Five Manufacturing Tips for Your Brand
Over the past few years of running Sotare, my art/lifestyle brand, I’ve learned quite a few things along the way. There are a lot of people starting clothing brands and the market is saturated. If you’re looking to develop your company into a full lifestyle brand you will need to step outside of producing only shirts. I’m sharing a few things that have helped me develop not only my shirts, but other products in a cost-effective and efficient way.
Remember there’s a big difference in making art, making art to sell, and making art as a brand. This post features some tricks that I’ve learned about manufacturing products so that you can duplicate your work and sell quality art.
1. Be Smart About Printing Posters
Posters are a great addition to turning a clothing company into a lifestyle brand. If you are looking for a printer, Overnight Prints is my first choice in getting poster prints made. You can order a variety of popular poster sizes from them, upload the art, and receive them in a timely manner.
I started off selling 11 x 17 posters but have since decided against it. For one, the posters are larger than the bags I use at live vending events. I put each poster in an envelope for my customers, but it still is not a secure way to carry it. Although I’m still pushing my remaining stock, I have switched to printing 8 x 10 posters. They’re a little smaller and they fit perfectly into the bag along with some shirts. You can get 8 X 10s printed at your local office supply store… or you can do something a little bit smarter to save on some cash. Here’s my secret- I like to put four 8 x 10 prints and two 5 x 7s on a single 19 x 27 uncut sheet.
For $50 you can get 25 of these made and shipped right to your door. All you have to do is spend some time cutting out and trimming your posters, which will give you six posters per sheet. This means you’re getting 150 posters for $50. You can turn around and sell these posters for $5 or $10 each giving you a 14,000% – 29,000% profit margin.
You can also include posters as giveaways in your online orders or use them as an incentive at live vending events. For example, if someone spends $30 I give them a free poster. It helps encourage my fans to buy additional merchandise so they can get a nice poster. It mostly costs me the time of creating content and cutting posters. Not a bad trade off for the cash I save in printing and the cash I make in sales.
2. Slap a Sticker On It
Everybody loves stickers! If you have not produced stickers, this is a must for your brand. I have used a few different companies over the years and all the stickers have turned out pretty well, but I would definitely recommend StickerApp over any other.
Sticker App is my favorite place to get stickers printed. I enjoy the simplistic user interface of the website. One nice feature is that the site allows you to adjust the size of the stroke (white outline) you wish to add to your sticker. You can also adjust the size of your sticker little by little and watch the price calculator change. This all comes in handy when ordering stickers on a budget.
The stickers themselves are great quality and appear to be very durable. I’ve put them on my skateboard and the only signs of deterioration comes from doing boardslides. I’ve also slapped quite a few around town and the ones that haven’t been removed by authorities have lasted almost a year without signs of degradation.
Getting well designed stickers printed is fairly cost effective and you will always sell them. People LOVE stickers. I sell my stickers for $1 each in person, or a pack of 6 for $5. On my personal Etsy, I sell stickers for $2.
3. Find a Manufacturer for Unique Products
Making a variety of different products will really help your brand to stand out. It also gives you a way to sell different types products at different price points, offering more variety for shoppers. I cannot give you too much information on this because depending on what you wish to create you will have to scour the internet for a manufacturer that meets your needs. I found a PVC manufacturer on Alibaba that would create custom key chains.
Creating PVC key chains was a lot of fun. Getting a bag filled with over 100 key chains felt like Christmas. However, there was also a lot of emailing back and forth with a company in China.
4. Hem Tags
When re-starting Sotare in 2013, I wanted to increase the quality of my art and the quality of my products. For each Sotare shirt, I chose to have them hand-finished with a hem tag.
After searching through many websites and Google pages I came across Kiki Kreations. Looking through their gallery I could see that the tags were of excellent quality. I also recognized some of the tags from other indie clothing brands which made me feel comfortable with my initial order. I was not disappointed!
The hem tags are reasonably priced and add value to the shirts. I frequently get compliments from customers and passer-bys about the hem tags on Sotare shirts. Many remark about the style and how cool it makes the shirt look. Others talk about the professionalism it adds to the shirt.
5. Always Look for Creative Solutions
When it comes to manufacturing products always seek creative solutions to your problems. Whether this is finding a creative way to design a product or a creative way to execute the production- be continually searching for a way to get the most out of your manufacturing and design. For me, a lot of the focus is on the design and printing of my shirts.
My friend Jeff printed Sotare shirts for about two years and allowed me to purchase smaller runs. This was an amazing advantage. It allows me to test out shirt designs without having to purchase a high quantity right out of the gate. The only hitch? His personal set up only allowed him to print one color shirts. This means that I had to create designs that will look good in one color ink… or look for the creative solution.
This is how my most popular shirt has come about- the split-fountain Zombie Joey.
The split-fountain screen printing technique involves putting two colors of ink on one screen at the same time. As shirts are printed the ink will bleed together, fading the colors together. We chose to go from blue to pink, creating a sweet purple fade in the middle.
Let’s be honest- it’s freakin’ awesome. These shirts look sick and are my top seller. The design of the shirt was simple. It only took 5 minutes because I already had the artwork done from the Zombie Joey sticker. It was just a matter of being creative with the printing process. Jeff has printed three runs of these shirts, and I’m going to be printing a fourth. We also used the split-fountain technique on The Chief. I’m hoping to be able to do some more split-fountain prints in the future!
Whether it’s stickers, posters, shirts, or a novelty item- be creative about the way you get your art manufactured. You just might be surprised with how it turns out!
So there you go! Five tips and tricks you can use for your art as you create an art brand. Now it’s up to you to challenge yourself to take the leap of faith in turning your dream into reality. You can do it- and I’m here to help.
Do you have any tips to share? Do you have any questions? Comment, email, or DM me and I’ll answer them in a follow-up post down the road.
Artist // Designer // Owner