by Cathy Martin
Laura Park’s house was a hive of activity on the day that we spoke, with her three dogs underfoot, her oldest daughter packing up and rushing out the door, and boxes scattered about as she and her husband, Trip, were preparing to move from the Eastover home where they’ve lived for 18 years.
Despite the chaos, the mother of four was calm and collected as she described how she came to develop her popular line of textiles, Laura Park Designs. Having launched just three years ago at Cotswold Marketplace, Park’s pillows, duvet covers, rugs and more are now sold in boutiques and showrooms across the U.S.
Park never expected she would become an artist, let alone have a budding design business that keeps her hopping from Atlanta to Dallas to New York and other home-furnishings hubs.
The Raleigh native majored in economics at UNC Chapel Hill before deciding to go back to school to get her master’s in teaching. Park taught elementary school for five years, and she and Trip lived in Chicago and New Jersey before settling in Charlotte six months before 9/11.
When Cotswold Marketplace opened in 2010, she launched a retail business selling other people’s artwork.
“Then my dad died suddenly, like eight years ago, at 67,” Park says, and that’s when she decided she wanted to learn to paint. “My husband’s an artist, so I’ve always been around it,” she says, referring to Trip’s career as a painter and illustrator of children’s books.
“Oh, he’s a real artist,” Park says. “I just like to play with color.”
Park may be modest when it comes to her work, but others were quick to recognize her nascent talent after she began selling her paintings at Cotswold. Before long, her work was on display at Shain Gallery on Selwyn Ave. and at Atlanta’s Gregg Irby Gallery, which spotlights up-and-coming artists.
“Actually, I didn’t know I was going to be in Atlanta. [Trip] submitted my work and I didn’t know it … and they called me.”
Laura Park Designs launched in 2016 after Park began photographing her abstract designs and creating digital patterns that could be transferred to fabric.
“There was a great seamstress and pillow-maker at Cotswold, Judy Brown, and I hired her to make pillows — and they started selling.” Three years ago, Park took her designs to the New York Now market trade show, and the brand was born.
Recent collaborations include a collection with LeighDeux, the Charlotte-based dorm-decor business started by Leigh Goodwyn in 2013, and another with Annie Selke of Pine Cone Hill, a Massachusetts-based fine-linens company. With Selke, Park’s colorful designs are translated into bedding, pillows, rugs, tunics, wallpaper and more.
Park’s pillows, duvet covers, throws and other items are still sold at Cotswold Marketplace and online, but these days the company is mostly focused on getting its products placed in fabric showrooms across the country.
“My kids are getting older. It’s fun to have something creative and to keep me busy.” SP
Photographs by Dustin Peck and Chrissy Winchester