On May 15th, Maker Market welcomes the new season with a stellar roster of veteran artists and makers alongside some exciting fresh faces. Among these newcomers is one of the youngest creative entrepreneurs to ever set up shop at Maker Market.  Eleven year old Mara Gramling, of Dye Young, will be offering shoppers hand dyed and one of a kind t-shirts for the fashion forward. With creative luminaries for parents, Mara is following in their footsteps but in her own unique and youthful voice. This busy lady took some time away from school work to spill the beans on how she started Dye Young, Arnold’s face, and the inspiration behind her wild designs.


milwaukee maker crafter craft handmade

Maker Market: How did you come up with the name Dye Young and when did you start making?

Mara Gramling: I have been making crafts and selling them since November 2014 when my school Highland Community School had a holiday craft fair. The first products I made were ceramic magnets. Then this past November for Highland's craft fair, I decided I wanted to make t-shirts and my mom said she would help me because she likes dying and printing and stuff like that. We were brainstorming names for my business and my dad came up with the saying "live fast, die young."   Then I said "print fast, dye young" and then I just shortened it to Dye Young.


MM: Can you describe what you make and what methods you use?

MG: I make wild colorful creative t-shirts in men, women, kids, and baby sizes. I make them unique by dying them using different tie-dye methods and bleach methods. I also print on them using stencils and stamps that I make myself.


handmade craft paint dye art

MM: What about hand dyeing gets you the most excited?

MG: I am excited by the colors! I like choosing colors to dye with according to the color that the shirt is already. Tie-dye and shibori (a method my mom taught me where you fold and clamp the shirts in certain ways) always gives you a surprise! It's super cool to unfold the shirts after dying and be see the patterns you made!


MM: How would you describe your style? Do you wear your own designs?

MG: My style is just being comfortable. That’s all I care about! Yes, I love wearing my weird shirts!


MM: Where do you get the shirts that you print on?

MG: All the shirts that I use for my business are second-hand and most of them I get from Value Village because it's really close to our house so we can walk. We use second-hand shirts because it's good for the environment.


shibori art craft milwaukee maker independent fun

MM: If you could pick one person to wear and represent Dye Young who would it be and why?

MG: If I could choose anyone to wear Dye Young I would choose Arnold Schwarzenegger because it would look really funny to see him wearing a colorful shirt with his big serious face. Also, I also couldn't think of any other good celebrities and I'm just watching the Terminator right now.


MM: Why did you want  to start your own business?

MG: I started my own business because I needed something important to do other than schoolwork because it's boring... and I want to make money.


MM: What are you gonna spend all your dough on?

MG: Some of my money I will reinvest into my business and pay my mom back for all the shirts she bought for me. The rest of it I'll save for something big, I don't know what it is yet. Also, Mom and Dad make me give 10% of all my money to charity all the time. I am going to give to the Humane Society. Oh! and I'll buy myself and my brothers popsicle every time the paleta cart guy comes by our house this summer!


MM: What has been inspiring you lately?  What are you watching, listening to, reading??

MG: I am inspired by colors and I get ideas for designs from things that I see in books and stuff. Right now I'm watching The Terminator movies like I already mentioned. My favorite album is the new Animal Collective. I like to read graphic novels. I read a lot of manga. I am inspired by illustrations I see.


To meet the creator and designer Mara Gramling and shop the  exciting Dye Young line don’t miss the Maker Market spring opener on Sunday May 15th in the parking lot of Colectivo in Bay View.


AuthorAshley Smith