IMG_0461Dressed MV: You were born in the US Virgin Islands and went to Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY–an Ivy League School.  How did you wind up in Martha’s Vineyard?

Blossom: I was born on St. John. My mom was an herbalist and my dad a sign maker. They quickly relocated to Ithaca, NY (a small college town in the Finger lakes region of New York State) when I was very little. Still, I spent many winters as a child camping on St. John. My family was definitely “unconventional” as was the path that took me to where I am today. I went to night school at a community college, got an AAS degree, and then enrolled in a local nursing program. While in nursing school, I took a job weeding at a local flower farm and fell in love with farming. I decided to take a break from nursing school to pursue flowers. I ended up with an eight years stint as a flower farmer and floral designer. My love for plants and my desire to work with them only got stronger and I applied to Cornell for agricultural sciences with a focus on sustainability. As an undergraduate, I took a studio course in natural dyes (in Cornell’s Department of Fiber Science & Apparel Design) and was immediately hooked. It was the perfect combination of science, creativity, and botanical exploration. The owner of the flower farm I worked on spent many years summering on Martha’s Vineyard and my best friend (I met on the farm) is from the island. After visiting a few times, I fell in love with this magical place and decided to move here. I love the Finger lakes region of NY, but the ocean has always called me and island life is in my blood.

Dressed MV: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a designer and how did you decide on eco printing as a career?

Blossom: I have always wanted to be a designer. When I was little, I wanted to be an interior designer. In high school, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I’ve had moments wanting to be a landscape designer, and I loved my time as a floral designer. I’ve always had a desire to make the world a more beautiful place and in search of something that fulfills my creative spirit and contributes to something meaningful.

I decided on eco printing because second to oil, the clothing and textile industry is one of the largest sources of pollution in the world. People make a conscience effort to eat local. It’s time to take that to the next level and consider where our home decor and clothes are coming from and how our decisions as consumers impact our planet.

I truly believe that eco printing and botanical dyes can help contribute to a more sustainable world. After doing a few art shows, I discovered how intrigued people are about botanical dyes and that pursuing something I love can also contribute to a more educated and conscious consumer. That was the “ta-da” moment for me and it happened about a year ago.

IMG_0793Dressed MV: Please explain your process of dying clothes from the plant to the finished product and tell us where items come from that you do not grow or collect (plants, leaves, flowers, and berries)?

Blossom: I am constantly exploring plants on this island. There are so many local plants that have a beautiful spectrum of pigment. It’s a constant learning curve. If I have a suspicion a plant has pigment, I run various tests on it to make sure it’s colorfast (color that will hold up to UV rays and laundry detergents) before using it on my products. This takes a while and sometimes lust leads to more questions, such as, “if I add iron to it will that make it more colorfast?”.

There is not a book about dye plants on Martha’s Vineyard and a list of recipes on how to use them. I am helping write that book and create that list. Some examples are: apple trees, cherry trees, sumac, rosa rugosa, bittersweet, birch bark, smoke bush, iris, purple beech and more. That said, there are a lot of botanical dyers out there and I’ve gotten a ton of helpful information from them.

I am constantly asking friends and strangers if I can pick a few leaves off their tree or out of their garden. If anyone has a smoke bush, I’ll prune it for you! I also grow a wide range of plants, including dahlias, hopi sunflowers, coreopsis, and marigolds. I get things like avocado pits, onion skins, and flower waste from local florists, restaurants and grocery stores. Another commitment of mine is to help reduce waste on this island.

“I am constantly learning. I have more and more control over my dyes as I become more experienced, but I am never in complete control. This is one of my favorite aspects, not controlling, but working with mother nature.”

I get other natural dye material from Dharma Trading and Botanical Colors. Eventually I hope to source all of my dye material from MV and surrounding areas. Part of this process is educating the local community about natural dyes and getting local farmers, families, and businesses on board—this is something I am very excited about!

I can freeze or dry plants to help persevere them, so I have a supply year-round. There is no reason why I can’t achieve a beautiful spectrum of color all year around. And just like food, it is fun to see how much local color changes with the seasons.

I then lay down my fabric on a recycled sheet or very heavy-duty plastic, and the fun (magic) begins. This piece of fabric is my canvas. I’ll put leaves, roots, petals, pigments, or dye vat liquid on the fabric, roll it up tightly around glass or metal and steam for 20 minutes to a few hours. By laying down the dye material directly on the fabric and steaming it, I get very concentrated color and use very little water to achieve colorfast pigments. Since all of these colors are “alive,” they are very sensitive to color changes. By changing the PH or adding a certain metal (like a little iron water), I can easily get a whole spectrum of colors from one plant. To me, it’s a combination of actual science–mostly chemistry–and serendipity. I am constantly learning. I have more and more control over my dyes as I become more experienced, but I am never in complete control. This is one of my favorite aspects, not controlling, but working with mother nature.

IMG_1253Dressed MV: What is integral to the work of an artist/designer like yourself?

Blossom: To be fulfilled by my work and share it with my community. We live in a crazy time and I often feel like I can make little difference in this world. Yet I think grassroots movements are very much needed right now. By sharing my work with the local community and getting local business involved I am ultimately reaching a much larger audience. That’s makes me very happy. I can’t tell you how many times a customer says, “Wow, I had no idea you can get so many colors from pants and from things like avocado pits and onion skins.” In a lot of ways botanical dyeing and eco printing is a lost art. It roots can be traced back to ancient Egyptians and Mayan cultures.

We are so out of touch with where the things that surround us come from. It’s really important to remind people how precious and giving plants are and how we need to take care of them. How wonderful if we can be fashionable and achieve this at the same time!

IMG_0722Dressed MV:  What does your work aim to say?

Blossom: I think my work says a lot of things. Mostly I hope it initiates conversations that helps people reconnect with plants, nature, and reminds us how amazing the natural world is.

Dressed MV: What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?

Blossom: I have very mixed feelings about social media. I think it’s a great tool to share things with the world, but I’m not sold on a lot of the content people choose to share. While I have learned a lot and I am inspired by fiber artists, fashion designers, farmers, interior decorators, etc. on social media, I am not putting my energy into developing followers on Instagram. I think ads on social media are supporting “fast fashion” and a lot of bad consumer habits. I am a big believer in putting energy into the local community. When given the chance, people can still be original and social media is a great way to share these ideas. Yet I think we all need to spend more time with ourselves and our community to combat some of the major issues confronting us today.

Dressed MV:  That said, on which social media site you are most active on?

Blossom: None. I recognize it’s a great tool, and I am trying to get better at using Instagram and my website as a way to share my work, but I really do prefer the real-life connections I have at art markets and in my community.

Dressed MV:  What was your biggest fear when going out and starting your own line?

Blossom: That no one would buy anything and it was destined to be a complete failure. I knew people liked my creations, and I had nothing but positive feedback, but there is a big difference between a hobby and a viable business. When I decided to take it on as a career, like anyone, I really wanted it to be successful.

IMG_1566Dressed MV: How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?

Blossom: I want women to feel that my styles are timeless and can be dressed up or down. The natural color pallet is very versatile and, in my opinion, never goes out of style. We don’t need new clothes every season to be stylish. Natural fibers (silk, cotton, linen, wool) are quality fabrics and feel good against the skin. I want people to feel elegant, confident, and comfortable in my clothes.

Dressed MV: Describe your personal style?

Blossom: I am all over the place. My style is like my taste in music: it totally depends on my mood. But I always keep it simple and comfortable. I don’t have a very large wardrobe. I have a lot of things I can dress up or down. I’ve always been drawn to natural fibers and a natural color pallet.

“My style is like my taste in music: it totally depends on my mood. But I always keep it simple and comfortable.”

Dressed MV: Are you passionate about something apart from fashion?

Blossom: Yes, lots of things! Fashion is a vessel for my art and I am falling in love with fashion design, but I am very new to the fashion industry. I am passionate about growing my own food and dye plants.  Farming has been a big part of my life and keeps me grounded. I think it’s important to keep that connection. I am also into yoga and spending time in nature. Taking care of yourself is an important part of having something to offer the world.

Dressed MV: What plans do you have for your designs?

Blossom: I want to feel good about where my fabric is coming from and who is helping make my clothes as my business grows. I am currently working on making sure I have a reliable source of natural fibers made in the U.S. or places I know that pay their employees well and operate safe working environments.  I continue to work on my clothing designs. I want a simple line with timeless styles. This is going to take another year or so to get where I want it. I have big dreams of eventually getting larger companies that have a lot of waste (like avocado pits or onion skins) to turn that waste into dyes and help bring natural dyeing to a more industrial level. I would also like to combine my passion for yoga and exercise with botanical dyes and release a yoga apparel line. And, I hope to have a community space where I can offer workshops and support other people exploring natural dyes. One step at a time.

You can contact Blossom via email at Her web address is