Eco-Raw is a small business located in Cincinnati. Owner, Sonja Thams, naturally dyes textiles by hand. We love her dedication to using ethically made materials! We interviewed this talented local Maker to learn more about her craft. Meet Eco-Raw Studio on June 3, 2018 at our Summer Maker Mart in Columbus, Ohio!
Tell us about your local business.
Eco-Raw Studio is a natural dye or plant based dye textile studio located in Cincinnati, Ohio. My focus is on handmade, local, sustainable and eco friendly designs. Our mission is to create items for everyday use that are ethically made from start to finish. Fabrics are dyed using ancient and new techniques that create bright and beautiful colors. Lots of experimenting and testing of colors and fabrics goes into the process of making an item before it is ready to be sold.
What drew you to your craft?
During my studies at the Columbus College of Art and Design, I had a focus in fashion and attended several surface design courses. In one of my classes we had a small project with natural dyes and ever since then I was drawn to the craft. I started experimenting and testing out new designs and colors. From there I expanded and used natural dyes in my senior thesis and continued my experimentation and learning after school.
One of the most intriguing things about dyeing with plants is how sensitive each dye can be to different environments such as heat, water PH, vinegar and so on. I found experimenting fascinating and kept trying new thing to see how many solutions I could come up with. One the year i worked on my thesis I came up with over 100 different colors from about 10 different dye sources.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
One of my favorite items i have made was part of my thesis project. It is a all natural wool tear drop room divider that is naturally dyed dark blue and hangs from floor to ceiling. Among my designs were also a yellow light fixture and green wall hangings. All my designs were naturally dyed, cut and sew by hand.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I never had just one profession that I wanted to be when I was young, but I always knew that I wanted to do something with nature or animals. For awhile I wanted to be a vet, then a marine biologist. Throughout my education, I have gained interest in becoming my own boss and growing my own business. I looked into ways I could combine my passions.
What is your creative process?
I get inspired by details and colors I find in nature from my local area and my travels. I love to find unique textures shapes and colors and integrate them into my work.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
I would tell my 10 year old self to never stop being creative and push the boundaries of art and design. As well as keep imagining it ones of the best tools we have as artists.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
As an artist myself and as a shop owner of Deerhaus Decor, I see the importance of supporting local and USA made work more than ever. People have shifted to appreciating quality handmade goods that are made with time and care. Items that are handmade last longer and give people pride of ownership. These are some of the many reason I think it is important to support local makers and artists
Why do you love doing what you do?
I do what I do because I love to work with my hands and be able to create and design. I love to have the flexibility and freedom that being your own boss gives you.
What advice do you have for other people who want to start their own businesses?
If you want to start your own business you need to really enjoy what you are doing because you will end up working some long and hard days. Working for yourself or being the boss means that no matter what, you are finally responsible for thing getting done. And finally be flexible to change and shift as your business grows.
What is your favorite thing about exploring Ohio?
I enjoying finding all the unique hidden parks that are so gorgeous and inspirational. I also enjoy meeting new people and making connections.