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Meet Our Staff

Shop owner Mary Humphrey began COTTONWOOD in 1993 by vending at miniature doll and quilt shows and working from a home studio. When the studio was moved to a retail location in 1995, her dream of a quilt shop was born. In 1999, she added the BERNINA dealership and in 2000 moved from the village of Palmyra to the current location.  Mary began hand embroidery projects by age 5, making her own clothes at 9 and her first quilt at 12. Mary comes by it naturally, learning from her mother, Helen, who was an avid weaver, appliquer and bobbin-lace maker. Mary lives with Buddy, her husband of 34 years, at Lake Monticello outside of  Charlottesville. 

Brenda has done many kinds of sewing her entire life, but now her focus is on quilting. Her particular interests are piecing, hand applique and machine-quilting of traditional style quilts. Her other interests include gardening and cooking.



Marilyn has been a staff member at COTTONWOOD for many years. She has been enriched by the many  friends she has made at COTTONWOOD, especially while teaching classes. Totes and gift bags are her specialty, and her students are always thrilled with their finished projects. She also enjoys sewing for her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as relatives, friends, and, of course, herself. Marilyn makes quilts to donate to different charitable organizations such as The Arc of the Piedmont and Area 3 Special Olympics for fund-raising. 

Shannon started sewing after her children were born.  Her first project was making superhero capes for her son and daughter.  Quilting became her passion after taking a class with Nola Rich a few years ago.  She also enjoys embroidery and basic garment construction.  Working at Cottonwood keeps her inspired and always thinking of new projects.


Susan’s earliest sewing memory is sitting at her grandmother’s knee while she worked the treadle, hands on top of her grandmother’s as she guided the fabric through the machine. Susan made her first quilt in 1975, an Ohio Star, using pieces from her old clothes and those of her mother and grandmother. Another memorable project was an appliqué quilt that Susan made for parents. The queen-size quilt took seven years, and was completely made by hand. After starting a family, Susan continued to sew, and made clothes for everyone in her family, as well as curtains, slipcovers, and other items for her home. Susan teaches collage classes at Cottonwood, and loves helping customers choose their fabrics. She leads All About Embroidery, Cottonwood’s embroidery club, which meets on the third Sunday of each month from 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM.

Dan Harris, formerly of Vac & Sew City and Holloways Vacuum & Sewing, has over 30 years of machine service and repair experience. His vast knowledge allows him to service all brands of sewing machines, sergers and industrial sewing machines. Dan has lived in Charlottesville for 38 years.

Niki began working at COTTONWOOD in 2012. About a year later her family moved to a ten-acre homestead and she became a substitute staff member. Homestead life keeps Niki busy tending animals, canning, and freezing her family's abundant garden, but she still finds time to quilt, embroider and sew bags. Niki especially loves civil war era fabrics and quilts.