Sydney Ambrus: Making Fashion Statements With Tie Dye

Sydney Ambrus, 14, owns a business of tie dye clothing. Her hometown, Little Rock, Arkansas, has played a large part in her creativity.

Tell us who you are and what you do!

My name is Sydney Ambrus. I am 14 years old and I own my own business of tie dye clothing. I tie dye all of my items by hand, so every item is unique. I was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Little Rock has influenced my creative process and decisions in different ways. When I was around 12 years old, my grandma would (which she still does) record our local news on TV. Little Rock is full of talent! So, I remember one day the news featured a girl around the same age doing big things in our community. I used to envy those who were young and doing good things for others. I thought to myself, what could I do that would bring new energy into my family, my friends, and my city.

At first I wanted to do screen printed t-shirts with memes and celebrity faces on them. That wasn’t me. I had to think of something that was more comfortable for me and something I enjoyed doing, rather than just printing a t-shirt with Beyoncé’s face on it. I wanted it to be more personal and custom to the client.

This whole battle with myself trying to figure out how I could be productive in my community went on for about a year, up until I went through Target one day and saw tie dye kits on sale. I hadn’t made one since I was in the 4th grade, so I bought all of them! Then, that night on my back patio in the 90 degree weather, I made two shirts. One was teal and purple, the other pink and purple. I didn’t think much of them, I just washed them and hung them up to dry. My father got up the next morning and saw the two shirts hanging from my shower rod and freaked out. He asked where I bought them, and what the style of shirt was called. I told him I didn’t buy them anywhere, and that I made them in the backyard. My dad couldn’t believe it! So, my mom showed all of my family members and that night I made my Instagram account and titled it iDye4Ya.

What is the inspiration for your work?

The inspiration behind my work are my clients and my friends. They are all one of a kind. They each make their own statements. No one person is alike and that’s exactly how my shirts are. Clients can pick their own colors, shade, style and technique for their shirt. I’ve never seen two shirts of mine that look exactly alike. Similar, but not identical. I believe this is what makes me stand out. How cool is it to have a shirt that no one else has! In our society, everyone is shopping from the same stores, with the same look. I strive to set everyone apart!

What would you say to prevent an upcoming artist from making the same mistakes you have made?

I would say, always take payments first or take a deposit. Or, as DJ Khaled would say “Secure Your Bag!” I’ve learned the hard way, by making shirts over verbal agreement and lost money in the beginning. The first few weeks of my line, I only had t-shirts. So I had a guy order one, he was a pretty well known rap artist in Little Rock, so I was so excited to make a shirt for him! I told all my friends. He and I had an agreement that we were going to meet up at a place in between both of our homes. I went to the place and he wasn’t there! I direct messaged him over and over asking what happened and why he didn’t show. He gave me a lame excuse. I told him I’d hold the shirt for another 2 days. He still never came to purchase his shirt. I struggled to sell the shirt, because the colors were custom to match his Jordan’s! I learned to not take people’s word for it, especially if it’s something as personal as a custom color that I had to blend by hand.

What obstacles have you faced as a Black Artist/Business Owner?

I have been fortunate and blessed to not have any obstacles being a young black business owner. However, failure is not in my vocabulary. Nothing is a failure, it’s just a lesson learned.

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