How to Start Your Clothing Brand

In a generation where fashion has no limits, fashion brands and designs have continued to change, evolve and return over the past decade. Whether it’s fast fashion, one of a kind, or small shop drops, there is no limit to the options available for your closet. Even in this era of fashion where we can choose styles from all over the world, there is always room for new fashion and trends to grow, and that’s where you come in! If you’ve been dreaming of starting your clothing brand and apparel shop, follow along as we go over ways you can start planning your new business today. From figuring out your market to budgeting, we go over the things you should know before jumping into this journey.

Start With a Plan

Before beginning any business, it’s best to start with a plan. The fashion industry is more than the pieces being sold, but understanding its steps to sell those pieces. There are multiple options for creating apparel: Direct-To-Garment based apparel, Embroidery apparel, Ready-Made Apparel, Custom Apparel, and so much more. The world of fashion is not one skill set or technique but is filled with endless options on how to create.

Once you have an idea of the products you plan to create, you can build your business plan. Your business plan should include ideas for your brand and products, budgeting and sale goals, marketing ideas, and more. The more details and work put into your plan, the better chance you’ll have when it comes to the time to open your shop and sales.

If you’re looking for more information on how to create a budget plan and calculate profit visit our post here to begin creating your own today.

Who’s Your Market?

Let’s begin by thinking of who will wear your fashion pieces! By identifying your target audience and what they’re looking for when they want to shop apparel, you’ll be able to locate your niche and find your customer base. The better you understand your audience base, the better you’ll be at marketing your products to them.

The top two things to keep in mind when studying your audience is:

Demographics: age, gender, income, marital status, geographic location, etc.

When you understand your audience’s demographics, you’ll have a higher chance of completing a sale. For example, if you market your product to women in their early twenties, you’ll have a higher chance of gaining a sale on Instagram and Tiktok than marketing on Facebook. Likewise, by knowing your audience, you can find the correct places to push your products and not spend energy on a site that focuses on an older audience like Facebook, whose average users are in their mid-40s and higher.

Psychographics: hobbies, interests, lifestyle traits, and what problems do they have in life that your product can solve.

Knowing the psychographics of your audience is where you’ll be able to create the right products. Here is where you can learn what fabric to use (is your audience athletic and need breathable material?), what interests they have (can you design graphic tees for fan bases?), and more. With every detail you learn about your audience, you’ll be able to create products that are better suited for their wants and create a solid returning customer base.

Once you better understand your niche audience, you can begin creating a solid marketing plan. If you’re having trouble making your marketing plan, follow along here as we show you step by step how to begin yours today.

Focus On Your Brand

Now that we know what you’re going to sell and who you’re going to sell to let’s start talking about building your brand. Branding goes past your business name and logo and dives into what your values are, what your mission is, and more.

Create brand guidelines and a storyline for your products that customers resonate with and want to follow. Focusing on platforms like your website, social media pages, email marketing program, and more will build that relationship between buyers and your shop. The best way to bring your brand to life in today’s age is through marketing on social media!

The key to building your brand is being consistent in your message, constantly posting and promoting your brand and products, and making sure what you put out into the world defines your brand correctly. If you’re unsure what to post, look into examples like behind-the-scenes videos, how-to’s, fashion inspo using your pieces, and more for ideas. Have fun and be creative when it’s time to get your brand out there!

Let’s Start Development

Now that we have an idea for your brand let’s begin designing and developing your clothing line.

  1. Keep your Sketchbook on You

Any artist will tell you that inspiration hits anywhere and any time. So be prepared for when you want to design a new piece by keeping a sketchpad on you or using your phone as a digital sketchbook with apps like ProCreate, Adobe Designs, and Adobe Illustrator.

2. Create Samples

Start creating sample pieces of what you want to make for your shop. Whether you’ll be doing buy-to-make or pre-made pieces, having sample work is perfect for modeling on social media and understanding material costs for re-production.

3. Have Your Beginning Set

When you first open up shop, it’s best to not overwhelm yourself with product varieties. Instead, find your top 3-5 products you want to create and go from there as you begin building your audience base and receiving orders. Once you create more demand for your brand, you can start testing out new designs and growing your product options.

Now that we’re in the development phase make sure you have your station ready! Start by deciding what fabrics you’ll be using in your apparel shop, what style you’ll create, and what machinery and notions you’ll need to get there.

For example, if you want to open an apparel shop that focuses on couture dress-making, you would look into a machine like the MO-654DE that offers built-in rolled hemming and the HZL-DX7 which offers presser feet options like the button attaching presser foot, invisible zipper foot and more. Your fabric choices could be options like silk, tulle, satin, and more. 

By knowing what you plan to create, you’ll be able to have the right machinery, accessories, and notions on hand when it’s time to begin producing.

Start Setting Up Shop

Whether you’re setting up shop online or in person, having an online face is a great way to promote your business and gain new customers. Online shops allow you to reach new audiences! Below are some things to keep in mind when setting up shop.

Clothing Images: Take photos of your clothing that truly presents its colors, fabric textures, and closures. These photos don’t need to be professional if you’re working on a small budget; just have a simple lighting kit, a good camera and learn some tricks on taking professional fashion DIY shots.

Pricing, Shipping, and Handling: Make sure to have a plan in place for how you’ll be pricing your products. From shipping to taxes, you’ll need to make sure you price your products correctly to pay for your bills, time, workspace, etc. Learn your target audience’s price point and what they’re willing to pay for your product. Then, keep an eye on competitor pricing to confirm you’re in the suitable price range.

Website Design: Don’t forget to add your brand’s personality to your site! Set up your Social media, include graphics of your work, add an ‘About Me page, use your brand theme colors, bring in customers and build relationships.

Put Your Marketing Plan into Action

You’re now ready to begin implementing if you’ve created your marketing plan from our earlier steps! Start by setting up your shops’ profiles and deciding how you’ll be advertising. Organic advertising, meaning you do not pay and use search engine optimization like hashtags and tags, is a perfect way to start when you’re on a low budget. If you’re marketing budget includes spending for advertisements, begin setting up your ads by using the information you have on your niche. Focus on your top media sites for higher chances of receiving a sale.

Don’t forget the power of word of mouth, and research your options in ambassador marketing. By offering free items, or negotiating payments, you can bring in influencers from your target audience and work with them to promote your brands and products.

Let’s Launch!

Launching your first clothing brand doesn’t happen quickly or easily. It will take time and dedication, but you’ll create your brand soon with the proper steps! After that, you can begin selling in numerous ways, from your social media accounts to in-person artisan markets and pop-up shops. Then, finally, it’s time to get your product out there.

Now that you have an idea of where to start when it comes to opening your apparel shop and starting your brand, we hope to see your brands’ names soon! What kind of apparel would you create if you were to open your apparel shop?

How to Start Sewing Your Own Clothes

In the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in sewists pop up from all over the world, beginners starting their journey. If you recently started sewing and are interested in learning how to start sewing your own clothes, today we’re here to help you start! Follow along as we go over the basic supplies you should keep on hand, beginner machines and the machine types, and more.

What You Need to Start

The most important thing for sewing your own clothes is your tools! Having the right tools on hand will help the process go smoothly, and you’ll have better quality projects at the end of it. Below is a list of tools every sewist should have in their tool kit.

  1. Scissors

A prominent tool, but an important one! When it comes to your sewing scissor, we always recommend having one dedicated to only fabric and one for everything else. This helps to keep your fabric scissor blades sharp longer so that you don’t fray your fabric when it’s time to cut.

2. Measuring Tape

Important and handy, having a measuring tape in your kit is a need! A measuring tape is a must for any sewist, from measuring yourself when it’s time to begin creating to measuring your fabric, elastic, and more.

3. Sewing Gauges

An excellent tool for when it’s seam allowance time, the sewing gauge is a t-shape measuring stick with a slide gauge that allows you to measure the distance from your edge of the fabric to where you are stitching. So when you’re sewing apparel, this tool is perfect for hemming!

4. Thread Snips

This tool is perfect for creating apparel because it allows you to get that close thread cut on your projects without the fear of cutting your fabric. So without fear, cut close to your fabric using a thread snip on your next project.

5. Seam Ripper

Made a mistake in your stitching? Want to reconstruct a piece in your closet? It’s easier deconstructing those mistakes and projects with a seam ripper. This tool has a sharp hook that easily rips through the thread, breaking those pieces apart. Be careful, though, with its sharp end, it can also easily go through the fabric if you’re too rough.

6. Iron and Ironing Board

When you’re sewing clothes, it’s best to have your iron and ironing board nearby! When creating, there are a lot of pieces that need to be pressed, so having this is a need! If you don’t have room for an ironing board, you can always get an ironing mat. This is perfect for beginner projects and is a great place to start.

7. Pins and Clips

Whether you keep them in a jar, or a cushion, having clips and pins on hand is necessary when you’re sewing. These little tools are needed to keep fabric pieces together and aligned, ensuring your project comes out exactly as you want it to!

8. Fabrics and Threads

There is an abundance of options for choosing fabrics and threads for your apparel projects. Check out your current closet to see what fabric types you already use to better figure out what options you should buy. As for the thread, sewing is an excellent fabric/thread/needle game. Depending on what fabric you’re working with, you’ll be able to choose the right thread type and the right needle. 

We recommend looking for fabric created for apparel and 100% polyester thread which is durable and comes in every color.

9. Sewing Patterns

When you’re new to creating apparel, following sewing patterns is a great way to learn! Look at online patterns, your local quilt shops, and even antique and vintage shops when you begin browsing for your next pattern! Some pattern designers even offer step-by-step video tutorials and diagrams for the beginner sewist.

10. Sewing Machine

When you’re first choosing a sewing machine, how many options are out there can be daunting, but we’re here to help! Whether you get a machine with all the bells and whistles, or a basic straight-stitch, finding the suitable machine depends on your needs and wants. So follow along below as discuss the different types of machines out there, and what you should look for in yours.

Picking Your Sewing Machine

Let’s start by discussing the different types of machines out there! It’s important to know your options for what’s available out there and understand how each machine can help you build your project.

Mechanical Sewing Machines

JUKI Options: TL-2010Q, TL-2020PE, TL-2000Qi, TL-18QVP

JUKI Haruka TL-18QVP

A mechanical sewing machine, or electric sewing machine, has little to almost no circuitry. It has a motor that moves the needles up and down, a foot pedal to drive the motor. Some mechanical sewing machine options, like the JUKI line, also offer Free Motion Quilting, allowing you to piece and quilt.

These machines are perfect for beginners because they’re simple to use, and don’t have a lot of bells and whistles. For someone who is just beginning, and doesn’t want too many buttons or stitch options, a mechanical sewing machine is perfect.

These sewing machines are also perfect for the sewist who plans to work with heavy or thick fabrics. Our TL series, for example, is a popular choice among bag makers because it can handle multiple pieces of fabric at once and can sew through fabrics like vinyl, leather, and cork.

Computerized Sewing Machines

JUKI Options: HZL-DX7, HZL F-600, HZL DX-4000QVP

JUKI Kokochi DX-4000QVP

A sophisticated type of machine, the computerized sewing machine includes an LCD screen and offers more stitch options and functions. There are many digital features including sensor systems, pivot functions, digital tension, auto thread trimming, and more.

Some machines like, the HZL-NX7, come with features like JUKI Smart Feed, to move the top layer of your fabric in sync with the lower layer. If you’re working on apparel, this feature is perfect for stitching without the worry of shifting layered fabrics.

Computerized sewing machines, even with their selection of features, are relatively simple to use and for many make sewing an easier process.

Let’s Talk Features

Let’s go through some features you need, and features you’ll want. Knowing the options available to you will help you build a better wish list once you start looking for your machine.

  1. Know Your Presser Feet

Keep in mind the projects you plan to create and research what presser feet you’ll need to own. Some machines come with these accessories in their set, others you’ll have to purchase separately. Having the right foot is important when you start implementing techniques like gathering, adding elastics, and more.

Some feet we recommend for apparel are the Buttonhole Foot, Walking Foot, Smooth Foot, and Invisible Zipper Foot to start.

2. Stitches

Think about the type of stitches you’ll want to work with. Some machines only offer straight stitch, others will offer zig-zag. You can also find machines that offer stitches for quilting, piecing, overlocking, triple stretch, blind hem, and more.

3. Creating Buttonholes

This can take 4 steps, or 1 step depending on the machine you purchase. Some machines will offer an automatic one-step buttonhole while in others you must manually switch between the zigzag and bar tack stitches to form the buttonholes. If you’re a beginner, finding a machine that uses an automatic option is great, especially if you plan on using buttons often!

4. Built-In Free Arm

If you plan on creating apparel, a free arm is perfect for pants legs, and sleeves. This free arm will allow you to sew those narrow cylindrical or tubular items, helping you create the perfect closet.

5. Automatic Needle Threader

A small feature with a big impact, the automatic needle threader feature is great for users who have difficulty with eye-sight or shaky hands. This feature works by using a small hook to pull the thread through the eye of the needle.

Let’s Start Creating!

Now that you know what tools you’ll need and have a better idea of what machine you’ll want, you can start planning your sewing journey! Sewing your own clothes is a wondrous journey where mistakes will happen, your skills will surprise you, and you’ll constantly be learning. Pick beginner-friendly projects and patterns, research local sewing classes, and test your skills by grabbing thrifted and discounted fabric when you first start.

We recommend looking on YouTube for online tutorials and lessons when you find yourself lost, and enjoy the limitless amount of resources out on the web for sewist! We put together our top 5 tips for new sewists!

  1. Start Small

Don’t psych yourself out with big projects when you first start sewing. Pick up simple patterns and projects and start there before building your skill base and attempting larger projects. By doing this you’ll reduce the chances of burnout and have fun making mistakes!

2. Use Scrap Fabric

Don’t let those pieces go to waste! Scrap fabric is perfect for when you want to practice new stitches and techniques.

3. Read Those Patterns!

Don’t start a project before fulling reading through a pattern. Then, if you need to make adjustments, you can catch it early on and do so before you start cutting. It will also help you understand the steps you’re about to take and help you understand the entire process before you begin stitching.

4. Check, and Check Again

Test trying your outfits and projects as you sew is the perfect way to confirm you’re doing it right. Check on the stitches, make sure the length is correct, and make those adjustments.

5. Enjoy the Journey

Not many call themselves sewing experts, even those who have been doing it for years. Every time we sew and create, there’s a chance for a new technique to be learned and a new project to be created, meaning the journey is never-ending! Enjoy the process and watch yourself grow as you sew.

We hope these tips and resources help you find the right tools and machines when you start sewing! What do you wish you had known before you started sewing? Comment down below and leave tips for the new sewist!

5 Things You Create On Your Direct-To-Garment Printer

Focusing on direct to garment (DTG) printing can be the beginning of a successful business venture! With this technology, you can now print quality images and graphics onto garments and have the ability to customize designs, fonts, and more. Using a machine like the RICOH Ri 100, you’re now able to create the highest print quality for the lowest cost per print. If you’re looking into starting up a business or upgrading your current one, DTG printing is the ideal choice. Let’s deep dive into some options you can create on your DTG machine today!

Custom Made, Personalized Apparel on Demand

A highly competitive market that’s constantly growing due to high demands is custom-made apparel. With the ability to print-on-demand small production volumes cost-effectively while quickly following market trends, you’re able to create your brand easily. These items don’t need to stop at custom t-shirts but polo’s, socks, aprons, tapestries, and more. There is a wide range of options for what you can create.

Memory Quilts

Are you thinking about creating or expanding your quilting business? An exciting venture is creating your unique fabric pieces for memory quilting. With the RICOH Ri 100 software, you can import photos of loved ones, graphics of their interests, and more to create a unique, personalized quilt.  In addition, you can provide fabric printing services to other quilters that want to create their very own memory quilt or are looking to make a quilt with their fabric design. DTG printers, like the RICOH Ri 100, use a wide range of colors, going as far as being able to print a photo taken in real-time with a webcam.

Fashion Textile Printing

DTG printers, like the RICOH Ri 100, use a wide range of colors, going as far as being able to print a photo taken in real-time with a webcam. With access to these unlimited colors, designers can make their fashion trends by creating prints for their projects. This can be a great niche to enter if you enjoy clothing construction and add more personalization to your projects. In addition, you can create on-demand accessories that users will love by printing limited edition fabric and using these on your projects. Some additions you can focus on are tote bags, socks, beach bags, and more!

Home Décor

We all enjoy decorating our home, and a fun way to do this is using personalized home textile! Using your DTG printer, you can create pieces like holiday-themed table runners for the dining room, tea towels with funny phrases for the kitchen, and monogrammed pillowcases for the bedroom. The possibilities are endless! You can also develop themes that transfer over different products, inviting shoppers to buy sets instead of one product.

Event Products

Marketing products are popular items to personalize and create for other small businesses, sports teams, school events, and more. You can also design pieces for birthdays, weddings, and other events that involve goodies being handed out. Follow your niche’s needs and open your business to personalized projects instead of creating designs or products. You can also offer up your services and attend events for onsite printing. Using a machine like the RICOH Ri 100, you’re able to take a photo and instantly print it onto a garment, creating a fun giveaway item for special events and shows.

Additionally, if you’re attending conventions or sporting events, you can take the RICOH Ri 100 on the go due to its compact nature! It can fit into a space as small as 15.7″ wide x 27.5″ deep, making it one of the smallest DTG printers. In addition, the printer and its finisher can be stacked to maximize functionality without sacrificing space.

With so many possibilities for creative products, the world of DTG is an exciting venture for many to enter. Creating personalized and commissioned pieces is also a perfect option for those who aren’t art savvy but enjoy creating otherwise. If you’re interested in starting your own DTG business, continue reading for tips on how to begin! What would you create on your DTG machine? Let us know down below!

Starting Your Direct-To-Garment Business with JUKI & RICOH

Opening a small business is a fun and exciting venture, whether as a hobby to gain extra income or hopes for a new career. There are many reasons to look into starting a direct-to-garment (DTG) business. Maybe you’re someone who has a head full of great ideas, has friends who are always looking for custom t-shirts for their company events, or perhaps you’re someone who loves to design. Regardless of why, today, we’re going to discuss how to start your DTG business from including markets to sell to, tools to start, and how to sell your products.

Who’s Your Niche?

Before jumping into a DTG business, it’s crucial to think about whom you’re going to sell to, as this will set the basis for what you create and where you sell. So first, create a customer profile based on the following criteria: age, gender, lifestyle, location, profession, and occasion. You can also ask yourself what problem is this product solving for this customer? Examples of different customer profiles are listed below.

The Hobbyist

Have you ever found yourself looking for a t-shirt that captures your love for quilting? Nowadays, you can find a t-shirt for almost every interest due to small business artists who focus on creating products for these specific customers. So whether it’s sewists, car enthusiasts, or even cat owners, there’s a t-shirt for that. You can enter this segment by looking at the competitors’ designs and identifying what you can offer that is different. For example, the pet industry is a huge industry dominated by big brands. The competition is currently creating t-shirts with generic pet faces on them. You can differentiate your brand and create a unique segment of personalized, one-off t-shirts with customers’ pet’s faces on them. By targeting the right niche, you can create appealing products that bring revenue. 

Charity and Corporate Events

If you’re someone who’s attended a local charity or corporate event, you’ve probably received a t-shirt with a design related to that event. So whether it’s charity sports events, Christmas parties, or retreats, these events are a perfect niche to enter since there is a high volume of events and product quantity. 

Fashion

If you’re someone who leans towards creating and personalizing clothing, look into your own branded looks. With the ability to print onto canvas totes, sweaters, t-shirts, and more using a direct-to-garment printer, you can create your own branded line using the designs and patterns you’ve designed. There are always people looking to express themselves in unique and fun ways.

What Do You Need To Start?

Once you have your business plan that includes a niche and product line, it’s time to start looking at equipment. These are some basics you’ll need to think about:

  • A DTG Printer like the RICOH Ri 100
  • A Finisher or Heat Press like the RICOH Rh 100
  • Replacement Ink Cartridges 
  • Software and Computer
  • Materials

DTG Printer & Finisher

DTG Printing is a groundbreaking technology that surfaced in the ’90s. Like your home printers, a DTG will directly print onto an array of products like t-shirts, canvas bags, fabrics, and more using inkjet technology. Over the years, the fashion industry has seen a rise in those who want to wear personalized or unique garments. As a result, DTG is a growing industry, which is why it’s an excellent option for someone looking to begin their own small business.

A DTG printer like JUKI’s RICOH Ri 100 is an all-in-one DTG printer that can print images onto light-colored cotton or polyester* garments using state-of-the-art DTG technology with the lowest initial investment. In addition, there are various bundles available that offer the printer and finisher together or individually for your budget. We recommend contacting a local JUKI Business Plus Dealer for recommendations and pricing on bundles. Whether you purchase just the printer or the combo of printer and finisher, the turnaround when printing and heat pressing a t-shirt is about 3 to 10 minutes, creating a fast, low-cost turnaround.

Software & Drivers

There are two software’s you need to know about when starting your DTG business. The software you’re going to use to make the products, and the software you’re going to use to design the products.

For example, the RICOH Ri 100 offers easy-to-operate design software that lets you import and edit images before printing, with no specialized knowledge or skills required. In addition, the software comes with built-in designs and fonts. With the ability to print photos, designs, and more, this is a great option that removes a high learning curve.

In addition to the software that comes included with the printer, other affordable design software is available. For example, Paint.net, Paintshop pro, InkScape, and Gimp, are free or lost cost software that allows you to create art for your projects without breaking the bank. For a step up, look into the Adobe programs Illustrator or Photoshop. While these work on a monthly subscription, they’re both commonly used programs with many free and easy to follow guides you can use when starting.

The Supplies

Your customers will want to get a bang for their buck, so consider this when deciding on fabrics and product choices. Today, affordable, lightweight, heavyweight, 100% cotton, 100% polyester, and blended fabrics and blank products can be found on wholesale sites. Some examples of popular wholesale brands are Hanes and Anvil. When it’s to purchase, buying in large quantities reduces the cost of materials.

In addition, you can expand your business (like the personalized pet t-shirt we mentioned earlier) by introducing other products like pillowcases, tote bags, infant onesies, towels, and more. By branching from the t-shirt business, you can enter new markets and increase revenue.

Where to Sell

Once you’ve finalized your merchandise and have your products ready to go, look into your options for selling. Many options include online shops, in-person events like conventions and farmer’s markets, and brick-and-mortar stores. 

First, let’s discuss online shops. From creating your website to signing up for handmade marketplaces, there are various options. Before you are ready to commit, some platforms allow you to do a limited trial. The trial will enable you to test and research if this is right for your product. If you are comfortable creating a personalized website with a custom URL and have an established audience, we recommend website building and hosting companies like Squarespace and Wix. If you are looking for an all-in-one solution with high traffic volume but sacrificing a bit of branding, we recommend marketplaces like Amazon Handmade and Etsy. Whether you go for your website or an established e-commerce platform, each option requires sellers to pay either for a custom URL, listings, transaction, or payment processing fees.

Are you someone that loves to interact with others? Then, another great option is in-person events! Research local events in your area where you can have a tent or a booth. Are you selling custom cat t-shirts? Attend a local pet convention. Events like your local weekend farmer market or a yearly convention are great places to start. The great thing about JUKI’s RICOH Ri 100 is how portable it is, meaning you can take it with you! The RICOH Ri 100 can fit into a space as small as 15.7″ wide x 27.5″ deep, making it one of the smallest DTG printers. In addition, the printer and its finisher can be stacked to maximize functionality without sacrificing space so that you can create custom pieces on site. 

**Some states or cities will require a business license, so keep this in mind when applying for your stand.

How to Sell

Once you’ve finalized who, what and where it’s time to start thinking about how you will market your products. One of the best ways to get your products and brand out there is by utilizing social media. The best thing about social media is that it is free! Some platforms do offer paid advertisement options for your posts. Below are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Look into creating multiple social media channels for your shop (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tiktok, and so on.)
  2. Think of your niche and what platforms they use for marketing on
  3. Define your marketing goals (build brand awareness, generate sales, or engage with customers)
  4. Post content daily when possible
  5. Interact with your followers

Social media is used by millions of people every day, making it a great tool to attract customers. Take advantage and put your brand out there!

Now that you know the basics of where to start, we hope you have a clearer vision of where you want your business to go. Direct to garment is a growing business where creativity and being different is a great thing! So what more do you want to know about the DTG business? Let us know down below!