Starting a t-shirt business: Day 2

Well, it’s not actually the second day. I have been working on creating the t-shirt business for quite some time – albeit inconsistently. I started creating the t-shirt designs (mostly words) about 9 months ago. While designing, I spent a couple of months trying to find a domain name that I liked that wasn’t already taken (nearly impossible). And once I found a name, I began working on the website design and e-commerce development (Magento). And then I fell out of love with my domain name choice, so I began to work on another project (MobilePebbles.com). Now I’m back working on the t-shirt business (thus, day 2).

I recently began running print tests to see what my designs look like on a t-shirt. I don’t think that I enjoy this part of the business.

My first objection was with the software that I purchased that is needed to print to the Plotter Cutter (MK2 871). The software comes with design tools, but I don’t need it because I use Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape. The software comes with a plugin for Illustrator, but essentially the plugin just converts the ai file into an svg and opens it in the software. For $199 dollars, I can take the time to save the file as an svg and open it in the software.

I looked into printing using Inkscape (on Ubuntu) via the InkCut plugin, but that I ran into difficulties and moved on. I also looked at Tux Plot – (software for Linux that talks to plotter cutters). But I when I found that the final version was about to released, I decided against using – I prefer software that has long-term support. So, I dished out the $200 for the other software. And, although I like the software, after my purchase I found a few free products that I could have possibly used.

When I researched the t-shirt business and decided to print the t-shirts myself, I didn’t think the print process would be this time consuming. I watched countless videos of people separating the vinyl of the heat transfer paper (link the video below). They made it look so easy. It’s not. It takes me 3-5 minutes just to separate an edge. But I’ve been told that it gets easier over time.

Adjusting the vinyl paper on the plotter takes a bit of time, but that was as expected – so far I am satisfied with the purchase, even though it is a very inexpensive model.

The heat press that I purchased ((HP3804-c), works really well, but as the heat press nears the desired temperature, the lights in the room begin to flicker. Once I get to production level usage, I may have to upgrade the fuses for that room (and my electric bill may increase substantially).

Although I have some complaints about day 2, I do not regret the decision to print the t-shirts myself. I would rather take the time to print than order a bunch of t-shirts that may not sell (or at least, not sell immediately). I just would prefer to spend my time programming and/or creating new t-shirt designs.

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