Entering the T-shirt Business

I had no idea how difficult it was going to set myself up as a t-shirt salesman, it turned out to be quite a project. So much so it is worthy of it’s own blog post under the “DonkeyBox” category 🙂

I have been asked for DonkeyBox t-shirts a lot! And in 2009 I found a designer who was designing flyers for us. She designed us a cool new logo, which gave us a newer edgy identity, which I think was necessary as Crap Day and DonkeyBox were giving us too much of a goofy, jokey identity. Without changing the name she made something edgier and more in sync with our music.

So in 2009 I had promised a t-shirt was coming to fans and now I couldn’t find anyone to print them at a good price. Time went on and by 2010 I tried an online t-shirt company that could print and deliver one off t-shirts. Bingo! this surely had to be the solution right? Not quite, with the logo and just one graphic the t-shirt came out to be £17 including delivery. This was way too much already and I really couldn’t sell t-shirts even at this price (where I would make 0 profit) to fans. The company didn’t do bulk orders either.

Donkey Box t-shirt

The most expensive t-shirt I ever bought 🙂

I was now stuck and the t-shirt idea was dead and buried, just way too expensive. Luckily on the way to the gym where I live there is a t-shirt printer and I walked in and start chatting to the guy. As the band’s first gig in 2011 (after a 9 month hiatus) was coming there really was no better time to get these t-shirts to print.

But there was another hitch, although the unit price to print each t-shirt was easily sub £10 there was a set up cost that added to the total cost. I was skint by this stage as it was September and I hadn’t tutored for 2 months, I really was on a big low in terms of money. With no guarantee of return I wasn’t going to find any investors so I took some money out of my savings account and went for the advance order!

I told the t-shirt printer guy that I simply couldn’t afford a print run of 20 t-shirts. He kindly reduced the print cost per t-shirt but couldn’t reduce the set-up fee. At this point I hit another hitch. The t-shirt had been designed about 2 years ago but our designer was now totally awol, she had dissapeared off the earth man! And I needed a vectorised form of the design. I certainly hadn’t got a clue how to do this on my own. So I scrambled an appeal on Facebook and Twitter and one of my friends found a friend who is a professional graphic designer. However, this vectorisation cost me money that I didn’t plan for 😦

But I went ahead anyway! I paid everyone out of my savings and got some t-shirts printed eventually just in time for the gig. I just about managed to keep the costs low enough to make a tiny bit of profit from selling the t-shirts. What was important to me that the t-shirts don’t cost more than £10 to fans.

I am glad to say I have sold some t-shirts already, and even sent one to Japan. So there you go, whoever thought it would be so difficult to get a bunch of band t-shirts printed at good value? And now that the print has been made there will never be a set up or vectorisation cost again. The t-shirt printer can use the print mould he made earlier and each repeat order is cheaper as now there is no set up cost and I don’t have to pay a designer!

Despite the many setbacks, I knew t-shirts is something loads of our fans would enjoy and I am proud to be now a t-shirt salesman as well. While I could’ve given free CDs to friends all over the world (at a personal loss of £1 per CD plus whatever postage and packaging I paid extra) I’ve had to be very disciplined by not giving away t-shirts free (despite the temptation). Being skint taught me a valuable lesson in cutting costs, sticking to your guns, haggling with suppliers and going for it solo when it comes to band investments like this.


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