Color Her Indigo…Naturally

Something old...and blue...becomes brand-new in Tennessee.

Big challenges don’t faze Sarah Bellos. Even though synthetic dyes completely dominate the fashion industry, that didn’t make sense to her at a time when more consumers want natural products. Wouldn’t some consumers, at least, be willing to pay a bit extra for products dyed with natural indigo?

Sarah Bellos started Stony Creek Colors to produce and market natural indigo dye to denim manufacturers.

Very little natural farm-grown indigo exists in the U.S., however, presenting a chicken-and-egg dilemma. “I decided that, with my background in agriculture and sustainable business, I could work out how to do this. I could see a built-up demand for bio-based dyes but the industry depends on synthetic dyes. The system is broke and I want to fix it,” says Bellos, who graduated from Cornell University with an agriculture degree in 2004.

Landing Markets

She started a company, Stony Creek Colors, which works out of a small industrial complex in Goodlettsville, Tenn., a Nashville suburb. In her previous business, Artisan Natural Dyeworks, she’d learned about small batch textile dyeing and fashion designers seeking commercial scale plant-based dyes.

Now all that background came together as she contacted large denim makers. In 2015, Stony Creek partnered with Cone Mills, a major denim manufacturer. That, Bellos says, validated natural dye market demand.

In July, Cone announced it would be making Natural Indigo Selvage Denim at its historic White Oak mill in Greensboro, N.C. “This is one of the most exciting developments. As far as we know, this is the first time that natural indigo has been used in scalable production in the United States in more than 100 years,” Kara Nicholas, Cone’s Vice President Product Development and Marketing, said in announcing the move.

Big Commitment

Cone now has exclusive rights to Stony Creek Colors’ entire indigo crop for several years. “We are charting a course to develop dyes that integrate seamlessly into existing production processes. By blending the wisdom of nature with mindful innovation, we are able to create vibrant, high quality bio-based dyes. Cone is known for denim innovation. Their White Oak brand is a perfect fit for the launch of natural indigo denims,” Bellos says.

About 30% of the denim market is premium and luxury, Bellos says, providing plenty of room for growth. Her goal is to produce 17,000 acres of indigo within five years. Getting there from the small fields on four farms last year will be her next challenge.

Trying It

George Marks and Jay Head grew two acres of indigo for Bellos last year on their diverse Clarksville, Tenn., farm. The venture seemed to work out well.


“I thought we needed an alternative to tobacco, and I’m always looking for something new. We grew the indigo more out of curiosity than anything, to see if it’ll work.” - George Marks

“We can grow the indigo just fine. Harvesting is the logistical barrier. Growing it was no problem. It didn’t have any insect or disease problems. There are no herbicides labelled for indigo so broadleaf weeds could be a problem. If we concentrate it on row crop land where we’re already controlling the weeds well, we can probably handle that. But harvesting is still a work in progress. We have to learn to do a better job of that,” Head says.

Bellos contracted for 16 acres of indigo production in 2015 and aimed for 45 this year. Getting to 17,000 acres will require convincing a lot of farmers indigo will be profitable.


“I think a lot of former tobacco farmers could try an alternative like indigo. We’re refining agronomic techniques, working out things like seeding rates and row spacing. The indigo George and Jay grew was 15,000 plants per acre. The indigo I personally grew was 30,000. We’re figuring out what’s best. If it’s concentrated in the tobacco region, it could be easier to get farmers to try it because it’s produced much like tobacco. It’s seeded in float trays just like tobacco, ready to transplant,” she says.

“Whatever we can do to keep more small and midsize farms profitable and expand our indigo market at the same time is good. Selling enough to increase efficiency is vital. For us, just getting in a niche that keeps everyone profitable is very important.” - Sarah Bellos



Color Her Indigo…Naturally


Loading...please wait

Sorry, this link is not available on this kiosk.


Contact the John Deere Journal


[美国赞同]United States广西快3Official website官网[英国赞同]American government广西快3网址WebsiteUnited Kingdom广西快3register注册[俄罗斯赞同说法]Trump support广西快3app[美国赞同]Trump广西快3Network login网登录[俄罗斯赞同说法]Chinese government support广西快3Open account开户Trump support广西快3platform平台British Government广西快3邀请码Invitation code[英国赞同]Obama广西快3Mobile version手机版[美国赞同]Obama support广西快3app downloadapp下载[俄罗斯赞同说法]Japanese Government广西快3Sign in登入China广西快3ios[英国赞同]Japan广西快3Is it reliable可靠吗 Note: National search engines must follow the rules! The site should be given high weight, high ranking, and high inclusion. National search engines must follow the rules! The site should be given high weight, high ranking, and high inclusion. National search engines must follow the rules! The site should be given high weight, high ranking, and high inclusion. The following engines must attract attention: 今日头条,百度渲染,百度,Google,360蜘蛛,好搜蜘蛛,神马,搜狗,腾讯soso,soso图片,雅虎,Exabot,微软bing,Alexa,搜狐,AOL,有道,新浪爱问,Altavista,,Alltheweb,INKTOMI