December '14

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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20 1 4 D EC E M B E R PRINTWEAR | 83 invest in a printer, inks, transfer paper, a heat press, substrates, and possibly soft- ware. The size and cost of these items can differ greatly based on the type of product you plan to produce. • Do I have the resources to sell these products effectively and keep up with demand? Look at the nature of market demand. Is it driven more by personal- ization, fulfillment, or an even mixture of both? Selling personalized products uses different resources and strategies than selling set designs for fulfillment. Your production setups would differ, as well. If you offer print-on-demand services, take your business mobile to festivals and events where you can make and sell products on-site. Large printers and heat presses are not prac- tical for this type of production. • Do I have an interest in making these products? If you don't, you're more likely to not put in the effort needed to make your business successful. Choose to make products you can get excited about producing and selling. Once you've identified a stable of prod- ucts you expect to offer, it's time to develop a business plan. This is probably the most important step to ensure business success. A business plan outlines clear sales models, goals, marketing strategies, and other me- thodical steps for growing your business. By taking the opportunity now to think about your potential customers, how to reach them, your cash flow, and necessary sales goals, you will save yourself both time and money in the future. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers free tools and counseling for people who are looking to start new businesses or grow existing ones. You can find local resources at STARTUP EQUIPMENT You know what you want to make, and you have a strong business plan. Now it's time to invest in startup equipment. To sublimate, you need a computer, sublima- tion printer, and heat press. However, de- termining the kind of printer or size of heat press isn't as simple as it seems. Looking for the lowest-priced printer or press may seem like a good idea that makes financial sense. In reality, you can lose mon- ey if you buy equipment that's too small or too large for your needs. The majority of new sublimation operations relies on Typically, apparel images run between 12" X 12" and 12" X 18". The ideal sublimation printer size for this application is 13" X 19". (Image courtesy Vapor Apparel)

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