In the first few months of the pandemic over the summer in late May, Lynbrook resident Marion Schwaner, 26, started her own business called To Tie-Dye for Clothing — which involves making tie-dye and bleach dye protective face masks, clothing and accessories in her home and selling them on Instagram, Facebook and through charity fundraisers.
After receiving help from the Marion Street Elementary School PTA and from the Lynbrook Kindergarten Center Parents’ Club, she was able to sell hundreds of facial masks and accessories to different families of the children that attend the schools.
“It makes me feel proud that I can help my community out through my skills and talent, and I hope that other people will take the initiative and become entrepreneurs,” Schwaner said. “The pandemic opens the door to more possibilities and allows people to explore different interests and starting their own businesses to help others navigate the new normal together.”
When the coronavirus first hit, Schwaner moved back to her hometown of Lynbrook and out of Manhattan, where she worked in Public Relations. She said she has long enjoyed making tie-dye items as a hobby. Then, she decided that she wanted to start her own business, which involves tie-dying and bleach dying flannel shirts, sweatsuits, bandannas, baby onesies, beanie hats, scrunchies, bed sheets, bathing suits, cover-ups, Christmas stockings and leggings.
“It was definitely an experiment because I didn’t know if my business was going to turn into anything,” she said. “But my business is thriving, and I do it full-time now. I am trying to help the community in any way I can because face masks are needed now more than ever. I’m hoping to sell my products wholesale to local boutiques and continue to participate in more school fundraisers as well as teach more tie-dye classes at summer camps, beach clubs or play cafes.”
Schwaner is working on creating a business website and on a branded clothing and accessories line, one of the items being a scented candle.
Tie-dying anything is a labor-intensive process and is time consuming, said Schwaner. During the spring and summer, she used to do tie-dying and bleach dying for her business outside in the backyard, but since the colder months she moved to doing all her work in her basement or garage.
“The face masks are one of the hottest items selling right now, and I hope more local businesses will reach out to me for custom orders with their logos and colors,” she said. “I mainly started this business to show my creativity and to show what I love doing while helping the community. I didn’t know it was going to take off the way it did.”
Schwaner recently reached 2,400 followers on Instagram @totiedyeforclothing. Customers typically direct message her on Facebook and Instagram to place orders.
Starting Memorial Day Weekend through Halloween, Schwaner will be a vendor at Arts in the Plaza, located at Kennedy Plaza in Long Beach, to sell items for her business every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m..
“It means a lot when my customers give me positive feedback and come back to place more orders,” said Schwaner. “I’m very lucky to be thriving in my business because customers refer me to their friends and family and I’ve gotten a lot of support. My dad was a graphic designer and my mom is a social worker, both of which are creative fields, so it was in my nature to also find my creative place in society by establishing myself as an artist. My business also spreads positivity, that there is still hope in the world, despite the global pandemic.”
Schwaner said many Lynbrook and East Rockaway residents have found the products to be both stylish and exceptionally comfortable. Dr. Burak, the Superintendent of Lynbrook School District, is also known to wear the Lynbrook Owls tie-dye adult face mask made by To Tie-Dye for Clothing.
Lynbrook resident, Gina Lee, 39, purchased five masks for herself and her two children that she said she absolutely adores. She said that her daughter, who is a first-grade student at Marion Street, wears her Lynbrook tie-dye face mask almost every day.
“They wear the masks because they are comfortable and they love the tie-dye,” Lee said. “They have lasted well and the colors continue to remain vibrant, even after washing the masks seven million times.”