How To Start Selling Your Tie-dye Products

If you’re here, you’re probably wondering about the possibility of starting your very own tie-dye business. There has never been more interest in operating businesses from your home and tie-dye is a most promising candidate. Dyeing clothes in the comfort of your home and selling them to passionate customers is a dream for many people but few actually take the steps to make it a reality. In this post we are gonna see what it takes to make this dream come true.

The simplest way to make your entry in the tie-dye world is simply to start. Grab yourself some white shirts and some dye, combine them together and see if you can sell your creation. Success comes to those who dare and taking this first step is easier than you might think. There are many advantages of starting a tie-dye business over other kinds of businesses. The cost of entry is low (under 500$), the profit margins are great and you can do all of it from the comfort of your home.

We are gonna take a deep look into what it takes to start your journey and how you can make it a success. If you’re someone who has a keen interest in tie-dye and who has a sense for business, this could be a great project for you, even potentially life-changing if you stick with it. Proper planning and research will be able to turn your talent into a lucrative business, but only with persistence and passion.

Somewhere to start

Now if you’re looking at starting your business you probably already have made a few tie-dye shirts and consider your skills good enough that you can make money from your craft. If you haven’t tried your hand at tie-dye yet there is still hope for you. You can quickly get up to speed by taking our course on making tie-dye shirts. With your skills at a sufficient level you are ready to take your experience and convert it to real life profit. Just to be sure we’re all at the same level we’ll quickly cover the requirements before we start.

You need somewhere to create your art and store your materials. This will be the base of your operation where you will conduct most of your day to day tasks. This can be a full-fledge workshop or it can simply be a spare room in your home. It takes little space to tie-dye and many people can make do with only their kitchen as a work station. You will also need basic materials to transform, namely, the dyes, dye activator and blank clothing. Finally, you should have supplies to assist your creation such as rubber bands, trays, and any auxiliary products and chemicals your might want to use.

Now everyone has their own idea of what they want to accomplish with tie-dye. Some people only want to trade with family and friends, while others have aspirations of it becoming their full-time career. Any scenario is possible and you are only limited by your fear of failure and your willingness to persevere. Wether you want to keep your art to yourself or you plan on taking the market by storm, the same principles of proper business management will apply. You should always seek to reduce your costs and to maximize your productivity.

Calculating the price of your tie-dye shirts

What’s a fair price for a tie-dye shirt? This is a difficult subject because the price depends largely on your skill, the quality of materials you use and your geographical location. We will explore all of these different scenarios and will teach you how to calculate a fair price for your shirts.

A typical price for an average tie-dye shirt is anywhere from $15.00 to $30.00. At the lower end of this price range you will find amateur’s shirts and possibly even botched products. A solid artist that produces good quality shirts featuring common designs can fetch upwards of $30.00 depending on their fame and their following. Specialty shirts made by master tie-dyers can fetch prices that are far higher. A highly technical shirt made by a reputable artist can, for example, be sold for $80.00 to $150.00 at auctions.

Production costs and overhead

First we need to know what our costs are, how much it costs us to make the shirt in the first place. There are many things you need to consider to get to a fair price. The price needs to be fair, not only for the customer but also for you as an artist and an artisan. The costs will be different depending on your suppliers and if you own or rent the space you use to tie-dye. For this exercise we will consider a typical tie-dye artist operating from home with a easy access to the materials.

Calculate the cost of your materials. The most important costs are the blank shirts and the dyes. Next are the dye activator (soda ash) and any auxiliary chemicals you might want to use such as urea and alginate. If you want to get serious you can consider the most minute details such as rubber bands, the water you’re using and the electricity needed to power the washing machine.

Once you know your overhead and production costs you might want to consider the cost of marketing and delivering the goods to your customers. Will you be selling directly to your customers or will you send your shirts halfway around the world? Will you run on word of mouth and personal connections or will you pay for advertisement? Add up any and all expenses you can think of and calculate what it costs you for a single tie-dye shirt.

Don’t forget about labor

Wether you will tie-dye your shirts yourself or will pay someone else to make them, you need to consider labor. How much time does it take to produce an average tie-dye shirt, and how many can you make in a single day? If you’re making your shirts yourself it’s easy to overlook this step, but it’s very important if you plan on running a successful business. Your time is your most valuable resource and if you don’t calculate it you run the risk of undervaluing your goods and losing money in the process.

To calculate the cost of labor, start by timing yourself while making a batch of tie-dye shirts. You should make a few shirts at the same time to simulate the process and get a good average time. Go ahead and calculate every little step. Shirt and dye preparation, folding, dyeing, and washing. Figure out how much time it took you on a per-shirt basis and multiply this time by what you consider to be a fair salary. Tie-dye crafting is a skilled profession so you couldn’t pay someone at minimum salary if you’re expecting good products.

Something to consider at this step is that an experienced tie-dye artist will be much faster at producing shirts than a beginner. Another thing to think about is that the time spent on a shirt is largely dependent on the technical difficulty of the particular shirt in question. Some techniques are very quick to churn out like the simple spiral and can be done in a few minutes. Other, more valuable designs can take multiple hours of work just for a single shirt. Think about what products you plan on selling to maximize your productivity and your profit.

Your first sales

Your very first sales will likely come from friends and family members willing to support and help you in your journey. Don’t count on them to bring you a ton of business though, as there are only so many shirts a person can buy. To expand you will need to diversify your base of customers. This often means going to events like festivals, music venues or fairs. Anywhere you can set up a kiosk is a potential for you to sell many shirts.

Any opportunity is good when you’re just starting. Family and friends are the first people you should approach. A few quick sells are likely if you can show passion and commitment. If your products are well made you can have some success at this stage. Promote word-of-mouth through your connections and try selling to the friends of your friends. This is the perfect time to gauge the pulse of the public. Get as much feedback as possible and try to improve your products and get them ready for the next stage.

This is also the time to tests out the waters locally. I’m talking about meeting up with clothing stores in your area that would be willing and ready to take up your clothes as part of their products. Present yourself and your wares all around your city and try to get your clothes seen by as many people as possible. You don’t have to own a store to sell your clothes, many shop owners are happy to hold on to your shirts and sell them to their customers. You won’t make as much money, but it’s a great way to get your products known locally.

Getting serious

At this point you’re ready to get serious, your products are getting better and you have a bit of experience selling to customers. If you are to make a real dent in the market you should stay on your game and continually improve your offer. The tie-dye market is very complex, with the masters selling their products as soon as they are made and the beginners having trouble making their place. This is the time to deeply study the competition. What are they selling and at what price?

Investigate the price range and quality of similar products in similar venues. Be as realistic as you can, consider your relative skills compared to other artists. A beginner won’t make nearly as much profit as an expert, so you have all the more reason to try out new and bold designs. Art patrons are ready to pay for well made and unique items and giving them a fair price will make them come back for more. Repeat customers are your best bet to make it a profitable business.

Like in many other crafts the skill and renown of the artisan can drastically alter the price of the products. You should always strive to expand your tie-dye knowledge and practice as much as possible. At this point it’s okay to produce shirts even before having a buy order. Not only can you build a stock of shirt to sell later, you can get your practice in and improve your products and your production efficiency.

Establishing your business

After going through the first trials of starting a business you’re now looking to expand and reach new markets. There is still a long way to go before you can dedicate all your time to this craft and make it a career. You will need many more customers on a daily basis to truly live off of it. There are many options which will give you the chance of reaching more people than ever before.

Even before thinking of opening a physical store, you should be looking online for potential ways to reach your customers. The easiest way is to establish yourself on social medias where you can share pictures of your work and quickly answer queries. Gradually open up your shop on online markets. There are many free and paid options that are waiting for you. Many tie-dye artists sell on platforms such as Etsy and Shopify.

Work on your marketing. Take better pictures of your products and bring them to the attention of more people. Get creative with your promotions. Presentation is a big part of your success. This is your chance to make your business stand out among the others. Cultivate relationships with your customers and offer the best service you can.

Becoming an expert

Hopefully at this stage you will be having a few sales every week. Keep at it and take this opportunity to further improve your skills. It’s no surprise that in this artistic market the best pieces go first. Regular, common shirts can have trouble selling reliably if you don’t have a solid customer base. Even non-artist can recognize the talent and effort that go behind the best tie-dye shirts. Do not expect to make high grade art in the first few weeks of starting your training.

It can take months or  years to reach a suitable level of skill where you can make truly unique art that rises above the rest. If you’re able to keep at it for a while it’s when it starts getting really interesting. With only a few months of training, a dedicated person can very well attain the rank of expert and start charging a fair bit more for every shirt they cook up. Dyeing well is a very valuable skill that extends even beyond the boundaries of tie-dye.

With your artistic talents ever-evolving you can try experimenting with new and exciting techniques. Some artists even diversify their business by integrating fabric printing in their arsenal. Tie-dye is the perfect stepping stone to the entire textile industry. Mastering it will open up many opportunities for you in one of the biggest markets on earth.

Maturing the business

Few people are lucky enough to reach this stage. This is where you have plenty of repeating customers and your business is making a neat profit each and every month. You can now afford to make big moves such as opening a physical workshop and even hiring artisans to help you produce and handle the large quantity of orders. The international market is your playing ground.

A maturing business will have its own website and have a good presence on social medias. You should be handling multiple orders every day at this point. With the large amount of shirts you make, it is paramount that you get the best deals from your suppliers. Make sure to shop around and bargain. You can look into paid advertising if you haven’t already to reach even more customers.

Consolidate your business and make sure all your paperwork is in compliance with your country’s regulations. Other things you can try to solidify yourself on the market is to try your hand at running your own fashion shows featuring your best products. You can even feature your products in art galleries. If you reach this stage, congratulations! We hope to see you at the top.

Final thoughts

There are many things to consider when starting a tie-dye business. Most of all you should have a solid understanding of the principles behind the craft. Just like any business there are costs and procedures you need to go through in order to succeed in the long term. If you are reading this then you have an immense advantage over us. Our path to success was long and arduous so we made this website to help everyone in need of guidance.

Tie-dye can be a very guarded industry, especially at higher levels where masters will categorically refuse to show you their
techniques until you get a certain level of experience yourself. When
you are in contact with a master and he deems you worthy he may show you a trick or two. At least that’s how it used to be. Tides are changing in the world of tie-dye and an era of sharing and openness is greeting us. 

Hopefully this guide will help you to get started and maintain a legitimate tie-dye clothing business that can bring you joy and fulfillment. Fledgling artists can spend valuable time and money trying everything to get off the ground. We should all support each other and help out where we can. We are stronger as a community.

Where to start selling

If you’ve been making tie-dye shirts for a while you may have had the idea to start selling them but where do you actually sell them and how? You have to ask yourself who your potential customers are, how to reach them and how much to charge them for your art. It can seem like a daunting task, but you can certainly have success if you try. We will be covering many options and hopefully you can find one that suits your needs.

The most obvious way and the easiest to start off with is to try selling your creations to your friends and family. This is a great way to gauge the pulse of wether your tie-dye shirts have the potential to sell to a larger public. The next step is to look for weekend festivals where dozens of craft artisans meet up to sell their wares. In the same vein, music venues are a great opportunity to reach many interested people. The last step is to go online, to establish your own store on the Internet for everyone to see.

There’s a lot that goes into having success in business and tie-dye is no different. All the same principles apply here as well. I’m talking about sourcing materials, calculating the costs of production, marketing and branding and much more. This post will focus primarily on where to find your first customers and how to expand your horizons from there. You don’t need a business plan to start selling and the rest can be figured out along the way.

Family and friends

This way of selling your shirts has only a very limited reach but is the most common method when you’re just starting out. You can sell a few pieces here and there, commonly at a lower price than you would sell to a stranger. At this point you’re only looking to establish a small base of repeating customers and you may even be surprised how much your friends can support you in your endeavors. You will need to approach them and propose your services directly to them.

Selling to your family and friends is the fastest and most cost-efficient way to see how your products do in the real world. It’s one thing to ask for their opinion about the quality and beauty of your products, but it’s another thing entirely for them to support their words by buying from you. If your products are well made and are well priced you should begin to see some interest. Do not be surprised if no one asks you directly to buy something. New customers, even if you know them well, are reticent and you should approach them first.

Weekend festivals and music venues

If you’ve seen success by selling to a few friends and family members, now is the time to open up your horizons and venture farther out. At this point you should have a few direct sales under your wings and you are ready to tackle a bigger challenge. Preparations are needed before selling at a venue. You will need a kiosk and enough stock to last you for the amount of time you plan on staying there.

After selling to the people you already know, the next logical step is to introduce your products to a larger public. The best way to do this is to find the nearest craft festivals and music venues that accommodate sellers. There you can see lot of foot traffic and can realize many sells if your kiosk is on-point and your products are attractive. The reason why these are the best venues is that you will find a lot of people at these events that are passionate about art, color, and flashy clothing. You need to go where your most likely customers are, where your products are recognized and valued.

Selling on the Internet

If you have bigger plans and are intent on making tie-dye your full-time job then there’s no better way than to completely open up your possibilities. Here we are talking about potentially selling to international customers from all over the world. For this you will need to think about your brand and your branding. At this point you should think about a name for your business if you don’t already have one. It’s a different game to sell on the internet and you should think hard about your branding.

Take your offer to the web. Open up your digital store on social medias first as they are easy to begin with and are free. Another good option is to put your products on free and paid marketplaces. Sites such as Etsy and Shopify will let you the opportunity to get going very quickly. If you have enough shirts you can try putting them on Amazon and Ebay, but you better start small at the beginning.

Nowhere else is there so many opportunities but also so much competition than on the Internet. You should be ready to take your game up to the next level if you are to succeed in this market. You may be the only tie-dye artist locally but this is not the case anymore when entering the international market. You should be prepared to have very solid products with

Opening your own store

The final step of the process is to open up your very own store. By this I mean first by having your own dedicated website and then launching a physical workshop where you can create your shirts and also give classes. Opening your own brick-and-mortar shop is only recommended if you already have a strong customer base or if you are located in an area which has a huge demand for tie-dye clothing and a severe lack of competition.

Having your own dedicated website and workshop will let you keep all your customers and transactions neatly inside your business. You will save costs and be able to better target and reach the needs of your customers. Having a workshop where you can sell your products and also give tie-dye classes is big expense but can be worth it when you have a large clientele.

Do you plan on creating all the shirts yourself or will you hire assistants to help you? The cost of opening and operating a physical workshop, as well as the cost of having employees can add up really quickly if you are not careful. Definitely only take this step if your finances are solid and you have a solid understanding of what you’re getting into.

Final thoughts

Getting from your first tie-dye shirt to having a successful business is a wild ride. You do not only compete against other tie-dye artists, but also against the clothing market as a whole. There definitely still is a huge gap in the market where the demand for tie-dye clothing far exceeds the current offers.

There are many opportunities in the tie-dye market, all you have to do is to find your niche, get creative, and start selling. No matter what business you start, you will have to break through the noise of the competition. For this we recommend that you use your talent and that you explore creative ways to market your products. We expect the market for tie-dye clothing to grow tremendously over the coming years and we would love to see you along for the ride.