Fundraising and participating in accelerators are paying off for Stony Creek Colors, the Springfield, Tenn.-based source for natural indigo.
The company announced Friday that it has entered a strategic partnership with Swiss chemical maker Archroma to produce and bring to market its IndiGold high-performance plant-based pre-reduced indigo at scale.
Stony Creek Colors extracts its dye from proprietary Indigofera plant varieties grown in partnership with family farms as a regenerative rotational crop. The company describes its IndiGold concept as “the world’s first pre-reduced natural indigo dye,” which it then developed with Archroma to offer the first plant-based alternative to synthetic pre-reduced indigo.
The dyestuff will be sold as a 20 percent concentration in a soluble liquid form that displays similar performance to comparable synthetic indigo products available on the market.
Archroma will produce the first batches of IndiGold in Salvatierra, Mexico, and says it has other locations where it could make the dyestuff. Through this partnership, the company will support Stony Creek Colors with its manufacturing and logistics capabilities, and its expertise in denim dyeing with customers using pre-reduced indigo.
The trials showed “excellent coloration” and can achieve the typical indigo wash down, as with synthetic indigo.
“We, along with many in the industry, see IndiGold as the holy grail for indigo dyeing and are ecstatic to now be bringing it to life with such a reputable partner as Archroma,” said Sarah Bellos, Stony Creek Colors CEO and founder. “The coupling of our two technologies allows us to fulfill the ultimate desire from our customers for an easy-to-use, pre-reduced liquid formulation that stems from a 100 percent plant-based supply.”
The partnership was established in 2020 when Stony Creek was looking for like-minded partners to produce the dyestuff at scale. Archroma reported that it “immediately offered to support the idea of Stony Creek Colors with extensive pilot scale manufacturing trials and engaged with its network of denim machinery manufacturers to test the first samples in industrial conditions.”
“I am very proud that Archroma supports Stony Creek’s project,” said Heike van de Kerkhof, Archroma CEO. “We shared the same vision that plant-based pre-reduced indigo can be scaled up and color the nature-friendly collections that denim brands and retailers have been dreaming of, and we are pleased to help bring it to the market.”
Archroma is well-versed in indigo manufacturing and application. The company launched the first aniline-free indigo in 2018, followed by a partnership with CleanKore, a patented technology that dyes yarn without the use of potassium permanganate spray. The technology allows mills to achieve a bright white abrasion effect using laser technology, making it safer for workers, and drastically reducing water and energy usage during manufacturing. Meanwhile, its sustainable EarthColors collection is widely used for color denim.
Though efforts ramped up in 2021 when Stony Creek raised more than $9 million in a Series B financing round, scaling IndiGold has been the company’s long-term goal. That same year global innovation platform Fashion for Good selected Stony Creek Colors as an innovator in its global Innovation Program. The program connects brands with innovators to work together to test, validate and ultimately scale disruptive innovations in the fashion industry to drive positive impact.
The program led to a partnership with Levi’s, enabling Stony Creek to tap into the experience and technical know-how of denim giant. With the goal of “unlocking key learnings around shade application and other efficiencies,” the Levi’s project aims to have garments produced with IndiGold dye on the market by late 2022 and early 2023.