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Frequently Asked Questions.

And maybe a few not-so-frequently asked ones.

I'm new here. What is Cotton Bureau?

Cotton Bureau is a curated online community for high-quality graphic design tees, hoodies, and more. You submit the artwork, and we do the selling, printing, shipping, and customer you don’t have to.

How do I submit my designs to Cotton Bureau?

Head right over here, partner. But make sure you read our guidelines before you fire off your artwork (we’re doing all the dirty work, it’s the least you could do).

How much do you pay designers?

Designers choose their own profit margin. We give each designer a baseline price per blank that covers our cost and profit; they choose how much they want to earn on top of that number. As long as your design sells at least 25, you get paid! Over 12 and we still print your design, but we keep all sale proceeds to cover our costs.

Do you keep designs in stock?

We don’t. Cotton Bureau is a pre-order system: every design gets two weeks in the spotlight to sell as many as it can. But… the designer could always choose to post it again if they want.

What happens if a design doesn’t make it?

Well, first we get a little sad. But nothing happens. No one gets charged any money, and we don’t print or ship the shirt. Maybe the designer can try again later? You know what they say about “if at first you don’t succeed…”

What is Direct To Garment (DTG) printing?

You know how you have an inkjet printer at home? It’s just like that. Instead of separating colors onto individual screens, a shirt is put into a big machine that has little nozzles that spray ink straight onto your shirt. It’s fast and easy and works pretty well for a lot of different applications. The ink won’t be quite as soft or long-lasting as a traditionally screenprinted tee, but it means we can print (and sell) shirts on demand rather than hoping lots of people all agree to buy the same shirt at the same time.

Why are you printing some tees DTG?

DTG has several advantages over screen printing. It’s less expensive (for small runs), it lets us do lots of colors instead of just a few, and it means we can ship shirts faster since we don’t have to wait for demand to accumulate. We’re not going to sugarcoat it: DTG is not as nice as screenprinting for most designs. The ink can feel more rubbery or sticky, it won’t last as long, and some traditional printing applications just aren’t possible. For kids shirts (and the occasional special adult tee), we think the tradeoffs are worth it. If you agree, we promise the shirt we ship you is going to make you happy. If you aren’t, just let us know and we’ll take care of you.

Does this mean I can get any design I want on a kids tee?

No. This may come as a surprise, but not everyone design makes sense for children. If you see something you like, though, tell us! We’ll check with the designer to see if he or she is okay with making it available to kids.

Can I get a DTG adult tee?

Possibly. Screen printing provides the best overall quality—which is important when you plan to have and wear a shirt for a long time. While we prefer screen printing, sometimes it can be prohibitively expensive. In those situations we may offer DTG.

What if I don’t like the DTG printing? Can I get a kids tee that is screen printed?

While we’re not necessarily ruling out screen printed kids tees, what you see on the product page is what you get. If it says DTG, DTG it is.

Are your kids shirts CPSIA compliant?

Yes. Our garments are all sourced from reputable manufacturers including LAT Apparel, American Apparel, Next Level Apparel, and Independent. Our children’s shirts are all printed using lead-free water-based inks. We wear them constantly ourselves and recommend them without hesitation to our friends and family. If you have any questions about a specific item that you ordered, please email us.

I just ordered a shirt. When will it arrive?

It depends. Kids tees typically ship within a week. If your order includes kids tees and adult tees, your tees will all ship together once your adult order is ready. Designs are on sale for two weeks and get shipped about two weeks after that. Once we ship your order, it should get to you in a few days (if you live in the United States) or a few weeks (if you live anywhere else), depending on how far you live from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We’ll send you an email as soon as we send it. If you're still not sure, just email us. We're happy to clear things up.

Oh no, I messed up my shipping address and/or size! Can I change it?

Maybe… it depends how quickly you notice. If this happens to you, just email us as soon as you can and we’ll try to take care of it. However, we reserve the right to publicly shame you. If your order has already been shipped, take heart. We'll still try to make it right. We know how frustrating it can be to pay for something you never get.

Hypothetically speaking, I don't live in the U.S. Am I going to get walloped with some kind of crazy import tax?

Probably. Consult your nearest postal authority. Here’s what we know:

UK: If your goods (excluding shipping cost) exceed £15, you'll pay an additional 20% VAT on the entire cost of your order (including shipping), plus an £8 "handling fee" to Royal Mail. If your goods (excluding shipping cost) exceed £135, you'll also have to pay an additional 12% "customs duty" on the entire cost of your order (including shipping). You can read about Import VAT and Customs Duty here, and Royal Mail's handling fee here.

Canada: $9.95 CAD handling fee for USPS shipments + 5% import tax based on package value in CAD.

Germany: Anything under €22 (price + shipping) is free of customs duties and import taxes, packages between €22-150 you’ll pay sales tax on price + shipping (19% as of August 2014), and over €150 you’ll pay sales tax and customs. (Thanks, Thorben.)

Italy: Anything under €22 (price + shipping) is free of customs duties and import taxes, packages between €22-150 you’ll pay sales tax on price + shipping (22% as of November 2015), and over €150 you’ll pay sales tax and customs. (Thanks, @WebDesignerShop.)

Brazil: Anything over $50 (including delivery) gets hit with a tariff and customs which can double the cost. Do yourself a favor, order only one shirt at a time. You'll spend more on shipping but avoid the painful customs.

The Netherlands: A friend told us that anything over €22 (price & shipping) gets hit with sales tax (typically around 20% of the price including shipping). Anything over €150 will need to pay both sales taxes and customs. PostNL charges an additionl €13 handling fee.

Australia: Nothing to pay for import goods valued at up to AUD1,000 (~USD850). (Thanks, Clem.)

Turkey: a friend told us there is a limit of €75 per shipment for customs. If the value of shipment exceeds that, you pay +20% of the total sum. (Thanks, Zeki.)

Sweden: 12% customs tax (of the total value of the order). 25% sales tax of the customs tax value. (Thanks, Martin.)

Denmark: Any package from outside the European Union that costs less than 80 DKK for the items themselves will have no duties or taxes. Any package equal to or above 80 DKK, customs will add a fee of 128 DKK plus a sales tax of 25% on the entire amount. (Thanks, Jesper.)

Norway: Anything under NOK 350 (price + shipping) is free of customs duties and import taxes, if above that you pay 25% sales tax on the total sum. Customs tax depends on the kind of goods ordered, i.e. clothes are 10,7% which are added before the sales tax. (Thanks, Jacob.)

Finland: As in Germany (and probably elsewhere in EU), anything under €22 (price + shipping) is free of customs duties and import taxes, packages between €22-150 you’ll pay sales tax (24%) on price + shipping, and over €150 you’ll pay sales tax and customs. (Thanks, Oiva.)

Portugal: VAT charge is 23% of the purchase total + post office handling charge.

Romania: If declared value of package is over €10, but under €150, you pay the VAT of 20%. If declared value of package is over €150, you pay the VAT of 20% and an import tax imposed by them, it depends on weight, etc. VAT drops to 19% on January 1st, 2017. (Thanks, Radu and Razvan!)

Czech Republic: 21% tax is added + interior shipping costs or payment for tax service if you want to pick your package in person. (Thanks, Danylo!).

Israel: Under $75, the purchase will becompletely tax free (woohoo!); $76-500, a sales tax of 17% will be added; and for a $501-1,000 purchase, sales tax + customs is added - a whopping 32.2%. (Thanks, Ornat!)

If you know how these things work, email us and we'll add more information here.

I got a tracking number for my international order. Am I crazy, or is it not actually doing anything?

You’re not crazy. Depending on the prefix to your tracking number, you may receive some information. If your tracking number starts with “LJ”, “CJ”, “CB”, you may be notified when your package arrives in country. If your tracking number starts with “LZ”, you may get some tracking information until it leaves the U.S. If your tracking number starts with “UC”, you get… nothing. Email us if you have any questions.

What’s your refund/exchange policy?

If there’s something wrong with your order (wrong size, wrong item, defective product, etc.), return it to us unworn and unwashed within 15 days of delivery and we’ll be happy to issue a refund. Our address:

Cotton Bureau
400 N Lexington St Ste LL119
Pittsburgh, PA 15208-2561

Exchanges are basically impossible (except for kids tees; those are easy, email us). We order all designs in exact quantities, so the chance that we’ll have an extra one in your size is very slim. We’d be happy to provide you a refund.

Tell me more about your designs.

We print on the finest, softest, comfiest tees, hoodies, and sweatshirts we can find. All items are tagless, with custom printed size tags (the only Cotton Bureau branding on the shirt). They’re printed right down the street from us in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania by Clockwise Tees.

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