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How to Start a Custom Tumbler Business [Beginner’s Guide]

If you have an artistic streak and find the idea of customizing tumblers cool or just want to create a fun little business where you can generate some extra income, selling custom tumblers can be a perfect business for you.

If you want to learn more about how to do this successfully and want an easy to follow step-by-step guide, you are in the right place.

In this article, I am going to cover how you can start your own custom tumbler enterprise, including print on demand options (where you can outsource a lot of the work) as well as information on how to do this on your own if you want to retain your personal touch.

I’ll also answer key questions around this type of business, including what it is, whether it’s profitable, and how much it costs to start.

Ok, we’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link and complete a transaction, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

What is a Tumbler?

A tumbler is a cup with straight sides that has no handle. Although usually made for cold beverages, some tumblers can hold hot drinks as well. Because of its insulating properties, it helps to keep your beverage close to its original temperature for a period of time. Tumblers come with straws and can be made from a variety of materials, but are often made from stainless steel or plastic.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is an image of what tumblers look like.

What is a Custom Tumbler Business?

A custom tumbler business is one in which you sell tumblers with customized writing, images, logos or other designs for a profit. Your custom tumbler business can be a brick and mortar business where you sell these tumblers through a physical storefront, but you can also cut down on costs by selling your custom tumblers through various online storefronts.

We’ll talk about how to do that later on in the article.

How Much Can You Make with a Custom Tumbler Business?

You can make decent money with a custom tumbler business because the profit margins are healthy. Based on my research looking at custom tumblers being sold on Etsy and Amazon, I found the following:

On average you can expect to sell a custom tumbler for between $20 to $40, although you do see higher price points as well. I have found glitter tumblers that sell for significantly more than that (like over $50). The cost of materials is relatively modest (around $12-$15 per tumbler), so there is room to generate profits from the sale of your tumblers if you do it right.

If you are making the tumblers yourself, Etsy is a fine place to sell them because they are known as a platform for highly custom “craftsy” items and people are accustomed to paying more for such items on Etsy.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Custom Tumbler Business?

If you are going to create a custom tumbler business that is based purely on your original designs, but you want to outsource the actual production of the tumblers to a third party, your starting costs are going to be very low. All you really need to do is come up with the design (or hire someone on Fiverr to do it for you).

The print on demand vendor will take care of the rest. If this strategy sounds interesting, you can check out some of the major players in this space, like Printify. When I checked their website, they were offering 20 ounce stainless steel tumblers from $17.45 (or $13.44 with Printify Premium).

What I like about print on demand is its low risk structure.

You don’t have to buy any inventory upfront, so if your idea is not a hit, you are not out a ton of money. Plus they take care of the manufacturing and shipping hassles, so it’s a pretty passive business.

If you want to learn more about how to start a print on demand business, check out my full article on the topic, which provides a detailed walkthrough of the process.

But if you are craftsy and enjoy the process of taking an ordinary tumbler and transforming it into something unique and stunning, you can do that as well.

In that case, your starting costs will be higher because you will need to take into account the cost of materials and tools. Of course, there is the base cost for the tumblers themselves. But for something like glitter tumblers, you will need things like Brite Tone (to add that lasting glossy finish) and Glitter Glue as well as the glitter itself.

If you want a more complete list of materials and their respective costs, check out this tutorial on materials for making custom tumblers and their costs. I will also go into some detail around materials and costs for creating custom tumblers using vinyl designs, so read on to learn more about approach.

Getting Started

1.   Understand the Custom Tumbler Industry

Before you make any purchases or decisions, you must familiarize yourself with the custom tumbler industry.

Now, there are lots of giant corporations already profiting off of tumblers such as Starbucks Corporation, S’well, and Tervis Tumbler.

On top of that, you can’t forget about all the other small businesses that sell to their niche customers. Some of these small businesses are built by online influencers and generate profit from loyal followers.

That being said, tumbler productions are at an all-time high, because they make ideal gifts, whether for personal or corporate events. For instance, a company may want to slap its logo on its tumbler gifts to gain more exposure or brand recognition.

Apart from that, you also need to understand the kind of tumblers that you should be selling. In most cases, that would be the stainless steel kind because they’re durable and long-lasting, which is ideal for storage and cost-efficiency.

2.   Know the Materials Needed and Find Suppliers

If you are going to be making the custom tumblers yourself, your first question may be “How am I going to find the materials?” To which we answer, look for a trustworthy supplier. Unless you’re going to produce your own tumblers, you’re going to need a reliable tumbler supplier.

You can find contrasting options from boutiques to online retailers. If you’re new to owning a business and don’t want to spend a lot on your initial costs, then we recommend looking at cost-efficient online sellers like Alibaba. On the whole, you don’t want to spend more than $50 to $60 on your initial batch of tumblers.

You want to test out your idea before committing too much to raw materials.

You’ll probably find what you’re looking for on these online sites, just make sure the tumbler is the size you want. Plus, you also want it to match the custom designs you’re going to create.

If you want to stick designs onto your tumbler, you’ll also need the material to print the custom design which could be adhesive vinyl paper. To press the paper in, you’ll need a tumbler heat press machine. This tool will save you a lot more time than if you stuck each design manually.

The press machine usually requires about 80 to 100 seconds at 350 degrees F to fully varnish your design onto the tumbler.

With the materials’ cost in consideration, you may also need to look at the costs of shipping your tumblers. Another cost could depend on the marketing route you’ll end up pursuing. Whether you create your own blog or try to reach users through social platforms, it may incur some costs.

Considering all these factors the overall cost of going into a custom tumbling business could amount to anywhere between $1000 to $5000.

Once you’ve gotten the things you need, you should also set up an online storefront through Shopify or another widely used website like Squarespace, so that you can advertise your product and process sales.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, getting materials is only necessary if you plan on making the customized tumblers yourself. You can bypass many of these costs by simply supplying the design and having the print on demand company professionally produce the tumblers and ship them out to your customers.

3.   Familiarize Yourself with Your Target Demographic

After gaining some perspective on the kind of business you’re entering, it’s time to decide to who you’re going to sell your custom tumblers. Now, this process may first begin by creating your niche.

It could be for artists that want their work splattered onto tumblers. You could also think about appealing to a specific types of hobby enthusiast or people who share a passion or interest for something. The options are practically endless when it comes to finding your niche.

But if you going after fans of specific movies, music or other intellectual property, you have to be careful that you don’t illegally use their images.

Next, you need to know where you’ll be able to grab their attention. More often than not, it’s going to be through social media platforms such as Instagram. Another format you can capitalize on is Discord, especially if your targeted niche is online gamers.

4.   Develop Your Custom Tumbler Business Plan

A business plan is going to help keep you on track. Not only will it keep things organized, but you’ll also gain more insight from the tumbler industry during your research. This is especially true when you create your competitor’s analysis to evaluate the competition.

You’ll want to add your brand’s name, product description, production line management, marketing plan, and financial projections.

In your detailed plan, you may also want to include your pricing strategy in your marketing section. You can first look at average custom tumbler prices which, as we mentioned can go from $20 to $40. Meanwhile, the cost of making each one is around $12 to $15, so you should be making a good amount of profit.

Besides that, you also need to find your little business’s unique selling point or what makes you different from other sellers. It could be your low prices, creative designs, or unique marketing strategy. Either way, make sure to include it in your business plan.

Generate Your Brand’s Awareness

Now is the time to ask, “How are you going to make people buy your custom tumbler?” Firstly, it’s always a good idea to have a community around that’ll help you jump-start the buying process.

Afterward, you can branch out to other outlets through social media to promote your custom tumblers. Just make sure to market your tumblers through the best medium to reach your niche. A good example is if you’re looking for employees or businesses to sell your custom tumbler, LinkedIn would be a suitable platform.

Set Up Your Business

If you want to run a legitimate business, there are some housekeeping things you need to do as well. Here’s a summary of some of the key steps to setting up a real business:

  • Set Up Your Business Entity. If you want to get some basic liability protection for assets held outside your custom tumbler business you may want to consider forming an LLC, Corporation, etc.
  • Pick a Name and Logo For Your Custom Tumbler Business. Look at Shopify for Name Ideas and Canva to design a logo)
  • Create a Basic Business Profile and Get Your Business on Google My Business. Check out these free resources From Google to get started. Basic free business profile website and intro to getting on Google My Business.
  • Develop a Simple Business Plan. As we discussed, you need a business plan for your tumbler business, which is just a roadmap for your business. See the SBA’s free guide on how to develop one.
  • Pick the Right Marketing Strategy.  We have covered this above. It’s an important part of any successful business.
  • Get Appropriate Licenses, Permits and Insurance. You’ll want to check federal, state, and local laws around what is required for your type of business and obtain necessary licenses. You will also want to get appropriate insurance for your custom tumbler business to protect against lawsuits and other liabilities.

If you want to learn more about how to set up a business in general, check out my ultimate beginner’s guide to starting a business, which goes in to many of these areas in much more detail.

Conclusion

So there you have it – how to start a custom tumbler business and some helpful tips on how to implement each step.

If you’re interested in other similar business ideas, check out my article on how to make money on Etsy without making anything. It’s got some interesting ideas that you may find useful.