In the basement of the Village Plaza building in Dearborn, down a winding, dark hallway, something very colorful is happening.
An unassuming entrance gives way to a warehouse full of clothes coated in the brightest blues, greens, yellows and pinks imaginable. is like a shot of adrenaline right in the heart of Dearborn.
And until recently, the unconventional tie-dye clothing company was the city’s best-kept secret.
You may have seen Brightly Twisted and never known they were Dearborn based–on the news, at art shows, and now in Nordstrom locations all over the world. You probably commented, “What a beautiful scarf” to a perfect stranger.
Owners and husband-and-wife team Tammy Bourque and Greg Stemas explain that “our success happened fast”–and that’s an understatement.
A decade ago, Brightly Twisted was a part-time summer hobby for Stemas. But after Bourque joined the team, they went full time in 2006.
“I jumped without a plan,” Bourque said. “I just had this inclination that I could do it.”
Turns out she was right.
Brightly Twisted is carried in various specialty shops, plus across Nordstrom’s entire network of department stores. In May, the duo and their team will open their first retail store in Glen Arbor, MI.
But the question everyone asks: Why not Dearborn?
Bourque said they tried, but were unable to find the right location.
“We tried renting all over the place in Dearborn, with hope that it could have been a store as well,” she said. “It could have been touristy. People can shop here now, but it’s not the best. We’re in a basement.”
Still, if shoppers can find it, they’re welcome to come into Village Plaza and browse the racks of “imperfect” but still beautiful clothes in the warehouse–most on sale for half price.
Even more beautiful is their philosophy: All of their clothes are handmade by a seamstress who works on their team, and scarves that don’t get sold are sent either to Haiti or the nonprofit Crossroads in Detroit, dressing up people in need with vibrantly colorful scarves.
“It’s not glamorous, but when you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t seem like you’re working your ass off,” Stemas said. “At the end of the day, we’re shipping out things that we’re proud of.”
Brightly Twisted is one of three Dearborn businesses nominated for the Dearborn Chamber of Commerce's Innovative Business Award. The winner will be announced at the on April 26 at . Learn more at www.dearbornchamber.org.