Mosaic Stories

    Lucia Landa

    As a little girl growing up in Mexico, Lucía Landa always dreamed of being an architect. Her parents encouraged her interests, allowing her to design her own bedroom as well as part of an unfinished stone house on her father’s property. It wasn’t until she and her husband, Joseph Duggan, a St. Louis native, settled in the area with their daughter Rita that she would bring her passion for design to fruition as the owner of her own upholstery and antiques business, Lucía Landa Upholstery and Lucía Landa Design.

    Prior to starting her own business, Landa led a twenty-year career in marketing in Mexico City and spent six years in Saudi Arabia where Mr. Duggan worked as a speech writer for the country’s national oil company.

    Known among family and friends for her eclectic style, Landa says her esthetic is “an inheritance from the pictograms that pre-Colombian people used to communicate with each other,” including bright colors, figures, birds, and flowers. Her style is also influenced by Spanish art and architecture, which she says share many characteristics with the designs she was exposed to in the Middle East.

    While in Saudi Arabia, Landa spent hours with the owners of artisan shops, educating herself about textiles, carving, wood working, and more. Back in the states, she heavily utilized YouTube in her quest to learn upholstery and eventually worked to hone her skills with David Escobar, a master upholsterer from El Salvador who now is full-time director of operations of her workshop, located in Ferguson.

    The workshop began in January 2020, with Escobar working in Landa’s basement, reupholstering her large collection of antiques.

    In October 2020, she leased a 2,000-square foot commercial space, bought industrial sewing machines and other equipment, and hired a team to work under Escobar’s direction. She employs a full-time upholstery seamstress and five other part-time upholsterers and seamstresses on a contract basis. They are all Spanish-speaking immigrants from Latin America, whom Landa found via word-of-mouth recommendations.

    The team recently upholstered booths for approximately 150 people at the site of the old P.F. Chang’s across the street from the Galleria, which is being remodeled into a Mexican restaurant called Mezcalería las Chupacabras -- completing the job in just three weeks. Quick turnaround time is a hallmark of Landa’s business.

    “I offer my clients prices that are much more affordable than those of the big upholstery shops, and my delivery time is much faster, typically within one week,” she explains.

    Landa believes the global pandemic has increased the demand for upholstery work, with many people looking to invest in the furniture they currently own in lieu of buying new pieces.

    Her antique business is also thriving amid COVID-19. When asked to highlight one of her favorite pieces, Landa says she must make a concerted effort not to become personally attached to the items she sells, noting that she recently fell in love with, then sold, “a settee from the 1800s that we upholstered in Mexican hand-embroidered textiles and beautiful light blue Italian leather.” Selling a beloved piece gives her the chance to do it all over again, she says.

    Eventually, Landa and Duggan plan to restore their five-acre property in Ferguson, called Artisan’s Inn. It is in the historic Old Ferguson West neighborhood, only a mile from her workshop and just a five-minute walk from Ferguson’s hidden gem, EarthDance Organic Farm School.

    Landa envisions a small farm with a swimming pool and an event space. “We need to do something amazing with this property because it’s just beautiful. And Ferguson deserves it,” she says, adding, “It takes one person at a time to make a change in a neighborhood.”

    Despite the challenge of launching her business a few months before the onset of a public health crisis, Landa is optimistic that now is a good time for entrepreneurs to take the plunge. “For the first time, people realize that working from home might be the solution to re-integrating the family, being closer to what they love, and making their passion into a business,” she says. Learn more about Lucía Landa Design here.