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Sefte Sister: Liz Spencer of The Dogwood Dyer

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We’d love to introduce you to Liz Spencer, our newest Sefte Sister and Founder of The Dogwood Dyer, sustainable, local, naturally dyed knitwear and fashion. 

We were so inspired by Liz - her process, her commitment to sustainability -that we decided to team up to create and offer a capsule collection of beautiful naturally dyed shawls. Shop them here.

Dogwood Dyer Shawl

We love that she grows dye plants organically in between the rows of her heritage family orange grove in Southern California, as well as forages in a sustainable manner for abundant local plants. She uses everything from flowers to leaves, roots, berries and minerals to create a diversity of rich & living colors. Join us for a peek into her colorful journey. 

Tell us why you were drawn to Sefte Living?

I love Sefte’s overall aesthetic of minimalism and their attention to detail is above and beyond. Also, I was drawn to their use of alpaca - as I used to have alpacas myself. So I love the fiber and have a thorough understanding of it.

How did you get started doing what you do?

I discovered and started using natural dyes when I was studying for my masters degree at the London College of Fashion. I was creating a knitwear collection using animal fibers and started working with natural dyes. I fell in love with the whole process - from seed to color and the holistic process. It keeps me forever curious and engaged in the natural dye medium.

 Liz Spencer Dogwood Dyer

What’s something special that sets your company apart?  

The fact that I grow a lot of the color that I use keeps me engaged in the entire process - from supporting ethical suppliers to my understanding of botany behind the dyes and the true value of using natural dyes. Why they cost more and why they change with time. I’m truly a “forever student” - continuously learning about the different aspects of this industry - from the medicinal value to cultivate a better color.

What keeps you going everyday, either in your craft or going about life?

Well of course my kids keep me going - but I think it’s also my natural drive, which can be both a blessing and a curse. I have a naturally inquisitive nature, and as an ever-curious person, this medium provides the perfect framework.

Do you have a “sister” (either literal or figurative) who has propped you up personally or professionally? And, how?

I am lucky enough to have both. I have an actual sister who lives on the east coast, who sadly i don’t see enough, but when we do get to see each other, our time together is really valuable to me. We play very stereotypical older sister/younger sister roles - she has always loved me for who I am and is so supportive of my work as an artist. I’m very lucky to have her.

I also have a friend, Victoria Keen (@v_keen), who I have only known for a few years, but I would say she is like a sister. She has a sustainably dyed clothing line, and we have found this beautiful back and forth relationship of supporting and teaching each other, whether it be about natural dyes or motherhood.  

 Liz Spencer Dogwood Dyer

Where do you seek sanctuary - to dream, meditate, be creative or just find me time?

When I get out to my garden, it is so therapeutic for my soul. It’s wonderful that I can add picking flowers to my job description. Gardening is incredibly fulfilling, to be able to watch something grow and thrive.

 What do you do to try to remain present and slow down?

I think this medium itself - there is no speeding up the natural dyes process. Patience is part of the job description of a natural dyer. Also, as I get older, I just get better at learning how to say no to more things.  

 Liz Spencer

Where do you find inspiration for your work and for your life?

We travel a lot as a family. We try to do one or two road trips a year in our camper van. There is nothing like getting out and exploring a new landscape to find inspiration. I love being influenced by the colors around me. We recently visited Zion National Park in Utah, and I was so inspired by the blue of the sky against the terracotta of the mountains, all mixed with the lush greenery. So physical color but also continuing to learn about the local plants and getting inspired for possibilities about new plants.

What’s your favorite Sefte product?

I absolutely love the Amethyst Alpaca Throw from the Sefte + Cristalline collaboration. The detail is so beautiful.

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