Printing on Shirts Doesn’t Sound Exciting — Yet, My Friend Started in 2021 With $600K Annual Sales
“Ughh, you want to create a new Youtube channel? There are more than 800 million videos, everyone is doing it, and you probably won’t succeed.”
We commonly believe that there is always a “top” in everything.
There is the top restaurant.
There is the top ride-sharing app.
Obviously, there is the top phone, and so on.
Most people are not consciously aware that “top” is a state of time. We do have a top phone, but, logically, it won’t be the top forever.
The main question is, “Till when will it remain on top?”
The answer could be a hundred years. However, it could also be a hundred seconds. If you had the inspiration to create a new phone that competed with the top phone and gave it up because you thought Apple would remain on top for the next hundred years.
You might have missed the opportunity of your life because Apple could very much fail in the next hundred seconds.
However, they did not because you never dared to create the iPhone killer.
“Print your life away for almost nothing per hour.”
A childhood friend of mine moved to the US around eight years ago. Hence, he needed a job and worked for a shop that sells print-on-demand shirts. But, of course, he was getting paid in the low figures.
However, the more he worked, the more he saw an opportunity with his own eyes. He saw that people liked buying print-on-demand shirts, even if the world thinks this is outdated or not trending like NFTs.
Hence, a few years later, he saved up an amount and bought a printing machine, and rented a tiny kiosk in a mall. This happened while he kept his other job printing shirts.
Money was coming in slowly. What was coming in rapidly was learning. He was learning how to deal with copyright violations, business rentals, taxes, and employees.
“Santa sends his love.”
Before demotivation hit the roof, Santa Claus gave Moe (I forgot to mention the founder's name) a lesson.
In the few days of Christmas, Moe got an astonishing level of demand that broke even his whole financial year. He now understood how his target segment behaves at Christmas and prepared for it for the upcoming year. Learning about the market, he embarked on working further years in the same business industry.
Let’s talk numbers.
Time went by, and I touched base with Moe earlier this year. He just opened his spacious shop and had the following statistics for 2021:
- $600k in revenue
- $120k in profit
- $150k in fixed assets like printing machines.
“Jeff Bezos sends further love.”
Around twenty percent of his revenue came from his experimentation with using Amazon, which he never expected. Nonetheless, the dominant percentage of his sales comes from direct retail sales.
“Thank you. I do not need a pitch deck.”
Moe never needed a pitch deck or a business plan (This reminds me of a book called “Burn the business plan by Carl Schramm” — interesting read.)
His business plan consists of using his arms to print artwork on a shirt or a mug each time. His shop, WildCustomApparel, won’t be a billion-dollar company. Yet that won’t stop him from growing in revenue by a few million dollars each year.
Additionally, if Moe decides to end such a project, he can simply sell the company for a seven-figure on a website like Flippa or elsewhere.
A year ago, I worked with a client in this industry with a more scalable business model. They go by the name Subliminator (which I’ll write another detailed article about their rise and entrepreneurship journey later on.)
During my research, I embarked upon one of the gurus in this industry: Printful. They simplify the process from a B2B perspective to people like Moe without even a printer. They do not want entrepreneurs to think logistically of printing and instead focus on the marketing and design of their products.
They are valued at $1 billion after getting a $130 million investment last year.
Their operations prove that this industry is a growing industry by all means. In a nutshell, people want shirts with messages that convey what they want to say.
According to Printful, “The print-on-demand industry has grown by 12% over the last four years.”
“Build the iPhone killer!”
An analyst might look at this print-on-demand industry and assume that it does not have exponential growth in the future. However, people like Moe know that it is not really about the shirts, the mugs, or the hats.
It’s about the fact that people like to have a voice. They want to express themselves, whether that’s through social media, meetings, or simply a shirt.
Hence, as long as people want to express themselves, this industry will keep on growing.
“Look in front, not around you.”
Try telling the next person you see that you are thinking of starting a restaurant. Ask them whether they believe at the bottom of their hearts that this restaurant could be the best in the world one day.
If they do not answer with “Yes, there is a chance,” you should take this as motivation to move you forward rather than demotivation.
Prove them wrong. You would be following the footsteps of legends like Steve Jobs, Anna Wintour (you should google her if you don’t know her), Colonel Sanders, etc.
You would be the new Moe, but certainly not the last Moe to exist.
I’m Al, a business consultant in Zurich, Switzerland. I believe in the power of delivering value to you, the reader. Follow me on various social media platforms if you’re interested in the value of my content.
Note: I am not associated with advertising WildCustomApparel in any method and not getting paid from them for such an article. I only write to inspire the many entrepreneurs-to-be out there.