“I love colour and I love seeing people happy about colour. Dying is about transforming something that’s yours already and making it exactly what you want.”
Rosemary Wright-Dyer and her husband David started Cullachange in 1990. Since then it has developed to be an Australia wide business, with the introduction of their CullaPac postal service in the early 2000s.
Inside the complimentary package is a dying order form, a detailed information brochure, a colour chart and an Australia Post certified mailing satchel, in which customers can post back to Rosemary the items they want dyed.
“I’d had enough of people saying ‘it’s been in my car for six months waiting to get to you.’ So the postal idea developed. If we could give customers a way of getting their garments to us easily, they wouldn’t have it in the back of their car for six months.”
For Rosemary, communication between her and the customers is crucial for a successful dye experience. “Dying is a risk, we can’t actually anticipate everything but we’ll do our very best. For me it’s a communication skill as much as a dying skill. We ring and talk to customers about the project, and will often give them a second call the next day to give them time to think about it.” There is really no limit to what Rosemary and her Cullachange team will attempt to dye.
“We dye lots of weird things. Apart from clothing, we’ve dyed hammocks, parachutes, fishing net for a seafood restaurant so it looked like the ocean, curtains, lounge and chair covers. It’s really possible to dye anything.”
“One woman came in, she had bought her wedding dress in London and wanted to get the colour of it changed. The woman that sold the dress to her asked where she was from and she said Sydney. And the English woman said ‘oh, you’ll be able to get it changed at a place called Cullachange in Surry Hills.’”
The dying industry in Australia is a very small pool today, as the garment industry now sources their dying from overseas instead of locally. “One might say dying in Australia as nearly died out,” says Rosemary, “it’s almost as if the skill will never be needed here again because labels aren’t producing here. It’s very sad.”
“Writing the dye recipes, mixing the dye and actually putting the colour on requires a good eye. It’s experiential, it’s a learned skill. We’ve got a whole bag of intellectual property that we’ve gathered over the years,” explains Rosemary.
Rosemary and her team’s expert level of dying experience, strong customer service skills, innovative postal service and passion for colour has resulted in this small Devonshire Street shop growing to be a world renowned name in the dying business. “It’s taken years to develop to this stage. I think we’re the only business of our kind in Australia. If we’re the only one of our kind in the world, one day we could export our package system around the globe. Wouldn’t that be nice.”
This article originally appeared in Urban Village