In 2008, I had an idea. Since I was passionate about drawing and collecting graphic tees and hoodies, I decided it was time to begin my side gig in apparel crafting. I had an extensive collection of t-shirts and hoodies and as time went on, I got really good at picking out unique designs that usually attracted a lot of attention when I went out.
I always found that the attention my t-shirts got sparked a burst of creativity and motivation in me. So I began to draw my own designs on tees and hoodies I had at home.
This became so much fun for me that I found myself buying many portfolio books to keep my sketches organized because my ideas were popping in my head too fast for me to keep up in producing them onto tees.
When I first started crafting, I used Heather Grey tees and hoodies. I figured the coverage with the markers I had in mind to use would be easier. Other colors would be too dark and I wasn’t a fan of white hoodies so I worked with what I liked and had at home.
I began wearing my designs.
Soon after, my friends and family members started to approach me about designing tees for them. Some people even asked me to teach them.
In time, I had a developed a following so I decided to make it a side business and registered my brand as Inner Monster.
Eventually I started changing things up because I realized the colors weren’t as vibrant as I wanted them to look. And every time I washed a shirt or hoodie, the colors would fade.
I started thinking about what I needed to do to get the fabric to feel like I was working on a white canvas. So I continued to use Sharpie markers for the outline and then started filling in the outline with white Palmers Fabric Paint.
Now that it felt like a piece of blank canvas I was able to add color over the white. I would use Palmer Fabric Paint, Marvy the Fabric Marker, Setaskrib+, Crayola Fabric Markers or Elmer’s Paint Markers.
I definitely preferred the brands of paint and markers I was using (Crayola, Marvy, Setaskrib+ and Elmer’s) because the tips were softer and others were too stiff. I found that the softer tip adhered to the fabric paint better. On the other hand, Sharpies were the best for outlining because the tips are stiff.
Once I was done with the design, I would let it settle for about 24hrs. Then I would take a piece of blank white paper and place it over the image. I would iron over the white paper covering the image on low heat just to set the colors.
After starting to use the white paint as a base, I could use any color tee or hoodie because I wasn’t painting directly onto the bare fabric.
A couple of years after designing and producing my own apparel, I thought about exploring ways of transferring my drawings digitally. I began to research printing shops for mass production. The demand for my tees had increased for what I could supply – I simply couldn’t keep up because I was working a full-time job.
I eventually had some of my designs produced at a screen printer and others I would craft by hand as limited edition designs.
I sold my tees at flea markets, craft shows and car shows and managed to not only enjoy it, but also make extra money on the weekends.
Car shows were quite good and offered a better return on my investment. My Inner Monster theme went well with the muscle car perception of car enthusiasts. As a car enthusiast myself, I was enjoying this aspect of my marketing.
I also started uploading images unto Zazzle which I promote on Instagram and make some sales that way too. I’ve even graduated to making custom tees for children’s birthday parties.
I put up a website through Wix to showcase my designs but since I did it myself, and I’m not the least bit techy, I decided to take it down because I didn’t want it to represent my brand. For now, I send people to Zazzle to look at my designs but have plans to have a website made professionally.
So if your thinking about not knowing where to get started with making your crafting hobby a business, do like I did. I knew nothing except how to draw. The rest just flowed as it came to me.
I still work a full-time job but I also make a pretty decent side income in t-shirt crafting with no website. To be able to engage in my craft and get paid for it is a nice perk.