with very little learning or skills needed
- Only have the materials on hand that you need for the particular job you are working on.
This process is the same process as traditional screen printing, but is finished by applying the ink to your shirts using a heat press. It is the same quality and durability as regular screen printing. In fact, some of the apparel you buy in stores was done using screen printed transfers and a heat press. It is difficult to tell them apart.
Screen printed transfers from Transfer Express are quality tested in 50 wash/dry cycles. The transfers hold up with no signs of wear. The printed design will last the life of the apparel.
Transfer Express is your supplier. Your customers will never know anything about us. Your t-shirts are done using screen printing, and that’s all you need to tell them.
The whole process is fast. There is barely a wait time to get your transfers in hand. One color screen printed transfers using our art layouts (Easy Prints®) ship same day if ordered before 11 am EST. Once your order leaves our door, all orders arrive in 2 business days or less at ground shipping prices.
Did we mention we also sell the blank apparel you need as well? You can order your custom transfers and blank apparel all at one time, all in one place.
Once you get your transfers and blank apparel, they apply quickly. Our best-selling transfer type, Goof Proof®, applies in only 4 seconds using your heat press. It got its name for a reason – it is hard to mess up.
It applies in only 1 application, no matter how many colors it is. In regular screen printing, you normally have to apply each color separately. For example, if you have a 3 color design, you would need to print each color, 1 at a time, until all 3 colors make up your finished design. We do that part for you, so all 3 colors are on your sheet. Apply the sheet all at once, making your full design ready in 1 step of 4 seconds.
Screen printing takes a lot of steps, chemicals, and messy inks. When you get your transfers, they are ready to apply and have been partially cured, so the inks are no longer messy. You don’t have to worry about these chemicals or cleaning up the mess.
All you have to do is heat press the transfer, and peel up the piece of backing paper that the ink was stuck to. Now the paper is empty and you can throw it away.
That’s the entire process. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!
- Quickly design t-shirt art using Easy View
- Receive your screen printed transfers and blank apparel in the mail
- Apply the screen printed transfer to the apparel using a t-shirt press.
Your custom apparel is then ready to wear and sell.
To start your own t-shirt business, all you need is a heat press. (We have those, too.) A heat press is a fraction of the cost over screen printing equipment. It only takes up a small amount of space as well. You could do this out of a single room in your house or apartment. The investment to start a t-shirt business in this way, is very little.
[Related Content: Grow Your T-Shirt Business with this Business in a Box]
Once you have your heat press, you are not alone in the process. We are here for you every step of the way:
- Watch our large video library for any part of the process you may need help with.
- Learn everything you need to know about running a t-shirt business and printing custom t-shirts on our extensive blog.
- If you ever get stuck or have questions, call our friendly customer service department.
- Get inspired on our social media pages, including a closed Facebook group for you to talk to other t-shirt businesses in private about screen printed transfers or running a t-shirt business.
“I just needed to let you know that I was really worried about this project. I had never done transfers before. Well, needless to say, I was thrilled when the first transfer peeled perfectly. We did 50 shirts without one mishap. Thank you so much. The shirts turned out better than my wildest dreams.”
– Judy (Sunnyside, Washington)
“I am giddy with excitement. I just received my transfers from you, and I got it perfect on the first try. The transfers look great! It was a breeze to apply. It was easy to design online, too. My customer loves it. They think I screen printed myself. I did not know it was so easy. Thanks a bunch for your help.”
– Fran (Las Vegas, Nevada)
What are you waiting for to open your own t-shirt business?
If you found this helpful and want to learn more, sign up to receive daily tips directly to your email inbox by subscribing to our blog.
You can also download our free ebook:
5 Ways to Grow Your T-Shirt Business