The Tie (Dyes) That Bind: Detroit Dye House Brings People Together to Celebrate Art and Connections


From the separations created by the pandemic to the simple day-to-day distractions that keep us apart, it can be difficult to find ways to connect with our family, friends and co-workers. Detroit Dye House, located in Corktown, offers a meaningful, collaborative way for people to come together to create art, give back to the community and simply have fun.

This family-owned business, led by husband-and-wife-team Greg Stemas and Tammy Bourque-Stemas, and their daughter Alex Bourque, welcomes individuals, families, school groups and organizations in house to learn hand dyeing and to create their own wearable works of art.


The classes are a place for “creativity, making messes and letting go.” The goal of the experience is for people to come in, forget their worries and recover a bit of the equilibrium that seems so difficult to find these days. “There’s such a difference in people from when they walk in versus when they walk out,” says Tammy. “They always leave so happy – the experience really grounds people and lets them just not think for an hour.”

Tammy and Greg are both former Montessori teachers, so creating classes was a natural evolution in their business, which includes the Brightly Twisted line of hand-crafted clothing and accessories. Known for their bold, beautiful colors and high-quality materials, Brightly Twisted clothes are found at high-end retailers such as Nordstrom as well as directly through the Brightly Twisted online store and downtown store front.

Teaching others how to engage in the same artistry that has brought Greg and Tammy such joy over the years made sense and has become one of the most rewarding sides of their business. “It brings so much happiness to us and to others,” Tammy says. “We’re looking forward to doing a lot more of them.”

Classes are offered throughout the week and are 60-minutes long. Guests are encouraged to bring their own food – from full dinners to snacks – as well as their own drinks including beer and wine.


Once in the studio, they’ll learn the basics of hand dyeing – also known as tie dyeing – and will put their new skills to use creating three highly personalized items. They can choose from tote bags, bamboo socks, unisex tees, a signature pashmina or upgrade to a fashion item from what’s known as the blanks room.

The most important thing that guests will learn is that they need to let go of their nerves, stresses and shyness and accept that in hand dyeing there is very little control. The best strategy is simply to dive in head first, focus on the colors and embrace the idea that whatever happens, happens.

For many guests, that idea of letting go can be difficult. They “worry about doing it wrong or wasting dye but you can’t make a mistake with hand dyeing,” says Tammy.

“Scientifically, color is such an arresting thing,” she adds. “You don’t even realize it. You’re drawn in and you’re looking at this place where all these colors have blended and suddenly, people find themselves working with their senses again. It’s a natural process and it gives people a chance to get out of their heads.”

Classes can accommodate up to 20 people at a time – and sometimes up to 40 – and have welcomed friends and families for parties, “from grandmothers to three-year-old children,” says Tammy.


Most recently, demand for corporate classes has been growing at the Detroit Dye House. With more and more offices looking at hybrid work models, with some staff on site and others working from home, the desire to bring employees together to bond and get to know each other face to face has increased. Companies see Detroit Dye House classes as a way to achieve those goals.

Participants in the corporate classes not only get a chance to learn how to create tie-dye and bond with one another, “they also have the chance to focus on adaptability, collaboration, creativity, curiosity, flow and mindfulness,” says Tammy.

Other organizations, including schools and community centers, also have taken notice. Thanks to portable dyeing carts designed and built by Greg, the Detroit Dye House team is able to take their classes on the road, including Wayne State University who offered classes to incoming freshman at orientation this year.

Every class offered, whether on- or off-site includes an element that is at the core of Detroit Dye House’s organizational philosophy: the importance of giving back.

All class participants, when they are making their pieces, are also asked to create one item to be given away to help others. Primarily, individuals create hand-dyed socks to give away to local homeless shelters. For men, women and children without permanent shelter, socks are vitally important – they help people stay warm and keep feet dry, something necessary for good health and safety.

The Detroit Dye House team has a long history of giving back, hearkening back to their beginnings when Greg first began hand-dyeing clothes in his basement and selling them at arts and crafts fairs throughout the region. When Greg and Tammy made their first national wholesale deal with Nordstrom, they donated scarves to women in Haiti through a local nonprofit.

And they continue to create ultra-soft, hand-dyed beanies to children and adults with cancer, with the beanies offering warmth and added beauty to individuals who have lost their hair during treatments. They partner as well with Crossroads of Michigan, providing art and dyeing activities for homeless children families, bringing a bit of joy and creativity to families.


That dedication to community engagement and philanthropy will be going strong throughout the month of September with their Sole Project, part of Detroit’s annual Month of Design. “We’re offering free tie dye classes each Sunday in September starting September 11,” says Tammy. All items created will be donated including socks, beanies and pet-friendly items for a local animal shelter. “Each class will be different, from color theory to how to twist. It will be something new every week,” she adds.

The Sole Project will be an ideal way for people to get to know the joys of hand dyeing and of letting their creativity flow. “It’s a little bit of an addiction, in a good way,” says Tammy. “It feeds your soul.”