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There is so much more to the fashion industry than haute couture and runway collections. Case in point: custom hoodies, and the strong demand for creatives who can design and execute made-to-order hoodies online.

From bachelorette parties to bar mitzvahs, there are lots of occasions that call for custom hoodies. And if you’ve got the skills to make them, why not tap into a large and lucrative market and start a home business that puts your talents to use?

Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in how to make custom hoodies as a side gig or full-time career, including where to buy hoodies wholesale and—just as important—where to sell your customized hoodies for profit. 

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4 Ways to Make Custom Hoodies

It’s one thing to customize hoodies for fun, and a whole other to set your sights on opening up a successful online shop. To make the leap, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using the best techniques for creating custom hoodies, with a focus on high-quality results that won’t fade or fall apart in the washing machine.

You have a few options for how to customize hoodies, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Which technique should you go with? It depends on what your skill set is, as well as the equipment you have available.

1. Embroider Hoodies

Machine embroidery is an impressive skill with a ton of utility when it comes to creating original hoodie designs. You can use it to draw designs onto hoodies with thread or to apply other types of creative stitches that can only be made at the hands of an experienced sewer. In either case, you’ll be able to custom embroider hoodies in a way that’s hard to replicate unless the work is being done by hand, giving you a nice advantage in online sales.

embroidery skull
As far as custom hoodies go, it’s hard to beat the quality of work you get from machine embroidery. (Embroidered skull by Skillshare student Aurora Pedro.)

Keep in mind that, unless you work super-fast, you might be somewhat limited in the orders you can take on, since rush jobs and bulk projects could be more time-consuming than they’re worth. If you’re well-versed in modern embroidery design, though, and confident you can execute, there are people willing to pay decent money for custom embroidered hoodies that are truly one-of-a-kind.

2. Screen Print Hoodies

Another option for how to make custom hoodies is to screen print them, which doesn’t require much more than having the right equipment—or at least having access to it.

It is possible to DIY screen print hoodies with acrylic paints or Mod Podge, but these methods can lead to designs that crack and fade over time. A better option is to use a screen printing machine, which will provide long-lasting results that look a lot more professional and hold up to repeated wash cycles.  

A quality screen printing press can cost thousands of dollars, so unless you’re ready to make a substantial investment in your custom hoodie business, your best bet is to partner up with a print-on-demand company. Just be sure to order a few pieces yourself first so you know how the designs come out and can stand behind the hoodies you’re selling.

3. Sublimate Hoodies  

Another option is to customize hoodies with sublimation printing, which is a technique that involves using heat to transfer an image from paper into the fibers of fabric.

As with screen printing, the right equipment will be key. In this case, that will include a special sublimation printer, sublimation paper, and ink. Again, you can invest in your own set-up, but you can also upload your designs to printing companies that can sublimate for you.

If you’re going to attempt this process on your own, practice how to sublimate a hoodie on different materials to get a feel for what works and looks the best. While you technically can sublimate hoodies of any material, sublimation on cotton or other natural materials won’t produce a permanent application, so you’ll want to stick to hoodies made from polyester or poly-blends.

hoody
Source:Unsplash
Printing is a good choice for making custom hoodies and can be particularly useful when you need to create a bulk order with the same exact design on multiple pieces.

4. Paint Hoodies

Textile painting is another option that offers a handcrafted result for your customers. Similar to embroidery, it’s a slower process than screen printing or sublimation, however it requires simple supplies that you can buy at any art store—plus a steady hand and plenty of practice.

Use liquid or spray fabric paint depending on your style and the design you’re trying to create, and take your time so you don’t make a mistake and have to start over. If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with using stencils on fabric, particularly if you intend to sell custom bulk orders.  

Ready to Open Shop?

Starting a Successful Side-Hustle

Where to Buy Hoodies in Bulk

If you’re handcrafting your work or printing at home, you’ll want to buy hoodies wholesale and in bulk to cut down costs and stay stocked with inventory.

You’ve got several options for where to buy product, including Amazon, Etsy, ShirtSpace, and Blank Apparel. You can also buy in bulk directly from brands like Gildan and Hanes. Be sure to do a price comparison before settling on a wholesaler, and purchase an assortment of sizes and colors. As you grow your business, you’ll get a feel for the exact styles that sell out the most and can order more of those in the future.

Depending on your techniques, though, you might not actually need to buy any inventory upfront. Print-on-demand websites will allow you to buy and print hoodies as needed, saving you time and money and making it so that you can run a business without any product on hand.

Where to Sell Custom Hoodies

The goal of any business is to reach as many customers as possible. And to do that, you’ll want to figure out where—and how—to sell your custom hoodies with efficiency.  

Definitely create a website for your hoodie business, but don’t rely on it entirely for sales. It takes time to work up a following and get eyes on your page, and you’re better off focusing your efforts on websites that already have an established audience—at least in the beginning. (Though there’s a lot of competition, so you’ll still need to put work into marketing your products.)

Start with one or more of these platforms, then expand as needed to reach even more potential customers.

hoodies
Source:etsy
There are a lot of custom hoodie sellers on sites like Etsy, so you’ll want to budget for on- and/or off-site marketing.

Etsy

Etsy is a popular choice for people selling custom hoodies and other goods. To get your store off the ground, create some designs that people can buy in addition to offering custom work. Look at the average cost of custom hoodies on the site, too, so you know how to set competitive prices.

Fees and transaction costs on Etsy are $0.20 per listing plus a 6.5% transaction fee on every sale. There is also a payment processing fee of 3% of the total sale plus $0.25. Extra costs you may incur on the site include advertising fees, website creation fees, and shipping fees, depending on how you structure your business.

Society6

Society6 is another marketplace that’s worth looking into. The platform is perhaps best known as a place to sell art, but they also have sections for apparel, home décor, and other originally designed pieces.

You’ll set the price for your custom hoodies on Society6, but unlike with Etsy, there are no transaction fees. Instead, Society6 will pay you 10% of the retail price on every item you sell. It probably isn’t enough to create a full-time income from, but it could pad your pockets if you’re also selling in other places.

Printful

Printful is a print-on-demand platform that allows you to create custom apparel designs and take orders. When an order comes in, they’ll also do the printing, packing, and shipping for you. There are no order minimums, which is a nice perk, and you won’t need to store any inventory yourself.

Set a retail price for each item by taking Printful’s base price for a product and adding your desired profit margin (the site recommends 30%). Make sure to account for other fees on your end, too, such as shipping and taxes.

How Much Does It Cost to Custom a Hoodie?

A crucial part of how to customize hoodies and make a profit from it is setting the right price for your apparel. There are two questions you’ll want to answer to do this: How much does the average hoodie cost, and how much do you want to earn?

Suggested retail for a standard hoodie is around $25 to $35. From there, you’ll need to figure out how much you’re spending in supplies and added fees, and how much your time and skills are worth. Ultimately, you want to set prices that are high enough to get a return, but not so high that nobody buys your products. 

Get Started on Etsy

Etsy Launch: How to Open an Etsy Shop Like a Professional Seller