How many t-shirts should my first order be?
I recently received an email with a question I hear all the time: “How would I stock enough shirts for printing but also not put out that much money so I can test and see what people are interested in?”
It’s a great question. The cost per shirt goes down significantly as your order more. But there’s nothing worse than unsold inventory, especially for t-shirt brands that are just starting out and are using the money made from the first batch of tees to pay for the next. Here are my thoughts:
You really want to make sure that people are going to buy what’s made. And it stinks to carry leftover inventory, I’ve been there and done that. So my advice is two-fold:
1. Talk to people about your designs ahead of time if you can, see which ones they say they’ll buy. If possible, take preorders! I can help with setting up a way to do this online.
2. Order a smaller amount to begin with and go from there. If you sell out of 25 really fast, that’s OK. It means there’s more demand and your product now have a truly limited edition feel to them. People may come to you asking about when they can get more. If that’s the case, maybe bump up the order to 40 or 50 for the next run. I’d focus on doing one or two designs really really well and then selling the bejeezus out of them.
Just take it slow. It’s easy to get caught up in the dangerous thinking of “if I order 150 then I can make X amount of money and buy a new Y”. The best approach, in my opinion, is to take the long term approach. Build up your brand and its reputation slowly but surely.