Niche Markets for Direct-to-Garment Printing

Niche Markets for Direct-to-Garment PrintingSeptember 4th Show Audio

Please find some links and notes from the 2 Regular Guys Podcast. Finding a niche market has two parts. First you need to determine the capabilities of your chosen decoration method. Second, what options in the marketplace are best suited to that technology? On our show this week we’ve determined our decoration method will be direct-to-garment. Part two will be a discussion of niche markets best suited to this process. Niche Markets for Direct-to-Garment Printing!

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NBM Philly Update

Aaron: For our NBM Philly Update, we have a new guest. James “Ruggs” Kochevar is publisher of Sign & Digital Graphics and A&E magazines. Welcome to the show, Ruggs.

Terry: We appreciate you joining us today. So tell us how this Philadelphia show compared to previous years.

Aaron: What kind of feedback did you get from vendors and from attendees?

Aaron: Did you try a Philly cheese steak while you were there?? I know Terry has an opinion on that particular food item.

Terry: There was some conversation last year about moving the Philly event. Is the schedule set for next year?

Aaron: I see you’re planning a two-day show in Denver this Fall. Is there a reason for the change in format, and how’s the planning going for this event?

Terry: So what’s new with NBM here as we head toward the end of 2015?

Niche Markets for Direct-to-Garment Printing

The idea of looking at niche markets from the angle of exploiting the advantages of the equipment actually sprung from an article I recently wrote for Impressions Magazine.

Finding a niche market has two parts. First you need to determine the capabilities of your chosen decoration method. Second, what options in the marketplace are best suited to that technology? On our show this week we’ve determined our decoration method will be direct-to-garment. Part two will be a discussion of niche markets best suited to this process.

The first advantage I want to talk about is the immediacy of DTG printing.

In seminars and classes I always tell my students that they should constantly think in terms of “I should do shirts!” no matter what the situation. With the immediacy of DTG decoration, this is doubly true.

Taking the “think like an entrepreneur” concept to the extreme, I call this idea “Ice Cream and Whale Watching.” I met a couple living on the Atlantic coast who own an ice cream shop. This particular shop is situated near the boats taking tourists out into the Atlantic to seasonally watch the whales. These tourists are quite literally out on the sea for the adventure of a lifetime. After returning to shore, what better way to wrap up your adventure than having an ice cream sundae?

The entrepreneur spirit said, “We should put those pictures on t-shirts while our customers eat their ice cream!”

Other immediate niche markets
-Recently departed
-Current events – Big 12 Champs


A real advantage is that you can go where the customer are.

Many machines are portable and have the potential of creating a buzz around an event when customers start wearing their freshly printed garments.

An example would be car shows around the country. One successful technique is to take photos of the cars on display, go back to the trailer or tent, and drop that image into a predesigned template mentioning the show, the date, etc. Then, it’s as simple as walking back to the car and holding up the shirt in front of the owner. There’s only one question from the car owner at that point, “How much?”

Other niche markets where you can go to the customer
-Gymnastics events
-HS football and basketball games
-Halloween haunted houses


Obviously with DTG you can do just one shirt. Any markets that scream out for short runs?

Local rock bands are a perfect example here. My son’s band in Austin would love to have a variety of shirts on their “merch” table, but with screen printing their limited. Hook up with the venue manager.

Other very short run niche markets
-Family reunions


DTG has the same advantage of having 16 million colors to offer. What’s an example of using this to our advantage?

A huge advantage of DTG printing is the ability to use all the colors you can imagine. This sets a DTG printer in a class alone compared to screen printing. I have a friend in Southern California who accidently found a niche market in local local artists. These artists will love the opportunity to feature many of their creations and buy in small quantities. What he discovered was that once one artist came to him, they all came to him.

Art festivals are a great place to find customers to put their art on shirts to resell. Be prepared for some critical eyes on the colors, etc. when dealing with these artists.

Other examples of multicolor niche customers
-Colorado marijuana dispensaries.


We all have lives outside our businesses, or at least we did at one time. A great way to stay connected with hobbies, causes and personal interests is to marry your passion to your DTG business.

I know a printer who offers a line of monster shirts year round. He’s a faithful fan of those 1950’s and 1960’s black and white monster movies. This decorator loves everything about these movies and that industry. He was attending related events anyway, so why not make a little money and meet like-minded people.

Other markets where operators follow their passions
-Every cause on the planet
-Ethnic pride
-Home brewers


The concept here is to create in your own mind a whole new way to promote and sell your garments – create a new market where no market existed in its place before. A handful of DTG operators had the exact same marketing idea and are pursuing it successfully. And there is still room for your business as well.

These decorators offer their services to corporate events – picnics, holiday parties, open houses, and more. The number of shirts to be produced will be predetermined, and prepaid! One example is the printer who sets up a green screen, shoots a picture of each party attendee, drops the picture into a template and creates an instant party favor. Attendees pick up their shirts as they leave the event.

Other niche markets you can create
-Motorcycle dealers, etc.
-Game day packages


I’m a huge proponent of creating a consistent cash flow through repeat customers. I’ll use lawn care as an example. These lawn care specialists mow, rake, trim and edge. As they do it, they’re ruining the shirts issued to them by their employer.

Your task is to create an easy way to 1) offer a package of shirts, sweatshirts, caps, etc. for each of their new employees, and 2) a simple way to offer replacement garments as the season progresses. Once you create such a package, you are in the business of printing replacements.

Other repeat customer niche markets
-Health care workers, and remember home health care as well.
-Uniforms and event shirts for bars and taverns
-Jim’s Towing Service
-Auto repair shops
-Heating and AC


TIP: Make a list of 20 things you’re passionate about yourself. Don’t stop until you write 20. In that list is probably the gem of a niche market concept.


  1. ISS Orlando – 9/10 to 9/12
  2. NBM Denver – 10/2 to 10/3
  3. ISS Ft Worth – 10/15 to 10/17
  4. SGIA Atlanta – 11/4 to 11/6

Other News/Events

Terry’s Books

Screen Printing: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Direct to Garment: A Practical Guide to Starting Your Own T-Shirt Business Just $4.95 as an e-book.

Scheduling and Estimating Production Time for Garment Screen Printing Just $2.99 as an e-book

EnMartThis show is brought to you for a full hour by: EnMartWhile EnMart is well-known as a supplier of quality garment decoration supplies and ccessories, we pride ourselves on being more than just a seller of products. At EnMart, we are here for our customers, to inspire, educate, and provide the tools to help grow their businesses.

Whether your interests lie in sublimation, embroidery, or any other garment decoration, EnMart’s knowledgeable and experienced team is here to help in any way they can.

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