These Australian made tea towels feature hand drawn pictures of every child in the class and prove to be not only a neat profit spinner but a practical and cute memory of their school year.
In a nutshell
Fundraising ideas: large 100% cotton tea towels, screen printed with hand prints or drawings by the children
Suitable for: day-cares, playgroups, schools
Profit: varies depending on how many ordered – a minimum of $2.50 each
Cotton tea towels with hand drawn pictures of students are a timely memory of a school year, with each child in a class (year group or school) represented on the tea towel along with their classmates, teachers and the school logo and year.
There is a choice of twelve colours available to print from blues, to purple, orange, red and greens. You should be able to find one to match your school colour. The standard price allows only for a single colour per design, but for an extra cost (starting at $1.50 per tea towel) you can do multi-colour prints.
The tea towels are 100% cotton in a large size (50x70cm) available in standard white or a new ‘natural look’ cotton tea towel, which is priced the same as the standard white cotton but has more of a linen look. For an extra cost the tea towels are also available in hemp, linen and line/cotton. The cotton tea towels are quite stiff initially (as all new tea towels can be) but soften with use.
The design process
A Co-ordinators Kit can be posted free of charge, which contains all the required information. There are two ways to design the tea towels – the custom pack where Expressions does all the scanning and laying out of the design, and the DIY Saver where you lay out the designs yourself onto a cardboard sheet, or make a digital design to submit. You save an extra 50 cents per tea towel (or make an extra 50 cents profit) per tea towel with the DIY saver.
Depending on whether you are doing custom or DIY, children draw themselves (or do a hand print) on the paper provided. If you are doing the custom version, the images can be scanned to fit, but if you are doing it yourself, it is up to you to make sure the drawings are all the same size.
The tea towels can fit up to 450 pictures on each – an entire school – however for over 200 pictures they can include the drawing only – no space for names.
An entire class could easily do their drawings in a day as part of an art lesson, or a parent can take children aside before/after school to do their drawings so as not to interfere with learning. Pictures can be taken home by families to complete, but this creates an extra layer of hassle for the organiser to make sure they come back to school.
Borders are included in the cost and there are many different designs to choose from. You can even customise your own and include text such as details about the school or teachers.
In 2017, Expressions introduced some new marketing materials that are sent out in the Coordinators Kits: including enough stickers for each child to wear once they’ve completed their artwork, coloured flyers to go home in each school bag plus information explaining how to use all the tools and get the most out of your fundraising efforts.
Costs and profit
There is a minimum order of 50 tea towels. This is per design – so if each class is doing their own design that class must order 50 tea towels. For a class of 25 students, everyone would need to order two each.
The cost of 50 tea towels, custom designed is $9.50 each. If you take the DIY option and lay out your own drawings, the cost is $9 per tea towel.
You can sell the tea towels for whatever you want – a recommended price is $12 per tea towel (profit of $2.50) but some schools sell them for up to $15 each.
If a class of 25 did the minimum order DIY option and sold the tea towels for $12 each, the profit would be $150.
The more tea towels you purchase, the cheaper they are to buy – 100 tea towels cost $8.50 each and 300+ is only $7 each, dramatically increasing the potential profit.
A school of 300 children, each selling only a single tea towel would make a profit of $1,500.
There are no upfront costs. The Co-ordinators Kit is free and includes instructions, drawing cards and pens, posters and other promotional material, a guide and tally sheets. Everything is available online from the website as well.
Payment is due within seven days of receiving your tea towels. This means you can pay for the order out of money received by the fundraiser, and no money is ever required upfront by the school.
The fundraising process
The simple objective is to sell as many tea towels as possible. Obviously the more children represented on a single tea towel, the greater number of families who will potentially want to buy it.
However, we have always done single class tea towels – they are easier to coordinate, the pictures are larger and the kids can write their names under their drawings. It can be a challenge to sell 50 tea towels within a small group, but if it is timed well, they make great Mother’s Day and Christmas presents. Check the Expressions website for cut off dates for the major celebrations.
If profit is the primary motive, then it would be economical for an entire school or year group to be represented on a single tea towel. This keeps costs down and increases the number of potential customers.
If the tea towel is meant to be a keepsake, then keep the numbers down to a single class.
Hand prints are good options for very small children who cannot yet draw recognisable pictures, such as for day-cares and play groups. For groups such as these parents, carers or other adults could also put their hand prints alongside the children.
I have seen some beautiful tea towels sold at fetes which do not feature children’s drawings, but instead list local suburb names or street names. They have a much wider appeal to locals, even those without children at the school, and potentially much greater profits.
The entire process can take 6+ weeks. This includes doing the drawings, laying out the designs, having the images screen printed and waiting for delivery.
Expressions also offer screen printed bags and aprons.