For MindTrix the hardest part for starting out, besides money, was finding a "nitch". Our first line of T-Shirts was all over the map, so starting your own clothing company can be hard. I had to do and learn everything on my own. I over came this obstacle by going to tradeshows, surfing the Internet, and reading magazines like Sport and Street, etc.
MindTrix has grown beyond just T-Shirts due to the fact that everyone including their moms have a T-Shirt company. When I would go into stores trying to sell my T-Shirts, I would always get feedback, like what makes these any better than the other 90,000 brands we have in here, which most of these other brands people have heard of, and that is why we graduated to cut and sew as well as any higher end T-Shirts.
Advice for Promotion: Don't be afraid to advertise. Create buttons, stickers, give them out and be sure people remember you. Tell people about it, you'd be surprised how many people would be willing to help you out.
Advice for Designing: When designing A T-Shirt, there are many points to keep in mind, but the following factors are some technical stuff overlooked by companies starting off: The Number of colors used and what material will be used. Most screen printers charge in the $10-$40 range for every different color you use. It can get really expensive for someone (Example: music bands) to get several T-Shirts printed. They then have to sell the fans $36 dollar T-Shirts just to cover the costs and make some profit.
The Material used: Usually each material/brand/size comes with a set of colors that they're printed on. There isn't one that provides you with every single color in existence. It would be a great idea to ask the client what material they can afford and then research it, or familiarize yourself with the more popular brands that are being printed on (Examples: American Apparel, Fruit Of the Loom and Hanes). I've had several problems with this when I began, so don't just go creating something that only looks good on a red background that you can't easily fix, or something that looks good on a T-Shirt color that's almost impossible to find. This will save you so much time and trouble.
Lastly, but most importantly, just be original. Keep the designs more personalized, deeper and more meaningful.
1. Vision. You need to know who you are, what you're doing, why, etc. This will define how you market your product, how it looks over all, and all the little details within that you need to do. Yep, so figure that out and then go nuts because you can't go wrong with a big idea, as long as you know what the big idea is.
2. Marketing. It's essential in today's design world. You might have a good product but if its weak on branding, labeling, packaging, shelf appeal, matching coat hangers, etc., it'll look bad. Consistency also needs to be achieved across the spectrum including same font, same style, etc. Designing is totally open to new creations and ideas, so anything goes, but there are some boundaries that you don't want to cross, while others you need to break through.
3. E-commerce. Yes, it's fully possible! It will take some setting up though, but I've recently realized how I can just pick up the phone and order a set of hoodies, wait four days until they're on the doorstep, pay for them a month later online, etc. Also, I can call up the fabric company down the road, or one in wellington, get them to send me samples of denim, call them back and order a set amount of denim to be sent to my garment manufacturer, and then call him and tell him how many of what I want right from my rocking chair at home.
4. Online selling. Totally possible if you use ebay or know how to set up an E-commerce website yourself, but getting the credit card system sorted out is a major cost. Lots of girls shop online now, you just need to know how to market it right and get your products noticed.
5. Promo. Get it out there! Make sure your friends buy your products or you could give out freebies. Put stickers, advertising your shop, wherever you can. Be shameless because designers are really admired (as opposed to being a 'salesperson'), especially if your product is favorable.
6. Don't waste your time on silly details. I'll let you figure out what those are.
7. Get your accounts sorted out now. Segregate your personal and business spending, so you can claim back GST with no problems. Make sure every transaction (sales, purchasing, spending, etc.) goes through your account, so you can see how well you're doing by looking at your bank statement. Use the ATM machine for petty cash; your accountant will love you one day for this.
8. Have fun! It's not the end of the world if it doesn't work out. I was just thinking how involved my life is at the moment with my T-Shirt business. My life revolves around it, which is crazy, but if it all fell apart and closed down tomorrow I'd be the same person and I'd find something else to do! I make sure I take one day off during the week to do what I love that doesn't involve my work. I love doing my work, so I'm very lucky in that aspect, but sometimes it gets boring or tedious so I make sure I stay fresh and focused.
9. Work hard. I still do after three years. I work my butt off and hardly make any money off it, but I know it's worth it in the long run and the things you learn along the way are invaluable.
10. Give away free stuff! People love free T-Shirts and sponsorship goes a long way. It's also your duty, being in business and generating wealth, to share that with society in some way (Example: Old stock goes in recycle clothing bins, etc.).
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