Totally to Dye For

DIY tie-dye shop offers art and a good time

Briana Bryant, photos by Andrea Paulseth

COLORFUL CHARACTERS. Bobbi Potter, right, opened Fun Dye Factory in downtown Eau Claire last year after being inspired by a TV show.
COLORFUL CHARACTERS. Bobbi Potter, right, opened Fun Dye Factory in downtown Eau Claire last year after being inspired by a TV show.

It’s time to get creative in a whole new, colorful way. Started last October, Fun Dye Factory is bringing an accessible way to tie dye to downtown Eau Claire, and according to the staff, they’re doing so well that they’re “crazy busy!”

It all started when owner Bobbi Potter was watching a show on Bravo TV last June in which someone walked into a business and tie-dyed and decorated a baby onesie. Potter was immediately intrigued and tried to find the place by searching online, but to no avail. So she decided that she would try to just get out there and create her own tie-dye business. She pitched the idea to the District Company, which at the time was serving as a entrepreneurial incubator. District Company then discussed her idea and helped Potter get on her feet. She knew she had the managing and business experience and that she could hire talent. She admits she didn’t know a ton about tie-dyeing, but she thought she could figure it out and that there would be a market for it. So she just went for it – and it worked!

The vision of Fun Dye Factory is to make the process simple. They want it to be easy for someone to walk in, pick an item to tie-dye, select a design, and then be guided through the process by the staff.

Even though she works full time as a manager at Clearwater Dental, Potter is at Fun Dye Factory nights, weekends, and Thursdays. Jessica Vold is the only full-time employee, and three others work part-time. Vold says weekends are the busiest, with lots of parties. She estimates they have hosted more than 200 parties since October. “I think that people around this area are looking for something different,” Vold says. She says customers are really impressed that they don’t need to bring anything with them: They just have to show up, pick out an item (whether it’s a T-shirt, a tank top, a tote bag, or something else) and tie-dye.

The vision of Fun Dye Factory is to make the process simple. They want it to be easy for someone to just walk in, pick an item to tie-dye, select a design off the wall to use as a model, and then be guided through the process by the staff. They will help you through every step, whether you called ahead and booked a party or walked in on a whim. The process takes about 30-45 minutes, and if you have fewer than five people, you don’t need to make an appointment. Even better, they use good, quality cotton products and professional-grade dyes.
 

Vold says she’s found that sometimes people are uncomfortable about getting creative. “They’re like, ‘oh, wait, you do it yourself?’ and that scares them,” she says. “They say, ‘I don’t paint, I don’t do anything like that.’ ” But Fun Dye Factory really wants to encourage people to be creative. “We want to expand more, too, into people that have more of an artistic idea,” Vold says. If you’re really not into the creative side, they will also make T-shirts for people and let them order a design, but it’s so much more fun to make your own, we’re sure. And tie-dye is pretty hard to mess up, especially with all of the guidance that they provide.

Unsurprisingly, birthday parties are popular at Fun Dye Factory. Vold says kids love it because they get to pick the design and colors they want to use. She likes to encourage the kids to get creative and make whatever they want to make, without worrying about being messy or coloring within the lines. She says kids are often unsure about what their shirts will look like, with all of the rubber bands keeping them together, but when they take them apart, they are usually surprised and proud to have made something so cool all by themselves. As an added plus, the owner’s sister makes homemade cupcakes that are provided for birthday parties.

At Fun Dye, you’re not just paying for the tie-dye, but the experience. They want customers to feel welcome to come in and sit for a few hours just working on a project, with no rush to leave. Anyone can come in and just tie-dye one item, whether they want to dye something from home or buy something to dye in the store.

For the future, Fun Dye Factory is looking into expanding into a bigger building and opening more stores – in the next month one will open in Hudson – to spread that tie-dye love.

Fun Dye Factory is at 311 E. Madison St. Learn more by calling (715) 514-2848 or visit afundyefactory.com.

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