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Do you make tee shirts or apparel with your Silhouette or Cricut? As a new school year is about to start, have you considered selling shirts or other gear to schools? If selling to schools interests you, here are 5 tips on how to approach schools with your products.
How to Approach Schools for Custom Tee Shirt Orders
- Reach out via phone. Starting to work with schools can be as easy as picking up the phone and calling the office number for more information. Once you get someone on the phone, simply introduce yourself and ask who you would need to talk to for more information. For example, “Hello, my name is Christine and I make custom tee shirts. I’m looking for the contact person to discuss the shirt needs for XYZ School.” Once you get that person on the phone, try to arrange an in person meeting to show off the designs you’ve made for the school. These could be physical samples (shirt made with heat transfer vinyl, rhinestones, etc) or high quality photo mockups. Need help with mockups? See this post.
- Contact through social media. Most schools have a Facebook or Instagram page. Again, reaching out is as easy as introducing yourself and asking for contact information. Don’t forget to search for the school’s PTA/PTO page, as it may be separate from the main schools social media accounts. If you don’t score a deal with the school itself, you may be able to work out something for the PTA/PTO to buy directly.
- Talk to your child’s teacher. If you have a child at the school already, you’ve already got a foot in the door. You can ask your child’s teacher for the contact information of the person in charge of buying shirts or other apparel. To take this idea further, you could gift a sample shirt to the teacher when you are asking for contact information. Once the teacher wears it – you’re likely to at least get orders from other teachers.
- Make a sample and take it to the office. While it may cost you a small amount of money to make a sample, the benefit of people seeing your work in person is priceless. Simply drop into the office and leave the sample shirt along with a business card and ask that they get given to the person in charge of purchasing. Personally, I think it is best to attach your business card or custom tag to the shirt so that they don’t get separated.
- Don’t go for the “top”. Most schools are likely to have a deal with a screen printer/embroiderer that currently provides shirts for the school. Consider approaching teachers who head up clubs, groups, or sports. For example: the yearbook staff, the art club, the chess club, the drama group, the French club, and so on. It is likely harder for these smaller clubs to get shirts because they won’t meet the minimum order amounts for larger wholesalers – but will need large enough orders to make it worth your time.
What happens after you’ve got the school’s interest?
In some cases you’ll need to request the permission of the school, district, or school board to use their logo(s). You’ll want to keep a written record of any permissions or licensing given to you. Also, don’t be surprised if the school wants to pay through a purchase order written directly to your business. This is pretty common. It does mean that you’ll need to be a registered business to be able to get paid.
And don’t forget – shirts aren’t the only thing you can sell to schools. There’s headbands, shorts, sweatpants, hoodies, decals, and more! The methods above will work for any products.
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Since 2015, Christine Schinagl has been helping crafters start and run craft businesses through her blog, Cutting for Business. As a Silhouette and Cricut crafter herself, she has a unique take on what works and what doesn’t work in the craft business world. She also teaches a course on creating digital SVG designs, available at How to Design SVGs.