Retail stores in the Hamptons are what keep our downtown areas alive and bustling during peak summer season and well after. In the heart of Sag Harbor you may walk past a walk-up storefront with an arch of colorful balloons. Matriark is a retail business that is geared to conscious consumers. You can find high-end fashion and design as well as products that are selected exclusively from women-owned companies. This concept was dreamed up by Brazilian-born, luxury retail entrepreneur Patricia Assui Reed. She was inspired by the power of female leaders from the past, present and future.
Matriark’s mission seeks to foster women’s equality through commerce and community. When you shop at Matriark, you are supporting countless women who have gone out on a limb to chase their dreams and start a business.
I spoke with Matriark Founder, Patricia Assui Reed, to learn more about her storefront and the mission behind the business.
What is your background and how did you get your start in the fashion industry?
PAR: I have a business degree, but always loved fashion. I left Brazil after I graduated college to attend FIDM in Los Angeles, and started my career in fashion as a buyer. I worked for Urban Outfitters, Polo Ralph Lauren, and ABC Carpet and Home as a buyer, then went back to Brazil to become Head of Tiffany & Co. Brazil. I moved back to NYC to be the head of Retail for Iguatemi, a luxury real estate and retail powerhouse in Brazil that, for over 50 years, has been a world leader in luxury hospitality and experience retail. I helped them bring Christian Loboutin, DVF, Lanvin, and Goyard to Brazil. I then became their Head of Communications and International PR, and the Executive producer of Iguatemi Talks Fashion Conference.
Can you speak to the early stages of the Matriark concept? What was some of the biggest inspiration for the store’s concept?
PAR: I was frustrated with the lack of representation in the fashion industry’s highest ranks. I also felt that the luxury and upscale stores featured the same designers over and over again, most of them men, and everything looked very homogenous. I was excited by the women’s movement, but also frustrated about how much we still have to do. So these three factors moved me to think about the ways I could contribute: I am a very practical person, so acting from the simple premise that money is power, I thought one of the most effective ways to tackle gender inequality would be to funnel as much money as possible in the hands of women. So I decided to start Matriark.
Matriark strives to uplift female owned businesses from around the world. What have been some of the most interesting brands you’ve featured in the store and what is one story that has really stuck with you over the years?
PAR: As you may suspect, I love all the brands that we have at Matriark. Every single one of them has a point of view: whether their sweaters are woven by indigenous people from the Mapuche tribe (Vox), or their pieces have the coordinates of the places the designer travelled (Kilometre), or the sneakers embroidered by communities of women in India (Amrose Paris), or an exquisite line of perfume developed by an equestrian (Maison d’Etto), or the brand uses upcycled kimono fabrics to make haute-couture worthy jackets (Mariko Ichikawa) or the shoes are made with recycled yarns (Seven All Around), or the designer’s commitment to sustainability permeates everything she does (Zero+ Maria Cornejo), or the embroidery on beautiful floral dresses done by a community in Brazil (PatBo), or the incredible African prints curated by a mother and daughter duo based in Harlem (Royal Jelly Harlem), or the Graphic T-Shirts have fun and empowering messages like Disobedient Woman (Radical Girl Gang), I can go on and on. Every piece at Matriark has a story – and the companies have a soul. But can’t pick 1 brand – that would be like choosing 1 child.
Why did you choose to plant Matriark in Sag Harbor? Your storefront is so prominent and welcoming in the town. Can you speak to the creative decisions you made on the store’s design?
PAR: Matriark’s location was pure serendipity. I was living in NYC when I started planning Matriark. But we wanted to slow down as a family, so we moved to Sag Harbor full time, so I put a pause on my plans for Matriark. I walked on Main Street almost every day after I dropped off my kids in school, and one day I was passing by the house, I saw the real estate sign. When I was planning Matriark, I knew the store would have to be in a residential setting, so when I spotted the house I just knew it was the right place. Matriark is located at 133 Main Street at a Victorian house formally known as the Hedges House. I chose pieces from the 50’s and 70’s to make the interiors less serious and not so traditional, and I think that made it also friendly and inviting.
What is your message for consumers in the Hamptons community? How can the community continue to uplift female designers and creatives?
PAR: My message to the Hamptons community and to everyone who has buying power is that your purchases matter. You have the power to influence how people are treated, how much pollution goes into the air we breathe, the future of women’s equality, and so much more. Shopping is fun, and it’s also an amazing way to affect change. In the case of Matriark, we donate 2.5 percent of our net sales to i-tri in Long Island (empowering girls though triathlon) and 2.5 percent to Ms. Foundation, an organization that is helping women here and all over the world. And 100 percent of our brands our owned by women. Little by little, dollar by dollar – we can make a more equitable world.
Matriark is located at 133 Main Street in Sag Harbor. To learn more, visit matriark.com or follow them on Instagram.