NEW YORK — In the village of Sag Harbor on the east end of Long Island, there’s a small shop with a large message.
“Every brand that we sell is owned by a woman — at least 50 percent owned,” said Patricia Assui Reed, the founder and owner of Matriark.
“The idea is to support women in business and give a percentage of the profits to women-focused charities. When you look at all these big stores, they focus on the well-known, bread and butter, big luxury brands, whereas few women’s businesses get the support and funding they need.”
Aside from setting Matriark’s merchandising squarely on women-owned brands, “There’s not a very fixed criteria,” Assui Reed told WWD. “But I am the curator. It has to be beautiful and I do want to know where things are made. I want to know who the founder is and what her story is.
“I research everywhere — Instagram, shopping around, trade shows, asking friends. Brands currently in the store introduce me to brands they know. Brands contact me directly. Matriark is eclectic and inclusive of different styles because we recognize women have multidimensional lives. When I select the brands, I am interested in the founder-designer, their style and ethos, what they believe in. Besides quality and style, I want the products we carry to be unique, soulful, and to have a story. Nobody needs more stuff for the sake of it, and I don’t want to offer the same brands everyone else carries. Personally, I like casual and modern clothes that makes me feel put together without a lot of effort. I have kids, dogs and a full life and I want my clothes to be beautiful but never precious.”
The 1,100-square-foot Matriark shop, at 133 Main Street between the LoveShackFancy and Goldie’s stores, sells fashion, accessories, shoes, jewelry, beauty, fragrances, wellness, art and a bit of home, though in the off-season there’s a shift to selling more home and gift-oriented products. Forty-five brands are currently displayed.
Among recent best-sellers, Assui Reed cited Leret Leret cashmere sweaters, Ulla Johnson dresses, Camila Sarpi jewelry, Le Jardin Retrouvé diffusers, and Harlem Candles.
Other fashion brands include Anna Sui, Chufy, DVF, Maria Cornejo, Elena Makri, Kilometre Paris, and M. Patmos. Jewelry includes Camila Sarpi, Chee Lee, Haute Victoire and Young Frankk.
Shoes include Amrose Paris, Ancient Greek Sandals, and Le Monde Beryl, and there are handbags from Kozha Numbers, Maya Bags and Ulla Johnson.
Assui Reed launched the Matriark store in May 2019 and matriark.com in February 2020.
“I am self-funded. I don’t have investors,” she said. “I was running the business with my own money, telling people you have to do consignment. I can’t buy your products.” However in the months ahead, Matriark gathered steam and the buying advanced so it’s now a blend of wholesale buying and consignment.
The business has also been lifted by the evolution of Sag Harbor and the Hamptons overall, from a vacation, summer season destination, to a bustling, year-round scene, spurred by the sudden influx of residents seeking to escape New York City and its crowds due to COVID-19.
“We have doubled our business since we started and we want to continue to grow and expand Matriark. I am working toward fundraising this spring,” said Assui Reed.
In January 2020 she launched the Matriark Club, which she describes as a “salon” for discussions with artists, writers, designers and entrepreneurs, bringing women together. “It’s a huge vehicle for getting brands in my door — sort of a springboard for brands,” said Assui Reed. Among those featured were Theresa Roden, founder of i-tri, one of the charities that Matriark donates to; Kathleen King of Tate’s Cookies; Kayce Freed Jennings, the widow of Peter Jennings, and artist Toni Ross. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, talks have been on Instagram and Facebook Live, including an interview with Bonnie Carlson, head of the Bridgehampton Child Care Center.
Assui Reed was born in Brazil to Japanese parents and is married and has two children. She consults for Iguatemi, the mall and outlet center developer based in São Paulo, Brazil, and is on the company’s retail division board, which brings international brands to Brazil. She is also the executive producer of the annual Iguatemi Talks, considered the largest fashion conference in Latin America. Earlier in her career she was head of Tiffany & Co. Brazil; a director of merchandising at Polo Ralph Lauren, and she once worked at ABC Carpet and Home.
Assui Reed chose Matriark for her company’s name because, as she said, “It’s inspired by the power of women leaders — past, present and future — and the positive impact that female leadership in all forms has on the world around us.”