Meet Mary Lake-Thompson!

Describe your background in design. When did you start applying your artwork to fabric?

I have been involved in art my whole life. I had formal training at the San Francisco Art Institute. I started my business as a greeting card company in the early 80s. When computers and email took over the greeting card business, we shifted gears and looked for a new product to put our art on. Flour sack tea towels were perfect. We could design and print our towels locally in Northern California rather than sending them overseas to be produced.

Where do you find inspiration, and how does that translate into your work?

After creating art for so many years, the inspiration builds on itself. One design leads to another design. I really live the life that I portray in the art…gardening, cooking, etc. I live in a very rural town, we don’t even have a Starbucks. I travel a lot so it’s always nice to be here where life is easy.

Describe your design process. What usually comes to your mind first – a color palette, a particular image, or an overall theme?

An overall theme is where my design process begins. I frequently develop ideas and images while doing my normal daily tasks. I could be gardening or playing with my dogs in the orchard…the design process really can happen anywhere from anything.

You’ve managed to build quite a successful company. How much perseverance did that take?

From the beginning I had a lot of support from my family. I really believe you need this much support in order to survive, starting and building a company. It is very demanding and time consuming, but in the end it’s all worth it because I have been able to do what I always wanted to do…create.

Have you learned any valuable lessons that might be useful to other designers trying to make a name for themselves in the industry?

My advice to other designers would be to never give up. Somewhere there is a need for creativity. I always tell people to think out of the box. I really believe if you can figure out another angle you can make it work. Go down a path that hasn’t been tread upon.

What does the future look like for you? Is there anything you hope to accomplish?

Right now we are developing a whole new world for us…ceramics! It’s always fun to develop a new product that has never been done before. It’s a different kind of energy from what we are used to.



Mary's Cottage Flowers collection (left) is available now! You can see all of her designs and products at her online store.