After approximately 10 seconds of searching passed, Rebecca Roberie spotted one piece of cloth – a white perfect for tie dye – jutting out of the pile of assorted baby garments in her laundry room. Since it was easily identifiable, Becca was able to quickly locate the cloth and clean off food from her baby boy’s onesie, and although this was a typical occurrence for a new mother, not-so-typical Becca would later use this experience as inspiration for her future business, Austin Tie Dye Co.
Feature by Forrest Milburn
It was in the summer of 2013 when Becca made the decision to start selling her tie dye products to customers. She had flooded the market with her resume and job applications, receiving some response in return, but nothing tangible. Then, she came to the realization that her knack for tie dying random articles of clothing, like baby clothes and burp cloths, could potentially become a full-time career.
“Life gets absolutely turned upside-down when you have a baby,” Becca said. “Everybody had given me, since I had a little boy, little boy things. So everything was light blue, tan and white.”
Taking her own experiences to heart, Becca knew there were other mothers and fathers out there who related to her struggle, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2013 when she would finally begin using easily identifiable baby clothes as a selling point.
After her search for more typical jobs grew tiresome, and knowing that starting a new business that could be profitable, it became Becca’s best option. She joined with her business partner, Cara Taylor, and Austin Tie Dye, Co. was born.
“I started out at craft fairs, and I learned from everybody around me. But I realized quickly that wasn’t where I wanted to be since I wasn’t making any money,” Becca said. “I only had one job interview at UT, and they had a better candidate, which I’m kind of glad they did.”
Since Cara started helping, she’s been an integral part of its success, where she helps Becca plan events and dye products.
“We met through our group for moms new to Austin about three years ago,” Cara said. “I’ve been helping Becca dye with dying products and planning events for about a year and a half.”
At around the same time she felt her need for a permanent job lessen, Becca also began to see better reception and more profit from customers. Although she originally planned on using her tie dye business as a temporary investment until she could land something more permanent, Becca finally realized that making and selling her tie dye products could be that permanent career.
“My business is a little unique, and so I combat perceptions a lot. So, I found my niche pretty quickly in baby clothes,” Becca said. “There are a lot of people who do amazing tie dye, and I had several discussions with one lady who only sells for the most part to adults. And I for whatever reason have a better shot at selling baby clothes than I do for adults, so that’s where I kind of focused.”
But, Austin Tie Dye doesn’t just stop there.
Aside from her highly-popular baby clothing, Becca also sells hand towels, swaddle blankets made from bamboo fibers, and she even takes special orders, like tie dyeing an entire sofa. Customers can even buy Texas-themed shirts or ones associated with “Doctor Who.” No matter the style, however, Becca uses only the best available materials for her products.
“We only use high-quality dyes, and we also won’t go below certain price points for customers. That’s how we keep our high-end [quality]. We aren’t just some ‘hippy’ store selling tie dye clothes,” Becca said. “It’s really tempting though to just dip below a price for someone who’s kind of on the fence, but in the end, you’re really just screwing yourself over.”
Along with selling products in stores nationwide and online, Becca and Cara plan to start hosting events and classes for kids and adults to teach them everything they need to know about tie dying clothes. Looking back, it is almost shocking to see the difference Becca has made in her life and with her business in just about two years.
“Sometimes, it feels like it’s me against the world with all of this,” Becca said. “But that’s how it’s been from the beginning. That’s how it was when I was looking for a ‘real job.’ That’s how it was when I would always have to battle perceptions – it’s not low-quality crap; it’s good stuff.”