On a recent trip to Leland, Michigan, I was able to join in the festivities as Maggie Revel Mielczarek celebrated 5 years of Leland Gal in Fishtown. Maggie and I met years ago (i.e., before kids) at Bunco. (If you love to talk but don’t love learning card game rules, this is the activity for you :-).
At the time, Maggie had recently moved back to Michigan from Chicago. Maggie shared that Leland Gal came about completely by accident. When she started a new teaching job in 2010, graphic design became part of Maggie’s curriculum at the last minute, and she had to teach herself the process before introducing it to the students in her class. Maggie used her paintings to learn the program, printed some fabrics, and gave them away as gifts. Things took off from there. Three years later, she opened her own shop in Fishtown with the hope of being able to remain closer to her son instead of returning to work full time.
Maggie was a forever summer person in Leland, but moved there full time when she was 14. Her favorite places to be are on the dock, on the beach, and on a boat. Maggie’s Top 3 Recommendations for tourists are The Cheese Shop for a sandwich, the Lodge for a more casual evening, and The Riverside Inn “if you want your socks knocked off with an elegant fun meal.”
Maggie grew up in a family of artists, so for her, the artist’s life is perfectly normal. A lot of families would be less encouraging about taking such risks, but to Maggie and her family, it’s a way of life. Maggie’s mom and grandmother have definitely been the strongest inspirational influences creatively, as well as in business.
If you have ever been to Leland, there is clearly a strong artistic thread running throughout. When asked what she thinks draws artists to the town or brings out the artists in those already there, Maggie mentioned a couple of factors. First, the beauty is undeniable. Second, the lifestyle is fitting for folks that live outside the box. Finally, MSU used to have a summer art program in Leland, and many artists never left once they arrived. Maggie’s mom is no exception. She came to Leland that way for the first time when she was 20. Clearly, it has been a wonderful decision to visit and stay in Leland.
Is there a place from your travels that you have felt especially inspired by? Or, have you picked up any artwork from your trips to remind you of the place or experience? I love Leland Gal because you can purchase a “souvenir” from your travel without it being kitschy but also without breaking the bank on a painting. All of the choices Leland Gal offers are also completely practical. For example, the last time that I visited Leland Gal, I purchased a shower curtain for an upcoming remodel-ish project (more on that soon). Not only is my purchase obviously functional, but I will also be reminded of my fun weekday trip to Leland every time I glance at it.
Want to learn more about Leland? Check out my post here.
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