The unavoidable question when starting your own clothing line is “how much is this all going to cost me?”
Before you start to panic about money it’s important to remember that every person starts their business in a different way and there is no right or wrong budget or path to take. The perfect example is to look at the amazing Johnny Cupcakes. He started his multi-million dollar clothing line with the scraps of money he made on the side. Now look at him! Basically, what I’m trying to say is if you don’t have that much money to pour into your clothing line – don’t worry.
When it comes to the t-shirt business, you really have three groups we can look at. On one end of the scale you have the people who are starting a clothing line on the side for a bit of fun. These people can start their line with a budget of around $100-$1000. On the other end, we have the big name brands that start up with budgets in excess of $20,000. Somewhere in the middle is the group I’d like to speak about, and that’s those wanting to start an indie clothing line.
So, how much will it cost you to start your indie clothing line?
I’m going to recommend a budget of $2,000 – $10,000 to get your line up and running. This of course can differ from person to person, but from my personal experience this is a realistic and comfortable budget.
Here’s a break-down of the major costs involved:
1. Website- $200-$1000 You’re going to need a website. Unless you get your gear into retail spots (or open your own) your website will be where you sell your t-shirts. Getting a completely customised site built from scratch can be extremely expensive, especially since you will need an e-commerce site. Luckily for us there are some fantastic alternatives out there. Big Cartel and Storenvy are two sites that allow you to create an online shop for little to no money at all. This combined with a customised WordPress site is a great alternative to spending thousands on a website.
2. Artwork – $200 -$500 per design If you’re planning on hiring an artist or designer to create your designs, you’re going to have to pay them…naturally. A great way to find designers is to trawl through the designs on Mintees until you find a style you like and contact the designer directly. I would definitely recommend having t-shirt designs custom made for your brand as apposed to buying already-made designs.
3. Production – $300 – $1,000 When it comes to actually printing your t-shirts there are a lot of things that will effect the cost. For example, the brand of blank garment you use and whether you have them screen printed or digitally printed. The number of garments you have printed for the first run will also play a part, as screen printing gets cheaper the more t-shirts you have printed.
4. Packaging – $50- $500 When it comes to packaging your t-shirts for postage there are a lot of options. You can go the standard route and send them out in mail bags, or you can enter into the more expensive world of custom-packaging. This also includes all the nice little extras such as custom swing tags, hem tags and postage bags.
5. Marketing – $0 – $500 Luckily for us the most powerful online marketing tools are all virtually free. Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook and blogs and forums make it possible to market your t-shirt label with next-to-no cost. Another powerful marketing tool is to send samples of your gear to bloggers in the community to review. This can be expensive considering you are giving your t-shirts away and having to pay for postage (which will sometimes be international).
Some final advice on spending money on your start-up:
- Go SLOWLY! Although it’s great to have plans for your brand and a big-picture view, it’s important to take things slowly and not to spend outside your budget. If you can’t afford certain elements like custom hang tags and packaging, add it to your future plans and build up slowly. Put the money you make back into the label, and add the elements as you can afford them.
- Plan, plan + then plan some more! I would seriously recommend planning as much as you humanly can before you spend a single cent. This means getting multiple quotes on everything, shop around and budget everything so when it comes time to start spending you won’t have any nasty surprises.