How To Start Your Own Online T-shirt Brand in India
If you’re planning to take the plunge into the daunting world of business but have no clue where to begin, we’re here to assist. Here are some tips and tricks that should go a long way in helping you start your own online t-shirt brand.
The ultimate comfort wear, t-shirts were invented well over a century ago, but have only risen to prominence in the last few decades or so. As the purchasing power of the common man increases and wardrobes get bigger, entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly alluring — especially if you’re a creative soul who’s sick of the monotony of a 9 to 5 job. If you’re planning to take the plunge into the daunting world of business but have no clue where to begin, we’re here to assist. Here are some tips and tricks that should go a long way in helping you start your own online t-shirt brand.
Set Up Your Online Presence
In an age of rampant digitalisation where everyone and their grandmothers are moving their businesses to the internet, setting up your own online t-shirt store might seem effortless in theory, but the execution isn’t half as easy. Once you have your brand’s blueprint ready, there are two ways to go about it. You could either choose to sell on established marketplaces like Flipkart, Amazon, Jabong, Snapdeal, PayTM, & Engrave or you could take a leap of faith and build your own independent online presence.
Either way, there will be pros and cons. The established marketplaces boast unmatchable financial muscle and an unrivalled consumer reach that ensure better infrastructure, marketing, and exposure for your brand’s products. However, the marketplace’s fee might be an issue in the long run for your brand. Au contraire, an independent online store will help you slowly build your own brand but customer acquisition can be an expensive affair.
Our tip? Try your hand at both and see what suits your brand best. Taking calculated risks goes a long way in any business, and with the right amount of marketing, you’ll get the best of both worlds. In fact, at Engrave, we understand that each maker has their own unique personality and thus allow you to set up an individual micro-site. Also every product page carries the maker’s details and story – allowing you to build a t-shirt brand while being part of our marketplace.
Build A Brand
Branding isn’t just about picking a suitable name from a bunch of fancy-pants options you found in the thesaurus. Remember, a brand name and logo works as an imprint on the customer’s mind — so picking the perfect one is imperative. It’s a mark of promise and an expectation of top-grade t-shirts that forges a relationship between you and the customer. Furthermore, branding leads to instant recognition and breeds referrals faster than mormon rabbits. In an age where social media forms such an integral part of our lives, the concomitant word-of-mouth marketing could prove to be your resultant healthy litter that ensures the legacy, longevity, and loyalty for generations to follow.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… well, there won’t be a second time. Truth is, customers today are shrewder than Otto von Bismarck in his prime. Add the potential ignominy your brand will receive on social media where you’ll be berated by Milord or Milady Berserko for selling them a low-quality t-shirt, and it’s safe to say that compromising on quality, especially when you’re based online, is not an option. When customers buy clothes on the internet, they do so by taking your word and placing their trust (and hard-earned money) in your hands. Nobody wants to buy a t-shirt that fades or shrinks in two washes. The only way to guarantee long-term success is by sourcing a great quality material, printing exquisite designs on it, and repaying their faith to the best of your aesthetic abilities.
If you’re planning to delve into the graphic t-shirts business, your fate hinges on the quality of your designs. Let’s be real for a second here: you’re not a pioneer. There are scores of brands, both Indian and international, that have been selling graphic t-shirts before your idea, or for that matter even you, were conceived. So the only way your brand will break into the market is if your designs stand out or connect with a specific audience. Sourcing designs might sound like a doodle but it’s actually one of the hardest things to do. Some of the ways to go about it include:
- Hiring a talented and trustworthy in-house designer: Having a talented designer on board will ensure original, authentic designs — but your brand will forever be at the mercy of your designer’s creative flair.
- Rope in freelance designers and buy their designs: Hiring freelance designers will ensure you get the best of different styles, which could in turn help you cater to a larger variety of customers.
- Buy designs available on websites on the internet: We’re talking about websites like Shuttertock, GraphicRiver, Dribbble, DeviantArt, Behance, where artists upload their work that you can then source for a price, of course.
Depending on how much money you’re willing to invest and the type of tees you’re aiming to sell, there are a couple of ways to go about it. If you’re looking at mass production of the same print, opting for screen printing is your best bet. In case of heat transfers, one can purchase plastisol transfers and get different designs printed on them from a local printer. Then as and when you receive an order, the print can be transferred on to a t-shirts with a commercial heat press machine. Lastly, you can opt for direct-to-garment digital prints if you’re looking to print in smaller quantities with quality that is much better than heat transfers and almost at par with screen printing.
If you’re planning on something even more exclusive, you could look to sell hand-painted t-shirts or use some of the more traditional Indian methods of printing, like Ikat, Block Printing, or Tie & Dye.
Costing is a bit tricky. However, once you’ve found the right vendors for procuring t-shirts and for printing, you could get started for as little as Rs. 35,000.
The Keys To Success
USP: As mentioned before, you’re not a pioneer in the field of t-shirt making. Want to sell ‘witty’ t-shirts? There are scores doing that already. Superhero graphic tees? Tons of brands churn out a myriad of those everyday. So why should a customer turn to YOU instead? That’s a slippery slope. Setting up shop takes half a day, but determining your unique selling point is the bottomline and requires a lot more brainstorming.
Quality Of Products: Never, under any circumstances, compromise on quality. If you chase high profits and source cheaper alternatives, it’ll only end up hurting your brand in the long run. If your product is great, the customers will associate that with your brand and you’ll end up making profits anyway. An online business is solely based on trust, and repaying it is the only path to success.