T-Shirt Reviews Blog

T-Shirt Reviews Blog

How To Start Your Own T-Shirt Brand

Posted: 08 Feb 2011 01:52 AM PST

How To Set Up Your Own T-Shirt BrandLast summer Ryan Kovac set up Beau Clothing, here’s how he did it:

"I came up with a massive list of things to accomplish in order for Beau to launch. I broke up everything I needed to accomplish and learn into 3 sections: brand, website, and legal."

Brand: Assuming that you are creating your own brand, you probably have an idea of a niche or target audience. It is key that your brand fills that niche, or offers something unique in it’s own right. Brand development comes in three stages: your brand logo, planning, and shirts.

Logo: When making a logo, you want to create something that depicts your brand, but also incorporates what your brand is about. With Beau, our logo was created to show our minimalist designs and their simplicity. A logo is a key tool for brand recognition, a memorable logo can keep your brand fresh in the consumer’s mind.

Planning: For most Indie start-up lines, finances can be limited. Personally, Beau was brought to life by the two of us working all summer long. A sacrifice has to be made. Currently we are college students and are making ends meet financially out of our own pockets. We put all of our funds towards bringing our fans and customers the best possible product we can. Don't let it scare you though, it's a very rewarding feeling to have somebody enjoying what you put a lot of hard work and time into. The key is to create a plan, like I am drawing out here, with your finances. Microsoft Excel is a great tool to keep track of everything. The best tip I can give you is to be as organized as possible.

Shirts: Artistic talent is essential, if you have little you can always sketch your ideas out and use artists to create your designs. But that doesn't have to stop you. Beau Clothing was lucky enough to use Cameron Hagedon, one hell of an artist and designer and friend. Places like Emptees.com are places where you can find talented artists. If you don't know any artists personally, they can help you create your clothing’s art. Just remember that there are always resources out there to utilize.

Printing: Do your research, our biggest tool was google. We lived on sites like bandwagonmerch, and t-shirtforums just asking questions and gathering information. Prior to Beau, I knew nothing about Plastisol inks. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Email anybody and everybody whom you think would have valuable information. God knows how many emails I wrote just acquiring information on what material went best with what inks and what tagging sizes were recommended for each size of shirt. One tip for everybody: American Apparel. It is just gold made of fabrics. Everybody loves it and, frankly, if you are selling to somebody who doesn't know much outside of Gildans and Hanes, they will put your shirt on and fall in love. Most likely, they will never take it off.

Shipping: If you plan on shipping out shirts, which most indie's do, packaging is the last chance to make a positive impression. If financially possible, make something amazing and memorable. However, for most cases, including Beau, that is hard to accomplish. Just remember, with every penny you earn, put that penny back into your brand. Including packaging. But, until then, make sure your shipping does not hurt your image. Make sure it's secure, doesn't fold, and makes it there quickly. Uline.com provides a lot of products for packing, folding, and shipping your shirts nice and neatly.

Website: The first thing a consumer will see is the quality of the site. Bigcartel.com and Storenvy.com provide a great template and a cart. If you know web design at all, you know that building a fully functional cart is kind of a hassle. For Beau, we were forced to pick up a CSS book and learn from scratch in order to make our site stick out from the cookie cutter ‘Bigcartels’ of the world. Jquery is no fun, but there are plenty of tutorials online that help teach. Sohatonaka.com is one of my personally favourites. Soh is a genius and very helpful as well. As for CSS, check out this site; again a lifesaver. If possible, we advise that you leave it to the professional and shell out the dough.

Domain: As far as domain names go, try and purchase one that is unique and memorable. If that happens to be your brand name, perfect. For Beau, we went with thebeautee.com as a little play on words to create the"beauty" in a sense. And if you do decide to use a Bigcartel, the folks over at Indielabs are very helpful at providing set up to link your new domain name.

Legal: At first we thought this would be one of the most difficult parts, it turns out it was the opposite. Make sure to get a hold of people who know something about business law – an accountant, lawyer or, in our case, your business professor. You can figure out a lot of the basics via Google and forums, but legalities are not something you want to mess up. It would be the biggest buzz kill to have to shut down everything you have worked so hard for just because you didn't fill out the right paperwork. From our experiences we have learned a little. You should be alright with just a DBA, but you’re much better off filing for a Limited Liability Corp. (LLC). But again, check with a pro. In the UK this would be a Limited Company, check other countries for legalities.

The biggest thing to take out of all of this is to sit on your computer and do hours upon hours of research. Become an expert in your niche and field. We are not saying we are, but we are striving to be. And another thing, there are tons of people willing to help you. When you tell anybody in your community that you're going on this adventure, they will do almost anything to help along the way. Don't waste that help, it's a life saver. Never be afraid to email and ask questions!

Ryan Kovach,
Beau (http://www.thebeautee.com/)

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