A Guide: How To Make And Sell Your Own Merch

June 27, 2023

Turn your brand into a thriving business with tips, techniques, and examples on how to make merch!

Have you been interested in creating and selling branded apparel or gear but don’t know how to make merch? If so, you're in the right place! While the process can seem overwhelming, understanding how to make your own merch can be a fun and successful venture for entrepreneurs with the right tools. 

How to Make Custom Merch 

Creating merch that sells isn’t just about finding products in your budget and adding your logo. While knowing your budget is just as important as adding your logo for brand identity, successfully selling merch takes into consideration your audience, the products you choose to promote your business, and, the vendor you use to create your branded items.

Shown: Human Made Custom Apparel and Accessories

Build a brand and audience

Before zoning in on how to make merch or how to get merch, you’ll have to decide what merch you need. By narrowing down your target audience and zoning in on their demographics, you can begin creating mech that meets the needs of your consumers as well as their style preferences. 

In fact, researching your target audience is a critical step for entrepreneurs creating and selling merchandise online and in stores. It allows you to create products that meet the needs and wants of the market, which will make for a more successful product launch. To zone in on your target audience, you’ll want to consider: 

  • Conducting surveys or focus groups
  • Analyzing competitor data
  • Creating buyer personas based on customer feedback
  • Studying industry trends for creating merch 
  • Understanding your audience's demographics, preferences, and behavior

By taking time to understand who your customers are and what they want from their shopping experience, you can better ensure you are creating the best merch for your customer base that’s appealing and meets their expectations. And, as an added bonus, by honing in on your target market, you will have an easier time with your marketing and branding endeavors. 

Photo courtesy of Palace Artois; Shown: Palace Artois custom merch: sweatshirt, hoodie, tote, accessory, cap, and tee

Choose a product that aligns

We don’t have to tell you that single-use products are a faux pas. While fast fashion— inexpensive, trendy items—was coined by companies looking to capitalize on ever-changing style preferences and seasons, it’s now frowned upon. Furthermore, fast fashion often leads to bad working environments and unfair wages for workers. Not to mention all of the items that continuously end up in landfills.  

When you opt for unique, quality designs, you can create enviable merch that can be loved—and worn—on repeat. From comfortable apparel to functional branded products that stand the test of time, creating merch that’s sustainable also helps ensure that your customers have a positive experience so they can become loyal customers! 

In addition, unique, quality products are more likely to help you achieve positive reviews and word-of-mouth marketing‚ which are some of the best ways to create brand recognition and a loyal following! When creating merch for your brand, using sustainable or recycled materials is an excellent example of differentiating your products from the competition. 

Not only will sustainable merch give customers a positive impression of your company, it also demonstrates that your company is taking steps to reduce waste and conserve resources. Furthermore, creating high-quality merchandise with eco-friendly packaging will ensure that customers have a great experience when using your product.

If you’re not sure which product or brand you think would be best for your custom merch needs, talk to a Gemnote rep, or browse the brands in our Lookbook. They can help you narrow down the options and even provide a curated collection of options in your budget to help you make the best decision. 

‍Photo courtesy of Anti Social Club

Design your merch

Once you have narrowed down your target audience and decided on a product, it’s time to get creative, because a big part of knowing how to make merch is about design. Thinking through design trends like color, which can invoke a feeling and set a mood, composition, and customization, you definitely have choices.  


There is no mistaking color’s psychological impact on the things around us. From vibrant warm hues like yellows, oranges, and reds to calming warm ones like blues and purples. There’s a color to fit your every vibe. Even natural, earth-loving neutrals and greens, can set the perfect mood. Choosing colors that fit your brand’s style, reflect your branding, and mesh with your audience is paramount. 

Furthermore, when it comes to incorporating your brand's colors, trust the important details experienced vendors get it done right. Gemnote understands that every brand has its own identifiable personality, voice, and color palette. That’s why they do PMS (Pantone) color matching for screen print, embroidery, dip dyes, and more so your products are exact extensions of your brand and not just a close, but not quite, representation. 

Gemnote offers PMS Color Matching for a better brand experience 


Are you thinking modern and minimal with clean lines and a less is more approach? Or quite possibly maximalism, which is currently having a moment in the art world. This style often involves layers, textures, patterns, and bright colors to fill all of the design space for a “more is more” approach.  Whatever your composition style, there are products to match. 


Embroidery, screen printing, glass etching, leather embossing, patches, sewn tags, embossing, debossing and leather debossing, dye sublimation— when it comes to customization, there are so many ways you can make it your own!

Do you have an idea but no artwork? You’ll want to work with a vendor like Gemnote to help you bring your ideas to life. Tell them about your brand, audience, and what inspires you, and they’ll help you with the creative direction and design process. From clean and simple designs to modern and fun illustrations, creating and selling merchandise just got a whole lot more fun!

Photo courtesy of Stussy; Shown Custom Apparel, Mug, and Pen

Choose a vendor or platform to create merch

Once you’ve determined what type of merch you’d like to create, it is important to find a reliable supplier who can help create quality merch. And, all points considered, succeeding at how to make your own merch comes down to this vendor partnership. By choosing a company like Gemnote, you don’t have to be an expert in creating merch, but you can feel confident in the products you’re investing in. 

Gemnote also ensures that when creating merch for your brand, your vision is brought to life. In addition, they make it easy to design, create and send custom merchandise. 

Among their specialties, Gemnote can help you: 

  • get a curated collection of ideas in your budget
  • design and development
  • set up a swag store
  • sourcing, packaging, kitting, and more!

Photo courtesy of Drew; Shown: Custom Hoodies, beanie and cap, tees and sweatshirt

How to Sell Your Custom Merch 

In addition to understanding how to make your own merch, you’ll also need to know how you can sell it! 


For those without an e-commerce store, Shopify is an excellent way to get your e-commerce business going with as few hiccups as possible, precisely because it’s engineered to make your sales through the website. And, because Gemnote offers a way to help companies sell merch on Shopify, you can get your collection in front of people quickly and easily. 

And, don't worry! If you're thinking you don’t have the time to design and build a Shopify store, Gemnote can help! They provide a simple, out-of-the-box solution that can get you started in just a few hours!

Shown: Custom Sweatshirts, Hoodies, and Tees 

Social Media

According to the Top Social Media Statistics And Trends Of 2023 by Forbes, across the globe, roughly 4.9 billion use social media as of 2023 and that number is forecasted to climb to 5.85 billion by 2027. So which platform is gaining the most hits? As noted in their report, Facebook continues to hold that coveted first spot, with 53% of American users. 

While trends and preferences differ among users and their demographics, it’s also important to note that Americans have an average of 7.1 social media accounts. While these stats certainly emphasize the importance of adopting a multi-platform strategy for companies wanting to invest in social media marketing, it is also a way to sell your custom merch, increase brand recognition, and meet your target audience where they frequent. 

Whether you invest in an Influencer to help promote and sell your swag or choose to sell directly from your ads, knowing your target audience makes deciding where to sell your mech easier. 

Shown: Custom Jacket, Sweatshirts, and Tees

Gemnote Swag Store 

Another way you can sell your swag is with the help of Gemote. In addition to offering a Shopify integration, you can open an Employee store and sell pre-approved merch to employees, fans, and followers.

Plus, with FBG (Fulfilled by Gemnote), you can outsource order fulfillment to Gemnote and let them take care of the details, so your focus can stay on your product marketing. 

Talk to your Gemnote rep today about how they can help you set up pre-orders, a project-based store (which is perfect for giveaways and one-off events), and other swag management needs!

Photo courtesy of Supreme, Shown: Supreme custom hoodie, tee, cap, and accessories

How to Promote Your Merch

Once you know how to get merch, it’s time to spread the word. A few ways to do this are to create branded visuals, take advantage of targeted ads, and of course, leverage your existing audience.

Create Branded Visuals

Branded visuals are a great way to market your merchandise. One way to do this is by creating branded mockups to templatize your design. From there, you can use your templates to create social media posts, email newsletters, website banners, and print materials, like invites, fliers, postcards, stickers, and even your product packaging. By having an assortment of design templates, not only can you ensure consistency, you can save time when creating any future visuals.

Use Targeted Ads

Tailored to specific individuals based on their characteristics, interests, demographics, or online behavior, targeted ads, aka personalized ads, offer more relevance for your audience. Best of all, because these ads hit a more significant user group, they offer not only a better user experience but can also help you achieve higher engagement and conversions. 

Photo Courtesy of Human Madeand Girls Don't Cry; Shown: Custom Merch Apparel, Hat, and Accessories

Leverage Existing Audience

Leveraging your existing audience is one of the best ways to promote your merch. And, since this audience was a consideration when it came to understanding how to make your own merch, they’ll likely appreciate having special access to your designs.  Not only will this help you create brand loyalty, but you can increase your brand’s exposure as well. To leverage your existing audience, consider offering special incentives, pre-orders, discounts, or exclusive access to your new collection.

Remember, when it comes down to it, you want your personalized merchandise to promote your brand and your marketing materials to promote personalized merchandise. To effectively do both, focus on consistency by ensuring that your visual elements, colors, typography, and overall design align at every customer touchpoint. By doing so, you can build recognition, reinforce brand identity, and establish a strong visual presence for your custom merch. 

Photo courtesy of: Billionaire Boys Club; Shown: Custom Apparel and Cap 

Create Your Own Customized Creator Merch with Gemnote

When it comes to how to make merch, help is literally at your fingertips. Just lean on the experts at Gemnote or browse their Lookbook for more brands, products, and inspiration.  

Are you working on a similar project or campaign?