Clay McLaurin remembers scouring interior design magazines at his grandmother’s house, taking inspiration from the beautiful textile ads.
“My grandmother had a passion for interiors and selecting colors and fabrics for her home. I just loved that,” says McLaurin BFA ’00. “I loved how she was making her house her home, as wonderful as she wanted it to be in her own creative way.”
At the time, he couldn’t have imagined this might become a career.
“I didn’t really know what a fabric designer was until I went to UGA and took a screen-printing course, and then it all sort of came together.”
He started off at the Atlanta-based children’s apparel company Carter’s, working as an artist. But it wasn’t quite the right fit. He wanted to be working in interior design, not fashion. So he got his master’s degree in textiles and landed a job working for a mill based in New York. He even came back to UGA to teach before coming to a realization.
“My husband (and business partner Todd Piercy) was pretty adamant that the only way I was going to be really happy, truly happy, is if I just do my own thing. So I broke away. We had some savings and started our business.”
Clay McLaurin Studio started out small in 2013 with about 10 different prints. It was a quick success, landing in national showrooms and ultimately expanding to include wallcoverings and a variety of wovens, embroideries, and performance fabrics.
In 2019, the New York-based McLaurin acquired a textile mill in Los Angeles. L.A. Mills weaves not only fabrics for his studio but also textiles for other clients in the industry like Holly Hunt and Clarence House.
Life is busy, McLaurin says. He never knows what each day will bring.
“But I think that’s maybe the side that’s really fun because you never know what to expect. And living life like that, in the moment, is good because you are more present.”