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Conversations with the Inspiring Mary Lai

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Lai.

Mary, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Hi, I’m a visual artist and designer. I have a BFA in Graphic Design from Mason Gross School of the Arts and built a career in New York as a handbag & accessories designer. I relocated to Los Angeles for a job in art curation & design for a luxury home which opened the doors to my involvement in the art world. My east coast work ethic paired with my west coast lifestyle has given me the opportunity to work with some notable brands, clients and exciting projects. With over 15 years of art & design experience, I am able to keep my freelance lifestyle while creating my own artwork and staying involved as a working mother with my two young kids.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My journey developing my art has been a great learning experience with bumps in the roads, crossroads and some roads leading to an end. All these experiences have made me a stronger artist, designer and businesswoman. When I started my handbag collection in New York at the end of 2012, I worked very hard to build this brand. I won several handbag awards and got recognition but couldn’t take it to the next level to make it a profitable business. My relocation to Los Angeles and the transition from handbags to creating my own artwork was a great evolution that fit into my new lifestyle as a mother. I’ve had success with exhibiting my artwork recently and feel the universe has lead me here to find my new path as a visual artist.

My advice for other women starting their journey is to embrace the roads and that it’s okay to take unfamiliar paths that make you feel lost but as a result, you find yourself in a very special uncharted territory. This will make you unique and stand out with your story, business, and career.

What should we know about Marylai Designs? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My current body of work is bright, fun, colorful and back to the basics. From something as simple as a letter in the alphabet, I’ve explored ways of new associations. Influenced by my young children and their desire to learn, I’ve tapped into my inner child to create images that stimulate their eyes and mind. Building the relationship between fun images and educating them on people that have inspired generations.

I was known for being a bag designer with a graphic design background. Now, with my current artwork, I may be known as the alphabet artist. This combination has set me apart and resulted in a primary subject matter with strong technical design skills to produce the work. You can see my influence from my fashion background with the choice of fabrics, colors, and materials. This is the artist side of my work and the designer side of my work still provides design services for clients. Both sides feed off each other and make my body of work stronger.

For good reason, society often focuses more on the problems rather than the opportunities that exist, because the problems need to be solved. However, we’d probably also benefit from looking for and recognizing the opportunities that women are better positioned to capitalize on. Have you discovered such opportunities?
Women are more heard and empowered than ever before. There’s still a lot of obstacles we need to overcome but as women build a strong community of women supporting women I think we can push the boundaries. I don’t like to take no for an answer. If someone says no and it is something I am passionate about, then I challenge myself to create and carve out the opportunity.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nailah Barcelona, Michelle Pan

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