By Sarah Kuper
In the midst of all the new development in Crestline Village, one existing space is quietly transforming into a bright spot among the construction.
Next door to Miss Dots, Alabama textile designer Mary Catherine Folmar is painting and papering walls with vibrant colors and patterns.
Formerly home to Arden Photography, Folmar’s new retail space will be the flagship store for her textile design company, Cotton & Quill.
Hand-drawn, custom fabrics, wallpapers and stationeries will be a few of the goods for sale at Cotton & Quill.
Though Folmar will be a new face in Crestline, her designs are well-known in the home design and décor world.
Featured in magazines and show homes, Cotton & Quill trims and fabrics are in high demand among interior designers, but Folmar said she is excited to extend her reach into the direct-to-consumer retail market.
“I want to bring to Birmingham what all the designers see at market,” Folmar said. “I want designers to have a source year-round, not just two or three times a year. The retail customer never sees that.”
Cotton & Quill began with custom pillows but fellow designers were quickly interested in buying yardage of Folmar’s designs.
Now, her colorful patterns cover furniture, decorate tables and treat windows.
“We certainly aren’t gray. We can do gray but color is different. A lot of people would like to use it but they don’t know how or are scared,” Folmar said.
While the shop in Crestline Village will showcase Folmar’s textiles, it also will sell and display lighting accents and jewelry from designers she has become familiar with through her travels and work.
Folmar said she feels passionately about helping designers gain exposure in new markets because she appreciates when peers do the same for her.
“I know what it is like to get started and try to get your product out there. You really cannot do it on your own.”
Cotton & Quill will give customers the opportunity to see design elements and trends from outside Alabama. Folmar will showcase work from designers across the country.
“I want to be a design source for this area,” Folmar said.
When it comes to her style, Folmar said she doesn’t really know how to describe it.
“I guess I am a pretty traditional person,” she said. “I like traditional motifs and patterns but you can make that bold and fresh by scale or color or the way you put it together with other things.”
Her fabric and wallpaper patterns tend to invoke Palm Beach and chinoiserie, though she also has collections inspired by time periods and cultural motifs.
Folmar graduated from Auburn University’s College of Architecture, Design and Construction. She spent time in Asia – an experience reflected in many of her custom prints.
For customers, her designs can be catered to suit a room’s existing color scheme or her patterns can be the starting point for the design of a whole room.
Folmar dreams of using her store as an avenue for brides to register for home décor beyond cake plates and silver frames.
“At other stores you are limited to what you can pick,” she said. “Well I’m the manufacturer, so I want to make it so you can pick a pattern or a paint color then brides can select that they want throw pillows, drapery panels, etc. Younger people can get something custom and well-made that is tailored to them.”
Until Cotton & Quill opens toward the end of March, people can follow Folmar’s design work @cottonandquill on Instagram. She said using social media helps keep clients in the loop and is a way to highlight designer collaborations.
Folmar said she is excited to be a part of the Crestline community and she looks forward to bringing something new to the design marketplace of Birmingham.