By Kim North
It’s Saturday afternoon, and the four girls who’ve just walked into the Fun Dye Factory within their mom are giggling as they point out the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink all mixed together in dye designs that cover the stores walls. They dance to the rhythm of Live While We’re Young by One Direction blaring from the stores speakers, but settle down when the Fun Dye Factory staff insist it’s time to make decisions.
The girls were faced with choosing a garment and a color scheme. There are unlimited design options for any one item. Bobbi Potter is the owner of the Fun Dye Factory located in downtown Eau Claire. Potter has made it her business to help local residents get creative with tie dye and that means the colors, designs, and objects available for one-of-a-kind transformation are infinite.
“Fun is what we do, is our tagline,” Potter said.
Potter’s enthusiasm for entrepreneurship inspired her to open the Fun Dye Factory. Every day Potter, whose personality is as vibrant as the colors on the tie dye shirts she favors, can be found spending time planning the birthday parties, family gatherings and group events, the factory hosts.
Potter grew up in Eau Claire and graduated from North High School. She did not go to college but has always had the dream of being an entrepreneur and owning her own business.
The idea of the Fun Dye Factory began when Potter wanted to make a tie-dye garment but didn’t know how. “I am not a self-teacher,” Potter said. She is not a fan of do-it-yourself tutorials often found on the Internet, so she looked for a place where she could learn how to tie-dye.
There is not a place in the Midwest that offers the same experience as the Fun Dye Factory. Potter also thought the fun dye factory would be a good venue for birthday parties.
The “Fun Dye Factory is selling an experience,” Potter said. It is a popular place to have birthday parties. The store has a heat press and that allows people to put images on a shirt. They have helped tie dye Christmas pajamas for a family before as well as many other memorable things. “We have put Kanye West on a sweatshirt,” store manager Mark Paulsrud said.
Paulsrud says, Sports teams, dance studios, families and bachelorette parties are among the groups of people who come to the Fun Dye Factory.
The Fun Dye Factory opened in October of 2013.
“An attraction and roadblock has been that people don’t realize it’s not hard to tie-dye at any age,” Potter said.
When Potter approached the landlord he was skeptical of the idea because he thought tie-dye was a thing of the past. The landlord called his daughter, who thought it was a cool idea and told him that tie-dye is still relevant. The landlord agreed to rent Potter the space.
In addition to owning the factory, Potter also has a full time job as a clinic manager. Before opening the Fun Dye Factory, Potter had a small amount of experience from the past doing bookwork for the clinic.
She had also played around with some other business ideas. Running her own business did not scare her. She knew she would have enough people around her to help if it was needed.
Potter said she has big plans for the future of the Fun Dye Factory. Her ultimate goal is to own between four and five stores and then to franchise. The first step will be opening a store in the Twin Cities. Potter is on a funding search to be able to achieve her goals and to be able to advertise more.
Potter said she is proud of the time that is being put into advertising instead of money even though paying for advertising may be more effective. The Fun Dye Factory mostly advertises by word of mouth and social media.
The store has been in local parades and it is on the top of the list on the Visit Eau Claire website of things to do in Eau Claire. It is common for people to come back with friends or once they have attended a birthday party there, to then have their own birthday.
Savanna Van Dyk recently discovered the Fun Dye Factory. “I went there and had a great time,” she said. I have been back with my family when they came to visit. I recommend it to people all the time. Also they have really great free popcorn!”
In the little spare time Potter says she enjoys camping and exercising. Potter is also the treasurer for her church. Potter says owning the Fun Dye Factory has become her life.