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Essay: Custom T-shirt printing as a product

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  • Subject area(s): Business essays
  • Reading time: 7 minutes
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  • Published: 10 October 2015*
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  • Words: 2,103 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 9 (approx)

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The idea of a small start-up of Custom T-shirt Printing has intrigued me for quite some time. A fashion based business like this would survive regardless of the situation of the economy, whether it is on a downturn or a galloping inflation.
Custom t-shirt printing is a profitable business if a systematic and organised business plan is followed without any exceptions. But, creativity, ability to foresee trends and extensive hard work is to be put at the right place for the business to be profitable.
It is necessary to know the technology and write a business plan before taking further steps to start a clothing line.
Following are the processes, activities, associated cost classifications and the technology, I would undertake as a measure of performance to start the business.
Required technological skills: Good designing and artistic skills are a must for custom printing. Designing skills can be developed by joining short term crash courses of three to four weeks at reputed schools of arts and design to master the technique. There are other options as well, like learning under a professional designer as an apprentice or taking online classes in spare time.
Conducting a research of the market: Gathering information about the clothing industry is important to understand the market trends. [1] Tracking the history and present condition of major players in the industry is beneficial so that the mistakes made by the major brands are not repeated and the success strategies of these brands is carefully monitored upon. It also necessary to short list the wholesalers and the retailers to ensure good deals and long lasting partnerships. With this information, a similar strategy can be developed and modelled upon the business.
Targeting the customer: Basic requirements including size, weight, thickness, quality of cloth and colour should be considered effectively. One should understand his customers well enough and produce appealing items to sustain a balance of demand and supply between self and the customer, keeping in mind the needs and specifications of the buyer. Much attention should be drawn towards the design, slogans and messages the shirt puts forward to the buyer. Customer satisfaction should be the top priority and also the value proposition of the business.
Feedback from the customer is also very valuable for a small business to prosper as the feedback highlights the flaws and irregularities which need to be rectified in order to maintain the good quality of the product in future. There is a wide range of clothing to choose from- men and women sportswear, casual clothing, university hoodies, kids wear, military clothes, etc. [2]
Set achievable goals: Every business person who wants to be successful must have clearly spelt out goals and continue to work towards achieving them. For instance, one may decide that he wants to be churning out and selling a minimum of ten designs per week and start putting in all the hard work it takes to achieve the target. [3] Getting scared from the goals is not good for the business. One should set goals making sure he sets realistic goals so that he don’t end up frustrated. A business plan will serve as an operational guideline throughout. The business plan would contain business goals, brand values, long and short-term vision, mission statements, business strategies and objectives.
Analysing the parts of a company’s operations that create values and those that do not, by following a value chain analysis is essential. Understanding these issues is important because the company earns above-average returns only when the value it creates is greater than the costs incurred to create the value. [4]
Building a brand: Every clothing line needs a brand. The name of the line should be unique and catchy. One can put his own name as a brand name like??Calvin Klein or Kenneth Cole??or think of other easy names like??Mango or Gap. After that, a logo needs to be created, making sure that the logo reflects the outlook and nature of the brand. Legally, the name of the company can be different from the name of the clothing line itself, giving the manufacturer more options and convenience to choose a suitable name. [5]
There are a number of ways to raise the capital for the initial setup including fund raising at events, asking banks to sanction a business loan, overtimes in week jobs, friends and family to helping out financially and many other.
Most importantly, one must not forget to??trademark the brand name and copyright the clothing designs. This is to??help fight against piracy, intellectual theft and brand infringement. This would cost the manufacturer some money for the copyright process but is definitely worth doing. [6] Registering the trademark protects the business and designs from copycats. Create a separate bank account for your business, so that your personal expenses can be separated from your business expenses. But, for that you have to register your business legally before you can open a business bank account.
Manufacturing process: One needs to start by figuring out where and how to get the fabrics and other items that would be needed to produce the initial cloth. Now, begin searching around the clothing industry to??find a manufacturer who will be creating the clothes, providing all the needed details to make sure that the desired quality of cloth is obtained. Updated terminologies for different garments and fabric must be kept in mind. This is essential information must be noted when launching the clothing line. Search online for manufacturers and then contact them to make affordable deals. A good place to cheaply import clothing materials is China. [7] Now the cloth is imported and ready to be printed.
An all-purpose flatbed printer specifically MDK-A2 can be used to print the designs onto the cloth. MDK-A2 is an approved eco-friendly printer with no use of harsh chemicals. The print is long lasting and has good wash ability. It uses an exclusive software- RIP which helps the printer print vivid designs with outstanding effects and digital colours. It has a good speed of 50-60 shirts per hour which saves a lot of time and can easily refill ink with cheap running cost. [8] After leaving the shirts for a couple of hours to dry, the shirts are ready to be packed and sold. Packaging is easy as it only requires plastic bags and cartons to wrap the shirts and pile them up in the boxes, which are available at local shopping stores.
Advertising and marketing the brand: Appropriate advertisement is the backbone of a small business like this. Advertisement is also the physical measure that defines the technical performance of this start-up. To begin advertising, supplying boutiques, online stores, schools, trade fairs, etc. with free samples would get the manufacturer the initial boost to supply more. The supplier needs to carefully strategize how to break into the market and get customers to like the product especially since he is a new entrant into the business. One should also??consider having own retail store to carry the brand too which advertises the products, increases the sale and helps join the clothing industry in a fast pace of time.
An important requirement for??launching advertising campaign is a marketing plan. One can??start by promoting his clothing line??by creating a page for it in social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There will be a lot of people who will check out the product and proceed to buy it online. Pay for advertisements on the pages of papers and magazines that target clients would reading. Better still, wear the clothes you made. This will help in promoting the brand and gaining feedback about it in order to make improvements.
Another important method of marketing is developing a website or a web shop for the brand. This will drastically increase the sale as the customer is able to buy the clothes from the comfort of his home or office and get it shipped within a week’s time at maximum. The manufacturer can outsource the development of the website to developer teams or individuals according to their requirement and pay the developers periodically to ensure updates and to maintain a secured access by the customers with zero security breach.
Another idea to employ is event hosting techniques. One can organize seminars and conferences that teach people how to dress. For instance there’s a popular event known as ‘dress for success’ where women are taught how to improve their public image and perception through appropriate dressing. [9] Retailers too can organize something similar and have the clothing designs displayed at the event so that attendees can also buy stuff on sale. Consider advertising using television, radio or billboards. Also make out flyers and place them in public places or have people hand them out at bus parks, train stations, shopping malls, etc. [10]
Recently introduced method in advertisement is Affiliate Marketing, also a good way to promote the brand. By using affiliate marketing techniques, one can easily have other people join in the marketing campaign and together, be able to increase awareness and generate more revenue. Affiliate marketing means allowing other people to promote the brand and then paying them commission for whatever they are able to sell. [12]
Less known method is referral program whereby people get attractive discounts for every new customer they are able to bring. Note that the discount has to be attractive to get people interested in the affiliate program. Should not expect a lot of people to take it seriously if what the manufacturer is offering is ??1 worth of discounts.
Lastly, one can engage the services of street teams to promote the clothing line. Can have them wear your designs while they do some fun displays which would attract the attention of passers-by. To make it effective, make sure the target area is a very crowded place where the targeted customers are.
For instance, if the brand is men’s wear, use a place where a lot of men are frequent like bars gyms etc. Could also ask store owners to brand their stores with the promotional materials.
A revenue model is generally used for mid and??long-term??projections??of a??company’s profit??and??operation. But, for a start-up like this, the revenue model would be a simple one. It would mainly require a good balance between certain issues- reducing the cost of manufacturing, increasing the cost value o products with increase in sale accordingly with the high market prices, adequate expenses on advertisement and equipment repair, etc.
Some other ways- gathering the sales data if to check if business has already produced some profit. Making a note of each type of income source from different targeted customers and an estimate of the total revenue. If one has not yet launched the business in a big market, but has worked in smaller market in the past, then making notes of the revenue sources of the company is crucial. The more sales history one has, the more accurate revenue model will be. [13]
Reviewing the revenue model on a regular basis and adjusting it as needed is also important. If the business is just starting, one would have a much stronger understanding of the revenue after a month than one would before he began. Decrease the time one spends on revenue sources that are not working as well as projected until one can revise his strategies.
Value Network is a set of connections between organizations and/or individuals interacting with each other to benefit the entire group. A value network allows members to buy and sell products as well as share information. These networks can be visualized with a simple mapping tool showing nodes (members) and connectors (relationships). [14] Value networks is a necessary component for business development. It enables a friendlier and social environment with the customers and the people working with you to bring out a healthier and bigger profit.
So, these are some measures that I would take to start a company of this scale and try to take it to higher levels with consistent hard work and planning.
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