Someone much wiser than myself once stated that knowledge is power. This certainly holds true when trying to run a successful St Louis screen printing and custom embroidery company. This doesn’t mean that effort counts for nothing. However, if you’re running a hundred miles an hour and you’re running North when you should be running South, you’re running in the wrong direction. Somebody once said that experience is the best teacher, but that guy must never have been a business owner.
You should keep your friends close and your competitors even closer as they can teach you a whole lot. Some mistakes are unforgiving and there’s a lot of wisdom in studying your competition in order that you can avoid making many of the same mistakes that they did.
When it comes to perfecting the process of digital t-shirt printing there’s a whole lot more to it than simply owning the equipment. There’s a huge learning curve. I can remember when I first broke into the St Louis screen printing and embroidery market. I had a whole lot of ambition, but I had zero experience. I actually went to work for one of my competitors and told them that I would be willing to work for free in exchange for some hands-on experience. He took me up on my offer and was able to at least get my feet wet. One thing I quickly learned was that you can watch somebody print t-shirts for a year, but when you actually get behind the press and get a squeegee in your hand, its a very challenging endeavor. Plan on ruining a lot of product in the process. That being said, it can be done but you need to be patient. Eventually you will learn and perfect the pulling of the squeegee properly and develop that muscle memory after many repetitions.
Another alternative than doing it yourself would be to find some reliable companies that you can outsource it to. Keep in mind that you’re only as good as the guys who are doing the work for you, so you need to establish a network of vendors who are not only talented but reliable. This might seem like an easy task but it’s not. One of the downsides of not doing your work in house, is that you have to get in line and sometimes there’s a two to three week turn around. A lot of customers can’t or are not willing to wait that long. That being said, if you do happen to go this route it will save you the expense of the equipment, along with all the other traditional overhead that most digital t-shirt printing companies incur that do their own work in house. Think about it, you not only have to purchase the equipment, but you have to have a place to put it. This means that you’re probably going to have to incur the overhead of monthly rent for building.
After counting the cost and weighing your options you might come to the conclusion that you’re much better off just doing marketing and sales and let the people who are already established do the actual production for you. Just food for thought.