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Transfers are printed onto release papers that require heat to migrate the image from the paper to the apparel. These customizable transfers are added to clothing items with a heat press.

November 24, 2014

Whether your local school already has a school store with an apparel shop or is new to the school spiritwear industry, custom screen printed and digital transfers can help those businesses grow. With custom transfers, school store employees can make T-shirts, hoodies and other custom apparel items on site and even add quick personalization, such as names and numbers. If you are working with a school looking to start a store, here’s some clear advice to share to ensure success.

When first creating the school store, use it as a means to gain funds and as an educational tool for students. If the school has business classes, such as marketing, management, economics and accounting, the store can be a means for students in these classes to gain extra experience.

Teachers of these classes can recommend that a student apply for a position in the store. The store could even be a class project, where student workers receive a grade. Teachers also could make working in the store part of a senior project. However, it’s important to remember that each school’s situation is different and any participation in the school store for a grade must be discussed with the principal.

When adding custom apparel to a school store, the first thing needed to start or expand the school spirit portion of the store is a heat press, transfers and the apparel.

Transfers are the images and words you see on shirts, pants, hats, towels and other apparel items. There are two types of transfers: screen printed and digital. The type you choose depends on the fabric you are pressing, the look you want and the number of colors you would like to use. You should suggest that school spirit stores create mascots, school names, and add a class year on T-shirts, hoodies and more using custom transfers.

Transfers are printed onto release papers that require heat to migrate the image from the paper to the apparel. These customizable transfers are added to clothing items with a heat press. This piece of equipment ensures the transfer is heat applied to the apparel at the right time, temperature and pressure in an even manner. To heat press items like hats and shoes, the decorator will need a platen that accommodates them. Some platens are curved to fit the material to help the transfers press evenly. When applied correctly, these transfers should last as long as the apparel items onto which they are pressed.

A heat press is the greatest investment a school spirit store can make when creating custom apparel. The good news is there are affordable heat press options that would be great for any store setup. Once this equipment has been attained, the store should quickly recoup its investment through sales of apparel items made with custom transfers.

The school should train student employees on how to use the heat press. This will allow them to make apparel items as they are ordered. They can even make quick add-on sales by personalizing the apparel with customers’ names using heat-applied letter transfers. They should heat press only a few items in advance for display purposes, as it’s more cost effective to apply transfers as apparel is ordered. This will help to avoid a surplus in supply and unneeded inventory. By heat pressing the apparel as you go, you alleviate the need for clearance items.

By using custom transfers, school store employees can create their own designs and school spirit apparel, and save money by lowering the costs associated with apparel made by an outside source. Since the transfers can be customized, they can add transfer designs to the stock to stay on top of current trends. Advise school staffers to let student employees choose their favorite designs and decide how they would like to see them customized. Students usually know what kind of apparel their peers would like. For extra customization, keep school-colored letters and numbers in stock to add personalization, such as names, to any design.

School stores can offer more than just apparel. If a customer purchases a mascot hoodie, there’s a good chance he would be interested in a mug, mouse pad or maybe even an umbrella. It’s possible to customize all of these items with just a heat press and transfers.

Following are some ideas of what you can create with a heat press and custom transfers: T-shirts, sweat shirts, hoodies, pants, shorts, tote bags, book bags, equipment bags, towels, swim suits, Koozies, mouse pads, umbrellas, lunch boxes, blankets, scarves, beanies and more.

The school spirit store’s physical location also is important. When looking for an ideal spot, advise staff and supervisors to find an area that gets a large amount of student traffic — such as where students purchase food. Having a store situated near the cafeteria can be greatly beneficial because students can make merchandise purchases during lunch. In colleges and universities, the school spirit shop usually is a part of the school bookstore.

When it comes to the shop’s footprint, not much space is needed. Using a heat press and custom transfers requires at least 3′ x 3′ of space. This can accommodate a heat press, boxes for blank clothing items and transfers, and a place to lay finished customized apparel items. If the location has more than 3 feet of space, advise adding products such as pencils, notebooks, flash drives and binders. Include a small display of the items offered to attract the interest of potential customers.

Also, advise the staff to keep the school colors in stock in both apparel and transfers. If they want to keep already-made apparel in the store but are not sure what to stock up on, consider general school spiritwear. Tell employees to make custom apparel in the school’s colors, add the school mascot and keep letters in stock to add names for extra customization.

A school store teaches students how to work in a team environment in the roles that they have been assigned, whether it is management, advertising, accounting or sales. If a student’s role in the store directly relates to the job he would like to eventually pursue, then the experience can even be added to his resume.

For the school itself, the store can take the place of fundraisers. Schools even can put a marketing class or the graduating class in charge of the store for a portion of the proceeds. Again, each school’s situation is unique.  

Using custom transfers allows schools to customize each apparel item differently; you can even use the same design for different types of apparel items in different colors. If your local school is interested in expanding the products offered in its store or would like to create a school spirit shop using custom apparel, a heat press and custom transfers will help their businesses develop and grow. 

Roseanna Lazarz is a marketing associate at Transfer Express, a manufacturer of heat-applied transfers. To learn more about heat-applied transfers and how they can help schools, visit