Starting a screen printing business usually comes with a few options. The vast majority of your options center around your starting budget and if there is current demand for your product. It may be a good idea to assess these key factors to define the next move on your entrepreneurial journey. Here are a few steps outlined containing what you will need to start your own screen printing business.
First things first: Production Style
After assessing the first two questions, it is a good idea to use the answers as the basis for the next move, which is choosing your production style. For those that have little to no following, it may be a good idea to drop ship your product until you can build a following and demand for your product. After this, you can set up and account on Shopify, TeeSpring or another one of your favorite drop-shipping websites and proceed to the next step.
If you already are an influencer and have a following, this is a good indicator that you will likely sell and the only question is in projecting how many units you will sell. In this case, you may consider buying your shirts in bulk and then having them pressed out to meet the growing demand. Another bonus to this way of selling is that the product is already made and there is no shipping delay. The transaction could be made the same day. Your only challenge would be to meet the demand.
Next: Production Method
There are a few ways to attack this beast. There’s digital screen printing through the use of computers, the manual hot foil printing machine, and also the traditional screen printing with vinyl lettering. All of the methods equally have their pros and cons.
The digital “direct to garment” screen printing is often expensive and requires massive computer equipment and an equally expensive engineer to make it all work. Although the computer is most flexible with creative control and printing quickly, this is generally a method that would be recommended for commercial purposes where there will be mass production of a product.
The hot foil printing machine is often the best one to use when there is a moderate to high demand for the product. Often, these are used in custom t-shirt shops, especially in high traffic, tourist areas, where there is heavy foot-traffic. The main idea with the hot foil printing machine is that there will be an upfront investment on the machines and the auxiliary products, but the product can be custom made and worn within minutes of being made.
The last is the traditional vinyl screen printing. Well, to be fair, it is the most labor-intensive way to produce t-shirts and the operator simply acts as the printer. It requires a ton of training to get the shading techniques down if there are multiple colors involved. Also because there are paint-like, wet vinyl product involved, there will be a bit of drying time involved. However, this product is very versatile with creative freedom, so long as customizing screens is an option.
Finally: Auxiliary products
The final step in rolling out your t-shirt business is to figure out what products you need. Depending on what method of production you have chosen, it will determine what products you will have to buy to work with your equipment. Each of the aforementioned production methods will be outlined below, based on their auxiliary products and are described in the following sections.
The direct-to-garment printer will set you back anywhere from $5,000 or more depending on the sophistication of your machine. You will also need specialized ink in all of the basic colors, such as CMYKW (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, and White). There are also other costs to consider like set up, maintenance and a specialist to demonstrate how to operate the machine.
Foil printing press products are relatively simple. You need heat transferable textile foil, t-shirts, and a machine. Other costs to account for includes maintenance, but with such a simple machine, it may not be all that significant.
Lastly, the traditional vinyl paint style includes buying vinyl paint, screens, t-shirts, tape, and a squeegee. Another component of this process is buying die-cut design labels. This includes either finding a source to get them produced, buying a machine, or hand-cutting custom designs.
Of course, as the business grows, you’ll find yourself needing more sophisticated supplies, but do not let this thought be paralyzing. Often the essentials are only needed to start the process, and as the need arises, adjustments can be made. Just get started.