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laura lyon<br />

Fiber Artist/Owner<br />

“Beatrice” of Lexington<br />

saving the earth<br />

by Patti Samar<br />

Fiber artist Laura Lyon is helping save the earth by rescuing one piece of<br />

junk at a time.<br />

And she is doing it in a bright and suns<strong>hi</strong>ny place also known as<br />

“Beatrice,” her retail shop located in the heart of downtown Lexington.<br />

Beatrice is full of items handmade by artists who use recycled materials<br />

in their artwork. Lyon, who creates her own line of custom- made sweater<br />

coats from recycled sweaters and fabrics, ex<strong>hi</strong>bits and sells her work in her<br />

shop as well.<br />

“Not<strong>hi</strong>ng in my shop says ‘Made in Mexico’ or ‘Made in C<strong>hi</strong>na’,” she said.<br />

“There is a mixture of one-of-a-kind art.”<br />

Beatrice opened in March of t<strong>hi</strong>s year and it came to be after a leap of<br />

faith for Lyon.<br />

“I’d never worked in retail so there was some fear in the belly,” she said<br />

with a chuckle. “But we’ve done very well here.”<br />

A resident of St. Clair County, she chose to locate her shop in Lexington<br />

because she felt it would be supported there. “You don’t really find another<br />

store like ours in Lexington,” she said. “T<strong>hi</strong>s community supports the arts<br />

and we’re excited to be here.”<br />

Lyon earned a bachelor’s degree in grap<strong>hi</strong>c design in 1991, but ended up<br />

working in the sales industry for many years. Her first job out of college was<br />

as a sales representative for the Port Huron Times Herald and that led to a<br />

long career in newspaper advertising sales.<br />

“I have an art degree and even though I worked for corporate America, I<br />

always stayed in the arts by attending fiber workshops,” she said.<br />

When she left the paper in 2005, she had earned the title of advertising<br />

sales manager. She said early on in her career she felt she was using her<br />

grap<strong>hi</strong>c design skills at the newspaper by helping clients with their ad design,<br />

but eventually she saw the industry changing and felt it was time to pursue<br />

other interests.<br />

She dabbled in other working environments for a number of years before<br />

10 FALL <strong>2016</strong> BlueWaterWoman.com<br />

deciding it was time to go back to her artistic roots and begin creating and<br />

working for herself.<br />

Her idea for creating sweater coats came after she received sweaters from<br />

a family member who had passed away. She wanted to create somet<strong>hi</strong>ng to<br />

help keep alive the memory of her loved one in a new and useful way.<br />

Though she makes good use of her art degree when selecting various<br />

fabrics and colors to coordinate in one of her sweater coats, Lyon didn’t grow<br />

up knowing how to sew and to t<strong>hi</strong>s day, she creates the coats free-style.<br />

“I don’t sew with patterns,” she said. “I just see and cut and sew. I love the<br />

fiber arts and the design was just a continual process of experimenting.”<br />

After creating her first few coats, friends and family encouraged her to sell<br />

them on the art show circuit and she found herself frequently down in the<br />

Detroit area.<br />

“People thought they were cool and I ended up in Detroit at art shows,”<br />

she said, noting that the more she sold, the more she knew she was onto<br />

somet<strong>hi</strong>ng.<br />

“Another reason for opening my own shop in Lexington was I got tired<br />

of being on the road to the art shows,” she said. Being in one place – she<br />

has a workshop in the back of her shop where she now creates her artwork<br />

– allows her to sell her items in a stable environment.<br />

Lyon feels good when she is able to give back to the community and she<br />

has been able to get involved in a number of arts-oriented volunteer projects<br />

in both St. Clair and Sanilac counties.<br />

Additionally, she has been able to offer other artists who create upcycled<br />

art the opportunity to sell their items in her shop, as well. And, she said,<br />

customers are digging the whole concept.<br />

“It makes them feel like they are being good to our earth,” she said.<br />

“Instead of junking up our landfills, we are saving the earth one piece of<br />

junk at a time.”

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