Starting Your Own Custom Merchandise Business

We live in a time where everyone can proudly and easily enjoy almost anything. From movies to TV series, from obscure literature to yesteryear trends, our era is anachronistic when it comes to hobbies and interests. Kids born past the year 2000 can still watch and enjoy Friends, and those born in the 70s can still appreciate fighting games that came out recently.

Part of this appreciation comes from the desire to have things that reflect our interests.

Custom Merchandise for the DIY Business People

With the relative accessibility of many tools that help you make your own custom merchandise, many people have taken on the business of selling things that others enjoy. If you’ve ever visited a comic convention, you’ve probably seen official merchandise booths filled with t-shirts, notebooks, toys, and many others that fans like and flock to. Or even a local shopping mall, filled with small t-shirt stores that sell custom statement shirts with witty captions.

Custom merchandise is a relatively easy business to get into, especially if you have the skills and the materials ready. Of course, not everyone starts on the same path. Some might have to study more to make it work for them, some are naturally artistic and stands to profit from it. Wherever your starting point is, it’s something that’s definitely worth trying, especially in these economically trying times. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Start Small

Of course, you need to understand that like any other business, you’re starting small. Perhaps, it’s even better to understand the scale of your operation. Your initial attempt will be rocky, and your first few customers might be friends and family, but that’s okay. If you’re of the artistic type who prefers to make everything by hand, it’s a lot better, in the long run, to take smaller orders first than try to book as many jobs as you can. This helps you get the hang of things and understand what’s waiting for you down the line.

If you intend to make use of printing shops, that’s also fine, and taking in smaller orders will help you understand how to manage to deal with your clients and your suppliers. What’s important is to not rush into things and learn along the way.

Gather Equipment and Experiment

Part of starting small is focusing only on one media: it could be t-shirts or mugs, it could be caps or canvas bags. Whatever your chosen items are, it’s best that you have your own tools to learn how to make them on your own. This will help you when you’re gaining more orders as you’re handling everything by yourself.

Start by collecting tools relevant to your craft: basic craft equipment like professional-grade scissors, cutting board, a paper cutter or trimmer, paint, printing materials, a small heat-press, whatever you may need. Once you have your tools, it’s time to start experimenting on your own. Learning how to make it by yourself is not only fun, but it will help you understand the process behind it. Plus, if once you get the hang of it, you can take orders from friends and families (or use your creations as gifts!).

If You’re an Artist, Monetize Your Art

Of course, you can’t just rip images off the internet, slap them on your items and call it a day. Things are a lot easier if you have an artistic bone in you; it will allow you to make your own art without fear of copyright. Especially if you’re looking into creating art of popular characters or celebrities, knowing the legalities behind it will save you from pain afterward. Creating your own art will help you feel secure and take action without the fear of lawsuits- plus you can personalize everything you sell and ultimately create a brand out of your creations.

Edit Public Domain Art 

One way to go about the lack of artistic material to work with is to simply use public domain art. Of course, you still have legwork to do, as you need to edit, tinker, and re-design some parts of it. But since you’re already working with something, it’s a lot easier to start with. Anachronistic statement shirts with old images but trendy caption are popular on the internet, and it’s something that many younger customers enjoy seeing. Consider looking into utilizing public domain properties if you’re not sure about your artistic skills.

T-shirts that show our favorite band’s logo, mugs that have our beloved character in it, or even posters with funny and witty one-liners that became very popular on the internet. To many, these are just funny and memorable things. But to others, they see that there’s a business to answer that need.

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