How To Start A Heat Transfer Vinyl Business
You decided you want to start your own vinyl crafting business. The good news is you’ve picked the right business! Vinyl is available in hundreds of colors, finishes, and textures. In addition, there are a variety of substrates you can apply your vinyl to; aprons, t shirts, canvas bags, jackets, oven mitts, sweaters, hats, socks, phone cases, laptop covers, banners, blankets, and the list goes on. Personalized home goods, customized apparel, and unique merch are all in very high demand. The decision to use vinyl as your medium of choice offers a low cost of entry into the crafting business and more flexibility in what you can provide your customers. In understanding this we are still faced with the inevitable question. Where do I begin?
If you’ve surfed the net at any point in the last decade you understand that most information you need is readily available with one mouse click. There’s an abundance of info on equipment choices, start up supplies, and marketing. Choices are a good thing, but the overload can become confusing and overwhelming for some. The Ameriflex™ website has a few tools and hacks that will limit your decision fatigue, and help navigate the large variety of equipment and supply options available on the market. In order to do that ask yourself a few preliminary questions;
Will I focus on creating and selling my own custom designed products?
Will I focus on customizing items for others as a service?
Should I settle for a combination of selling my own products and customizing items for customers?
Will I sell online?
Will I sell at pop up shops and flea markets?
Will I focus on clients within my circle of influence and community?
Will I seek clients in large corporations, schools, and houses of worship?
Will I operate my business at home?
Should I set up a retail storefront?
What is my startup budget?
What products will I offer?
How often will you cut your designs?
How large will your transfers have to be?
What do you expect to print?
There is a small list of essential equipment and supplies needed to start and run a vinyl crafting business. After answering the questions above you will be able to determine the mandatory features your equipment should come with. The list of essential equipment and supplies include; vinyl cutter and its recommended software, vinyl weeder, teflon sheets, heat press, vinyl remover. The list of variable supplies needed will be substrate blanks, and vinyl.
What is and what size vinyl cutter should I purchase?
Vinyl cutters range in size, function, and speed. There are smaller less expensive vinyl cutters that are great for crafters and home-based businesses. Some of the most popular and reliable cutters are the cricut and silhouette vinyl cutters. If you only offer customized apparel as a business product or service, starting with one of these machines may serve as your most economical option. However, if your business caters to another popular niche - events and party planning, you may want to consider a large format cutter. Large format cutters range in functional differences that include faster cut times, wider design cutting capabilities, and print and cut options. Large format cutters will reduce production time and increase the range of services you can offer as a business.
Should I use a heat press?
Yes, its true - you can start your home based crafting business with an iron! Is it recommended? Here are factors you want to consider; You want to be sure your vinyl is properly bonded to the substrate. Especially if you intend to sell your product to a customer. Each type of vinyl will have its own recommended time, pressure, heating temperature, and appropriate peeling temperature recommended by the manufacturer. It’s important to follow these application instructions. By stepping outside these parameters you risk diminishing the durability of your end product. Proper settings can be mimicked using an iron, but there’s no way to be 100% sure its accurate. A heat press will distribute heat evenly and apply the appropriate amounts of pressure to your heat transfer material.
Which heat press should you choose? Like the vinyl cutter, the heat press range in size and features but will also come in a few different designs. The size of the heat transfer image you expect to imprint will determine the heat press size you want to start out with (5x5, 9x12, 15x15, 16x24, 40x40 etc). Your choice in vinyl cutter will most likely, and should, align with your choice in heat press size. Design Functionality is another important factor to consider during the heat press decision making process. There are several designs that offer functional benefits such as clam shell, swing away, and slide out drawer heat presses. Clam shell designs are the most common used press. Its angled opening has an appearance reminiscent of an open clam shell. The clam shell design is more compact and operates using vertical movement, making it ideal to use in smaller spaces such as a home office.
In contrast, the swing away heat press design swings the top platen away from the lower platen. This allows for more versatility in what you can imprint on. The top platen lowers onto the bottom platen in an even manner. Applying even heat and pressure to thick and less flaccid substrates like tiles, plates, and leather. The swing away design of the top platen keeps the heat away while you’re adjusting your substrate and heat transfer helping increase productivity. Similar in functional benefit, but different in design aesthetics the slide out drawer heat press offers a feature that will separate the heat from the work surface. The bottom platen slides out like a drawer while you’re adjusting your substrate and heat transfer vinyl. There are other add on features you may be interested in depending on what you offer your customers. There are heat presses that have Interchangeable platens and will come with additional attachments that will allow you to heat press hats, mugs, plates, tiles etc.
Recommendations before investing in any equipment;
Read product reviews, and purchase from a reputable company with good customer service. Issues will arise and/or you’ll have a simple question that requires the assistance of someone knowledgeable about your product. Technical support in these cases become an invaluable commodity.
Find a reputable supplier with great reviews and great customer service.
Mistakes are fine, learn from them.
Price your items to not only include your material cost, but your labor cost as well.
Take pictures of your finished products. Use those pictures to obtain more customers and as examples for current customers.
Always test cut new vinyl.
Continue to learn and educate yourself.