Meet Philippa Content and Christopher Winterbourne, the creative duo behind the charming Montauk shop, Housefolk. Prior to a two-year hiatus, during which the couple ran an online shop, Content and Winterbourne decided to close their Brooklyn based store and head for a more quiet life by the sea. There, they found a vacant shop in a quaint corner of a courtyard to rebuild their dream in a slightly different form. Their goal? Finding traditional crafts and products from around the world, and mixing them with beautiful items that would last for generations. Today, their curated line features a collection of handmade items, rich with a touch of whimsy – hand woven textiles, hand thrown ceramics, furniture and bowls – mixed in with a few special vintage items and some carefully chosen jewelry and accessories. We got a special peek inside and learned a little more about this charming spot. See for yourself.
The first thing I think when I see your store is “I wish I lived there!”. Do you feel Housefolk
is an extension of your personal style at home? If so how are your store and home alike? How are they different?
I think it’s inevitable that our home does look a lot like housefolk, because it’s such a reflection of our personalities and desires at any one time. But the store is a lot neater than our house, and it doesn’t have toys all over the floor! Our home is like a testing laboratory for the products we are considering selling – we try everything out to make sure we like it before we order it for the store. Sometimes it’s hard not to keep one of each…
What feelings do you want your store to evoke when a new customer walks in?
Summer in the hamptons can be a little bit hectic, so we tried to keep things pretty mellow here. It’s a small space, and we wanted to make sure it didn’t feel cluttered or overwhelming. Mostly, we want people to enjoy their time here and leave feeling a little bit more peaceful.
Do decor tastes change with the seasons?
The items we like best are seasonless- handmade, from natural materials that are comfortable and comforting whether it’s hot or cold outside. But most homes around here are vacation houses, so people do tend to gravitate towards easy, beachy pieces like our handwoven indigo throws from Zimbabwe and our linen terry spa towels made in Finland.
What are shoppers really buying this summer?
This summer our hand-dyed kantha towels from India have been popular, and people seem to be in a furniture mood- especially loving our French industrial chairs and fun bird lights.
How do you expect that to change come fall?
For the fall – anything homey. Vintage indian bedspreads, big wooden bowls, and warm lighting.
What’s a favorite memory you can share with us about discovering a new product?
After Christopher bought me a beautiful mug at a small Japanese art gallery for my birthday last year, I became obsessed with tracking down the potter who made it. After four months of searching, I finally found his email address on an obscure school website, and I convinced him to make some similar mugs for our store.
What music do you typically play in-store?
Recently we have been listening to Otis Taylor, Gaby Moreno, and Waxahatchee.
Do you have a store scent?
We have the most delicious line of French candles and perfumes in the store. Whenever people try them, the fragrance lingers and mixes with the scent of baskets and beeswax.
What three items from your store should everyone have at home?
Anything handwoven or hand-dyed- especially indigo bedding. You can never have enough baskets. And ceramics.
What is the best part about opening a business in the Hamptons?
We get to live near the beach! We are really lucky to have found this space in such a special courtyard with neighbors who live in the area and are all open year-round (A real rarity here in East Hampton). We have a spa upstairs, a famous psychic next door, and an english pub at the end of the mews. Everything you need, really.
What is your favorite part about being a business owner?
The best parts of owning your own business are also the worst- no one telling you what to do, making your own hours, being the boss, and making all the decisions. We work together, so we get to share the burden.