..well, I've just watched the final episode in the latest edition of the UK version of the Dragons Den...what an inspirational show I think..a show that shows with a decent idea, some hard work and research, business acumen and real desire it is possible to get a large investment and some serious expertise which would get your business up and running...how great would that be if you were trying to start a t-shirt company??
But then, I started thinking...sure, having lots of money would be great and would make a t-shirt company a lot easier to get going but having a ton of cash initially might slow down the learning curve as it were..the DIY side of getting a company going which has really started to consume me, is absolutely fascinating..anyone else suffering from a similar affliction? enjoying the trials and tribulations of the t-shirt world...
As I don't have a wad of cash and the expertise of a Dragon I've had to just put in a lot of man hours to fill the void..tI'll now briefly list the things that I have learned and done in the last few months to try get LadyUmbrella up and running..
Get a decent idea, be it for a series of shirts, a collection or once off shirts, make sure its a good idea..but then, what is a good idea? Ideas and t-shirts in particular are so open to interpretation and totally subjective that not everyone will agree with your idea. One day you may get ego swelling props and crushing and scathing criticism the next but for an idea to be given the chance to become reality you need to believe in it...not to a foolish extent, not if all the research you have done says there is no demand and you're idea is continually being berated, if that is the case it may be time to move on..if however, you're getting a blend of responses then believe in the idea and continue..
- The Tee
Make sure its good. Don't settle. Don't do anything half assed. We have gone through so many samples and stages with LadyUmbrella to get to where we are now...we didn't settle with our first concept, sure, we liked it and lots of other people did too but we weren't 100% behind it...don't be scared to say no to your screen printer or t-shirt supplier, tell them exactly what you want and until the produce it don't accept..If it happens that they give you exactly what you specified but the reality is that your idea isn't where you wanted it to be then rethink your idea..evolve it, roll with it, expand on it...thing big with it...or, thats what we are trying to do with LadyUmbrella t-shirts anyway...
- How to specify your tee
This has been one of the most painstaking things for us at LadyUmbrella..coming from an I.T background measuring t-shirts is not something I had any idea about...Google is there though, google will help, it always does...if you need to measure the arm hole depth of a t-shirt, the upper thigh, the lower tight, the hem yada yada - do it...Don't assume that your manufacturer will know what you want...try get samples or similar styles as reference for your manufacturer...for your artwork get down and dirty with Pantones..the PMS (Pantone Matching System) is what screen printers use to determine the exact colour of the artwork- use a swatch book to get the exact colour or you can find the pantone from photoshop...do bear in mind though that generally monitors are all calibrated differently so the colour you see may not actually be the same when printed - get the book or a sample to ensure you're got the right colour...Measure you're designs..measure their orientation from the hem, the neck and the sides of the t-shirt..sketch it out with the measurements overlaid on a mockup - you do this then you'll get the product you want..
- Finish the tee
Personally, I'm a fan of neck labels..to me, they say that the person who made the t-shirt cared enough to put their name on it clearly and went the extra mile to get a kick ass t-shirt...Neck labels are a great place to put a web address, slogan or some words to make the customer thing...they are also another way of getting creative and to put your logo..Make sure your customer never forgets who they have bought the t-shirt from...There are lots of other ways of finishing tees but my favourite is a neck label...how do you finish your tees?
I must apologise..I've had a quick scroll up and am horrified at the length of this blog already..I had intended to make it a shorter one...in my next blog I'll try to discuss what else I've learned to date regarding t-shirts - packaging, selling, marketing, branding and online...Hope there was something of use in this to some of you out there...let me know...