When you’re starting a t-shirt business, choosing a specific niche to serve will help your brand stand out and attract an audience who’ll line up to order your printed garments. Of course, it helps if you’re active or have a network within your niche, like moms, dog owners, athletes, yoga enthusiasts, foodies and so on.
The other big key to choosing your niche is to create some “test t-shirt designs” that you can share with people in your niche market. While you may love what you’ve created, you’ll want to get feedback and validation from the people who’ll be buying and wearing your t-shirts. That’s because you want them to become repeat customers and referrals. As you’ll hear from our experts, it makes sense to ask unbiased people in your target market via Facebook groups or on Instagram. You can also hire a business consultant in the t-shirt market to give you feedback on the saleability of your designs.
Kristine Shreve, Director of Marketing and Outreach, Applique Getaway: Look for the low-hanging fruit. What hobbies do you already have? What communities do you already belong to? If you already have connections with a built-in target market, start there.
However, if you don't have any particular connections, then spend some time figuring out what you really like to do. Are you great at two-color prints? Do you really like making things sparkle with bling? Answers to questions like that may also lead you to your niche.
Jane Swanzy, Owner, Swanthreads.com: Like Kristine said, ask yourself: What are you involved with? Market yourself to the things and groups you know. Involved with animal rescue? Create a market around that group. Your kids involved in sports? Market first to that group.
Jennie Livezey, Owner, Z Shirts Custom Printing: For us to find our niche, we went by the “do what you know” adage. We had previously coached high school volleyball and had purchased items for the team from another company. We knew what our expectations were when buying. Unfortunately, the t-shirt shop that we worked with didn’t meet the expectations for that order.
When we started our t-shirt business a few years later, we decided to make the process as seamless as possible for our buyers, from the initial contact we had with them to the delivery of the decorated product. We print for a lot of schools and teams because we make it easy for the coaches, parents and fans to order with us, while delivering a quality product.