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How many t-shirts should I start a business with?

One of the most frequently asked questions that I get is “How many t-shirts should I start a business with?” so I thought I should answer that here.

My initial answer to how many tees to start out with is “It depends on your budget.” If you have $500 to invest in getting your tee business off the ground, you'll have no choice but to start with a different number of tees than if you have a $5,000 budget. To determine how many tees to start off with, take a look at what it costs you to purchase and print each tee, as well as how much your hangtags, labels and shipping charges will be for each tee. If your average cost per tee adds up to $7.50, let's say, and you have a budget of $500, you'll only be able to start off with about 60 shirts. But if your budget is $1000, then you might be able to start with 130 or so tees.

However, if you are willing to invest more to get your business off the ground, here's my advice. Start out with no more than 8 designs and 6 tees for each size in each design. That comes out to 24 tees per design (6S, 6M, 6L, 6XL) and a total of 192 tees across your entire line. That way, you can do an initial test run and see which sizes are selling the best for you, as well as which designs. If there are some designs that are really not selling that well for you, then you should probably consider discontinuing those designs for future runs and testing other ones in their place. And if you see that you are selling more of sizes S and M, for example, then you can take that into account when you place your second order and get more S and M than L and XL.

I hope this is helpful and I would love to know what your experience has been with ordering initial inventory. How many tees did you start out with when you started your t-shirt business? Leave a comment below and let me know.


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  1. Hi Andreea!

    I found this post doing a Google search (I’m getting ready to launch my first tees) and it’s exactly the information I was looking for.

    Many thanks,

  2. I also found this post doing a Google search. I have been hesitant about launching my tshirts but the information on this site has given me the courage to do it.

  3. Wow this really helped me out with making my decision on what and how to produce my first round of shirts.

  4. This so helped, thank you very much. Could not figure out how much stock i could start off with but now that i have found this post. Thanks again.

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