Berkeley-born textile designer Lori Marie Johnson's Pretty Little Things line offers a range of adorable totes, dolls, and jewelry.
Photo by Katrine Naleid
Working out of her home studio, Berkeley-born textile designer Lori Marie Johnson has created designs that define the signature homespun look of Pottery Barn Kids and have earned her an appearance on The Martha Stewart Show. Her own line, Pretty Little Things by Lori Marie, includes totes, dolls, stuffed animals, pincushions, and a new selection of jewelry for adults. She works in her “tiny house”—a studio in the front yard of her Montclair home.
As an independent designer, how did you start working for a big outfit such as Pottery Barn?
I was doing this as a hobby, and I found a job listing on the Williams-Sonoma website. I submitted a bunch of little embroideries and appliqués of butterflies and flowers, then built a couple of [design] boards to reflect how they relate to children’s bedding, curtains, and blankets. They loved it and whisked me through the interview process.
I was hired on a Friday, and the next Monday, I was in the office. I couldn’t believe there was a job where they would pay you to sit and embroider hearts and flowers.
Your idea for your Martha Stewart Show segment left quite an impression.
I had four days to come up with a concept—and find a new outfit to wear! I made pet portraits out of fabric. My French bulldog as well as Martha’s Frenchie were the muses.
What are you working on now?
I’ve been designing for a new children’s bedding and window collection called Whistle and Wink. And my newest project is a collection of specialty jewelry called Happily Ever After. It’s very sparkly and girly, lots of vintage elements, and lots of baubles and trinkets and tiny detail.
Any advice for an aspiring designer?
A lot of people have dreams, but you have to do it. There are days that are discouraging, but hold tight; it’s bound to turn around. Finding a spot in the marketplace is key.
I spend a lot of time doing research to see what is out there and then tweak it to offer something that’s just not available.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you do?
I probably would have been a rocket scientist. I majored in aerospace engineering at UC San Diego before finding my true calling.