A woman-owned boutique that focuses on women-founded brands would seem like such a no-brainer, but in reality there are few and far between. Enter Matriark, a joyous concept store/ boutique on Sag Harbor’s Main Street, which was founded by a veteran of the fashion industry Patricia Assui Reed who has worked for Tiffany’s, Polo Ralph Lauren and others. Patricia searches for women-founded brands as well as artists to fill her store and is looking to bring back that hands-on boutique shopping experience that is so (very sadly) lacking today. And, lucky for me, I am will be bringing my jewelry to a three-day event at her store, along with Grammar, KZ_K clothing and Poetica Botanicals, July 14th through 16th (with more details to follow). Before the event, I asked Patricia to share her story plus her summer essentials.
What is your career background and what led you to open Matriark? I’ve worked as a fashion buyer for about 15 years, and as a retail communication executive for about 8 years. I’ve witnessed the many inequalities in my industry, and I wanted to do something about it. The market is dominated by large corporations led by men, so Matriark was born out of my desire to support independent women-owned brands and women-focused philanthropic organizations. While advocating for equal pay and equal opportunity in large corporations is an important work, I chose to focus on supporting independent brands so the money goes directly to the hands of women.
What sets Matriark apart from other boutiques? 100% of our brands are women-owned (which means women own 50% or more of their companies), and for each item purchased at Matriark, we donate $5 to i-tri, a program that fosters confidence, positive body image and healthy lifestyle choices for adolescent girls. I think we have a true sense of community with our brands and customers. Our customers and our brands feel valued and appreciated here. I think everyone can feel our love for our brands, our respect and appreciation for the customer that supports us, and that our commitment to our missions is genuine, we are not just trying to sell products just for the sake of it. The world doesn’t need another regular store. We are trying to create a place that is helpful and life-enhancing.
Why do you think the boutique experience is important? Seeing beautiful things and going to inspiring spaces are life-enhancing experiences. Something happens when you experience nature, travel and see new places, have a great meal at a restaurant, see inspiring art at museums and discover unique and beautiful products in thoughtful boutiques. I don’t think a physical experience will ever be replaced. In Matriark’s case, our store helps connect the customer with our mission and the brands stories in a real, concrete and emotional way that you simply cannot get that from online shopping. In general, I firmly believe the more we go virtual, the more we will long for meaningful physical experiences.
What do you look for in the brands you carry? Besides the products themselves (beauty, quality, uniqueness), I am very interested in the designer’s ethos, how she views the world, and how she translates that into her collections. It’s important to me to have brands with depth, with women of substance at their helm. There are a lot of brands out there, and we are very thoughtful about how we select ours. We are not here to just sell products.
What do you want women to feel when they walk into Matriark? I am told over and over again that Matriark makes people happy, regardless of gender. I can’t think of a better compliment than that. I want people to feel welcome and that they leave a little lighter and happier than when they came in. We love to play with color, we have art and one-of-a-kind things, our brands are unique and tell a story, and we have a strong mission.
What other brand extensions are there? We launched The Matriark Club three months before pandemic hit. We had incredible gatherings and events with our members, then we paused it since 2020, but we will resume our activities this Fall. We launched a newspaper last year, and we plan to continue in the near future.
What inspires you? I am inspired by everything that is creative, and by new ideas in art, technology, crafts, music, food, fashion, design, film. I am also inspired by courage – people, especially women of color, who put themselves out there for the greater good.
Three words that describe Matriark: Purposeful, beautiful, welcoming
Three words that describe you: Quiet, Thinker, visual
One of your attributes that helps you succeed: Even though I am a thinker, every time I succeeded in life was because I followed my intuition. Everyone has intuition, but not many people trust it.
Role model: So many people! Michele Obama, Oprah, Glennon Doyle, Arianna Huffinton, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and so many more.
Best career advice you received: Owning your time and having freedom is better than having a title and a corner office. Adam Grant once said “Think twice about opportunities that offer more status but less freedom. Winning accolades and influence is rarely worth it if you lose the ability to control your time and express your voice. Happiness hinges on maintaining freedom. Success is gaining degrees of freedom.” I don’t think there is a better advice than this.
What’s next for Matriark? The name Matriark was inspired by the female energy – nurturing, open, supportive, and the positive impact it has in the world. I want to continue to support women-owned businesses and also anyone how is deeply affected by the patriarchy, so we will be expanding our brand mix to LGBTQI+ owned brands as well. Our summer season has just started, and we have so many things planned, loads of pop-ups and collaborations, new collections, and so much fun. We are also working on raising funds to expand to different markets. I am super excited about branching out.
What are your favorite pieces to wear this summer? It’s hard to choose, I feel like we have the best collections since we opened. I love Zero Maria Cornejo’s Aki Wave Dress for when I need to be a little dressier, it’s very modern, flattering and super comfortable. For more casual days I love Chufy’s Addi Mini Dress – the print is fun and not too much for me, since I tend to like monochromatic things. I also love Royal Jelly Harlem’s Slim Jenny Pant in the quintessential seersucker fabric, perfect for summer. And for a quick trip to NYC or a chic cocktail party, I love KZ_K’s Rodin Utility Dress.
My Summer Essentials….
Beauty: I love Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen & Primer, Broad Spectrum SPF 30 . It’s a very good product and it’s a 3 in 1, so it saves me time.
My reading list: “Atlas of the Heart” by Brene Brown. I will read everything and anything Brene Brown writes, I have read this book already and it’s been very insightful. “Finding Me” by Viola Davis. She is incredibly inspiring, and I am excited to read her book and learn about her life’s story.
Destination: Other than Sag Harbor, I love Trancoso, Bahia in Brazil: Laid back, beautiful and glamorous at the same time. It’s summer in Brazil when it’s winter here, so it’s the perfect place to go in February.
Travel Essentials: With my iPhones, iPads and laptops, having a little cord organizer is a must for me. I am not a light packer, and my cords get lost in my oversized tote bags, so even though this is not very glamorous, it’s a game changer and I don’t travel without it. And a cashmere sweater, always. I have 10 of the Leret Leret sweaters and I wear them constantly, especially in airplanes.
Favorite weekend getaway: I have 2 small kids, a husband , 2 dogs and a crazy full life, but I am lucky to live in a very special place. I love staycations at Shou Sugi Ban House. They offer incredible treatments and retreats, delicious food in the most zen place you will find in the Hamptons.
Fave summer drink: I was born in Brazil, so nothing will ever beat a Brazilian Caipiriinha, but it’s not easy to find it here so we make them at home. The original recipe calls for Brazilian cachaca, but it’s too strong for me, so I make it with sake (in Brazil it’s called Sakerinha). I love a kiwi, pineapple, lime or lychee sakerinha. Delicious!
Fave summer recipe: I love everything grilled in the summer. My husband is the one who cooks in our family, and he makes an amazing grilled salmon. He marinates it in fresh ginger, garlic, salt, lemon and soy sauce and we pair it gorgeous salads that we get from our Sakara daily delivery and grilled broccoli, zucchinis, and asparagus. We get our fish from The Seafood Shop in Wainscott.
For me, summer means….Lighthearted fun!