Starting a shirt company. Questions.

I am interested in starting up a company to sell “phrase” shirts. My initial game plan is to start with one successful “target” shirt, that will get me established. My crude strategy is to order, an assorted size/color, batch of 500, and see where it goes from there. I figured primarily, I would deal with it, through establishing some online distribution. As well as maybe reaching out to specific stores, that are market specific to what shirts I intend to make.

  1. What sort of specific company do I need to establish myself as, best related to this, standard I described. It would either be based out of New Hampshire or Massachussetts.

  2. How does it work exactly, to trademark a T-shirt specific to its phrase?

  3. any other direct considerations, I need to walk out the gate with? aside from those two guidelines?

  4. Anyone familiar with the best way of having mass production of T-shirts made? Is this something I would be best to do per order, on my own? Or sending out for the full batch through some other affiliate, and have the higher standard of quality?

Taking in consideration:
I did a generic estimate, if at large volume, shirts cost me 10$ to make, and I could sell for 20$. With 500 shirts, I can make up towards 3000$ profit, after costing me 6000$ for the full process of acquiring and distributing the shirts.

The details in researching the market, and extensive business element, will come after I walk out the door. I am just trying to get my mind set to the true coordination I need to consider; in order to walk out that door.

Well you could just take a look at what the already established companies are doing like…

Custom Ink
Café Press
Busted Tees
Tshit Hell
Vista Print…

Don’t do it. You’ll wind up with 400+ unsold tshirts, a lot less money in your bank account, and a lot of pissed off friends. There have been so many people before you who thought the same thing and failed. The tshirt business is highly saturated and is dominated by large sellers who can get much greater discounts because they sell larger quantities. I have no idea what “walk out the door” means, but you should do all your market research and “business element” before undertaking any capital investments.

  1. You don’t need to incorporate to start a business, and given that your business is likely to fail, it would just be a waste of money anyways. Sell as a sole proprietor. And you’ll have relatively low liability because you’re not likely to injure anyone by selling tshirts online.

Small business owner checking in. I would not bother with incorporating, your liability isolation needs are trivial and it makes your taxes an order of magnitude more complicated.

my .02 on the model.

Learn how to silkscreen, decent low capacity setups can be had for about the price of your initial run. That way you can just order a dozen of each size/color shirt you want to have on hand then just bang out the “phrases” ordered as they come through. You can build a stock of screens, rinse them off and use the screen repeatedly.

Once you get into the situation of doing volume you will end up building up inventory to speed things up having (depending on level of business) a couple of each size/color offered of a given saying, then your printing work for the day will consist of replacing the ones that orders have consumed yesterday.

If certain combinations become more popular, keep a couple more of that one on hand.

I had a couple one off tees made through cafe press, they were utter crap and most of the printing fell apart after a few washings.

Also, I think you’re underestimating costs here. One thing you’ll learn if you actually go through with this is that small costs add up quickly.

Let’s assume you sell all 500 of your shirts for $20 through eBay.
You pay a 3% fee to Paypal, a 10% fee to eBay (although that can drop to 8% if you get Top Rated Plus status), and probably at least $2/shirt for economy shipping in a tyvek bag. You’ll also have to pay freight to get your shirts delivered to you, plus taxes (which I didn’t even factor in).

20500.03+20500.1+200+10500+5002=$6500 in costs. And that’s just off the top of my head–real costs are always higher.

His per unit costs on shirts will end up lower long haul if he does his own printing as I mentioned. Most of it is the cost of the shirts, and there are plenty of places he can order bulk blank t-shirts for $2-3 each. The inking is pennies per shirt.

How about trade marking a “phrase shirt”

Walking out the door:

1.I got rock solid tee shirt idea, thats due to sell.
2. I got the cash to get everything going
3. I have all the comprehension in how I most efficiently need to direct myself, in terms of coordinating the business measures.
4. I am just looking to be as coherent as possible, before I proceed to executing my order.

Your plan, according to your OP, is to make 500 shirts “and see where it goes from there”.

That’s not a business plan. You’re here asking asking for tips on how to trademark a phrase, how to manufacture shirts, how to sell shirts, and if there is anything else you need to be asking. So it appears all the comprehension you have at this point is an idea for a catchy phrase.

My advice is you contact some established t-shirt companies and see if they’re interested in your idea. If they like it, you can sell it to them outright or maybe work out a licensing deal. They can then handle all of the manufacturing and sales.

“What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.”

What makes you better than all those who came before you and failed?

There, now you’ve got a second slogan. :slight_smile:

Physical injury, sure. But what if it turns out his catchy phrase is already under copyright? The liability there could be substantial. LLCs are cheap and easy to form in most states. You can find the forms online and (in Florida), the cost is only about $125/$130 a year. You do have to file a tax return for the LLC, but all tax benefit/liability transfer through directly to the member’s personal taxes.

ETA: With that said, I agree with several others. Don’t do it. You can Café Press your shirt for a lower profit margin, but a substantially reduced capital outlay and risk.

You haven’t said HOW you are going to sell shirts. Do you plan to walk up to people on the street and try to sell them shirts? Do you think there stores that have a shortage of T-shirt suppliers?

You don’t need to make any T-shirts, go buy some existing T-shirts wholesale and try to sell them. If can’t do that you can’t succeed in this business.

I was giving you generic correlation to my current situation. I am looking for the guts and roots, on the technical side of things.

  1. business titling format
  2. trademark conditiosn for shirt “phrase”

really the concentrated reason I am here.


My concern for your plan is you are basing your method on 1 egg, and 1 basket. Things like this live on variety.

Having 50-100 designs available will be far more viable as a long term model.

Challenge to consider, you will end up with some unsold shirts, if you manage to move 80% of them you kicked ass. At some point, any orders you might get will be dependent on sizes you do not have on hand. You can order more to replenish your popular stock, but you will be doing so at lower quantities and at lower margins.

Seriously consider doing your own printing, that way you capture a chunk of the revenue currently being realized by another for profit business. You also get options and flexibility to pursue other opportunities at a lower cost.

Its fun to think you can just throw money at everyone else to do the heavy lifting, and there are ways to run a business that way, but it is the most expensive way possible.

I would make up a dozen and see how they sold first.

Those are actually your smallest problems.

Trademarking is a nightmare, do your shirts incorporating some other artwork and copyright is pretty much a given if you choose to defend it.

Other things to consider, if it really is that “hot” of a seller, you will see knockoffs showing up at every swap meet and online resale venue. Depending on legal protections to stop it is kind of like assuming you are bulletproof because its illegal to shoot people.

The trade-off here is if he gets a rush of initial orders he now has to order more to keep up…and being unable to fulfill them promptly = lost opportunity. A couple dozen isn’t enough for a viable test

Supposing, on the remote chance this venture doesn’t succeed, what is the cost of failure? Will failure have a significant impact on your credit or have a substantial impact on your savings? For example, if I started a co. And used 10k of my own money, it wouldn’t really be a big deal if I lost it all, but if I quit my job to start a business and maxed put my credit cards it would impact me for years to come.

I would also suggest putting the dollar sign before the number if you are selling shirts in the U.S. market.