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Stony Creek Colors: 2016 American Made Honoree

At just 34 years old, Sarah Bellos is trying to revolutionize the fashion industry, starting with the most ubiquitous piece of clothing around: your denim.

stony creek colors
Photography by: Christina Holmes
Bellos makes sustainable plant-based dye in Tennessee.

Sarah Bellos

Nashville

“For the past 100 years, we’ve been wearing jeans dyed with synthetic colors made from petroleum and hazardous chemicals,” Sarah Bellos says. “It’s time for a change.” In 2012 she founded Stony Creek Colors, a company devoted to making plant-based dyes on a commercial scale.

 

While the traditional natural dye-making process can take over a year, this graduate of the Cornell University College of Agriculture masterminded an accelerated process.

 

“We start with the plant in the morning and have dye by the end of the day,” says Bellos, who works with local farmers, many of them former tobacco growers looking for an alternative crop, to plant and harvest indigo for her. She now supplies denim lines such as Citizens of Humanity, 3x1, and Taylor Stitch, with more deals signed but not yet announced.

 

“By 2020, we plan to replace 1 percent of synthetic indigo with our dye -- that’s millions of pounds of chemicals made from petroleum with dyes made renewably and naturally from plants,” she says. Now that’s our kind of American dream.

 

[MEET THE OTHER MAKERS: American Made 2016 Honorees]
stony creek colors
Photography by: Christina Holmes
Indigo being harvested.
stony creek colors
Photography by: Christina Holmes
After the indigo is harvested, it’s brought to her factory, which was formerly used to process tobacco.
stony
Photography by: Christina Holmes
The leaves are turned into a powdered dye via Bellos’s accelerated technique.
stony creek colors
Photography by: Christina Holmes
The dye is then shipped to denim mills.
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