Let’s assume that decorated T-shirts will continue to reign supreme as some of the most popular items to spend money on, and you want a piece of the T-shirt industry pie. How do you get started making and selling your own? According to Coastal Business Supplies, making and selling T-shirts using heat transfer vinyl is easy (and fun) to do. All you need is a few fundamental items to build your business’ foundation – read on to discover which supplies are mandatory for success and how you can get started.

Heat Press Machine

Before you contemplate buying anything else for your T-shirt business, you’ll need to invest in a high-quality T-shirt heat press – and before you do that, there’s a couple questions you’ll want to ask yourself. How big are the items you plan to create? Do you intend to press shirts that encompass the typical size range of adult small through XL, or will you need to create shirts that are bigger? Does your production space (and your budget) allow for a clamshell or a swing-away heat press machine? What’s your predicted volume, and do you envision that you’ll need to upgrade your equipment within the year?

Write down your answers and familiarise yourself with your wants and needs. This will not only help you determine which heat press is right for you, but it will also help create accurate business expectations and allow you to begin building the kind of enterprise you know you can be proud of. You can accomplish a lot with a manual 38cm x 38cm (15” x 15”) heat press, but if you are thinking about getting into larger items or want to be certain you can step away from production for a second to multitask, it might be wiser in the long run to invest in an automatic 41cm x 51cm (16 x 20) heat press transfer machine now.

To avoid buyer’s remorse and ensure that you are on the right track to purchasing a T-shirt press that will suit the size and scale of your business, it’s a good idea to hit the internet and do a little comparison shopping. Research trusted brands and pay close attention to the features and small details that accompany those T-shirt heat press machines. Does the heat press come with a warranty? Are the settings digital or analogue? What do the customer reviews say?

Vinyl Cutter

Depending on the size of your heat transfer vinyl and the anticipated volume of your production, you’ll want to invest in a durable, long-lasting vinyl cutter that can withstand the amount of orders you need to fulfil on a daily basis. When considering which vinyl cutting machine, take the same approach as you would in buying a heat press – do your research, buy from a vendor with a good track record for customer service, ensure that your purchase includes product support and some kind of warranty, and double-check product reviews to see what other users are saying.

You’ll also want to take into consideration your level of experience with vinyl cutters and graphic design software. If you are just starting out with very little cutting experience, ensure that you select a heat transfer vinyl cutting machine that is suitable for beginners. Look for machines manufactured with the hobbyist and crafter in mind, as they generally include design software that comes with a pre-loaded artwork library for users to play around with.

If you intend to create and sell more than a handful of items per day, it’s wise to look into a larger piece of equipment that is compatible with programmes like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Start-up kits and vinyl cutter packages are a great way to buy everything you need for your business all at once and hit the ground running.

Heat Transfer Vinyl

A good rule of thumb when it comes to purchasing heat transfer vinyl: buy your standard stock rolls first – the ones you know you’ll use a lot of – then dig into the fun colours, textures and finishes as you need them. There are literally hundreds of vinyl colour and style options available, and you don’t want to end up dropping a lot of money on several rolls of zebra patterned vinyl (as cool as it may look!) if the bulk of your customers are buying navy tees with blocky white text. Popular heat transfer vinyl colours that you’ll go through quickly include black, white, navy and red, so it’s not a bad idea to always keep a few rolls of these colours on-hand.

That being said, don’t hesitate to experiment with new colours or offer a fun array of the latest vinyl options to your customers – they may want something unique and fun! Present your clients with options by showing them a vinyl swatch and give them the opportunity to pick which colours they’d like to include in their custom design.

Heat transfer vinyl sheets are available in all kinds of colors, so feel free to order a few and create a couple items with the purpose of displaying them or taking photos of them to help market your business. Before you get caught up in the excitement of trying out new colors and finishes, don’t forget – every type of HTV has its own recommended pressure, temperature and pressing time settings, so always be sure to double-check the product’s pressing instructions to ensure you are pressing with success every time!

T-Shirt Garments and Accessories

There are several wholesale T-shirt distributors that specialise in providing apparel decoration businesses with blank garments. Don’t forget – with a heat transfer vinyl business, you can also decide to provide one-off custom personalisation on customer-supplied items too. Decorating sports jerseys that only require names and numbers, applying small designs to sentimental keepsakes and customising other client-provided garments are quick projects that don’t require a lot of extra investment on your part. Never turn down extra easy money if you can help it.


You’ve gotten your hands on the core equipment and vinyl supplies needed to start creating T-shirts – now all you need is a good customer base to get things moving. You can begin by letting friends and family know that you are creating customised items or offering to personalise any items they already have. Create a pricing structure early on that makes sense based on your hard costs and the labour involved in making your products – this way, you have a price model you can stick to and you can feel confident that you are charging amounts that are fair and guaranteed to sustain a profit. If you are just starting out, it’s not a bad idea to offer a small discount or incentive to your customers to initiate relationships with them.

It goes without saying that you should create a website for your business as soon as you’re ready to start accepting new customers. Advertising a link to your website on social media is an easy way to bring new customers to you. You can even create special messaging and pay to have your business ads placed directly in front of individuals that matter. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn all offer exceptional targeting capabilities and give you the ability to zero in on specific geographic regions, demographics, industries and interests.

That being said – don’t get ahead of yourself. Make sure that you are comfortable with the volume you are currently servicing before increasing the amount of orders you are bringing in to ensure you don’t overwhelm yourself or find out the hard way that your equipment can’t keep up with production.

This article was originally published by Coastal Business Supplies.

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