Shop Etsy

Inspiring Workspaces: PataPri

May 23, 2017

by Julie Schneider

Yuko Uemura gazes at the sea-swept form of iconic Mount Fuji from her studio window. Before housing the screenprinting operation for her Etsy shop PataPri (opened in 2007), the 250-square-foot space served Yuko’s grandmother, who used the sun-drenched room to grow plants. Yuko’s grandfather built the house as a vacation home in the 1950s in the seaside town of Akiya, Japan, an hour’s drive from Tokyo, where Yuko grew up. Now Yuko lives in the home. “This house has a lot of childhood memories for me,” says Yuko. Ever since she was a child, Yuko spent summers at the house and returned each winter for her grandparents’ annual New Year’s Eve party. After moving to Chicago for art school, Yuko continued to visit the home on trips back to Japan.

“Since I live in the middle of nowhere, I can listen to loud music. I don’t have to worry about the neighbors at all. I can do whatever I want to do,” says Yuko. “That’s what I love about living here.”

After her father passed away eight years ago, Yuko returned to Japan for what she thought would be a temporary stay. But lured by the beloved abode, she never returned to Chicago, where she had lived for 15 years. Yuko has grown to love the peaceful life surrounded by ocean, mountains, and expansive sky after a lifetime devoted to bustling metropolises. “I never get bored looking at the ocean,” says Yuko. But it took her some time to adjust to the new setting. “It was so dark and quiet,” Yuko recalls. “I never turned off the light or TV for the first year. I was so scared maybe a ghost was watching me or something like that.” She has since settled in and delights in visits from the occasional bird, stray cat, or raccoon dog (an animal native to east Asia), and the constant swish of waves. “I fell in love with this house and the ocean view and everything about it,” says Yuko.

With plentiful sunshine streaming in through the windows, Yuko says the studio is about 10 degrees warmer than the rest of the house.

The studio is the warmest, brightest room in the house, and the place where Yuko spends the most time. To update her grandparents’ interior design choices, Yuko focused on brightening the space and bringing in her own air of creativity. Her grandmother, also a crafter, made traditional Japanese dolls. More than 40 of these dolls filled the house, and Yuko sometimes found their gaze unsettling. “We took them to the temple and said bye,” said Yuko. She revamped the brown walls of the studio with a fresh coat of bright white paint and covered the tan ceiling in a cheery shade of turquoise to match her new pendant lights. She replaced dark drapes with breezy white curtains that she screenprinted with a stylized wave pattern. On the walls, she hung favorite pieces from her Etsy art collection.

“This house has a certain smell. It always reminds me of my grandma,” says Yuko. Even though she lives there now, Yuko says, mysteriously, the nostalgic scent remains.

After waking up around 8 am and sipping carrot juice, Yuko works in her studio all day—and sometimes late into the night. The space is well-stocked with screenprinting and sewing equipment: screens, inks, squeegees, a unit for exposing screens, fabric, a sewing machine, a serger, and a collection of scissors. During the day she prints fabric on a long dining table and washes out her screens on the balcony. (Since the balcony has no lightbulb and her multi-colored prints require frequent screen washing, this is a daytime activity.) In the evening, she often sews. As a soundtrack to her work, Yuko plays music or streams American TV shows online. Before going to bed, Yuko starts the washing machine and dryer with her latest blankets, which she packages, clean and fluffed, in the morning.

PataPri” means “pattern print,” a made-up word Yuko chose for her business because prints and patterns are core to her collection. “I wanted a name that sounds good both in Japanese and English,” says Yuko.

Through sickness and health, screenprinting has been an important outlet for Yuko. She learned how to print at a community center while she worked as a graphic designer in Chicago. “I wanted to make something with my hands,” says Yuko. “Printing was perfect because I could use my design skills and not sit at a computer all day.” Since then, Yuko has honed her skills, developed her Etsy shop, and now offers occasional screenprinting workshops of her own at her studio. Three years ago Yuko got jarring news: she found out she has breast cancer and started treatments. At the hospital she kept her hands busy with an embroidery project. As the doctors and nurses checked her vitals, they also charted the progress of her stitches. Back at home, Yuko resumed screenprinting. “I could do my work at my own pace when I felt better,” she says. “Because if I had to go work somewhere 9 to 5, maybe I couldn’t. It was good I had my own business.”

“I love how putting my design onto fabric and turning it into a baby blanket can make someone happy,” says Yuko. “When I receive a letter or picture from my customers about how much they love my blanket, it makes me happy.”

PataPri reached a significant milestone in March: 10 years in business! To celebrate, Yuko screenprinted notepads with every one of her designs (more than 70) and had masking tape made with her patterns, both available for sale in her Etsy shop. Her passion for printing continues to fuel her. “Even though I’ve been doing it for 10 years,” says Yuko, “I still get so excited that I can’t sleep the night before I print a new design.”

All photos by Daniel Ng Yew Kong unless otherwise noted.

Want to start your own Etsy shop? Explore the Seller Handbook for advice and inspirational stories like this one.


  • rhondastubbs2

    Rhonda Stubbs from RhondaCorner said 1 year ago

    What an awesome story. Your shop looks great! I love your views that you have shown us. Congratulations on your feature and I wish you the very best on your next 10 years!

  • kimewalker

    Kime Conley from MyPurpleSkyJewelry said 1 year ago

    How beautiful!

  • dressedingreen

    dressedingreen from dressedingreen said 1 year ago

    Amazing story! I love your studio!

  • Kashuen

    Kashuen Collectibles from Kashuen said 1 year ago

    Beautiful shop. How can anyone get tire of peaceful life surrounded by ocean, mountains, and expansive sky.

  • PearloFmYeYe

    PearloFmYeYe from HelpMeGraduate said 1 year ago

    Yuko, you are incredibly lucky to live in such a beautiful place. Many people can only dream to inherit a home. It's wonderful that you have found inspiration in a place with so many memories and that you enjoy what you do. I wish you continued success and good health and longevity. Your story is inspiring. Julie Schneider, thanks for a great feature article on Ms. Uemura. I felt that it was a well written and very personal and honest account of her life. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about how she was inspired to "leave it all behind" for a much simpler life where she gets to create and makes others happy with her designs.

  • ArtisanSoapInVegas

    Cristy Ramos from ArtisanBathandBody said 1 year ago

    Inspiring! Love your studio ♥

  • decoylab

    maiko from decoylab said 1 year ago

    Yay congratulations! I've always loved your shop!!

  • evolvewithmary

    evolvewithmary from evolvewithmarycrafts said 1 year ago

    Truly inspiring! Thanks for the sneak peak behind the scenes. Love it!

  • thewildplum

    Christina from TheWildPlum said 1 year ago

    This feature fills me with sunshine. Congratulations Yuko. Thank you for sharing your beautiful process, home and story with us. 💜 Many positive thoughts being sent your way for continued health, joy and success.

  • gardenmis

    Priscilla from Gardenmis said 1 year ago

    Beautiful story and what an inspiring view! Congrats on the feature and best wishes for achieving all your goals and dreams :)

  • kgarrett1966

    R.M Garrett from ArtisticAcrylics said 1 year ago

    What a beautiful spirit you have. Your warm hilarious story about how you got rid of those dolls with the spooky eyes, cracked me up; to your tender retelling of when you battled cancer, and how your talent at your craft helped get you through. Your story is very moving, and your creations are beautiful and creative. You are very blessed, and I wish you continued blessings and success on your journey!!

  • RandMhandmade

    Renee from RandMhandmade said 1 year ago

    Beautiful it!

  • jacobswoodentoys

    Tim and Brigita Cornwell from jacobswoodentoys said 1 year ago

    Beautiful work space and product. Congrats on the feature!

  • mrsakarn

    cindy Q. from mrsakarn said 1 year ago

    Thank you for sharing an awesome story about your life and your beautiful home. Your work is beautiful, good luck and wishing you good health! Cindy Q

  • GTDesigns

    renee and gerardo from GTDesigns said 1 year ago

    Wow - amazing shop! Fascinating and pretty product and art!! Dream work space too!! Congrats on a lovely feature!!

  • sukran

    Sukran Kirtis from SukranKirtisJewelry said 1 year ago

    so lovely work space you have..very inspiring..I love to feel plenty of sun when I work that's why your studio is my only focus on your well deserved feature..Congratulations..

  • bonesbags

    viena bone from bonesreusablebags said 1 year ago

    I love your patterns, they are so fun! And the view you have from your workspace is breathtaking! Best of luck with you business and health!

  • cardurban

    Heidi Bondarenko from thecleverclove said 1 year ago

    This is my DREAM - a sun drenched, glorious crafting/napping/reading studio. Hope you keep in good health, Yuko!

  • bedouin

    Nicole from Crackerjackarma said 1 year ago

    Beautiful read ~ Terrific home space and an awesome shop ~ Great move ~ Much continued success !

  • TropicalGarden

    TropicalGarden from TropicalGarden said 1 year ago

    Wonderful workspace and inspiring story! Congratulations on the feature!

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 1 year ago

    Your work is beautiful! Congratulations!

  • amysfunkyfibers

    Amy Gunderson from amysfunkyfibers said 1 year ago

    Such fun and colorful designs! It sounds like you have found your place- the best to you , your health and your success!

  • foofoogal54

    foofoogal54 from GracefulVtgClothing said 1 year ago

    Oh, I love it. I did screenprinting in High School. I have always wanted to visit Japan and this feature makes me really want to. So creative. Congratulations.

  • JewelMeShop

    Georgia from JewelMeShop said 1 year ago

    Gorgeous shop, fantasic workspace! Congrats!

  • OldFactorySoapCo

    Madeline Novak from oldfactorysoap said 1 year ago

    beautiful space!! I would LOVE to have large sunny windows like that one day.

  • liltinybeads

    Asha Hill from TinyTinyBeads said 1 year ago

    Lovely shop. Your home feels like I imagine a true artist's home would. Surrounded by beauty inside and out. Best of luck!

  • RoccoWear

    Roxana from RoccoWear said 1 year ago


  • Gem2thei

    Helen from Gem2theiVintage said 1 year ago

    Great story! Beautiful feature! Congratulations!!

  • tananfood

    TÂN AN FOOD said 1 year ago

    Hay quá !

  • tananfood

    TÂN AN FOOD said 1 year ago

  • niemifry

    niemifry said 1 year ago

    Looks like the perfect place to work. Absolutely love your designs! You are inspiring.

  • rellyh

    Relly from RelsFindsNapaValley said 1 year ago

    Yuko, you have a beautiful shop filled with your beautiful designs. Looking at the pictures give me a sense of comfort with those soft fabrics. Congratulations Yuko of shop Pata Pri.

  • infinitlit

    Farideh Nouri from FlairPaintings said 1 year ago

    Love your story!!! very nice and interesting shop :)

  • Lockraemono

    Ivy from QuailsOfAFeather said 1 year ago

    What a gorgeous work space, and such inspired designs :D

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 1 year ago

    Beautiful products! Love your work space. I can see why you love it there!!

  • jenishome

    jenishome from jenishome said 1 year ago

    Beautiful work! What a lovely studio, too!

  • msbijouxbeads

    Cathy from msbijouxbeads said 1 year ago

    Beautiful, that view, so inspiring! Lovely studio

  • amyedwin

    Amy from DearestFriend said 1 year ago

    Be still my heart! What a beautiful space! I absolutely adore reading about how you updated it. My grandparents had a place I loved and called home for a long time - After their passing, it stayed in the family, and I often dreamed about what I would do to update it but still live in the house I loved. In the end, I only dreamed about mine, but it's fun to read your story and live vicariously. :)

  • ThreeBarDGifts

    Monica from ThreeBarDGifts said 1 year ago

    Screen printing fascinates me! You have a beautiful collection of designs and a wonderful work space! Congrats on the feature!

  • sherrylessman

    Sherry said 1 year ago

    I enjoyed reading your story. I love your home. You have such a lovely view! Thank for all you do to make peoples lives more happy!

  • 1900sBride

    Judi from 1900sBride said 1 year ago

    Clean and Crisp~Intresting~Fresh Idea~Love your screen printing!!!! Really like your new idea introduced to Etsy. Thank you for sharing your life and interest!

  • just4pretty

    Myrna from justforprettyshop said 1 year ago

    Hi Yuko, love your workspace and the beautiful story behind your shop. Congrats on being featured and thanks for sharing your space with us. Your work is beautiful.

  • StyleGraphicDesign

    Maria from StyleGraphicDesign said 1 year ago

    Really love your work!!!

  • mascollected

    Carol from MasCollected said 1 year ago

    Thank you Yuko, and Julie for a great story and Daniel for your indelible images! Yuko, the colorful prints you make delight and inspire. I often dream of my grandparents home; they've certainly influenced me in much of what I do on Etsy. So I smiled to read how you create and screen print in your re-created interior of the home of your Grandparents overlooking the sea. It's in an area of Japan I've wanted to visit since I was eleven. Thank you for this post, I enjoyed it very much.

  • winsomeyim

    WING SUM YIM from fabricAsians said 1 year ago


  • CHICaDees

    kim from SixChickensVintage said 1 year ago

    I love Japan! I was stationed at Misawa up by Aomori for four years. I love your studio!

  • AMSkrafts

    AMSkrafts from AMSkrafts said 1 year ago

    Thank you for sharing your studio and your story! Congratulations on the feature and to 10 years of business. Such a lovely shop and beautiful products!

  • prettyhappygirl

    Gillian Silver from PrettyHappyVintage said 1 year ago

    Just absolutely gorgeous! I love your designs and your decorating style. What an inspiring place to live and work!

  • orientaltribe11

    Lertpan Pathamavuthikan from orientaltribe11 said 1 year ago

    You have a lovely place and create amazing pieces. 可愛いデザイン、最高です。😍👍

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