Start Here October '22

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S T A R T H E R E 2 0 2 2 By Paula Aven Gladych I t's easier than ever for small shops and startups to get into apparel decorating. Not only has the technology improved greatly over the years, but mom and pops can get into the busi- ness for as little as $5,000. e first step to starting an apparel decorating business is to determine what type of apparel decorating you want to do. Is it T-shirts and ball caps or do you want to design your own cloth- ing line for a pop-up shop in a mall? Sign shops are in a per- fect position to branch out into apparel because they are already familiar with graphic design programs and printing equipment so the learning curve won't be as steep and they already have a cus- tomer base in which to cross-sell different printing applications. Many new businesses start out small. ey buy a small screen printer or direct-to-garment machine and install it in their garage. As their business grows, so does the type of equipment they have on hand and the space necessary to meet the demands of their customers. Traditional screen printing is still just as popular as ever, par- ticularly for print runs over 500 garments, but direct-to-gar- ment and direct-to-film printers are becoming more available and more affordable as companies scramble to tap into the growth in e-commerce that was fueled by the pandemic over the past two years. More and more, individuals and businesses are doing their shopping online. In many cases, they want to purchase small runs of printed apparel and have them delivered quickly and efficiently with the click of a button. In this case, direct-to-gar- ment or direct-to-film equipment makes the most sense because a shop doesn't need a lot of space to run them, they are easy to learn, don't require screens, solvents, and chemicals to produce a good product, and are perfect for any size order. SCREEN PRINTING STILL KING To get into screen printing, all someone needs is enough space for a small manual screen-printing press and a small dryer to get started. ey also would need an exposure unit for making a screen and a flash curer to spot dry ink before you send it to the dryer, says Taylor Landesman, vice president of Lawson Screen & Digital Products. Apparel Decorating Paula Aven Gladych is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. She can be reached at 8 Machines to help you start fast out of the gate

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