When it comes to the production of your t-shirts, you have two choices – to use your skills and print them yourself, or outsource the work to a printing house. This article is intended to help you decide which option is going to be best for both you and your brand by going through my own experiences both printing my own tees and outsourcing them.
I first started screen printing after an obsession with stencil art turned into obsessing over getting the stencils I made onto t-shirts. Although I had the best intentions to meld my two loves together, spray paint on a t-shirt just isn’t that good of a look. I started teaching myself about screen printing from trawling the internet and reading every book I could get my hands on. I ended up buying a reasonably cheap 2 colour press and started putting into practice what I had learnt. Although I was coming out with pretty decent stuff for myself, there wasn’t anyway I would be happy charging anyone for the quality of the printing I was doing. That led me to enrol in college to get proper training in textile screen printing. Then came the time to put together my first t-shirt line. I thought it would make the most sense to save money and use my skills to print the line myself, and I did and it turned out great. But when it came time to produce my second line, I opted out of doing my own printing and outsourced to a large and well established printing house.
Why would I spend the money getting someone else to print what I was capable of printing? Let me try and explain.
When you’re starting a t-shirt label there are so many elements that need to come together in harmony. Firstly, your product has to be flawless – that means both your blank garments and your printing. On top of that you need to focus on branding, marketing, advertising and networking…not to mention customer service and administrative duties. For your brand to be a success all of those elements have to be of the highest standard. Although I knew I could produce a top quality product, I knew I was compromising the time and energy I had to invest in all the other aspects of my clothing label.
There are plenty of brand owners out there who manage to do top notch printing and keep everything else of the highest quality too. I personally just found that by outsourcing my printing to someone else, I was able to concentrate on really hustling my brand and getting my name out there.
Trying to decide whether you outsource or do your own printing can be a tough decision. People often think that learning to screen print and doing their tees themselves will save them money, when in reality the cost of equipment, supplies and wastage due to mistakes can far exceed that of having them done professionally. If you’re an inexperienced printer, I can’t urge you enough to leave the printing to the pros and pump your energy into developing the rest of your brand.
If you are a screen printer, it really comes down to whether you have the time, patience and energy to put into all facets of your business. If you believe you can undertake the production of your line on top of everything else, then go for it! If not, there’s no shame in letting another talented printer do the work for you.
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