Tugboats still bob in the waters of the Fishtown area of Leland, Michigan, even as many of its century-old shanties and smokehouses have newfound uses.
Though it’s still a working waterfront (and one of the few unmodernized fishing villages on the Great Lakes), the historic district’s creaking walkways and weather-worn structures are also home to galleries, cafes and boutiques. At one, Leland Gal, owner Maggie Revel Mielczarek lures shoppers with color-soaked home decor and fashions, many adorned in her hand-painted patterns.
Maggie Revel Mielczarek (center) designs prints that celebrate a waterfront lifestyle. Her girlfriends make sure she never wants for inspiration.
Drawn by the area’s natural beauty—including lake-framed sunsets that’ll snatch your breath—Maggie moved back to her hometown north of Traverse City to grow her business. A former educator and third-generation artist (her mother is impressionist painter Nell Revel Smith), she set up shop in a rustic shanty, now sporting a cheery persimmon balcony. A family cherry tree inspired the shop’s logo; to Maggie, it represents three generations of creativity.
The town’s take-it-easy vibe drives her brand’s aesthetic. “There’s a breezy lifestyle here,” Maggie says. “You can be casual or dress it up, but nothing is ever fussy.” Her pattern motifs include boats, fish, flowers and glinting water, each evoking the ease of waterside living in Leland.
Designing a Print: From Studio to Store Shelf
Using Leland as her muse, Maggie paints with an eye toward creating a repeating design (such as the watery blue print, above). She manipulates the paintings to make patterns and adds extra color from Leland Gal’s jubilant signature palette. Then the designs become fabric, sold by the yard in the shop or sewed into products such as bags, blankets, clothing and pillows.
A first draft of a dreamy cloud pattern that became one of this summer's featured prints.
The dog-bed design is Sadie-approved.
Leland Gal's Pop-Up Events
On Mondays during summer, the store hosts after-hours parties featuring two new artists each week, working in mediums such as silk screen, needlepoint, paper art, jewelry and floral. lelandgal.com
Visit Leland, Michigan
As you check out Fishtown and the town’s vast lakefront (hello, island views!), these stops cover food and fun.
Van's Beach The path to this public beach lies just beyond Van’s Garage at the end of Cedar Street downtown. Bring a bucket—rock hunters can find Leland Blue and Petoskey stones.
Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail Verdant vineyards and nearly two dozen wineries dot the area; Verterra Winery’s 1920s tasting room is just a block from Fishtown.
Bogey's 19th Hole at Leland Lodge Maggie swears this place serves the best burgers in town. Cheddar and a fried egg top The Marie; The Gill’s Pier Rancher features local yak meat (yes, really).
Blue Boat Coffee
Blue Boat Coffee Baristas serve a seasonal menu and also offer buckeye cookies and other baked goods made famous at Sisson’s, a now-shuttered local favorite.
Fishing Charters Several companies offer lake outings; you might haul in salmon or steelhead.
Pack for the Peninsula
For a trip guide to the Traverse City area, visit midwestliving.com/traverse.