Women in Business Wednesday: Allison Hylant
This Women in Business Wednesday, we’re so excited to introduce our DEAR friend, Allison Hylant. This talented lady is the founder of Dale & Blue, a small batch home goods business producing the most beautiful indigo-dyed wares you’ve ever seen.
The attention and care that goes into each piece she makes is insane. From sourcing fabrics and dying them (a multi-step process), to sewing each piece by hand, this one-woman-show never ceases to amaze.
Sure, Allison’s work is super impressive, but we LOVE a girl with heart. Dale & Blue’s guiding philosophy is one we can all get behind: People over things. In running her business, Allison asks herself questions like: What does the supply chain look like? What is the environmental impact? The social impact? Who are the people involved in the supply chain and what are the production methods?
We interviewed Allison about her vision for Dale & Blue, her favorite thing about living in Detroit, and her most beloved item in her closet (Hello, Marimekko!) Thoughtful, skilled, and fun; we know you’ll love Allison as much as we do!
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ALLISON HYLANT, DALE & BLUE
Tell us a little bit about Dale & Blue! What inspired you to start your business?
Dale & blue is a small batch, hand dyed home goods brand. When I started to write the business plan I came up with the philosophy of people over things. I wanted to create a company that made beautiful things, but also that looked at the whole picture of production and specifically the textile industry and thought about doing it better. What does the supply chain look like? What is the environmental impact? The social impact? Who are the people involved in the supply chain and what are the production methods? It means it takes a lot longer to create new products and that they cost a little bit more in the end. But, I wouldn't want to run the business any other way. I like to say I create products that I am proud to make and you are proud to own.
Where does the name Dale & Blue come from?
It is named after my Grandfathers! I had a Grandpa Dale (my mom's dad) and a Grandpa Blue (my dad's dad) His real name was Robert, but was a huge Michigan Fan and was called Blue by everyone. Michigan is also my alma mater so the name worked on several levels and seemed like a nice way to honor my grandfathers.
What's your favorite thing about running your own business? Least favorite?
There are a ton of both! I love having control over my own schedule and where I invest my time. Some weeks are devoted entirely to production, while other weeks are mostly administration and others still are devoted to marketing, social media and photography. My least favorite changes all the time, but currently things are changing pretty quickly and my least favorite thing is knowing its all on me to make the big decisions. I would love to have a co-worker or a boss to bounce ideas off of, or to help with the deciding factors, but it is all me.
You've expanded your product line so much in the last couple years! What new D&B pieces do we have to look forward to?
This year I really focused on tabletop products and I am really excited about them! Now there are placemats, tea towels, table runners, napkins, and tablecloths in several sizes. I am always interested in hearing what people what to see from dale & blue next, I have gotten lots of requests for bedding (that is still WAY down the road) and bandanas. That one seems more manageable and one I am hoping I can tackle in the next several months. Long term I would love to introduce fabric by the yard and framed art to the dale & blue line!
What does a typical day at D&B look like?
I am usually up between 6:45-7:15 AM depending on the day and what time I am trying to get to the gym! I start most days with a workout, then I come home shower eat breakfast, have a BLACK coffee, pack my lunch and head out to the studio! My studio is located in the Ponyride building in Corktown, just a short 5min drive. I try to get there around 10:00 AM. Even though I get to make my own schedule I found it is best for me to keep to a pretty traditional work day schedule. When I get to the studio I usually make a to-do list and check my calendar for the day. If it’s a heavy e-mail and admin day then I usually do my computer work early. I have found that, computer work is my least favorite and drains my energy the quickest so I try to do it at the start of the day. If it is a day of sewing it is typically a shorter studio day, unless I am on deadline!
What's the best career advice you've ever received?
No one gets out alive. It is more life advice, and slightly morbid I know. I come from a family that can and does appreciate a little dark humor. But days when I am feeling stressed or overwhelmed and like I just don't have any answers I repeat that line. It helps to put things in perspective, and remember that no decision I make today is going to end everything. That no unanswered e-mail will take the whole thing down. I just have to take life and this business one day at time and really try to enjoy it to embrace the good and bad and REALLY love the life I'm creating for myself, because in the end, no one gets out alive.
You've been heavily involved in the art show circuit. Where can we find you this summer (besides Harbor Springs)?
I just finished the One of a Kind Show in Chicago and will be in Chicago May 11-12 for the Renegade Craft Fair.
You Can also find me at :
Orchard Lake Wine and Fine art Fest: June 22-23
Crosby Art Show in Toledo: June 28-30
Harbor Springs: July 4
Leland: July 13
Saugatuck Art Fair: July 27
And those are just the June, July and August Shows! I am sure I will do quite a few this fall and Holiday Season as well. If anyone has recommendations send them my way!
What do you love most about living in Detroit?
Commute time! - You can be anywhere in the city in around 10 minutes.
And Belle Isle. I love spending time out there. Its' a great way to unwind and feel like you've left the city without actually going too far. I take everyone to the Belle Isle Aquarium when they come to visit. It is a fresh water aquarium and in the coolest building that has floor to ceiling green glass tile. It is quirky and small and just so quintessentially Detroit.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS:
Name a trend that will never go out of style: Your favorite - If it is something or some style you really love, then don't worry if it is trendy or not. For me it is Mid-Century Modern Furniture.
Name a trend you hope never comes back: 1960's and 1970's bathrooms and kitchens. The monochrome floor to ceiling (and appliances/ toilets) in pastel colors hopefully never makes a comeback.
Design advice to live by: Know what you love and what you want to live with and stick to it.
What's on your coffee table? I don't have one! But If I did it would be a great coffee book (The Monocle guide to Good Business and Monocle Guide to Better Living are both on my book shelf so those would go on display) Probably the newest edition of Kinfolk with half of the crossword finished and one or two pieces I picked up at the most recent flea market. Oh and a half finished mug of black coffee or tea.
Most beloved thing in your closet: My Marimekko dresses. I worked at Marimekko for several years, and amassed quite a collection during that time. I hardly have an occasion to wear them anymore, but they are my most favorite things. They are bright and cheery and remind me of a time in my early twenties when things were simpler and everything seemed possible. Maybe I hang onto all of them to remind myself that all things still are!
Ideal vacation: Northern Michigan- anytime of year. I have travelled a lot and always find myself thinking is this place better than Northern Michigan. I haven't been one place yet where that is the case. Don't get me wrong I love to travel and explore new places, but there is something magical and restorative about heading North.
Describe your favorite pair of shoes: White sneakers. Dress them up, dress them down. And you can go all day without your feet hurting, a huge plus when I am working long days and might be standing for most of it.
Who do you love to follow on Instagram: How many can I list??
My go to's right now for a good laugh and to keep things real are:
And for Art and Design Related accounts:
ODDS & ENDS
Go-to drink order: Titos and soda with lime.
Best restaurant in Detroit (or the area): I don't eat out much! But I do love Taqueria El Ray in Southwest. AMAZING FOOD, but cash only so come prepared!
Favorite way to spend a day off: If it is a Saturday and I am not working I love to go to Eastern Market, buy some fresh local produce and maybe pick up a new house plants. I have an obnoxious amount of plants in my apartment. I also love a great antique shop or flea market.
If you could have brunch with anyone who would it be? My best girl friends in Boston. It is hard living away from your best girl friends and Sunday brunches with them are something I miss most about living on the East Coast.