This is a sponsored post, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can read more about sponsorships and collaborations in my disclaimer here.
Having dreamt of having my own t-shirt line for as long as I can remember, I was finally able to make that dream come true this year. While I am so proud of everything I was able to achieve there are a lot of things I wish I had known before I got started. For anyone hoping to launch their own collection soon, I’ve put together my top tips from all of the lessons I learned!
For a long time, I have known that I’ve wanted to create my own range of Plus Size Travel themed T-Shirts. From beach-friendly tees to something with a little bit of a power-statement, I didn’t see anything like it on the market and so I saw a gap I had to take.
The only issue, however, is that I didn’t have the time or the resources to even think about starting the project.
I put it off for years and years until this year, I found myself with a lot more time on my hands (due to not travelling as much as I would usually, of course).
While funds were a little thin on the ground, I decided to look into how I could create my dream t-shirts with minimum start-up costs.
While I don’t think I did everything perfectly the first time around, I definitely picked up some tips and tricks and learned some very important lessons that I thought I’d pass on to anyone who wants to start their own incredible t-shirt collection in the future.
A Guide To Creating Your Own T-Shirt Line
Designing And Printing Your T Shirts
Before you can start thinking about advertising your t-shirts to your followers, you need to plan the absolute basics. From looking into the costs to thinking of your design concepts, the more you’re planning in advance the easier the whole process is going to be.
Research The Average Costs
The first thing you need to do before you start any project is think about how much it’s going to cost you. While this was something I had to pay close attention to while I had limited funds, I still believe this is an important step for anyone looking to launch their own collection of t-shirts.
From looking at the costs of various different designers to researching how much it is going to cost you to ship each t-shirt based on their weight, the more you know about this in advance the less likely you will experience some nasty surprises (which may or may not have happened to me when I shipped my first-ever orders).
Think Of Your Design Concepts
Once you know it’s something you’re going to be able to afford, you can start to think about your initial design concepts. While this may be something you already have a rough idea on, getting all of your thoughts down onto paper will help you process exactly what it is you’re looking for.
For me, I came up with a list of twelve different designs, which I whittled down to four that I knew I wanted to release right away. From there, I was able to develop the idea further so that I could create a brief for my designer. Of course, this information was put into a spreadsheet because I can’t seem to go a day without logging onto my Google Drive.
As you start to develop your ideas further, you can make as many changes as you want. At this stage, it’s important to remember that nothing is final.
Find A Designer That Suits Your Style (Or Design Them Yourself)
Now that you have a clear idea of what you want your designs to look like, you have two options when it comes to creating the designs.
Finding A Designer
As I don’t have a lot of skills when it comes to design, I decided to work with a designer to create my collection. I had just spent a couple of hours scrolling through different designers on Instagram when a friend of mine suggested someone that she knew fit my aesthetic. Having fallen in love with her designs instantly, I reached out and the rest was history.
As I know it’s not that easy for everyone, here are some questions you may want to ask when you’re looking for a designer for yourself:
- Are they able to work within your budget?
- Are they available when you need them? What’s their turnaround time?
- Do they create designs in a style that you love?
- Have seen examples of designs they have created in the past?
- Do you have good rapport? Are they easy to communicate with?
Once you have found someone who answers yes to all of the above, you’re pretty much good to go!
Designing Your T-Shirts Yourself
If you don’t want the additional cost of working with a designer and you trust that you have strong enough design skills, designing your t-shirts yourself is a great option. This will give you full creative control over what you do and as a result, you will have complete ownership over the designs you have created.
I’ve just invested in an iPad and starting learning how to use Procreate, so I’m really hoping I can throw a few of my own designs into my collection at some point. This means I’m going to need to consider the types of brushes I need to download, any freebie fonts I could use and the colour schemes I’m going to go for. There’s a lot to think about, but I’m really excited to get started in terms of designing.
Think About What You’re Offering (Sizes, Colours, Sustainability etc)
Once you have finalised your designs, you need to think about what it is you’re going to offer to your potential customers. Whether this means thinking about the size range you’re going to offer, the sustainability of the products you order or the number of colours your designs are going to be available in, the more questions you’re asking yourself at this stage the better.
Find A Supplier To Suit Your Needs
For me, finding a supplier that offered a large number of plus sizes was incredibly important. As my designs were mainly aimed towards plus size people who love to travel, I wanted to be sure I was making it as inclusive as I possibly can.
While sustainability was important to me, I wasn’t able to find a sustainable brand that was 1) within my budget and 2) offered the size range that I needed. I wasn’t expecting this search to be as hard as it was, but in the end I settled on a supplier that offered t-shirts up to 5XL.
Listing, Shipping And Promoting Your T-Shirts
Now that you have designed the t-shirts of your dreams, you need to start thinking about where you’re going to be selling them and how they’re going to get from A to B.
Think About Your Pricing
Although this is something you will probably chop and change depending on the decisions you make throughout the whole process, you need to think about how much your t-shirts are going to cost. You need to factor in the cost of making them, the cost of the designs, the cost of shipping and any profit you would like to make.
This, personally, was a hard decision for me and in the end, I realised that I priced my t-shirts too low and I didn’t end up making a profit. This is mainly because of the following reasons:
- I didn’t consider the difference in cost when ordering t-shirts in a larger size. All of my t-shirts were priced the same no matter the size and as a result, I had to pick up the extra cost here.
- Similarly, I didn’t think about the cost difference when ordering in bulk vs ordering one t-shirt at a time. When ordering just one, I would lose money, which meant any orders that came in randomly on their own would end up costing me more than I was making.
- I didn’t think about the shipping costs when shipping abroad. Although I added £3-4 to the price when shipping to countries not in the UK, I wasn’t prepared for the difference there would be when someone ordered more than one t-shirt, making the parcel much bigger.
- I hadn’t considered that bigger t-shirts would weigh more, meaning I was shocked when the postage almost doubled for some parcels.
- I didn’t think about the weight when I added sweets/candy to my parcels and this meant that the first order I did, ended up costing me rougly £60 more to ship than I had orginally planned because the parcels were too big to fit through standard letterboxes.
Basically, I have learnt A LOT when it comes to pricing and this is definitely something I think everyone should consider in great detail when doing the same.
Consider How Where You’re Going To List Your Products
Another incredibly important decision you need to make is where you’re going to list your products and again, you have a number of choices you can make here.
Use A Popular Sales Platform
This is probably the most common option for those looking to start their own t-shirt collection, mainly because they have the added protection and security of using a platform that people trust. Not only is this great for attracting customers that value security, but it also helps give you that little bit of peace of mind too.
Whether you’re using Etsy, Depop, eBay or something completely different, there are a lot of benefits to using a sales platform to sell your t-shirts. There are, however, a number of drawbacks you need to consider. The biggest one, of course, is that they all take a percentage of the money you make as a fee. Again, this is something you should be thinking about when you’re pricing your products.
List Them On Your Own Site/Social Media
If you already have your own established website or social media channels, you can list them there. Listing on your website is a little easier than listing on your social media, however, as there are lots of store plugins that you can download for your site. While they may not be as trusted as some platforms, there are a lot of security checks you can put into place to ensure things are as secure as they can possibly be.
Two highly recommended plugins/addons for selling products on your own site are WooCommerce and Shopify.
Use A Drop Shipping Service
Finally, you may want to consider using a drop shipping service. Essentially, this is a service where you list all of your products and every time someone purchases a product, the drop shipping service will print it and send it out for you. While this is definitely the easiest option in terms of both listing and shipping your products, I feel this really takes away the ‘personal’ aspect that comes with running a small business. I wasn’t overly keen on the fact I wouldn’t be able to quality check the t-shirts that were being sent out and although it made the shipping process much longer on my end, it meant that I knew exactly what people were getting each and every time.
I considered each of these in A LOT of detail but in the end, I decided that using Etsy was the best possible choice for me. The selling point, oddly enough, was that I could set holidays when I’m traveling so people would be aware of any shipping delays. Not only that, but it had the easiest interface to use.
If you want to take a look at my t-shirts, you can visit my Etsy store here.
Order Some Samples
As you start to work your way through the process, you’re going to need to order yourself some samples. This will not only give you an idea as to whether or not the sizing is correct, but it will also allow you to see the overall quality of the t-shirts.
These will obviously come at a cost to you but honestly, they’re worth it.
Once you have your samples, you may also want to consider using them for any promotional materials you may need to create.
Think About Product Photography
One of the most important things to me when it came to launching my t-shirts was product photography, as I knew I wanted to have some eye-catching images to help advertise the products I had created. Luckily, one of my closest friends is an incredible photographer and I was able to hire her to take the photos as soon as local guidelines allowed it.
I decided to shots of me wearing the t-shirts as well as shots of them in a ‘beachy’ setting and honestly, I am so proud of how they turned out! I would 100% recommend getting professional photos done if your budget will allow it because it not only makes your product photography stand out, but it gives you lots of work with when it comes to marketing.
If you’re looking to hire a photographer for your t-shirt collection and you’re in the UK, I highly recommend working with Kaye!
Find The Best Shipping Options
This is definitely something I should have put A LOT more thought into because honestly, shipping was an absolute minefield for me when I first began shipping out my t-shirts. From not knowing the correct sizes to misjudging the weight of the packages completely, I was not expecting to spend half as much as I did on shipping.
Whether you use your local postal service or a courier, I cannot stress enough how important it is to know exactly what you’re doing when it comes to shipping your products out. For those using the UK Post Office, I also highly recommend ordering a measure that shows you what size parcel your package is going to be classed as, giving you a good idea before you head out.
The Post Office ‘Drop and Go’ service has also been recommended to me, but this is something I’m yet to trial – I will report back as soon as I have, however!
Consider The Packaging You’re Going To Use
If you’re familar with the small business side of TikTok then you will know just how much effort some people put into their packaging. From free stickers to cute mailer bags, there are so many ways that you can make someone feel special simply by creating amazing packaging.
Personally, I decided to use bright coloured mailer bags and add a handwritten note to each of my orders. I felt like it was a nice touch and it gave me the opportunity to thank everyone for supporting my new venture individually.
Set A Launch Date And PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE
Finally, you need to set your official launch date so that you can start promoting as soon as possible! From joining TikTok to starting your own mailing list, there are so many incredible ways to build an audience of people that you know will be interested in purchasing your products!
While I had to put my Christmas collection on hold, I’m definitely planning on creating some new designs as soon as I possibly can! If you’d like to see exclusive information about when these will be launching, Instagram is definitely the best place to follow me.