Mon. Feb 9, 2015 in The Basics

Should I Start a Garment Decorating Heat Press Business?

No matter how you look at it, starting your own business is a challenge. It’s scary and intimidating, but it’s also exciting and inspiring. These days, more and more people are joining the start-up community, meaning that more and more resources are becoming available. In fact, according to Forbes, small businesses have generated over 65% of new jobs since 1995. Pretty cool, huh?

If you’re thinking about starting a simple garment heat pressing company, we’ve got some tips and tricks to share with you that will make the experience less intimidating and more exciting.

Think Before You Act 

It’s advice as old as time, but good advice nonetheless. Before jumping in and buying your equipment, make sure you have a solid idea of what you want to do. T-shirt and accessory heat pressing is a valuable, in-demand service, so you’ve already chosen a good industry to get into. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before diving in:

What volume are you planning to work with?

If you’re planning on pressing hundreds of shirts, you’ll want to prepare differently than if you’re just planning on pressing a few things here and there. (However, if you’re just starting out, we’ll share some of the basic tools you’ll want. You can worry about getting more equipment as your business grows!)

Who is your target audience?

If you have a business already, you might be considering buying heat press equipment to create products for your existing company (i.e. company shirts, pens, mugs). However, if you’re starting from scratch, you need to think about what niche you’d like to delve into. Some businesses cater to other businesses and sports teams while others cater to independent bloggers/crafters — the nice thing is, it’s your business so it’s up to you.

How much are you willing to invest?

To start up a garment heat pressing business, your initial investment is relatively minimal. In fact, a number of garment heat pressing businesses operate from homes or small office spaces. You’ll need to buy your equipment and some vinyl to get you started but, after that, you can purchase more equipment, vinyl, ads, etc. as your business grows.

What kind of equipment should you get?

If you thought about all of those questions and kept reading, then congrats, you’ve decided to start your business! To start a simple garment heat pressing company, you’ll need to invest in equipment (and learn to use it) up front. If you don’t already have some equipment, here are the main things we know you’ll need:

  • A cutter. We recommend the Graphtec CE-6000 24” Cutter to get you started. The professional-grade cutter plotter is definitely the workhorse of the industry and will provide incredible quality and speed. For those of you just starting out, try a Silhouette Cameo. They’re easy to use and allow for versatility, flexibility and affordability.
  • A computer. You’ll need a standard computer to run your designs on; don’t worry, the Graphtec cutter mentioned above comes with plugins for CorelDraw and Adobe Illustrator.
  • A dye-sub printer. Professional dye-sublimation printers are important, as they employ continuous tone, meaning that they place more dots of color on your paper than your average inkjet printer. The final product results in a high quality, blended image. We’d recommend a Ricoh printer, which delivers phenomenal color and dries quickly.
  • A heat press. This is the most important piece of equipment that you’ll be investing in, so listen up. Heat presses vary in the consistency of cutting, pressing and heating that they provide. There are a variety of heat press types that you could choose, so check out this post for an in-depth look at what’s available.
  • A garment supplier. Okay, this isn’t exactly “equipment.” However, finding a good garment supplier is going to be just as crucial to the success of your business as finding the right heat press. In the past, we’ve worked with top-notch suppliers Sanmar and Augusta, so we’d highly recommend checking them out.

Invest in Some Vinyl and Make Examples

You want your products to sell. And, whether you’re working mainly in custom transfer requests or designing your own, you’ll want to have examples available for customers to see and touch. From ThermoFlex Plus to HTV Textured Glitter, there are a wealth of products at your fingertips. Check out this post if you need help deciding what kind of vinyl best fits your needs. It’s okay if you start out by making shirts and such for friends and family – that’s just another way to spread the word about your budding business!

Get Your Business on the Map

Literally and otherwise. Make it so your business is prominent on everything from Google Maps to Twitter to Pinterest. Create social media accounts and share, share, share! Don’t forget to hit the social scene in real life, too — attend community events that allow businesses to network and mingle. (Does your town have a 1 Million Cups event? That’s the perfect place to start.) Also, be sure to invest in good business cards so you can proudly hand them out at said networking events.

Keep Learning

Like any other industry, the heat press industry provides various channels through which you can educate yourself further. Check out regional trade shows (ISS, NBM, Dax), take classes, or even read articles on Pinterest. Don’t be afraid to learn something new!

Good luck. And remember, we’re here to help.