As most of you probably know, I have been designing tee shirts for many years. Since 2002 to be exact. I was 24 years old, working as a freelance stylist and cocktail waitress. When I first started my line of tee shirts, I had no idea what I was doing. But I did have mentors who I trusted and I used the resources that I had available to me. At that time it was mainly hand stitching and embroidery, along with a cool reverse applique technique. Since I didn't want to only silk screen shirts, but wanted the ability to print some designs and my own custom labels, I invested in a heat press (similar to this one). It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made and paid for itself quickly. I was able to sample garments easily, and then if I had a big production order, I always had the option to fulfill it through having it silk screened instead of heat sealing it all myself. I found great joy in creating garments by hand that people liked to wear. Cindy Crawford even wore one of my designs while working out and it appeared in Glamour Magazine. I met some wonderful people and traveled to trade shows and experienced a lot of what it was like working in the garment industry. It was fun for many years. And then it wasn't. For many reasons.
Looking back, I recognize that one of the reasons was because my time was spent doing the things I didn't really love - the business side of running a small business. The yucky money side of things when a boutique's check bounces or their credit card doesn't go through. And then they don't answer their phones and move out in the middle of the night. Yes, that happened. And more than once. I had friends in the industry with full on collections that were owed tens of thousands of dollars. All of those things amounted to a lot of time and energy spent doing things I didn't enjoy, and only 5% (maybe even less) was spent designing. Much of the reason I fell in love with scrapbooking in 2007 was because I could just create freely and it was only for me. I didn't have to mass produce it, ship it or feel like a collections agency. All I had to do was create and document my life. Plus I got to use super cute supplies to do so! I found the passion once again for hand made goodness and since I hadn't won the lottery, I had to put much of my energy into figuring out how I could turn another hobby into a business. And through a lot of hard work, a bit of luck and the support of some amazing and inspiring people, I was able to go back to doing what I love - designing. Since we switched to only making custom designs for tee shirts, I have enjoyed the flow and process a lot more. I've collaborated with brands and taken a more behind the scenes approach with consulting, as opposed to having my name on the label. And I like it. A lot.
The reason I am sharing this long, drawn out story with you is because I am super excited about sharing even more behind the scenes with you all. And because my working studio seems to always be in disarray, I am going to be putting more effort into showing you more of what actually goes on among all the chaos. My business has evolved and there are many aspects that equate to several revenue streams. And I plan on sharing more insights with you about what I'm learning and loving through all of this. I'm especially looking forward to my new set up where there is a corner for creating anything that isn't paper related. It will be a dedicated area for fabrics, tee shirts, mugs, mousepads, my sublimation printer, heat press and all kinds of goodness. The sewing machine will remain where it is now, mainly for sewing on paper, but that may soon change too.
Although completely embarrassing, I snapped some before photos, and then chronicled the rearranging and set up of the new corner.
So that is the set up - super basic, but I am so happy with it! Also, if any of you have your own business and want to make cool promotional stuff or expand into a business where you sell custom tee shirts, a heat press from Pro World is a good way to get started. Something I have always wanted to do is be able to print white onto a garment. Pro World also offers a custom transfer option where you can design your own silk screened transfers that can be applied with just a heat press. You can put them onto all different colors and styles. You can put them on tote bags and tee shirts - pretty much any fabric. Think about all the possibilities! I was so excited to get started that I just did an easy tee for me and one for Jack. This simple and cost effective tee was whipped up using heat transfer letters. The longest part of the process was waiting for the heat press to get to the right temperature. Other than that, both of these shirts were done in under 5 minutes.
I simply followed the Warm Peel Application Instructions:
- Pre-press garment; 5-7 seconds.
- Set pressure at high.
- Set temperature at 385 deg. Fahrenheit.
- Print 8-10 seconds.
- Peel warm (wait about 5 seconds), in one continuous, smooth rapid motion.
I'm excited about the potential of making fun sayings and phrases on shirts. And sharing more of what goes on in the studio with you! YAY!
Want to play designer - what word or phrase would you put on a shirt? Leave a comment below and one winner will get a shirt with their word/phrase of choice!