3 Steps to Starting a T-Shirt Business From Scratch


You’ve probably seen memes and trends across the Internet, only to wake up the next day and see people already have made shirts for them. How is that possible? The Internet has made it super easy for just about anyone to start a t-shirt business from scratch.

It takes more than a head full of ideas and a computer full of designs to start a successful T-shirt business though. We’ll walk you through some of the major steps in the process.

3 Steps to Starting a T-Shirt Business

Step One: Getting Started

First thing’s first, even if you’ve got some awesome designed planned out, you’re going to have to do some legwork and research.  Here are the questions you’ll want to answer with your initial research:

  • What kind of shirts do I want to sell, and what sort of printing method do I want to use?
  • What’s my niche? Who would be interested in buying my designs?
  • What does the market look like for my target demographic? Do I have any major competitors? If so, who?
  • Where and how am I going to sell my shirts?
  • How am I going to get the word out about my brand? How will I generate interest?
  • How much capital do I have available? Is it possible for me to seek investors?
  • What’s involved in obtaining a business license in my State? Note that the answers to this question are most often found on your state government’s website.

Unable to Can Tee - Tees in the Trap and Awesomely Luvvie

Related: How to Sell T-Shirts People Will Buy

Step Two: Your Sales Platform

Once you’ve moved past initial research, it’s time to decide on a sales platform. A well-designed, mobile-friendly, professional looking website is a must here. Whether you use WordPress, Shopify, Amazon, or some other platform is up to you.

Your storefront not only should look good, but it should work properly as well. If it resembles something you haphazardly slapped together in a single weekend or is incredibly complicated to navigate, people aren’t going to want to use it. They’ll go to your competitor’s better-designed website.

If you’re not gifted at design or can’t shell out the money for a custom designer, look into purchasing premium themes for your shop instead. There are thousands of WordPress themes that are WooCommerce compatible, and Shopify has themes to choose from as well.

Shopify Themes Available on Creative Market

Creative Market has plenty of themes to choose from.

Step Three: Shipping & Logistics

Next, you need to think of how you’ll deliver your shirts to your customers, as well as how you’ll manage your stock. While you may have the capital further down the road for a warehouse, I’d highly recommend using drop-shipping when you’re starting out. How it works is pretty simple – you purchase the product from a third-party vendor like BlueCotton, who handles the manufacturing costs. The product is then shipped directly to the customer.

Blue Cotton


Drop shipping’s low overhead and ease of setup allows you to readily test the market for new designs without putting forth too much capital on a bunch of stuff that might not sell. This approach does have its disadvantages, mind you, especially for larger companies.  It can be difficult to keep track of items you have in and out of stock, shipping costs can be somewhat complex to deal with, and it’s difficult to manage quality control.

At the same time, it’s a perfect way to get started – and as an added bonus, many of the vendors you rely on for drop-shipping can transition rather easily to manufacturers as your business grows larger.

Starting a T-shirt company isn’t easy. But with passion, creativity, and a willingness to work hard, you can soldier through. Now get out there, and get your business on the road!

Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.