How to Start a T-Shirt Business or Side Hustle

How do I start my own t-shirt businesses?

How to start a your Clothing Line in NZ

(T-Shirts, Hoodies, Caps etc) in 2024

If you are reading this and think you are reinventing the wheel by changing out the L in LSKD or Geed in Geed Up and leave it at that you have a bit more work cut out ahead of you than you might think.

Dozens of small labels, and brands start every day, this isn’t easy or quick.
And you will need to do the research and meet MOQs if we are going to screen print for you.

If you are hoping to start a label by making 10 Hoodies that are just a Rip off of Geedup, this isn’t the journey for you – That will set you back thousands and is best done with a DTG printer.

In fact – if you are still in the ‘thinking about it phase’ chances are we aren’t the right company for your production, our MOQ is 20 but Direct To Garment might suit better unless you are well over that amount.

However even though we may not be the right fit, we’ve put this article together to help you out starting your label. And hope it helps you on your journey.

How did they start LSKD?

LSKD a brief history:

Jason Daniel stared out because he wanted to make his own clothing, starting in 2002 as a teen with printed t-shirts and apparel – his mother helped him fill out his first Trademark and he started selling from her home as Loose Kid, later LKI and then LSKD.

Right from the beginning he loved motorcross, and bmx and he had that niche in mind, he was creating clothing he wanted and it reflected the communities he was part of, looking back at his old website (webarchive link) it is evident that he had a market in mind, and while that may have shifted to a general lifestyle brand, the performance focus is very much still evident.

In 2018 it all came to a head, which a product for everything he was scattered, and thats when he brought it back to what started it, high quality performance wear… that he would wear himself.

Jason Daniel is worth researching, this interview in particular is great.

Steal their hustle. Find your (own) niche:

Lululemon, LSKD, Nike, Adidas, Under Armour…. The market is packed.. It’s not that you cannot simply start a brand – It’s that is hard work.

LSKD looks like they came out of no where, but they’ve been slogging away since 2002, thats 22 years and they’ve only been a household name for the last five or so.

If you were hoping to emulate LSKD you need to be in it for the long haul… this isn’t a get rich quick scheme. This is work.

You also need a target market, having a niche you are a part of will help you focus and assist in marketing your printed t-shirts etc.


What can we learn from LSKD?

Start with a niche – What are you involved in? Do your own thing.
Start out simple – or run into issues and be forced to roll back later.
Hard Work pays off – This wasn’t an overnight success.
Starting out isn’t simple or cheap. 

Step 1.
Decide what you represent/your target market

You will need a product, and the garment is only part of the equation.

Your brand, your designs are what will sell your apparel.
If you are reading this, you probably already have an idea or two.

This is the most essential element, you need a game plan and you need a game.

Jason was embedded in the local bmx and motocross scene, this means he already had contacts and potential buyers and a clear niche.

Trying to be too broad in targeting will get you into issues – You want to start with a niche that you know.

Step 2.
Do market research

Do your own thing, don’t try to rip Geed Up off this is a waste of time.

Look into how saturated your niche is.

How many people are doing what you are doing?
Look up your niche and see how much competition you have, what can you do different and is there room for another brand?

Do you have a social media following?
This is the easiest and cheapest market research available, if you have social clout then you probably have a market to.. well… market to.

Otherwise pick your target and look at other brands in that space. Check out the competition and see if you can fill a space in a niche.

Seek advice from others doing the same, in other niches and your own, find holes.

Step 3.
Get refining

Great, you have an idea.

You think you have a niche, or you can find a spot in a market.

Now you need to get to work on your brand and your design.

We have some tips below you should follow to get the best returns and have the least returns. So please use the following tips.

You will want some input, everyone will have different opinions so pick a handful of people to be your testers and show them your stuff. This group is important so if you do have someone doing something similar in a different niche use them.

We recommend starting with a quality blank and screenprinting your logo to start out.


Ideally you will have come up with the design yourself.

We get dozens of enquiries of people trying to rip off Geed Up and LSKD every week – Don’t, do your own thing or don’t bother at all.

Contact a designer to finalise and tidy up your designs. See Tip Two Below!

The idea is to be clear and communicate from the start, find a designer that does apparel – and ideally start easy to reproduce across mediums – a design that works in web, print, apparel is what you are after. is one place to find Kiwi Designers.

We do not do design work – we work with established companies to do their custom branding once they are at scale.

We recommend solid colours. The less the better.


We are commercial branders, if you aren’t at scale yet, we probably shouldn’t be your first step.

We do not drop ship and we do not print under 20 units.

Ideally by the time we are printing your work you will know what you are after.

If you are after a drop shipping company your best bet is to google DTG Printing or Direct to Garment Printing.

A lot of malls have small monogramming stores that do this sort of work!

This is a type of printing involving a giant Ink Jet printer directly onto apparel.


The elephant in the room. Massive prints are in.

BUT they aren’t cheap and most Geedup items are completely bespoke, they are printed, embroidered and branded then the panels are sewn.

There are two reasons why they are expensive:

One is the fact that the price is the product, you are paying a lot to make a statement that you can afford a lot.

And the other reason is that this style of branding is expensive. To even mimic their hoody below you would likely need to get applique patches made up and then have them added to a quality stock hoody.

The end result won’t be as long lasting or as good. And even if you were doing hundreds these would cost you hundreds.

This isn’t a journey we can help you with, you need a massive budget to get started. And even Geedup who are producing thousands of these do so with preorder “drops”. They know they will sell thousands at this point, but their overseas factories don’t even produce them until they have enough orders.

This hoody, even to try and make it from stock items would cost well into the $100+ range to make even if you could get up into high volumes. This is a fully indented item made in Overseas factories at big volumes.

Prints across seams are generally achieved by printing panels and then having the shirt sewn together. Like the hoody across, at small volumes you are looking at $100+ per unit.

Which makes it a hard sell.
We do not print across seams.

When branding premade garements you want to stay within the standard print areas and avoid Seams


Start simple – Less products, less designs.

As per above, LSKD had to roll back to basics and pair down in order to focus and grow.

As such working on an initial design that works multiple garments and in one colour way is absolutely the best way to start.

In fact use as few colours as possible, particularly if you want to screen print.

Think about all of the applications.

You will want your logo in particular to work on shirts, hoods and other apparel, however you will probably want it to work on websites and perhaps signage and business cards


Get your artwork right from the beginning.

WORK IN VECTOR – programs such as Illustrator are best, this will save you headaches going forward.

WORK IN CMYK – as RGB is for Screens you should always work in CMYK to make sure what you are seeing is close to possible as the output will be. RGB will show colours that cannot exist in print.

USE PANTONE COLOURS – Pantone Solid Coated colours are what we match to, also offset printers and signage. This is a universal matching system.

It is best to use a designer. Check out unicorn factory.

Learn about the process here.


Stock is hard to gauge!

It is easier to stock  5 Small, 5 Large, 5 XL, 5 XXL, 5 3XL of One or Two items vs Dozens. You do not want to end up with heaps of sizes you aren’t selling.

This is why we suggest one or two styles to start with, and why unisex is great (unless your brand is entirely female or male targeted).

Or do a preorder “Drop”

Put your design online, with limited edition drop. Get preorders and generate fomo.

This will make sure you know how many and what sizes to order!

Tip 4

Use high quality apparel basics

When screen printing, the better the canvas, the better the result.

AS Colour have traditionally been our recommendation for quality basics however Urban Collabs “The Club” Tee is a fantastic alternative.

Step 4.
Decide what you want to start with for your t-shirt business – GET A PRICE

Our pricing calculator will give you a good idea of how much your run will cost.

Or you can fire us an email using our contact form and we can quote on your requirements.

We quote based on Your Requirements, our calculators give you an indication but every job is different, there is no one fits all Price List.

This is a really good time for us to take a look at the artwork and make sure it is all fine for a production run – before you advertise. 

Step 5.
Get your numbers together

Because you are starting out with a quality unisex garment, or at least a limited range this is going to be easy.

You can either take a stab at how many of each size you need or use Social Media to do a presale, a merch drop or whatever you want to call it.

Make it a limited time drop or an early order special.

Whatever you call it, doing presales will give you not only sales, but also an idea of what sizes you’ll be needing going forwards.

AND it will let you know if your design is going to sell. IF it doesn’t go back to the drawing board. Very few labels make it on their first design.

Step 6.
Send your order over

We’ll double check everything, proof the artwork back and get started.

Don’t have usable artwork? try

Tags, Packaging and More.

We have a page dedicated to extras here.
Neck Tags, Pips etc are easy: Labels By Shelley or Pattersons can arrange the tags. If you are using AS Colour they will do the replacement, otherwise any alterations company can help. are based in Auckland and also offer some Ribbon and Label printing.

See Our Work See Our Pricing