December '16

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 74 of 134

70 || P R I N T W E A R D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 6 STARTUP OPTIONS customers for this work have taken their business to another shop. HOT TICKET For those shops that are concerned about customer poaching, or who may be start- ing with smaller orders, a low-cost invest- ment option is heat transfers. The upside to transfers is that they come in a variety of decoration options, from screen print to rhinestone to vinyl. One heat press can be used to set all types of transfers, so even though the heat press is an expense, it also gives a shop a wide variety of options that might otherwise not be available. One thing to consider when offering transfers is the decoration disciplines a shop might wish to carry on its own later. If purchasing equipment for screen print- ing is a goal, then screen-print transfers might be a good place to start. If bling is your thing, then rhinestone transfers will add shine to your bottom line and eventu- ally enable the purchase of equipment and supplies for creating rhinestone decorations in-house. Transfers are available in a wide variety of materials and types so, again, it pays to do research into quality, service, and pricing. A good transfer company will make it easy to order and receive transfers and will provide assistance and instruction on how to make the transfers work best. TAKING THE FIRST STEP As illustrated above, there are options for those who have limited capital and are con- sidering starting up a decoration business, but it will take a bit of work and research to determine which startup methods are cor- rect for your business. The first thing to do is survey the mar- ket you want to serve. What is the market looking for? Where is it underserved? What shops would be competition and what do they currently offer? Learning the market is a great tool for deciding what decora- tion techniques to offer, and what ser- vices or processes your business can bring to the market that aren't already available. Research will also help you develop your marketing plan and unique selling proposi- tion. The goal is to thoroughly understand the potential customer base and what your business can offer to them. The next bit of research involves the companies with which your business might work. Based on your market research, you should have some idea of what an average order size might be, as well as what sort of decoration types customers are likely to or-

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