There is something about indigo....growing the plants, processing them into blue pigment, and watching my wife create, and teach people to create, wonderful textiles...for me, indigo is a joyful part of the rhythm of each year. The work is hard, and the outcomes are not always ideal, but the plant is magical, and the effect it has on people working with it can be transformative. That is why, in addition to my day job as a land conservation professional, you can find me by Caroline's side: growing, harvesting, and processing the plants into wonderful blue pigment each spring, summer and fall; setting up and taking down our booth at craft shows and markets all year; assisting with harvest workshops in fall; writing grants to support our efforts to scale up production; and refining our business plan every winter. We're on this journey together, and that's why I am happy to put some life force into CHI design indigo!
My name is Susimar González - Martínez. I am originally from Puerto Rico and have been living in South Carolina for the last 6 years. I hold a master's degree in Analytical Chemistry have experience working in education, composting and I owned and operated a plant nursery in Puerto Rico. I am glad to be using my skills assisting Caroline with growing indigo plants, making the dye, and creating beautiful blue fabric. I also love organic food, wine and a good conversation.
I launched CHI design indigo in 2014 when I turned 43, shortly after the loss of my mother, a creative educator. Nature and handcrafts called me, so I travelled to Japan to learn about indigo and resist-dyeing to create stunning, timeless patterns with fabric.
This new venture, entering its 5th year, sums up my passions for art, plants and bringing beauty into people’s lives. Every day I create sophisticated textiles for the home and for personal fashion using only natural fiber and natural indigo dye pigment from plants (indigofera suffruticosa) grown and processed right here in South Carolina.
Now, most days, you can find me in my small converted-shed studio in the backyard, designing, sewing or dyeing.
It is amazing to think that, after coming from France at only 20 years of age with just one small suitcase, earning a college degree in Art, then gaining 20 years of experience in the graphic and fashion world, I would embark on this next leg of the journey to help revive what was once an economic boom for South Carolina in the 1700’s.
I am honored to have been featured in Columbia Living Magazine, Turkey Red Journal and Freetimes. I have earned 2015 American Made by Martha Stewart, First Runner Up at Crafty Feast 2015 (SC), semi-finalist with Made in the South Awards 2016 with Garden and Gun Magazine and 2018 Top Innovator with Apparel Magazine.
My journey continues with a focus on home and fashion design, wedding accessories and planning Farm-to-Fabric Indigo Harvests and Workshops along the Southeastern coast.
Mission + Practice
FOR THOSE WHO LOVE THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE CHI design indigo provides affordable, luxurious products made in South Carolina & hand-dyed with SC grown Blue Gold Indigo
These products are hand-dyed with natural organic indigo pigment, called Blue Gold Indigo, processed through an old method of fermentation. We grow the plant on Edisto Island and Green Pond, SC and harvest twice, in September and October. After weeks of fermentation, syphoning, filtering and drying, we eventually package a limited amount of indigo pigment for sale for the dyers’ community. The remainder is stored for the company and the making of products.
CHI design indigo studio
Indigo is an ancient dye derived from the leaves of plants and surrounded by magic, mystery and folklore. Discover how the leaves ‘make blue’ with CHI design indigo and Caroline Harper by learning about the character and chemistry of the natural indigo vat.
“I invite you to be a part of the growing movement and revival of indigo in the South and join us at one of our workshops at CHI design studio or away—for a unique learning experience. Consider taking one of these workshops to learn about indigo and how to dye with it. Experience techniques that combine a little bit of chemistry, cooking and art all in one!”