In 1989, my sister, Jennifer, friend Jaime, and I began Peacenik Designs. Although I didn’t take art classes, we decided I would be the designer.
Peacenik was officially incorporated on Earth Day, 1990. I saw the green movement gain momentum then slowly die. Then and now, environmental awareness is critical. My goal is to educate people environmentally as well as spiritually. Loving yourself is what the environment needs. You can be surrounded by health and happiness if you choose that for yourself. Just like my old “stoplight” shirt says… go love, yield to nothing, stop fear.
Moving back to Indiana, I completed the designs and found that Earth Day 1990 was being celebrated nationwide. I asked my brother Dan for some seed money and printed my line for the festivities in Lincoln Park in Chicago. What a day! The place was packed and I was too busy to even say hi to my friends.
Without the internet being widely used, I grabbed my daughter and my brothers Dodge Caravan and off we went to sell shirts. With the help of friends and word of mouth, Peacenik shirts were in stores from New York City to Los Angeles CA, I heard stories of people getting out of their cars at dead shows and seeing a person in the next car wearing “Would You Sell Your Mother”, the same shirt they were wearing. Another one I heard was someone was moving into an apartment in LA and a tenant passed wearing the same “World Peace Now” shirt.
During my travels and selling shirts at festivals, a few would get dirty. I thought I would have to lower their price in order to sell them, unless….
I soon began tie-dyeing and sold shirts at Dead shows, Bluesfest in Chicago and Lollapalloza back in the mid 90’s.
I still have a couple shirts from the bygone days.
This is my hubby wearing an old dump site shirt dyed with procion. It’s not for sale because it’s my favorite.
The thing I didn’t like about synthetic dyes is how nasty they were. As soon as the top opened, a puff of dye would float in the air and right up my nose. What a terrible smell. Thinking back, I should have worn a respirator. Procion stained everything it touched, and most importantly, went again what I considered to be environmentally safe.
While my parents were still alive, we went out to dinner and they both sat across from me and. with a serious look, said they thought I should bring Peacenik back. I was shocked because I didn’t expect this. They pointed out the environmental movement was gaining ground again and I shouldn’t miss out. While I knew they were right, I was just too busy with my landscaping company and didn’t give it a second thought.
Before my mom passed in 2016, I would visit her in the hospital. And every day she would ask what I did that day to move Peacenik along. She put the fire under me that’s for sure. Soon after she died, I met my soon to be husband. Then a year later, my dad passed. I married and moved to Atlanta.
While reeling from this huge change in my life, I started back on Peacenik, finalizing my designs and bought a heat press.
How I got started with natural dyes
In the early 90’s, living in Eugene Oregon, I met a couple of women who turned me on to natural dyes. They invited me to their farm and taught me the basics. I felt a little “witchy” stirring flowers in one caldron and roots in another. (They also encouraged me to pick an ear of corn and eat it, uncooked. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to. It was surprisingly sweet.) Fast forward to 2010, I saw Dharma Trading Co, the place I bought procion dyes, carried a wide assortment of natural dyes. I bought cutch, henna, madder root and some mordants. The unopened box lived with me in Chicago for a few years, then moved with me to Miller Beach, IN. and finally to Atlanta. Around 2019, my daughter asked me what ever happened to them and pressed me to start dyeing again so I went to the basement, found the box, opened the packages and began.
I’ve come a long way since then and learned so much. When I’m vending, everyone who’s drawn to my booth, love the pleasing colors. I love that it doesn’t hurt the environment.