French Presse

WHAT WE LOVE: A beautifully curated and styled shop specializing in luxury textiles for the bed and bath. French Presse also offer a full range of interior design services.

WHO: Surfer and shopkeeper Dylan Fowler

WHERE: Amagansett Square in The Hamptons.


THE SHOP

What year was French Presse established? 2016.

Why did you choose the name French Presse? The answer is two-part. First, we view the French Presse as a symbol of reviving the natural joy of a slower era. Taking your time, being present, and enjoying the beauty of the moment that you’re in…versus a quick fix, unconscious solution like a Nespresso machine or a Starbucks. That feeling, that sentiment of simple beauty and pleasure and enjoying every present moment are tenets of our business.
Second, an easy and fun play on words of “fresh pressed linens”…French Presse(d) Linens.

Who designed the shop? Well, the initial concept for the store was conceived by my mom, the founder of French Presse. Unfortunately, she passed away in October 2018 after a courageous two-year battle with glioblastoma brain cancer. Since then, I have taken on the responsibility for designing and styling the store, building on her concept while integrating my own point of view.

What are your most popular items? We are most famous for our bedding products, which is the foundation of our store. Simple, beautiful Italian linen and percale sheeting in an understated color palette; cotton/linen/wool bedspreads, blankets and quilts; cashmere and alpaca throws; interesting decorative pillows that provide some pop and identity to your bed; etc.

What are the French Presse “must haves” ? Our French Presse Collection Percale Bedding, which comes in two different styles—Classic and Relaxed. These are great products that offer luxurious sheeting at a more entry level price point…and you donate to CancerCare® when you purchase! Abyss & Habidecor Super-Pile Towels and Bay bathmats. 100% Egyptian cotton. Celso makes the best towels—there’s simply no denying that. Flocca Decorative Pillows from Hale Mercantile. Famous for the hand-tufted edge, these pillows come in a wide range of colors.

Where do you source your products sold at French Presse? We source product from all over, but primarily Italy and Portugal, as well as some from France, U.S. and Australia. I spend some time every year sourcing—visiting different factories, showrooms, and tradeshows.

What makes your shop unique? I think first and foremost, our collection of home goods products, particularly our bed, bath and table linens, is distinctive and of exceptional quality. Then the environment and experience we have created is special—very welcoming and calming. My mom poured her heart into the careful curation and design of French Presse. She strived to create a space where people would feel welcome, tranquil, and present. Her prerogative was always to make sure everybody was happy. Her family, her friends, and her customers. She wanted to make sure everyone who left the store with a French Presse bag under their arm was bringing back with them a piece that would add joy to their home, that they would stop by on a daily basis to look at, smile, and appreciate. I’m committed to upholding her vision, while incorporating some of my own personality and spreading it to new platforms, such as Instagram, newsletters, and e-commerce.

Who are your customers? We welcome a wide-range of customers, but they all have one thing in common—the belief that they could be deriving more joy from their spaces and items.
Also, interior designers are also certainly an important customer base for us.

How has the internet impacted your business? The development of our online business has been a gradual process (accelerated by our current health crisis). Beyond having an additional sales channel, the website provides another platform for people globally to view our product and get a sense of our taste and vibe…same goes for Instagram. 

How have you adapted your business during the coronavirus pandemic? We just opened back up as New York State entered Phase 2, but things were certainly pretty different there for a while. We were only shipping out of the store and doing free local delivery. It was a tough few months (and we aren’t out of it yet), but the silver lining is our online traffic and sales certainly increased.

THE SHOPKEEPER

Dylan Fowler, shopkeeper at French Presse.

Who inspires you? I’m divinely inspired by my Mom daily. There are others but that’s certainly my guiding light.

What inspires you? So many things. Right now, Victorian Parisian bedrooms with balconies overlooking the city…table settings in the English countryside…beautiful linen bed setups in Byron Bay cottages. The Hamptons landscapes always provide color palette inspiration for me. Wildflowers certainly get the creative juices flowing. I’m a music lover—I’m pretty much playing music at all times of the day—so right now Soul music (Otis Redding, Clarence Carter, Shuggie Otis, etc.) is influencing my energy and likely the store displays. I guess, in all, inspiration is omnipresent for me…if I’m keeping my eyes open.

Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. I was working in Finance when my mom, founder of French Presse, was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer. As her condition worsened, I needed to take over more and more responsibilities for the business. Eventually, in summer 2018, I was basically running French Presse as best I could from one of my work monitors while doing my job on the other. That came to a head, and a few months before my mom passed in October 2018 I moved out East and committed to continuing her legacy full-time. This entire time I’ve basically been learning everything as I go with no experience in the industry…but, hey, I feel like it’s going pretty well, and I certainly enjoy it.

Why did you open your shop? She’s not here to say but I feel like this quote from her encapsulates why she was inspired to found French Presse in 2014:

“Turning in for the night is about turning in to ourselves—shutting down, closing the laptops, turning off the phones, reading Goodnight Moon, and slipping between the sheets of a comfy bed while you welcome the familiar feeling of letting it all go.” 

I think she wanted to spread that feeling, that experience of simple love and perfect bedding, to others.
She began French Presse as an environmentally-friendly linen laundry but wanted to have an outpost for her linen consultations, thus the store was born. Eventually, the store was such a hit it became the main draw.

What is your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? Being uninhibited in fulfilling my visions. And surfing whenever I want.

What is your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Have fun… and don’t get distracted by others, focus on your side of the street…your vision, your outlook, your approach.

If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? Well I know for sure I wouldn’t be doing one thing and that’s going back to work in a bank.

What are your favorite local independent businesses? Tiina the Store, Air and Speed, Whalebone, Wyeth, Ryland Life.

What are your 3 most precious possessions? Buddhism is a big part of my life so I’m wary to call anything I have precious—feel like the idea of attachment could be built into that. BUT, these are the three items that I probably derive the most joy from:
Hank Byzak Surfboard
A box I hand-painted that contains all my most sentimental items.
1957 Chevy Pickup Truck

What are your five favorite shops? Hard to narrow down to my five favorites, but here are five OF my favorites:
Aimé Leon Dore on Mulberry Street in NYC
Lichen in NYC
Society Limonta store in Milan
Front General Store in Brooklyn
RW Guild in NYC

On The Future of Future

I don’t think the pandemic has changed much on my view of the future of retail…just perhaps accelerated the process. A unique point of view, useful products, efficient space usage (aka affordable rent), excellent customer service, and an online presence are musts going forward.

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