We all need a creative outlet, but Jackie Ayres turned her fun tie-dye pastime into a profitable profession that also gives back to the community.
Today, Ayres is the Owner and designer at Dyetology, a line of hand-dyed women's apparel made from natural fibers. "We hand dye each and every piece for you," says Ayres.
The pieces are made for women who value beauty, creativity, uniqueness, and consciously-made clothing.
Columbus-based Dyetology started back in 2015 when Ayres realized she needed a creative hobby because her Corporate America job wasn't cutting it. "I was sitting at a computer and in meetings all day," she says. "I wanted the opposite, so I dusted off my surface design books from college and got started dyeing."
Ayres' experience in surface design includes two years of classes in college where she learned how to dye fabric, silkscreen, bakiting, and shibori dyeing. All of this education combined with her love for fashion and experience in the corporate world made launching her own business seem like a natural extension of herself.
She went from working seven days a week, to doing that while also growing a side business, to then taking a big leap of faith to pursue that business full time.
"I wanted to go all in on my business and leave my corporate job but kept telling myself that when I had 'x' amount of money saved up I would leave," she explains. "That money goal really wasn’t happening fast enough, and I honestly didn’t know how on earth I could leave my job. My family relied on my salary and life expenses weren’t going away."
A demanding job and changes at home meant that Ayres needed to make a decision sooner, rather than waiting for that "perfect moment."
"I didn't want to have regrets missing out on my son’s childhood," she says. "I was saying a daily prayer that when it was time, that God would show me, let me know. And he did! I was in the middle of a huge coordination meeting and I felt sort of like I went into a tunnel, and the people talking around me sounded like the teacher from Peanuts."
It was at that moment that she felt like someone was telling her it was time to go. “I knew the timing was right because after I made the decision, I didn’t freak out and I wasn’t scared,” she says.
Although she was sad to leave behind a team of amazing women, she knew it was the right thing to do.
Today, her business is experiencing unprecedented growth. “I have seen a positive increase in sales each year, some years more than doubling,” she says.
With the onset of the pandemic, Ayres says that in 2020 she saw online sales up over 95% compared to 2019. “That shift came from not doing in-person art shows, and I am so grateful and thankful to our loyal clients for shopping small during the pandemic,” she says.
Her product line has diversified over the years to now include women’s apparel such as blouses, jackets, tops, sweatshirts, skirts, and joggers. Accessories carried at Dyetology are scarves, socks, headbands, and masks. Baby onesies and baby hooded bath towels are available and even home goods like hand and bath towels, blankets, pillowcases, and velvet pillow covers. She does complete men’s and kids items by custom requests.
Ayres’s favorite product she creates are “One of a Kind” denim jackets.
“I designed denim for Lane Bryant for five years and it was my favorite category to design during my 17 years designing for brands,” she says. “So these jackets combined my love of denim and also each one is unique and has special trims and appliqués that I have spent hours on the internet scouring and searching for the perfect pieces that go on these jackets.”
To help give back to the community that supports her, Ayres started a sock donation program in 2017.
“I was already making socks for the line when I happened to read an article in the beginning of 2017 that socks were the most needed item of clothing in homeless shelters due to the fact that they don’t accept used sock donations,” she explains. “Also the homeless usually don’t have regular access to laundry and then add to that they are transient and walk a lot. So I knew it was just something I was going to do right then and there.”
For every pair of socks a customer purchases, a pair is donated to a local homeless shelter. Since launching the program in March 2017, Dyetology has donated almost 2,000 pairs of socks.
“I love being able to give back to the community in some way,” she says. “I have also been able to donate a portion of sales for various causes through the years and as the business grows I want to continue to give back even more.”