Forever Curious and Always Exploring: A Conversation with Emma Tuccillo of And North

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About a year and a half ago, on Emma Tuccillo’s Instagram feed, I started to notice more pictures being taken in and around upstate NY. There was the stunning door of a converted church artist studio in Kingston. A gorgeous spread of breakfast at the Village Tearoom in New Paltz. A woman sitting in her sunlit home in Cold Spring. “What are you up to?” I asked Emma one day, my curiosity piqued. “You seem to be going to such lovely places!” That’s when Emma told me about her big plans to start And North, a curated guide to Upstate NY for creative people.

What’s your connection to Upstate New York?

I grew up in Hastings on Hudson, just 40 minutes north of the city, and would travel upstate often with my parents growing up, but it wasn’t until I went to school for photography in New Paltz that I really began exploring on my own. After school I worked a few different jobs which allowed me to pay for my little cottage and to explore different fields. I worked for Materia Designs, an amazing design studio that makes furniture and accessories, fine art photographer John Dugdale who had just created a school for 19th century photography on his property in Stoneridge, and as a waitress at The Village Tearoom in New Paltz. These varied experiences gave me an intimate look in to the different lifestyles of this region; that was when I really fell in love with Upstate New York.

What does “Upstate” mean to you?

There are so many things that I love about upstate, but I think mostly it’s a feeling of connection that I get when I travel north. For me, connecting with people and places is what really inspires me. This feeling seems much easier to attain upstate. Whether it’s visiting a farm, striking up a conversation with a local, sitting in a quiet spot in the woods, or visiting a maker’s studio, there is a true feeling of community that is unique to this region. The close distance to the city creates an amazing crossover of culture. The abundance of talent and ambition in the city travels north and vice versa, making both places richer and more interesting.

cold spring coffee pantry

What is And North?

And North is a curated guide to Upstate NY for creative individuals. We feature homes, artist studios, shops, restaurants, and outdoor adventures in the regions north of NYC. We also host events, connecting our community with some of our favorite finds upstate. After college I lived in a little creekside cottage by myself in Rosendale. This experience completely shaped the idea for And North. I live in Sunnyside, Queens now, but the blog gives me an excuse to travel upstate every weekend and roam around.

How do you go about finding people, shops, and homes to feature each week?

When I started And North, I pulled together a team of extremely talented people who I had met upstate and in the city. They all had different skills and were interested in working on a creative project like this. Tim LaSalle is our Design Director, Alyssa Benjamin is our Editorial Director, Katie Lobel is our Event Director, and Miranda Neri is our Production Director. We all have other jobs and look at And North as a passion project that we hope to grow into our full time gig. We work together to put out content each week and bring new ideas to the table as we grow. We find the people and places we feature through research, word of mouth, and through our lovely Instagram community. Once you start featuring this area of the world, connections are easily made and the content kind of just presents itself to you after a while. As we’ve grown we have started to work with extremely talented writers and photographers who contribute to the site. Sylvie Morgan Brown, Nat Chitwood, and Melissa Andersen are some of our most frequent contributors who have added so much talent and diversity to our content. We are so lucky to have them!

Rebecca-Peacock Home

We seem to be on this inward trajectory of wanting to know the personal stories behind just about everything—from the food we eat to the art we buy to the materials we use to style our home. Where is that hunger coming from, why now, and why is it important that we continue to feed it?

I think our society and most specifically our generation came to a point where it felt so alienated from the food we eat and the objects we buy, that it was only natural for a strong desire for the opposite to arise. The digital age has added to this feeling, making it so easy to disconnect. However, the emergence of blogs and social media offers a platform to tell stories to a wide audience in a beautiful and compelling way, adding a sense of community to the online world. I think we are all looking for ways to connect, now more than ever, and knowing the stories behind objects and food is an easy and rewarding way to get there. I don’t feel that this interest is a fad. I think people are waking up to the importance of transparency and it is only going to continue to grow. For And North, we are so honored to be those storytellers; we get so much out of connecting people to ideas and to each other.

Who are some of your favorite upstate makers that you feel are especially great at “collecting, scavenging, hunting, and gathering”?  

I have so many favorites and they multiply every day! For antiques, I love to visit Downtown Antiques in Accord, owned by Ron Sharkey. Ron has an impeccable eye and favors antique ticking fabric, ironstone ceramics, and rustic farm tables. To find some of the best makers upstate, I refer to Fort Orange General Store in Albany. Caroline Corrigan has curated an amazing selection of jewelry, home goods and independent magazines—they also host great workshops and events! If you’re looking for a little bit of nature, visit Westwind Orchard. This organic orchard is run by stylist and photographer turned farmers Fabio Chizzola and Laura Ferrara. Their farm store has an amazing mix of jams, honey, hand dyed napkins, wooden utensils, and produce. A perfect day trip from the city.

Lisa Przystup at Flower Farm_4

Will you share your favorite upstate “hidden gem” with us?

At the moment, my favorite recommendation to give is for Brushland Eating House in Bovina, NY. We met the owners Sohail and Sara through Instagram and were lucky enough to stay in their Airbnb apartment above the restaurant this past winter. This area of the Catskills is rich with incredible farms, and Brushland sources from them year round to create a delicious and simple menu. This past winter we hosted a greenhouse dinner party on Steve Burnett’s nearby farm. Brushland Eating House prepared six courses, highlighting the amazing flavors of the Catskills. It was so wonderful to connect the people we have met in our travels in this unique setting.

If you could live anywhere upstate for the rest of your life, where would it be? Why?

The more I explore, the more often this answer changes. I can see myself in one of the historical homes in Kingston, in a tiny cottage in Bovina, or back at my creekside home in Rosendale. I have formed so many new friendships in different areas upstate and could really see myself calling any of them home. The history in the homes I’ve visited gives them so much life, every space is different with its unique quirks and charms. I feel so lucky to be invited into them, each one leaves me daydreaming about a space of my own someday.

Saugerties Home

Any exciting events or partnerships on the horizon for And North?

We have some exciting partnerships in the works. At the end of May, we will be hosting an event with Houlihan Lawrence in Irvington, a river town just 40 minutes north by train. We will be sending our guests on self-guided tours around the town to the local farmer’s market, on bike rides to a historical estate, and to some of our favorite businesses. The day will end with cocktails overlooking the Hudson river at Eileen Fisher’s learning center. We hope to host many more events of this kind, encouraging people to visit new places and meet new people, sign up for our mailing list to stay informed.

Where do you see And North 5-10 years from now?

For the future, I can see And North evolving in many different directions. I would love to one day have a printed publication or book. I have always loved printed materials and I know our designer would have a field day.

Thanks Emma

All photos taken by Emma Tuccillo for And North

 

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