When the pandemic swept over America in March 2020, Opelika native Brighton Gregory dove head-first into her own new hobby, which later grew into a business.
Around May of 2020, Gregory, like millions of other college students, felt particularly bored with no work or school in sight, but also particularly crafty, inspired by the new DIY trends taking over social media feeds during quarantine. In her allotted excess alone time, tie-dye piqued Gregory’s interest and she decided to try and pick up the craft.
Gregory began her tie-dyeing hobby with white t-shirts mainly for herself and then naturally expanded.
“I started off kinda for myself and seeing what I could create, how to do it, and then I started doing a few shirts that my mom had for her,” Gregory said. “So, it kind of blossomed to my family.”
She researched the process and came to the method she uses today. First, she finds the article of clothing she wants to dye, which can range from long sleeve shirts, t-shirts, sweatshirts and even masks earlier in the pandemic.
“A lot of the times I’ll already have them or somebody will give me a shirt to tie-dye or a lot of times I like to go to the thrift stores and see if I can find clean white shirts,” she said. “A lot of the Auburn ones you get from basketball games or football games will pop up there and so I’ll get those.”
She then washes the article of clothing, cuts her dyes with some water, wraps the piece in rubber bands, and chooses a design and the colors to go with it.
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“I then microwave them,” Gregory said. “I wrap them in saran wrap and microwave them. A lot of people don’t know that.”
By doing some online research, she learned about a technique in which you microwave your dyed and saran-wrapped piece for two minutes, let it rest for thirty, and then wash it and marvel at its unique design.
“You really have to put a disclaimer out there: it’s not going to be perfect but it’s still fun,” Gregory said.
Although she still considers tie-dyeing as mainly a hobby, Gregory said the activity turned into more of a business around August of 2020 when her inventory started to overflow.
Gregory created an Instagram to feature her work.
“I would just start posting them,” she said. “I couldn’t keep all of them so I thought maybe I can try to sell them for a pretty affordable price and see if anybody’s interested. It kind of turned into a little side business, but also a place to show what I’ve done even if I wasn’t selling them.”
Gregory said she’s found a good balance between taking enough orders to where the process still feels like a hobby but she’s able to maintain a steady supply. She takes around one order per week and does drops, consisting of four to five shirts, two to three times a month.
“There might be like one or two stragglers that don’t get any love,” Gregory said. “I try and put them on sale or repost them every so often just to see if anybody’s interested or if I have new people who haven’t seen them.”
Gregory has been considering taking her unselling items back to the thrift store as an alternative solution.
“Sometimes if I have friends over I’ll be like ‘Hey, if I’ve got a shirt that’s in your size, you’re more than welcome to have it,’” she said.
Gregory is a student at Auburn University studying secondary education with an emphasis on social studies pedagogy.
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