“You tie it all up with a million rubber bands and make a little ball,”says Caroline Taverna ’19, founder of Blue Moon Indigo, a home-dying company based in Wilton, Conn. She goes on to explain that you drop the little ball of fabric in the dye for three minutes. It comes out green, but is then left out in the sun to oxidize and turn blue. The process is repeated three times for each product, “then you have to rinse all of it out and take the rubber bands off and that’s the best part.”
Taverna founded Blue Moon Indigo at the beginning of the summer of 2016. She sells cotton clothing, sheets, napkins and more dyed in her signature deep blue style. The project started when she casually decided to purchase an indigo-dying kit as a fun summer activity. Taverna started with a simple sheet and a beach cover-up for the summer; when she wore the dress around people asked her when she got it. “For a while I was doing it just for fun. Then I was like, okay it wouldn’t be so bad to make money off of this,” she said. As an economics major with an inclination for photography and crafts, she decided to bring the two together.
The tie-dying itself is time-consuming and complex. Taverna starts with two white powders and adds them to a bucket. The solution changes from white to green to bubbling purple on top to, finally, a vivid blue from which the company gets its name. Folding each piece of clothing, Taverna says, is key. “The folding is how you make the patterns,” and different styles of folding create different designs in the final product. Accordion folds, for example, make diamonds, while squares and swirls form starbursts.
Taverna’s first large order was for four of her close friends. She researched possible patterns and tried to match them to her friends’ personalities. Eventually, she decided to set up an Instagram account as a way of showing off the products and selling pieces. Last summer, she sold clothing to customers from South Carolina to Oregon through direct message.
Now, her products range in design and type. She sells dresses, button-down shirts, shorts, napkins and tapestries and has about 12 different designs. “The most basic one is the sunburst,” she says. “I really like the square and the diamond a lot; I think those are the prettiest.” There are also some that take longer than others, including the design she calls the “multiverse.” She usually customizes almost every order because it’s hard to match the size and design. After completing orders, she has customers send in pictures of them wearing the clothing she has made. One of her biggest projects this year was making a duvet set with pillow cases and sheets.
Taverna’s process has evolved a lot, partly because she loves to experiment. One of her most recent patterns came about from experimenting with the accordion fold in which she adds strings in the rubber bands to create lines on the sides of the pattern. “With the little cloth napkins, I can be more experimental,” she said. As Taverna gained more experience with her medium, she began to notice how small factors, such as the tightness of the rubber bands and the intensity of the sun each day, could affect the final product. “It was cool to figure out all that stuff as I went along.”
She described how her love of dark room development relates to her passion for tie-dye. In a class she took during Winter Study, she had the chance to develop photos herself. “It’s kind of the same thing,” Taverna said. “You don’t really know how it’s going to turn out until you do it.”
Despite her success so far, Taverna remains modest. “It’s just something I do for fun,” she said. She explained that people ask her if she wants to expand, but she insists on keeping it small and handmade. Additionally, she can only dye in the summer because of the oxidation process and time restraints. However, Taverna hopes to keep the company running this coming summer and potentially beyond.
Caroline Taverna ’19 sells her tie-dyes textiles through her own business, Blue Moon Indigo. Austin Huang/Contributing Photographer