Hadley Wiggins, owner of North Found & Co., a vintage and antique general store in Peconic that features unique and time-honored home ideas, had only visited the North Fork once when she and her husband decided to buy a house on impulse.
"Over the years Daniele and I have experienced some wonderfully impulsive moments, somehow always sharing the same deep confidence for the strength of an idea," she said. "We purchased our home on the North Fork after spending one afternoon, our very first visit to the area, looking at homes and never having spent a night on North Fork. Similarly we secured the store within hours of noticing its availability — both leaps of faith having resulted in some of the richest and most rewarding experiences of our lives."
The leap of faith has led Wiggins and her husband Daniele Marin on a journey of the heart and a business they consider an extension of home.
Wiggins and Marin, who spend half their time in New York, consider the North Fork home. The area, she said, "holds a very special place in our hearts."
Wiggins, born in San Francisco, and Marin, in Milan, both have other careers — she as an interior designer and he as a clothing designer.
"The lifestyle expression of North Found is definitely central to our design sensibilities though we each explore a broad spectrum of design aesthetics in our work," she said.
Of the locale, tucked away on Peconic Lane, Wiggins said, "Peconic chose us. We have loved visiting the lane for years and had always believed there was something truly special about this store space. We noticed the store's availability at the end of October and opened a month later."
The shops is a display of the rich past and today's treasures. "The store contents and environment are in one part a continuation of our home and at the same time a window into our lifestyle fantasies," Wiggins said. "Our merchandise is chosen for no other reason but that we, Daniele and I, would purchase and place the items in our own home and that they inspire us to imagine and create. Along the way cohesive color or lifestyle stories are created in store and are a reflection of the ideas and themes we are attracted by — hiking in the Alps, curling up by the fire in a log cabin, entertaining guests with the lighting and aroma of the holidays."
Some have criticized Wiggins' curation approach, she said, suggesting instead that they carry "what people want to buy" or what's "trendy" or "hot."
But Wiggins remains true to her vision. "Though it may not be the most strategic approach, the best use of market data, etc, offering only those things that we truly love, is, for us, the only way to remain authentic. Our return customers have come to know the North Found aesthetic and while ever changing and always built form one of a kind objects, we've developed a consistency that supports a point of view that is uniquely ours."
On a typical weekend, customers can be seen perusing the shop, then stepping outside and venturing next door for a glass of vino at the Wine Tasting Studio.
"They are a group of wonderful people and we are grateful every day to have them as our business neighbors," Wiggins said, "And of course, being married to an Italian it is quite handy to be able to pick up yet another jar of Nutella as I head home from work."
The shop, Wiggins said, is a pleasure, pure and simple. "It is so, so fun. When I see something, an object, a piece of furniture or clothing, I know immediately if I like it. I rarely have to think about whether I would like it in the store — it's obvious to me, it belongs or it doesn't. Each time I find a new treasure I can't wait to bring it to the store to add to our displays, building a color story or lifestyle narrative to give the item meaning and context. Nothing is more exciting than rearranging the store after a large piece of furniture has found a new home. Any of our employees will tell you I'll stay in the store playing with the setup for hours after I've told them I have go. When it come to the store, I've never worked a day in my life."
She added, "Old items carry with them their own history — an energy from the people and places who loved and appreciated them in the past, the reasons they've survived with all their beautiful ware until today. There are different measures of value: aesthetic, rareness, material . . . we enjoy observing the different measures of value each of our customers assigns to our offerings. Why someone is drawn to an item is as unique as the item itself and we love helping people create homes or give gifts that are their own personal expression."
The business, she said, is a reflection of her deep love for the venture. "There has to be joy behind the business or you can feel it as a consumer. You know when a proprietor derives real satisfaction and enjoyment from the business they've built and the product they offer — and you can feel it when they don't. For the same reason my husband's food always tastes a bit better than mine, putting love into what you do effects the outcome."
North Found Co. offers home furnishings, objects, clothing and accessories "that have endured the test of time, complemented by a group of handmade products from around the world, all of which we found during our travels and have in most cases loved for years."
And despite her world travels, Wiggins said the North Fork holds special meaning. The North Fork, she said simply, means one thing: "Home. The North Fork has an authenticity that few places, especially so close to New York City, have maintained. We are relaxed on the North Fork, constantly inspired by its natural beauty and the discovery of new friends."
North Found is closed January, February and March. The shop is open every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 or 6 p.m (again starting April 2015). To check times and schedule, (see bottom of page).
"Our hope is that the store itself serves as a source of inspiration for our customer's homes and a resource for realizing their vision..." (Lisa Finn, North Fork Patch, Nov 2013)