Be Your Own A-List Celeb in Riverside Tool & Dye

Meet the magic behind this colorful Philly-based tie dyer, and discover why it is one of our favorite brands.

I first met Katie at the URBN market we host bi-weekly in Philly’s Navy Yard, home to our home offices. I must have stopped at her table five times that day, eyeing a beautifully hand dyed sweatsuit in the loveliest pastel colors. I had seen some of her designs on our website as well as in the hallway as one of my coworkers strutted by, but the idea of going head-to0toe in beautiful (and cozy) tie dye was really hard to pass up. I asked her a few questions about her tie dye business — Riverside Tool & Dye — and what it feels like to see her pieces on A-list celebrities…

Riverside Tool & Dye is based here in Philadelphia. Is this where you were born and raised? What brought you to start your own dyeing business?

I’ve lived all over the US but Philly for the longest so I call it home. I was introduced to Shibori dyeing through a friend and was instantly obsessed.

What are your favorite aspects of living in Philadelphia?

I love the people, the small city vibe and its close proximity to the beach :)

You use a traditional Japanese dyeing technique. Did you travel to Japan to learn it? How is it different than other techniques?

I love Japanese culture and look forward to traveling there one day, but so far everything I’ve learned about dyeing has been from studying books on Shibori and trying to come up with a more modern approach to its traditional techniques. Riverside started as pots and pans in my kitchen and then it eventually took over my house. Now I’ve outgrown my shop and am looking for a larger space.

I am in love with your Arden + James leather bag collaboration – did you use the same technique to dye the leather or did you have to learn a new one?

Thank you! It took me years to figure out how to dye leather! It does not work like fabric and I ruined lots of hides trying to get it right. Luckily, Bri from Arden + James was patient and, if it wasn’t for her encouraging me, I probably would have given up.

What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever created?

That’s a tough one — it changes quite a bit. Each pattern and technique looks very different on different pieces. Maybe a sofa I did last year? Or the leather bags? The coveralls are an all time favorite… I’m I’m pretty excited about the swimwear coming up for Spring.
Also love these new silk kimono dresses… and the velvet…all the velvets! So yeah, not sure. Sorry!

Recently, both Justin Bieber and Lebron James have been spotted in your pieces. What did that feel like??

That felt pretty amazing, I have to say! I’ve gotten lots of eye rolls over the years and people who thought what I did was too wild or that it needed to be toned down so, I feel somewhat validated now.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? And what was the worst?

I’ve never been very good at listening to anyone.

Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?

I love all indie rock. Snail Mail and Waxahatchee are currently in heavy rotation. And of course my studio mates A.M Mills. And I love Cardi B when I need to crank it out.

+ Shop all of Riverside Tool & Dye here, and support Small Business Saturday!

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There’s just something so lovely about tiedyed products!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

5 years ago

Great post as always! :)

5 years ago

Love this, would like to go to a tye-dye workshop!