Top Reasons to Start a T-Shirt Business
One of the top reasons to start a t-shirt business is because you’re tired of waiting on custom t-shirt vendors and you know you could do it better and faster yourself. If you’re tired of waiting on vendors, here’s the story of how entrepreneur Darrin De Torres got started in the custom apparel business.
When Darrin De Torres, co-owner of Notice Me Marketing and Media in Ocala, Florida, got tired of waiting for vendors who couldn’t deliver on time, he took matters into his own hands.
“Actually, I didn’t get into the custom shirt business on purpose. I just didn’t want to wait seven weeks or more for the custom shirts needed for the 5K runs I organize.”
A true entrepreneur at heart, Darrin used to work in the cellular phone repair industry, and organizes 5K runs for fun on the side. “When the shirt vendor tells me it would be over seven weeks to get the custom caps and tees needed for an upcoming race, I decide to look into printing them myself.”
“Once I realized I could make more money off one printed shirt job than I could in an entire month fixing cell phones,” says Darrin, “it was a done deal.”
An added benefit, “It’s a lot more fun seeing people love and admire their new custom shirts than it is hearing people gripe and complain about their broken phones. There’s just more happiness in the custom shirt world.”
It Starts with a Heat Press
“I got started printing t-shirts the way most people probably do—by watching videos on YouTube,” reports Darrin. Heat printing emerged as the most logical start up choice. “I started out small, with a cheap heat press and basic Espon printer.”
Darrin also quickly understood the value of cutting his own designs with heat transfer vinyl, such as CAD-CUT Premium Plus. He realizes owning a heat press opens up opportunities to print just about anything.
Pre-pandemic, Darrin says that about 70% of his business consisted of custom apparel printing. He offered a variety of print types, including heat transfer vinyl, screen printing and sublimation. And then the Covid-19 pandemic changed the focus of the business to masks.
The World of Masks
Due to a supplier connection, Darrin was able to step up when his local medical community needed masks. According to Darrin, “We sold to front line workers and doctors at cost.”
After selling hundreds of thousands of disposable masks with very low margins, he also decided early on to offer more profitable custom printed, reuseable masks.
“The custom mask business is still going strong. Since purchasing our Hotronix Fusion, we’ve printed well over 5,000 polyester masks with the Fusion. We heat print sublimation transfers on white masks. For dark colored masks, we use CAD-CUT heat transfer vinyl for one or two color logos.”
Plans to Expand
Darrin reports, “The surge in mask business allows us to invest in an embroidery machine, and a 55-inch cutter. Plus, we are looking to purchase two laser copiers in the near future. Further out, we plan to purchase a cap press, a direct to garment printer and also expand our embroidery capabilities.”
Everyone at Stahls’ and Stahls’ Transfer Express wishes Darrin and his team at Notice Me Marketing and Media the very best for continued success. Thanks for sharing your story. To learn more about Notice Me, follow their Facebook page here.