Henry Ma, CEO of Ricoma Embroidery Machines, walks us through starting your own profitable custom apparel business while supporting the activities that your kids love.
There you are, the quintessential soccer mom. Baseball mom. Theater mom. You never miss a game or a performance. You emblazon your minivan with stickers declaring your allegiance to your kid’s team. You are a booster, and nothing gives you more joy than supporting the activities your kids love. But maybe you also have an entrepreneurial bent. You are a person who sees opportunities.
A constant with activities like sports and other extracurriculars is the need for custom apparel: shirts, caps, duffel bags, and other swag. With the availability of a variety litany of different embroidery, heat press, and garment printing machines, the barrier to entry for a profitable apparel business has never been lower.
Marrying your desire to start a side hustle with your enthusiasm for supporting your kids has never been easier. Here’s a quick guide to becoming your local go-to source for custom apparel.
Count on Great Demand
If your target market is the niche of local sports teams or other activity groups, you have a built-in consumer base ready to plunk down cash for your custom apparelwares. Embroidered and custom printed items are everywhere, with renewed demand at the start of every season, with every child who decides to join an activity.
The custom apparel business allows you to create excellent relationships with coaches, school administrators, activity directors, and other parents. This networking only leads to more demand via word of mouth.
Low Cost of Entry
One of the best things about starting your own custom apparel business is the low start-up and operating costs. There are various levels of machines, from beginner to more commercial models, and payment plans can help you with the one-time machine purchase necessary to kick off your business. Reach out to the Ricoma team for more information on their 0% financing options.
After the initial machine purchase, operating costs are relatively low. Supplies like backing and thread lead to a cost of 15 to 16 cents per item. The low cost of supplies means a high profit margin for each item produced.
It’s also not necessary to have a brick-and-mortar store when beginning your custom apparel business. Many people start and operate their businesses out of their basements or garages, kicking off their venture as a side-hustle and saving overhead costs in the process.
Personalization Leads to Profit
Having an “in” with your kids’ teams or groups not only provides a built-in customer base but it allows you to personalize your offerings. This ability to get personal is an edge that the bigger “bulk printer” companies can’t offer. They’re not sitting among the other moms and dads, cheering from the sidelines. You can leverage this insider position to provide personalized items to the kids on the team as well as personalized apparel to the parents in the bleachers.
For example, you can provide shirts emblazoned with the kids’ nicknames or customize items with a cheer that only your team uses. The options are endless, and you are limited only by your creativity.
Staying on top of trends is essential as well. Don’t be afraid to get your kids involved when it comes to using popular phrases or integrating trendy color schemes and theming in the apparel you create. They usually have the inside scoop on what’s cool or what’s “jumped the shark” as far as fads go and they are probably your best source for market research.
If you’re on the cutting edge and can churn out products quickly and efficiently, your business is bound to catch fire.
One of the best parts of having a flexible business, whether a full-time venture or side-hustle, is that it allows you to still make it to games or events. Starting an apparel business provides the flexibility a lot of moms and parents of school-aged children are looking for. You can work your business while kids are in school and still make it to every game or performance.
Starting your own custom apparel business can be exciting and an excellent outlet for your creativity. The bonus is that it allows you to support your children’s endeavors, whatever those may be.