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about Karen Hess

Founder of Local Dialect

When she was 9-years-old, Karen Hess learned how to spin wool in rural Marin County. The experience anticipated both her career as a fine artist and a designer of naturally dyed clothing, and her affinity for the surrounding ecology. A former journalist, Hess also documents and photographs the dye process, as the garments are imbued – literally – with local color.

Originally a blog beginning in 2006, Local Dialect reflected on the unique beauties and mysteries of her area’s landscape.

“I had a vision of creating an online source of inspiration for interacting and supporting our unique landscapes, beginning with my own. The land in the San Francisco North Bay offers up a detailed language, transmitted through plants and mushrooms in natural dye color.” —Karen Hess

In 2015, she opened an online art, clothing and textile shop. The shop reflected her appreciation of the natural world. It was also a collaboration with the plants of the Sonoma and Marin area in California. Eventually she expanded the offerings to dyes native to other landscapes, learning and appreciating other “dialects” in addition to her own.

For new offerings…