From Design to Sweatshirt

The making of Love More

Lovemore Optim

Project: MORE by Bourn
Little reminders to do more of what matters.

I’ve been here before. Everything feels familiar yet different. In college I tried to start a t-shirt line called Inspire but I had no clue what I was doing. I still don’t. But I’ve paid enough attention and created so much since then that it doesn’t feel as scary as it did the first time.

This time around however, I’m more aware of what it really takes to get something like this off the ground. It isn’t just a small project I could design and build in a few weeks, there’s so much more to consider, especially the first time around.

In this post, I’ll only concentrate on the production side of this new venture. While my plans for this new project may go beyond the clothing, it’s where my journey began and where I’ve experienced the most anxiety so far. 

Can I create a unisex design?

It wasn’t until I started designing that I realized not everything a girl would wear, a guy would (duh, I know). In light of this, I used an apparel mockup tool called PlaceIt so I could see how the design would look on both male and female models. Needless to say, if I didn’t, my designs would have been only female friendly. At the end of the iterative process, I ended up with 2 designs, just to be safe.

Can I find a sweatshirt with a great fit at an affordable price?

I’m very picky with sweatshirts that I wear. Most don’t have a great fit so I knew my first challenge would be to find something better, since I can’t make my own…yet. As a result, I was thrown into the world of wholesale everything and quickly found out that it’s definitely not easy to get the perfect fit at the right price. I found close to “the one” that I’ve settled on but the search still continues for the perfect one.

If you ever need tops or bottoms etc for your own screen printing project, I recommend Jiffy Shirts, they ship super quick depending on where you are so it’s great for getting quick samples.

Where are the screen printers in NYC hiding?

I wanted to go local with my printing simply because I could always pick up or get something quicker than if I ordered online. I needed a printer that was well priced and could provide samples so I could test out the designs. There’s quite a few that I found but not many had good ratings or reviews so that made it tricky to decide. After a getting quotes from a few places, I settled on BCCO NYC. They’ve handled my frantic emailing and tight deadlines well and so far the prints have been superb. They also have no minimums per order which means I can order one-off samples before placing a bulk order. This was key to my decision.

If you’re curious, I also found JB Screen Printing & Embroidery and got a recommendation for Gowanus Print Lab.

What print size should the design be?

Determining the size the design should printed at is tricky to just eyeball. While I was considering selling my sweatshirts on Teespring, an all-in-one platform for printing, selling and shipping out shirts, I found a handy tool for me to test out sizing. When you’re setting up the design in the first step on the platform, they not only give you the ability to resize it as you see fit but it also shows you in inches, the width and height of it. This saved me so much headache when I took it to BCCO.

Will the same size design look right when printed on a size small vs an x-large ?

Not really; but it could still be okay depending on your budget. When screen printing anything, you will usually have to specify a set size for the design to be printed at. So while the size of the shirt changes, the size of the design will stay the same. Since there’s typically a one-time setup fee for a screen, if you decide to do different sizes for the design that will be an added cost. It’s not much but just be sure it’s worth it.

What about custom labels?

Every wholesale shirt you buy will come with a branded neck label. If you’re trying to start your own line, it’s probably a good idea to start designing custom labels and replacing the originals with your own. That being said, while embroidered labels are not too expensive to order in bulk (check out The Studio for this), removing the old labels and replacing them with your own or screen printing them, is not cheap. I decided that if I got a certain number of orders, then I would invest in adding labels, otherwise I could save the money until I reach that milestone. But on the flip side, I do think branding is everything so I wont hold myself to that. ;)

Ok, so how much should I sell them for?

Printing on sweatshirts in particular is more expensive than a regular t-shirt so that already drives the retail price up. I’m a shark tank addict so I’ve heard the term profit-margin whispered in my ear every week with an ideal percentage of over 50%. This means what ever the cost is to produce the sweatshirt, which includes the blank sweatshirt, printing, any custom tags, packaging and in some cases shipping, I would have to sell it for at least twice that amount to have a comfortable profit margin. Needless to say, I had to pay close attention to my cost per item.

Final Takeaways

I learned a lot in the 3 weeks I had to put together a test run for this new project. While I wouldn’t consider myself now a part of the fashion world, clothing in general, is an interesting world to explore.

The first sweatshirt collection under this new project, MORE by Bourn is “Love More”. It is available for preorder from now until February 25th, 2017. Use code KIM to get 15% off ❤

Happy Hump day!
– Kim Goulbourne aka “Bourn”

CommentsHave you screen printed anything?

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