Advancing women is at the heart of Matriark, a luxury retail venture in Sag Harbor by former fashion executive Patricia Assui Reed. We speak with Patricia about her work, inspirations, and nature’s role in her daily rituals.
Matriark has a special mission to promote gender equality in luxury fashion. Was there a particular moment that catalyzed this focus?
Not one in particular, but rather millions of moments in my career where I either witnessed or experienced or learned about how hard it is for women, especially women of color, to rise in the ranks in fashion.
This industry tends to favor the highly connected, the wealthy and people with social cache. It’s extremely hard for a regular person to compete with them in getting internships, promotions, access and press.
Matriark uses a trifecta of commerce, community and philanthropy to shore up female representation in fashion. What makes these important tools?
I am a very practical person, and I created Matriark from the very simple premise that money is power. The more money you give a person or company, the more power she / it will have. And in my opinion, the more money you make, the more you should give back, so the philanthropic part of our business is an important one.
How are men part of the solution?
Men are the most important part of the solution because, in general, they are the ones holding the keys to most important institutions, boards, governments and organizations making important life decisions such as Congress and the Senate. It is important that they recognize and acknowledge the various ways they hold so much privilege, and be willing to share support women in their quest for equality.
You've lived and worked abroad. What can we learn from other countries journeys toward gender parity?
As hard as it is here in the US, we are still better off than many other countries like Brazil, where I was born. I think we can learn a lot from Europe, and how they approach life in general, specifically Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden where the government put in place many policies and measures to make sure the private sector complies. I believe if you leave it to regular people and businesses to apply gender parity in their day-to-day life or business, you will not go far.
What does 'luxury' mean to you?
Luxury to me is and has always has been about freedom. To be free to be who you are, and to have the freedom to choose how you spend your time and with whom. This of course is easier said than done, but this is what moves me. My quest is to find spaces where I can be who I am. To meet people who I don’t have to play a role to be accepted or respected. And to spend my day having agency of my time. That is the ultimate luxury. Fashion, interior design, travel and experiences are all tools to achieve that – but to me they are not luxury by themselves.
What do you endeavor to build with Matriark?
My goal is to support women in an inspiring and beautiful way, and send as much money to women as possible. Retail is one way to do it, but not the only way. I am open to explore the many ways we can do this, but helping shift power to women is the ultimate goal.
What creative muses and forms of art do you look to for inspiration?
I am always inspired by strong and authentic women, and I always root for the underdog. Oprah is the ultimate muse in that regard, someone who had life stacked against her and look at her life. I love everything that can be life enhancing: art, design, architecture, music, food, meditation, and of course fashion.
How does nature inform your work?
I moved to Sag Harbor so our family could be closer to nature and live a less hurried life. Nature is humbling and it teaches us that everything has its time, its place, and an order that sometimes we cannot see.
I am inspired by nature’s effortless perfection – from how flowers bloom to how a baby grows in our bellies, it all happens without our intervention and I feel life sometimes has to be that way as well. Less controlled and more in flow.
At what moments are you your most creative and authentic self?
I am most authentic when I am with my husband and children. I love seeing and experiencing things with my friends and family, but I am most creative when I am quiet and by myself.
What is a daily ritual you find solace in?
I spend some quiet time in the morning doing my skincare routine, I meditate (almost) daily, and I am trying to exercise almost daily as well. These are the times that I feel I can give something back to myself, and even if the activity is not itself very relaxing, I feel very taken care of.
What are your favorite scents in nature?
I love fig, tuberose and sandalwood.
What essential oils do you gravitate toward?
I use lavender and eucalyptus in my diffusers at home and in my office. I also use it in sachets in my drawers.
You've experienced Poetica's garment care collection, which now has a special home in Matriark's space. What drew you to the creations?
I love the ritual and mindfulness approach of Poetica, and it makes hand washing and caring for my garments a real pleasure. The scents are beautiful, and my favorite is the Lemon Myrtle and Cardamon fragrance. It’s fresh, warm and earthy, all at the same time.
Can you share a couple of your favorite designers?
I love all the pieces at Matriark and I mean it. Everyone I select has a story and a meaning. I love Zero Maria Cornejo’s dedication to sustainability and how she has consistently served her growing clients and fans. She truly respects the women she dresses. I love Ulla Johnson’s feminine and wearable styles, I always feel put together and pretty when I wear them. I am also a big fan of KZ_K’s Karolina Zmarlak’s tailoring and her commitment to sourcing the most incredible Japanese fabrics; her pieces are very special. Just a few examples of what I carry at Matriark, and why we select the best of the best.
Words to live by?
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." - His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Discover Patricia's garment care ritual here.