January '17

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 1 7 J A N U A R Y P R I N T W E A R || 43 how much the rhinestone design will shine. Higher-quality stones will bring more bril- liance to a design. Rhinestones can be set with a mount that resembles a jewelry mount, but this will probably be too heavy for most T-shirts. Another option, as already mentioned, is to use glue. Hot-fix rhinestones can be set in place with heat and typically are what is used in rhinestone transfers. MULTI-PURPOSE For shops that are looking to offer more than one decoration method, the best way to determine which methods will work best is to look at what each decoration method has in common. For instance, sublimation, vinyl, and rhinestones can all be added to a T-shirt using a heat press. Granted, there are other requirements regarding supplies for each option, but a heat press is a central component, and one purchase will supply a press that can be used for all three disci- plines. If a shop is just starting out, transfers may be a good option. Screen-print transfers, rhinestone transfers, and vinyl transfers are available from a variety of businesses. Apply- ing transfers would require a heat press, but a transfer does not require an investment in other equipment or supplies. Transfers can be a great way for a shop to build up profits and market share while saving for equip- ment that will be purchased at a later date. Transfers can also help a shop determine which decoration techniques customers in their market find most attractive and are most willing to buy. Decorating T-shirts can be a lucrative op- tion for almost any decoration business, but there are a variety of ways decoration can be accomplished. When deciding which options will be used, a shop should keep in mind market demand, the expertise and knowledge of those who will be creating the shirts, and what sort of budget is available. It is also a good idea to find common points, like a heat press, that can expand the options to be offered. Some shops may choose to specialize in one particular discipline; many shops offer only screen printing, for instance. Other shops may offer a variety of decora- tion techniques. The beauty of a T-shirt is that it can adapt as well to embroidery as it can to print, vinyl, or rhinestones. That, in the end, is why the simple T-shirt is a staple item in the inventory of many shops. Above: While screen printing is still the most popular method for T-shirt decoration, it's not the only option. (Image courtesy Ken's Custom Tees) Right: Heat transfer vinyls with different finishes al- low for multimedia-like effects. (Image courtesy Alison Buchanan)

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