Meet Maggie Mielczarek, an artist, mom and business owner. She started her fabric/pillow/accessory business, Leland Gal, three years when all the pieces suddenly fell into place. She has a little shop in Leland, Michigan, open seasonally, where she sells her colorful designs. All of her fabrics are her own painted designs turned into patterns. Maggie uses her soundings in Michigan to inspire her patterns: Birch trees, canoes, sail boats and cherries. Her patterns are so fun and we can’t wait to see our lighting paired with Leland Gal. Step into her colorful world to see why we are inspired by Maggie and Leland Gal!
DO YOU HAVE A DOG? WHAT KIND?
I have always grown up with dogs. Sadie was a “career changed” seeing eye dog, who was retired early from the field from chasing one too many squirrels on the clock. She has a black spot on her ear, which almost made us name her Cindy after Cindy Crawford for her beauty mark, but Sadie seemed to suit her to a tee. She is ½ golden, and ½ lab, and sheds like a banshee, but we love her anyway.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ROOM IN THE HOUSE/APT/YURT WHERE YOU GREW UP?
My parents had a sun room in the house where I grew up that housed all of my ongoing projects. It was my after school hang out with friends, and bright and cheery with blue and white fabric. There was a big hand painted fish trunk as a coffee table where I could compartmentalize all of my beads, embroidery floss for friendship bracelets, and such.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ROOM IN YOUR SPACE NOW?
I guess it’s no surprise, it’s still the sunniest room in the house, my office/studio. It has 9 windows and glass french doors leading to the living room. It is my own space to create, and reflect. I have just proudly installed my very first gallery wall with many of my favorite artists all in one place to lead me down memory lane when I’m in a creative rut. In two weeks my Renata Chandelier will be installed for a finishing touch. The style is a complete mix of traditional, antique, modern and whimsy. It’s borderline too much, but for me it’s just right.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DESIGN?
Long term, I love designing the fabric for a specific place. Color can affect your mood so much, and I love to create a space using paint and fabric that makes you feel cheerful and happy. Creating a mood, or a feeling with design. Short term, I love doing table settings with fabric, flowers, and lighting.
WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE ARTIST?
Man, that’s too tough to answer one. My mom has probably been my greatest inspiration, Nell Revel Smith. I also adore another local legend, Sallie Stanley. If I were to chose a classic famous artist, it would definitely be Fairfield Porter.
WHAT IS YOUR ZODIAC SIGN? DO YOU READ YOUR HOROSCOPE?
I’m an Aquarius, and when I do read it, it is generally all true. I am a total water baby through and through. I haven’t read it regularly in a while, but it was definitely a pastime in the teacher’s lounge in my former life as an Art Teacher in Evanston, Illinois.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB?
I was hired as a prep cook at age 16 for a local country club lunchtime restaurant. A week later, the head cook quit, and I had to take over. It was one of the most fun summers of my life. I can still make a club sandwich like a champ, and in record time.
WHAT LED YOU TO THIS CAREER?
I truly think it was fate. 4 years ago, we moved back to Michigan from Chicago where I started a new teaching job. About the day before school started, I was told I would also be teaching graphic design, which I didn’t know how to do. I taught myself along with the kids, and started using my paintings as the backdrop to learning the skills. The job itself wasn’t all that it was promised, and I would get through my days by working on making vibrant patterns during my lunch hour as a creative outlet. I discovered a place to get fabric printed and played around with it for Christmas presents, and it really took off. I had a few shows over the summers, and realized this could be more than just a hobby. The real motivation to make it work as a career was discovering I was pregnant, and not wanting to send my son to day care. Tommy was born in March of 2013, I opened my seasonal store in May, and I resigned from teaching in August. I still can’t believe we pulled it off.
WHAT DECORATIVE ACCESSORY DO YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH THE MOST?
I’d say my three favorites are color, lighting and pillows. They can change everything.
WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?
Yes Please by Amy Poehler.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE JOB?
I guess that it’s mine all mine. It’s a lot of responsibility, and can be stressful at times, but I’ve never been happier than working for myself and creating things that make people happy. It can be a total juggle with motherhood, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because I am so fulfilled, I feel I am a better mother, and I have been able to witness and love these past two years watching my son begin his little hilarious curious life.
HOW DOES LIVING IN LELAND, MICHIGAN INFLUENCE YOUR DESIGNS?
100% of my designs are inspired by living by the water. My store is in Fishtown, Leland, Michigan in an actual fishing shanty on the shores of Lake Michigan, where all the inspiration comes from. Along with specific imagery, I like to design prints that exude the feeling of being by the water, and the colorful easy going lifestyle that comes with it.
Here is a lovely interview with Maggie in Matchbook Mag.
All photos by Maggie or John A. Gessner.