A Q&A with the creative minds behind Tie Dye Women
If you think maintaining a sustainable brand during a global pandemic is hard, try starting one. And if that’s not enough of a challenge, what about crafting an entire brand from a single print style? For Katie McKenna and Dragan Spaz, co-creative directors of Tie Dye Women in Los Angeles, the remote work and specific niche has actually been food for creativity. Here is what they have to say about the obstacles they’ve faced and how they’ve grown.
How did the brand begin?
DS: Katie and I were actually collaborating with the brand’s owners on another project late last year, and my co-director mentioned that, in her trend research, she saw a lot of signs pointing to an increased interest in tie-dye in the coming seasons. They asked us if we had any ideas or whether we would be interested in looking at putting together some collections based solely around tie-dye concepts.
What is your design process?
KM: Dragan and I work together throughout the design process. Sometimes, we start with a silhouette. At other times, we start with a tie-dye design or color palette. For us, the design process is pretty organic.
DS: Like Katie said, Tie Dye Women is an experimental brand. It’s experiential; by that, we mean that we’re looking for innovative ways to reinvent and reimagine a process that’s been around since about 500 AD.
What is manufacturing like?
DS: We are currently using a mix of manufacturing methods. Our digitally-created tie-dye patterns are sublimation-printed onto our fabric pieces and then the garments during the cut and sew process. For other pieces, we’re pulling from existing tie-dye fabric lots we’ve been able to source, which ties into our sustainability efforts by taking advantage of existing materials as opposed to creating new materials from scratch.
What are your most popular items?
KM: One-piece swimsuits have been having a moment lately! Our Charlie Sherbet One Piece and Ellie Candy Floss One Piece have both been big hits this summer. Our boyfriend T-shirts have been getting more attention lately — particularly our Billie Castro print, which has a classic rock-and-roll vibe.
What sets your tie-dye designs apart from other brands?
DS: As opposed to one-off pieces or just one set in one tie-dye pattern, our brand focuses on coordinated collections of separates. This allows our customers to create their own customized head-to-toe tie-dye looks or to add a pop of color to their existing wardrobe.
What are some of the advantages and draw-backs to focusing on a single print style?
DS: We’ve found that limiting ourselves to a more singular focus has actually led to a lot more creativity in terms of how we design. We’re continuing to research different techniques and methodologies — how to create patterns and play with color and texture — and it’s really pushed us both to think outside of the box in terms of how we approach design. Honestly, we haven’t found any drawbacks thus far; if anything, we’ve compiled a laundry lists of ideas we can’t wait to try out for seasons to come!
What part does sustainability play in your business?
KM: For some of our designs, particularly for our boyfriend T-shirts and bike shorts, we use drop-shipping, which allows us to use the same base products and then print the given designs only after orders have been placed and need to be fulfilled.
How have you adapted your business to the pandemic?
KM: Honestly, the pandemic enters into every conversation we have in terms of planning and development. The majority of our business is being done over Zoom and WhatsApp at this point; it’s how we’re communicating with one another and our manufacturing partners. We’re working on a much different schedule than we would have been last year at this time or even six months ago, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think we’re all finding ways to be more creative.
DS: It’s definitely caused us to get more creative with our photography and put any travel plans related to the creative or the sales side of the business on hold temporarily. In the meantime, we’re really grateful to our team in-house and our ambassador partners for working with us to showcase our pieces the way they have been.e and process management.