The T-shirt business is one of the most lucrative businesses in the clothing industry. They are a very popular fashion choice for a lot of people because they are easy to wear and maintain and usually don’t cost a fortune to own. It is a relevant piece of clothing for all age groups, although it’s a much more dominant wardrobe option amongst young people, you would hardly find a wardrobe without a t-shirt.

This widespread acceptance of this clothing option has created a sufficient demand in the clothing industry, and so opened up a market for many to plug into. The profitability of the T-shirt business is not in doubt. In the US alone last year, US$7.4 billion was spent importing t-shirts. This goes to show that there is great demand for T-shirts.

Knowing how profitable this business is and how sufficient the demand may be, is not enough to make it and be successful in this business. Just like any business, It is important to know key insights and valuable information about a venture before stepping into it to increase your chances of success. Here, we’ll be looking at some important t-shirt business tips to consider before starting a t-shirt business.

1. Business Model


Before starting a t-shirt business, you must do market research to know the type of business you want to run, and what is your niche market. You need to decide who you’ll be selling your t-shirts to, and that’s what will decide the business model you’ll adopt.

If you’re going to start an online t-shirt business, is your niche market online? Do you want to make t-shirts that would be available in boutiques and stores as well as online stores? Carrying out research that helps you decide how you want your business to run will help you answer these questions.

There are many different ways to go about starting a t-shirt business and you should know these and decide which is best suited for you given your resources. If you’re going to be starting an online t-shirt business, then it’s important you know the options available to you.

You can choose to locally print your t-shirts and market them online for sale, or you can choose a dropshipping business model. With drop shipping, you don’t need to have an inventory of t-shirts you sell. All you need to do is create mock-up t-shirt designs and upload this t-shirt design to an online store. You’ll then receive orders for these t-shirts, and your dropshipping supplier will print said design on their shirts, and ship the t-shirt directly to the customer. It’s that simple and easy. This business model is straightforward to implement, especially if you’re starting with little to no capital.

Dropshipping is a great business model for anyone looking to start an online t-shirt business. You will only need to create the t-shirt design and mockup. There are many options available for a t-shirt dropshipping business model, of which the most popular are Shopify and Etsy. With these, you’ll be able to set up an online store to sell your t-shirts and market them to your audience while they receive orders and handle the printing and shipping to the customer. This is greatly advantageous because, with this model, you can run your business from anywhere in the world.

You can as well decide to custom print t-shirts locally to sell, and there are several things you need to know when deciding to go this route. Like, the t-shirt printing options, the shirt quality, overhead costs and more. Let’s take an expanded look at these below.

2. Printing Options


There are many different ways to custom print t-shirt designs and you must know the pros and cons of each of these options, to know which is best for your business. We’ll consider three of the most common options.

  • Screen Printing: Screen printing is ideal for printing simple designs of fewer colours. Because of its labour-intensive set-up, screen printing is best used when printing t-shirts of at least 5 or fewer colours in bulk. This printing is cost-effective when printing in bulk. It’s not advisable for complex t-shirt designs.
  • Heat Transfer: With heat transfer, the design is printed on heat transfer paper and then imprinted on the t-shirt by the heat of high temperatures like a big iron until the design melts into the material of the shirt. This is relatively easy to carry out, but the print is of lower quality and you’ll have to invest upfront in a heat transfer machine.
  • Direct-to-garment (DTG): This printing operates like an inkjet printer, and so it prints on a shirt pretty accurately with full colours and its quality is on par with screen prints and much better than heat transfer. This DTG machine prints directly unto the t-shirt. You can print designs of any type and number of colours. The only disadvantage of this printing option is that it takes just as much time to print a bulk order as it does to print only one shirt.

Each of these should be considered to determine which option you’ll adopt for your business.

3. Shirt Quality

A huge part of the success of your t-shirt business is the quality of your t-shirts. No one is going to continue buying your shirt if the design washes off after the first wash. It is not enough to have beautiful designs for your shirt, you must also take the time to source high-quality shirts to print on. This is a great way to make your shirts stand out amongst others. You must also understand the best shirt for the type of printing you’d be doing. Not every type of printing works well on all shirt fabrics.

Highly Competitive


As easy as it is to start an online t-shirt business, it is highly competitive. You would have to do a lot of work to stand out. That’s where the importance of your brand comes in. You’ll have to tailor your brand to fit your desired niche in such a way that your t-shirt designs are not like any other in the market. It won’t help your business if your t-shirt designs are similar to everyone else’s.

You want to take your time to tailor your designs to your niche market. That further reinforces the importance of knowing your market. In such a highly competitive market, you must build a unique business with your business name, logo, colours etc. You must take time as well to curate a digital presence that can capture the attention of your market. Your online store, marketing, and messaging are great avenues to enforce your branding in the heart of your customers.

4. Overhead Costs

These are what it will cost you to run your t-shirt business that is not direct costs like the cost of shirts, or the purchase of your printer.

For example, rent. Depending on the size of your t-shirt business you’ll need a space to design, package and keep your inventory. As well as process your orders and ship them out. This can be expensive, and a great way to cushion this cost is to work from your home or already existing space, instead of renting a space. You should be very aware of this cost because they can run into your budget if not monitored. You should aim to reduce spending to the best of your ability. A simple but great piece of advice is If you don’t need a pen, don’t buy a pen.

5. Pricing


This can make or break your business. Setting the right price for your business may be challenging, but getting it right is very important. A good rule of thumb is to look at how much your competition is charging. That would give you an idea of how much people are willing to spend on t-shirts knowing how much people are already spending. This will also give you an idea of how much the market can tolerate.

The next thing is to calculate all the costs of producing a shirt, factor in overhead costs, and labour costs and then add what percentage profit you intend to make off the shirt.

6. Marketing

If you have spent your energy and put in the effort to create a great product, you should let as many people know about it as possible. You should take advantage of social media to grow and connect with your audience that purchases your t-shirts and work to make your followers pay customers. Take the best pictures and videos of your t-shirts and advertise them. Let others see how great your product is. Show pictures of customers wearing your product and even proof of business and that would sure rack up the sales.


As competitive as the t-shirt business is, you can stand out and be successful by knowing the right things and doing them well. The t-shirt industry is too profitable to ignore and is a great business opportunity for entrepreneurs. Know your market, decide your business model; how you want to run your business, create great quality t-shirts and market it the right way and you’re sure on your way to success.