By Rooslana Rusk, Staff Writer
Newman University has a young entrepreneur in its midst. Scarlett Olsen, digital communication specialist in university relations, has recently started up a small business named Island Indigo with her mother, selling and designing trendy scarves, tote bags, hair scrunchies, towels and other accessories.
The brand is well-known for its plethora of blue, tie-dyed cloth accessories centered around a beachy, island aesthetic. All items are 100 percent natural fabric - cotton or silk - in order for the indigo dye to adhere properly.
Olsen says she credits much of her inspiration and success of the brand to her mother and her mother’s husband.
“After they retired, they moved from Kansas to South Carolina to be on the beach. In all of my mom’s spare time, she’d take all sorts of classes and one of them was on dyeing silk scarves with indigo. This practice is really popular in that area because it’s where the woman who discovered and perfected the process originated from. My mom was really good at it and just kind of fell in love with it.”
The silk scarves go for $55, and they say they are working toward a variety of more affordable items.
Depending on the size or intricacy of the pattern, Olsen said the design process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to nine hours to complete. The duo runs the operation on an even dichotomy between her mother’s artwork and her own tech savviness and knack for marketing.
“My mom loves doing this and really doesn’t want to see it turn into work so it’s important that we know our limits. Really, she’s a one-man-show when it comes to making the products, so she doesn’t want to overdo it,” Olsen said.
Much of Olsen’s contribution comes in the form of what she does here at Newman: social media coverage, story-writing and photography.
“I ordered all of our business cards, hang tags and other marketing items.”
Since the venture began in November, its online presence has spread to Etsy, Instagram, Pinterest (@Island Indigo Gals) and Facebook (@Island Indigo).
The merchandise is also available in-store at Lady’s Island Marina Store, a boutique in Beaufort, South Carolina, known for promoting and selling the work of local artists. The store discovered Indigo Island via Instagram and has since ordered stock from them on at least five occasions in the last two months. The product flies off the shelves on-location, as Beaufort is a popular tourist attraction on the east coast.
PHOTO: SCARLETT OLSEN, outside of her job at Newman, sells a variety of blue merchandise with her mom. Courtesy photo, Island Indigo