Taking Your T Shirt Business on the Road
Profitable, Portable Custom T-Shirt Business Idea
A Profile of Team Logo Apparel
Donn Jobe, Sr. started his t-shirt business venture in t-shirt printing as a provider for Christian events in the Nashville area.
“I started my business in 1996 with a $45 business license” Donn said. “Our biggest customer became a conference that came to Nashville on a yearly basis called the Gospel Jubilee. One year I asked if I could be the event printer for the convention providing the printed event logo on T-shirts, and they said yes and we started to grow into a custom print company and our first customers were family reunions.”
After breaking into the school apparel market, he set up a kiosk in a local mall. When the mall hiked its rent and priced out his store, he had to rethink his method.
That’s when the idea of turning a trailer into a mobile t-shirt business emerged.
When Failure Breeds Success
Now, he tailors his products to the lucrative youth football league industry. (According to statistics, the industry is made up of 2,500 youth football leagues, 10,000 clubs, 125,000 teams and 3 million kids nationwide.)
On game days, he and his wife pull up in their trailer and offer on-the-spot name and number customization of team jerseys.
The first time he made an appearance at a game, he made $1,500 in revenue – not bad for a first day! His t-shirt business continues to grow at least 5% year over year. And all of his efforts are part time, after work and weekends.
Though he has met his fair share of obstacles, Jobe continues to persevere. He knew what his start-up costs for doing business were, but at times we have gotten shut out of the market.” “Here in Nashville, our school system developed a list of vendors schools could purchase from at give-away prices on bulk orders, but we are able to get around that because we offer apparel game day printing on the spot. We are the first and only mobile printer here in the Nashville area,” he says.
When asked about his biggest mistakes, Jobe cited lack of research.
“Not researching the customer base prior to purchasing Transfers and T-shirts before accepting the offer to do game day printing. If the league was smaller than, let’s say 150 kids, we tended to have too much overhead. As a result we have learned to research our customer base prior to making an investment in purchasing transfers and t-shirts.”
Though Jobe mostly focuses on youth football leagues, schools and class reunion events, he has his eye on others.
If he could do it differently, he says:
“I would find other sports leagues to keep me busy year-round, like baseball, softball, and basketball. We concentrated so much on football during the school and youth league season, we forget about the other seasons. Now, it’s taking a little longer to break into those markets but we are looking at ways to offer our services.”
Apparel Decorating Style
Jobe uses heat transfer for his custom apparel designs due to its low investment and ability to tailor quantities to smaller teams. “Transfer decorating gave us control over the process as far as pricing and delivery times, and cut down on waste or trying to sell at discount pricing to get rid of shirts already printed. We only printed on apparel paid for,” he says.
Transfers aren’t’ the only thing they use to make custom t shirts for sporting events. They travel with a vinyl cutter and print/cut device to decorate some apparel, which also goes on the truck to local events. Then to handle larger orders they have a relationship with a contract screen printer and embroidery shop.
What’s Next for Team Logo Apparel
With the growth of ecommerce, and the addition of the mobile trailer 3 years ago, my goal is to be full time within 3 years, we want to add a DTG Printer to the mix and we are looking for ways to get it while making sure we get the ROI.
Is a mobile t-shirt business setup right for you? “Research, research, and don’t be everything, find that one thing you do best and perfect it,” is Jobe’s advice.
Once you’ve considered the costs, researched the market, and scoped out your competition, you can decide if you’re ready to take your apparel decorating on the road!
About Team Logo Apparel:
Name: Donn S. Jobe Sr.
Company Name: Team Logo Apparel [TLA]
Facebook Page: fb/teamlogoapparel
Other Social Page: twitter.com/teamlogoapparel
You can read more about niche markets for Direct to Garment Printing here: http://momimprovement.com/2014/05/27/niche-market-ideas-for-the-screen-printer-and-dtg-printer/
Or listen to podcasts about the custom apparel business at http://caspodcast.com
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