I began screen printing in 2008 after my brother and I started a small clothing brand called Eye Live Wild. When we were conceptualizing the brand, we were just two broke dudes working in restaurants. We had to get very creative about how to grow the company with little to no working capital (basically tip money from waiting tables).
Once we had all of our flagship designs ready to go we approached a local screen printing company in New Paltz, NY to get all of our custom t shirts printed. This, in and of itself, was a challenge because they required minimum orders of twelve pieces. Not only was it hard for us to scrounge up the money but screen printing charges are much higher if you order twelve pieces than if you were to order, let’s say, one hundred. Because of this, our profit margins were not even close to where they needed to be, in order to become a sustainable t shirt company. In addition, we were a pretty big pain in the ass because we had very specific requirements for our graphics. This was great for our clothing brand because our followers realized our passion for high quality custom apparel. It was not so good for our relationship with our screen printer. They simply did not want to put in the required time needed to ensure that our shirts were printed according to our quality standards. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, my brother and I saw this as an opportunity. How could we create our own custom t shirts, increase our profit margins, and produce custom apparel that was exactly what we envisioned? It was at this point that I dove head first into the screen printing rabbit hole.
I would like to share my experiences with you because when I started out, I found it difficult to navigate all of the resources that are available online. The mighty web can be a great tool to learn more about the custom screen printing industry but you can also easily get sucked into a vast melting pot of horrible information from companies that have no idea what they are talking about. If, like ZINK, you have the dedication to become the best in the industry, you have to learn from the best. One thing was clear to me from the beginning: I needed to be able to screen print high quality custom apparel on a budget.
After months and months of research and countless phone calls to customer service departments I found who I thought was a great fit for what I was trying to accomplish. Ryonet. They have an amazing knowledge base directly on their website as well as a comprehensive YouTube channel. This was great but the thing that really drew me to them was their outstanding customer service. I must have spent 3 or 4 hours on the phone, asking questions before even making a purchase, and you know what? The customer service representative seemed just as enthusiastic as I was to be having the conversation! The founder, Ryan Moor, seems like a very genuine person that has a passion for sharing his knowledge and educating entrepreneurs of all ages that are looking to get started in the screen printing industry.
Ryonet, which can be found at www.screenprinting.com, offers a perfect DIY screen printing starter kit that includes everything you need to start your own custom t shirt company. This is what I settled on after my four hour conversation with customer service! I made sure to take full advantage of their YouTube channel as well as watch all of the educational materials they have.
After I learned all I could from those resources I signed up for their screen print experience seminar in Farmingdale, NY. This was hosted by Greg Greco, owner of Montage Clothing. Another great guy with a passion for sharing his printing abilities with others. There were a lot of people in the class but I came prepared with my portfolio. Day one was a sit down class covering the fundamentals of printing with no hands on experience until day two. I made it a point to approach Greg after the class and show him my designs. He liked them so much that we ended up using two of them for the printing experience the next day. I can’t explain the feeling that day of the entire class printing my original designs and knowing that these shirts would all be going to their own separate parts of the world. Well, probably just New York and New Jersey but you get the idea.
The screen print experience was the fuel that ignited my entrepreneurial fire and I quickly became proficient in screen printing custom t shirts. Mike and I saw our profits for Eye Live Wild increase by producing everything in house. Our total investment was around $1500 for the screen printing starter kit, screen print experience seminar and blank t shirts. We were being charged anywhere from $7.50 to $14.50 for screen printing from the local printer, based on how many colors were in each design. You can get an idea of how much money we saved by deciding to screen print our own apparel.
Everyone knows how creative you are. They tell you that every day. All of your friends and family tell you repeatedly to stop working your 9-5 job and start using your natural artistic abilities to create your own clothing brand. “Well I don’t have $1500 to drop on a screen printing press” you tell them “get off my back about it”. Have no fear! ZINK can setup a web store according to your very specific artistic requirements (trust me, I know what it’s like working with artists). We handle the orders, maintain the store, fulfill the orders and make sure all T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted. Your job? Get out there and sell, sell, sell!
At ZINK, we are real people with a genuine interest to help others like us grow. We will gladly answer all of your calls and work with you very closely as you grow your brand. It is my hope that, at the very least, we can share our knowledge with others and help make life a little bit easier. If your dream is to launch your own custom clothing brand, and we can help make that happen, then we can make the world a better place together.