Updated: Sep 6, 2019
I stumbled across Rosemarine Textiles while searching for a unique location to do a shoot. The shoot didn't happen, but I connected with Meghan and a few others through that search and so this blog feature idea was born.
Meghan was such a lovely soul, we chatted for almost an hour about our lives and backgrounds. After our chat I snapped a few quick photographs of her in her work studio. Checkout her website for some pretty amazing home and apparel textiles. I especially love the mustard yellow silk velvet scrunchy I got that will be cute this fall. I also snabbed a spool of ribbon for gift wrapping this upcoming holiday season!
How did you get into textiles?
I learned how to sew when I was in high school, I got really into sewing. And then I loved fashion. I went to school in New York at the Fashion Institute of Technology. And I was scared to apply for fashion design because I wasn't confident in my drawing skills. So I applied for textiles sort of randomly, but then I ended up loving it. I learned about natural dying and the sustainability aspects of the fashion industry. I'm really interested in, environmental sustainability and human rights.
Why do you work with natural dyes as opposed to food coloring lol?
Natural dyes are all vegetable and plant matter. The alternative is conventional/synthetic dyes. Natural dyes were the only dyes used until the late 1800s, when this guy, accidentally invented synthetic dyes in a lab. Since then, the thought has been "this is so much easier", but [to me] it's different because the synthetic dyes are petroleum based. They're just color, I don't think it's as interesting to me because with natural dyes, there's complexity, and it's living color! The variations in the texture look so interesting. It's such a fun experimentation. But obviously, on a mass production scale, it's not as feasible.
It's fascinating to me that something that's purple won't die purple. Like, I think I saw you using red onion peels, and I don't remember did it turn brown?
It's like a chartreuse green color.
I feel like that would trip me out. Like, I'd start stirring something in a pot and think this is gonna be this color and then it's totally not?
Yeah, it's really fun to play around and just see like, "Oh, what color will this flower dye? I also like growing things locally for dyes or collecting for instance black walnuts off the ground.
Do you use organic products? Would the pesticides and chemicals used in traditional farming cause changes in the colors produced?
I don't use just organic, I use any sort of food waste that I can get. One of my friends Kyle and Leah own a restaurant at Eastern Market called Gather. They let me use their onion skins from the restaurant and other restaurants sometimes give me avocado skins and pits, which I used to make pink.
What made you decide to go into business for yourself?
I used to work in fabric sourcing for the fashion industry in New York and I learned a lot, but ultimately I always had a dream of being creative and working for myself. I saved up money while I was working and then my partner and I moved to Detroit where the living costs were much lower and I had time and space to work on my business.
My experiences in my other jobs have made me even more passionate about growing Rosemarine Textiles to employ other people and be positive and creative place to work.
So how long have you been in business?
I launched my business last April. But I actually had another business before this one. It was called 'A Wool Story'. I made zero-waste knitwear with unraveled sweaters. I would go to thrift stores and find really nice wool cashmere sweaters, unravel them and then re-knit them into hats and mittens and scarves and things.
Do you think you'll ever go back to it? Or do you still kind of dabble in that? That just sounds dope!
I feel like, I'm moving onto the next phase of my interests, you know. The value, of the time that went into it, didn't equal the return. But, it was really fun! I loved doing it. The challenge to use the materials that already exist in the world, and then repurpose them.
What advice would you have for someone looking to start their own business? In Detroit?
The main thing is just learning by doing, so I would say just do some basic research about what you want to do and then start trying it. Having a mentor, is also something that's been super helpful to me. My friend, Libby has a jewelry company called the Goldeluxe Jewelry. She's been in business for around five years and has helped me so much with my sales, pricing spreadsheets and tracking everything. It's also just nice to have someone to bounce ideas off. Also, if you could take any sort of business class, a couple of summers ago I took the Anchor & Orbit online course. It helped me to figure out my, production calendar, goal setting, and figuring out what I wanted my business to be? Who are my competitors? And what are they doing? What sort of things are they doing that I can adopt into my business? But, in my own way, or what things can I learn and avoid from watching others. In Detroit, I would recommend looking into Build Institute. They have a lot of great resources for helping small business owners.
What are some business tactics that you've observed other businesses and what sorts of things do you think that you've tackled, that have been of out of the box?
I like to have a variety of products, which is sometimes to my detriment. I'll get caught in "making this, then this, then this"! I try to streamline it. Sometimes I'll do a limited edition item. I just made some tie-dyed merch t-shirts from old thrifted t-shirts. That was fun. It was cool. I try to look at the bigger vision of what my company is and what it isn't. And then just stay true to that.