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T-Shirt Business Idea

Put your fashion diva skills to work and learn how to start a t-shirt business.

People wear t-shirts everywhere, from ballparks, to the office, or even to the Oscars (like actress Sharon Stone did a while back). No other clothing has as much variety.

You can buy a simple white Hanes t-shirt from Target for $5, or a Juicy Couture designer shirt from Nordstrom for $98.

Beyond the fashion statement, graphic t-shirts also give expression to individual statements.

If you have the passion to create t-shirts that resonate with others, you could start a successful business.

With minimal overhead and inventory, learning how to start a t-shirt business is a great opportunity for a home based or teenage business.

How To Start A T-Shirt Business

Some of the most successful t-shirt businesses have started out to address a need or theme. One mom started her business because she wanted t-shirts that recognized her child’s ethnic background. Other popular t-shirts address local or political themes Humorous t-shirts are also very popular.

Determine what issue or theme interests you and that you can build from. If you make your selection too narrow, you may not have enough ideas to come up with new material. If you make it too trendy, you won’t have a sustainable product.

Once you have your idea, you can buy design software and make it a reality. There are several routes to go in producing the actual t-shirt.

  • Once you’ve created the design, you can do the screen printing yourself, however, the equipment for this is expensive. While you’ll have complete control over the process, you will incur the costs of production and will need space to maintain inventory and equipment.
  • You can rely on a store that specializes in t-shirt printing, and bring them your design and plain t-shirts, and they will do the production for you. This will give you have more time to focus on the rest of your business, but you will have an extra person to pay. You also have to have inventory space.
  • You can go through a third party, such as Cafepress ( that allows you to design your shirts online, and they will produce and distribute them. This may be the easiest method, but more services from Cafepress (or any other similar business) means you pay them more money.

Marketing Your T-shirt Business

No matter how you choose to produce your t-shirts, you’ll need to do additional marketing.

Local Marketing

Although a t-shirt business doesn’t have to be locally based, it’s always good to market in your own back yard. If neighbors, friends and associates start to buy your products, business will begin to grow.

Start by creating a t-shirt giveaway. Depending on your target, you could work with local high schools or colleges to help make your t-shirt the “must have” apparel. Set up a booth at a farmer’s market. Sell to funky boutiques.

Wider Marketing

The web is one of the best ways to reach customers throughout the country with your products. Create a quality website (get help from a local technical college student if you need it.) that showcases your creations and start making a buzz.

When learning how to start a t-shirt business, it’s more important to learn solid marketing skills than necessarily the products or production process. T-shirts are a commodity item so you will differentiate your business through proper marketing.

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