The idea for the business came from an episode of the television show “I’m Having Their Baby” when family members crafted a custom onesie with a heart in the middle for a future niece.
“I thought it would be really cool to have a place where you could do that,” said Bobbi Potter, who was born and raised in Eau Claire and owns Fun Dye Factory.
“I knew that I could hire talent,” Potter said of her staff, “and I found four fantastically talented people.”
In starting the business, Potter relied on her experience managing a dental clinic and providing accounting services for her church. She continues to perform those duties despite what’s become an increasingly hectic schedule.
Family members have provided valuable help in the venture — Potter’s father and brother-in-law helped remodel the space at 311 E. Madison St. and a sister provides baking services for special events.
“We do have a reputation for our cupcakes,” Potter said.
As its name implies, the business allows patrons to tie-dye a variety of products. Customers choose an item and can apply their own design or base it on one of the many examples on display. A “bling station” is available for those wanting to further decorate their creations, and the business has a heat press to add lettering.
Fun Dye Factory offers package deals for birthday parties, corporate events, sports teams and other groups and events. A volleyball team recently made team members’ practice shirts at the business, as did a dance/pompon group from Cornell. A contingent from Eleva made matching items for a conference they would be attending in Georgia.
Walk-ins also are welcome, and all employees are skilled in the designs on display. Children as young as 17 months have frequented the shop.
“It’s so much fun to get the kids in here and be creative,” Potter said.
She said scarfs and aprons have been the most popular items among women, while men often choose T-shirts. Teens trend toward bags, Potter said, and shirts for dogs have become popular.
“I think what sets the Fun Dye Factory apart is the fact that it’s such fun place to go,” said Mike Schatz, executive director of DECI. “Parents can go with their children or groups of kids can go together.
“Customers enjoy the dye process and come away with a unique product that they created. The experience leaves a smile on people’s faces and creates a lasting fan base for the Fun Dye Factory.”
Other winners in DECI’s annual awards program were: JAMF, Development of the Year; Children’s Museum of Eau Claire, Renovation of the Year; International Fall Festival, Best Annual Event; Houligans Steak & Seafood Pub, Best in Customer Service — Downtown Restaurant; Nicole’s Salon & Spa, Best in Customer Service — Downtown Service Industry; RCU, DECI Member of the Year; John Hegenbart of Upland Distributing, Volunteer of the Year; and Zach Halmstad of JAMF, Above and Beyond Award.
Demand has been strong for Fun Dye Factory, and Potter said it likely will only increase as the temperature warms.
“It’s been growing,” Potter said. “These last two weekends we’ve been swamped.”
The first six months have been so favorable, Potter is considering additional locations. She had hoped to open a store in the Mall of America, but the available space and terms didn’t meet her needs. A second location, she said, likely will be in La Crosse.
As for launching the business in Eau Claire’s city center, Potter said it was an easy decision.
“I was always set on downtown,” she said, “knowing what they’re trying to do downtown and what lies ahead in the future.”