Laurie Pohlad’s business, You Are Here Design, literally began with a vision. In the spring of 2016, while walking around Christmas Lake, Shorewood resident Pohlad saw in her mind’s eye a pillow, featuring the whimsical outline of heart-shaped Christmas Lake. It was a eureka moment—she went straight to the fabric store and started making pillows. Initially, she gave them to friends when she visited their cabins, each pillow featuring the outline of the local lake.
A graphic designer by profession, Pohlad has always been creative. With a love for sewing and a strong connection to the lakes, it’s natural Pohlad combines these two passions to bring unique handcrafted, lake-themed pillows to her delighted customers. Pohlad began sewing when she was 10. Her mother was an avid sewer and passed on the craft. Pohlad’s father encouraged her to sew, telling her, “I won’t give you money to buy dresses, but I’ll give you as much money as you need to buy all the fabric you want to make your own clothes.”
And each pillow is a labor of love. “A big part of the fun is the conversation that happens between the customer and me. It’s a collaborative project,” Pohlad explains. “I really value the personal connection. Will the pillow be inside a home, or is it for a boat or a porch? That will determine the type of fabric I use. Customers choose the themes and fabric colors, either in person or based on a talk over the phone.”
For the finishing touch, Pohlad sews a button on the pillow to pinpoint the specific location, on the outline of the lake, of the customer’s home. Depending on the theme of the pillow, the button might be in the shape of an anchor or ship’s wheel. One of Pohlad’s cushions representing Christmas Lake has a button with the words, “Love Lives Here.”
Pohlad uses Google Maps to get the shapes for her lake patterns. She enlarges and traces the images. The pillows are 16 square inches and filled with down, and she hand-embroiders the name of the lake onto the pillow. As you might expect, they’re popular holiday and hostess gifts. “A lot of people give the pillows as gifts to their kids who grew up on the lake, so that they can have a little piece of home wherever they are,” says Pohlad.
Pohlad has made pillows featuring more than 50 lakes in different states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington and Colorado. In addition to lakes, she’s made pillows featuring the shapes of Florida’s Marco Island, Washington’s San Juan Island and Cape Cod. Pohlad also makes pillows highlighting the individual bays of Lake Minnetonka.
Because of the customized nature of her product, Pohlad doesn’t sell her pillows in retail stores, other than a few pillows for sale at Deephaven’s Cottagewood Store. “The customers are a good fit there,” says Pohlad. “They almost always have some connection to the lakes.”
To order a cushion or learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org; prices start at $75.