Starting a Heat Press T-Shirt Business

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Starting a Heat Press T-Shirt Business
Starting a Heat Press T-Shirt Business (Image: JePe (GFDL 1.2))

The Business of Tees

The beautiful thing about starting a heat press T-shirt business is that it's easy to do and can be quite profitable. A desirable tee can retail for two to five times what it costs to produce -- an impressive margin by any standard. The challenge, of course, is in making shirts that are desirable. This comes not only from choosing a niche market and knowing it well, but also the creative use of intellectual property. Universities, for example, license their names and logos to select companies, but this is extremely costly. Unofficial products abound. The most desirable shirts, though, tend to utilize original or public domain artwork with clever and trendy catchphrases. Many flourishing heat press T-shirt businesses also offer T-shirt making as an additional value-added service. Getting started can sometimes be a matter of self-financing or obtaining a private loan, because without a very high credit rating and a compelling business plan, banks are unlikely to make a loan based on a T-shirt design alone.

Location, Location, Location

Just like almost any business, location is a crucial aspect of a T-shirt retail operation. A storefront or pagoda in an area with high tourist traffic can reap rewards by selling designs affiliated with the area in addition to other more standard fare. Proximity to a major sports venue can spark a business in heat pressed jerseys, paraphernalia and apparel. Absent a foothold in these kinds of markets, producing custom uniforms to local schools and amateur sports leagues can be a lucrative enterprise. Other important considerations when starting a heat press T-shirt business are use of the Internet and e-commerce, which extends the business' reach to virtually the entire planet without the overhead of a storefront location or additional warehouses. Creating products that will have broad appeal on the Internet can be the catalyst that energizes a new business.

The Heat Transfer Process

Ultimately, a T-shirt business can be limited by the heat transfer process itself if the owner chooses this method only. Heat transfer tees are generally of lower quality than screen printed or embroidered shirts, and usually less durable. On the other hand, this need not be a limitation to success, as the heat transfer process requires only very basic equipment and relatively unskilled labor. Because costs are low, the shirts can be marketed affordably.

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