This month our business in the Spotlight is The TT store. We spoke to Gary Bigwood who told us about the name, brand, printing techniques and he shares his tips on starting a T-shirt Company.
- Please tell us a bit about your brand and company.
A passion for old cars and motorbikes was the inspiration behind The TT Store. Visits with my son to Brooklands Motor Museum in Surrey sparked the idea – however it took another 10 years before I started the business last year. A couple of years ago I’d been art directing and producing, (my day job), the first Help for Heroes catalogue and thought I need to get on with The TT Store – so the plans took almost a year to get going. I’ve been asked why The TT Store name, its an obvious reference to ‘tourist trophy’ however the influence was ‘Thomson & Taylor’ who were a motor-racing and engineering company based at Brooklands in the 1930’s. They developed and prepared many land speed record cars between the two world wars, Sir Malcolm Campbell’s Blue Bird being one. They could easily be described as the ‘McLaren’ of their day.
- How did you come up with the T-shirt Designs?
We’re trying to recapture the advertising style of the mid 20th century and the 1950’s in particular. It really was a golden era with illustration styles that capture all that optimism after World War 2, prior to photography taking over in the early 1960’s. In many cases our retro designs need to be multicolour printed, so consistent quick turn around coupled with quality printing is essential.
- Any tips for increasing brand awareness within this area of business?
Send out samples to bloggers, editors and celebrities; go to events and take a stand at shows, do Postcard drops, (local papers etc). This will enable you to assess what sells, plus you need time to look around at the opposition too – so don’t go alone. Attending shows gives you valuable feedback on your designs as well. Get some really good help on social media, put together a campaign and build that email list because happy customers will always come back and buy again – however they need prompting so a regular newsletter with new products and discount codes come in handy.
- What printing technique to do you recommend for T-shirts?
I wanted to go down the retro route so silk screen was best for me. Many of the shirts will have a tough life so the print must be the best, and you still can’t beat a well printed silk screen printed T-shirt, (in my opinion).
Garment Printing offer lots of other printing techniques print-on-demand, DTG which could be a great way to go. Particularly for the early days of a start-up as it’ll ensure you don’t overstock and they’ll even send out your orders.
- Any tips for those looking to start their own t-shirt brand?
Don’t give up your day job, it has to be a passion and you’ll need to work hard, evenings and weekends. Don’t get too many printed, start with short runs or even print on demand, margins are less but the important thing is to find out what sells. Try ebay and other sites, as a good deal of them will click through to your site and possibly leave email details. When doing your business plan put aside a decent amount for advertising and promotion and of course social media. Go to events and do your homework. Produce a business plan, and when ready book a stand at a suitable show with a limited number of designs. Look professional and have one person dedicated to discussing the product armed with an ipad for email data capture.
The TT-Store have extended some Christmas Cheer, they are offering Garment Printing clients a 15% discount on their range of classic gifts.
Visit their store http://thettstore.co.uk/, and enter the promo code GP15 at the checkout.