Selling branded clothing items and other dance gear in your studio is a great way to add revenue, build a sense of connection and belonging amongst your students and their family members, and market your studio without taking a dime out of your advertising budget. It’s great to make logoed shirts, jackets, dance bags, water bottles and the like available to all of your students. You may have a special design or set of warm-ups that only your competition team or company members can get, but make sure that you also have some fun studio swag that everyone can sport. If you are a new studio or small studio with a tight budget, you don’t even have to use your own money to put in an order in. Let’s look at some items you can provide and how you can get them.
It’s great to have an in-studio boutique and keep some things stocked all year. I like to always keep logoed dance bags and water bottles in stock. They sell continuously year-round. Other items are more seasonal or occasional, and while a lot of people will order them when I make them available, I find that if I order extras, they just hang around forever. For my studio, these include hooded pullovers, warmup jackets, studio t-shirts and recital t-shirts.
I usually hold one round of orders of hoodies and jackets early in the fall as the weather starts to cool and people are in the mood for buying spirit wear as they have also just returned to school and are purchasing clothing items with their school mascots. I do a second round of ordering in November and market them as great holiday gifts. Inevitably, because I don’t order extras to stock in my boutique, there are people that regret not ordering during the first round as well as those that are looking for a great gift. You can also upsell by offering additional customization like putting the dancer’s name on the article.
Recital time is an additional opportunity to create a special shirt design to sell. Consider adding the names of all of your performers to the back of the shirt for an extra bit of personal connection. Also, if your studio performs together at a community event or in a parade, matching branded shirts show that they are a team. Parents won’t have a problem purchasing shirts to be a part of the fun.
Because I have my studio families pre-order and pre-pay for these special orders, I am not out any money for the order. And, because I have found a reliable screen printer with reasonable pricing, I can charge enough to make a profit on the merchandise without setting a price that would be unreasonable for my clientele.
Many of the major costume and dancewear vendors offer customization of warmups. However, I have found that for the purpose of a casual article of clothing that will get worn all around town and be a billboard for my studio, they are a bit too expensive for me to be able to make a profit on. I would reserve those for something that only my competition team or company members would have. I also just prefer to do business locally whenever possible. I recommend shopping around the screen printers/ embroiderers in your area. Note here that the lowest price is not always what you’re looking for. I am willing to pay an extra couple of dollars per shirt to work with someone that communicates in a timely manner and reliably gets my orders done when they say they will.
I do order my water bottles and some inexpensive logoed bags (I give these away to new signups) from bigger promotional material providers where I can save by buying in bulk. (I’m not getting a kickback from the linked companies, just trying to save you some time searching.)
If you are just starting out and have little or no capital for stocking your boutique. Consider doing a round of pre-orders for some special items and reinvesting the proceeds in additional merchandise. Keep repeating the process to really get this extra profit center’s cash flowing.
In conclusion, if you aren’t providing your dance students and their families with branded merch that they can don with pride, you’re missing out on marketing that you can actually make money on. It doesn’t have to cost you anything to get started and everyone loves to show they are part of a community that they are proud to belong to by wearing something special with its awesome logo.