BEDFORD — Seven-year-old Tuukka Saari fell in love with Lamborghini and started his own business making tie-dye T-shirts with his mother, Tiffany.
Today he is the youngest member of the Bedford County Chamber of Commerce and appears on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” Via Skype.
He has handcrafted more than 600 tie-dye pieces, including T-shirts, hoodies, scrubs, pet shirts and bandanas.
In January 2022, Tuukka got the idea for his business while watching a YouTube video.
“I was like ‘Mom, can we do a tie-dye business?’ And she said, ‘Yes,'” Tuukka said in a recent interview.
He received some tie-dye suits for his birthday and ended up making shirts for some family and friends.
“Then people saw those shirts and asked where they could get one,” Tiffany said.
Business seemed to grow naturally from there, and Tuukka jumped at the opportunity to make money selling his one-of-a-kind artwork.
When asked what he wanted to do with the money, he decided to donate half to charity and save the other half to buy a whole new set of wheels.
His mom said it was his enterprising spirit and effort to help others that brought the community together around him.
“The response from the community has been fantastic,” Tiffany said. “Support was excellent.”
Tuukka knew which group he wanted to help and would ask his mom for help.
“He would come to me every once in a while and say he wanted to help this group of people. … I looked into it and figured out where to go from there,” she says.
So far, he has worked with Your Safe Haven, Special Olympics and Last Line.
Last Line’s Ryan Decker said Tuukka came to him and said he wanted to raise money for veterans.
Decker runs a nonprofit that builds tiny homes on a 250-acre farm in Everett to help veterans with PTSD and anxiety. Community.
“It was a good time around Tuukka,” Decker said. “He’s such a joy to work with, it’s been fantastic.”
For his Last Line collaboration, Tuukka designed shirts in red, white and blue designs.
“People loved it — a lot of people bought the shirts, he raised a lot of money for veterans,” Decker said.
The tie-dye business has also raised money for the Southern Allegheny Museum of Art in Bedford, which opened a new children’s wing, which Tukeka hopes will help other young artists and Everett Elementary School.
To create each tie-dye piece, first place the fabric to be dyed in soda ash for 20 minutes. This helps the fibers absorb the dye.
After the items are dyed, let them sit in the bag for a day to allow the dye to fully absorb into the fibers.
Finally, items are washed, dried and packed.
“If we think we’re going to do something wrong, we watch a video,” Tuca explained.
Tiffany said the whole family was willing to help, with Tuuka’s grandfather Tom helping with the more intricate parts of the pre-soaked shirts, folding and tie-dyeing process.
As for Tuukka, his favorite part of the craft is fabric dyeing, and his favorite color to use is dark green.
Tuukka says he feels good when people like what he creates.
He gave one of his teachers a shirt and then “She was so happy she put it on the next day,” He said.
Tuukka shirts and other items have been sold as far as Hawaii and California, Tiffany said, thanks in part to his website tiedyebytuukka.com and his Facebook page, where people can see what’s new, what’s in stock and what’s new. Read about Tuukka.
Tiffany, who thought the T-shirts would only be shared among family and friends, said she was amazed by how far Tuukka had taken the company and how hard he had gone to make it a success.
“he likes,” she says. “As long as he wants, we will continue.”
In order to get the tooth designs as well as peace signs, shamrocks and more, they had to learn different folding techniques, Tiffany said.
“Folding technology has really come a long way because we’re starting from the real basics of what we can do,” she says.
Tuukka also learned a lot about colors and how two colors mix to form a third.
Trial and error is a boon for business, Tiffany said.
“He started practicing all these different techniques and we got shirts from the trade,” she says.
Bedford County Chamber of Commerce CEO Kellie Goodman Shaffer said Tukeka is the chamber’s first honorary member after creating a new program to encourage and support youth.
“As a member, he has access to all of the chamber’s resources and can take advantage of the benefits of networking, advertising, marketing and exposure,” Schafer said.
“We appreciate all the help and opportunities they have provided, such as allowing him to put up signs on the Christmas lights at the fairgrounds,” Tiffany said.
Shaffer said she is excited about Tuukka’s commercial success.
“He is really a role model for youth entrepreneurship,” Goodman-Shaffer said.
As for the Lamborghini Tuca he had his eyes on? So far, he’s saved $1,700 on a $20,000 car.
Mirror staff writer Cati Keith can be reached at 814-381-5204.