WHAT WE LOVE: A modern, feminine boutique housed in a historic building, with pretty design details from the painted murals in the dressing room to the dramatic, white-shaded lights installation. Established in 2019, River Mint Finery has a lovely selection of womenswear and accessories.
WHERE: In the Upstate New York town of Kingston, on the Hudson river.
WHO: Design director and home fragrance business owner, Kathryn Hammill.
What makes River Mint Finery unique? It’s all about the mix of products we carry, especially in apparel. We carry young independent designers, European designers, and some more popular mainstream brands. Everything is selected for quality, craft, material, color and texture. We want time spent in our store to be memorable, and most importantly we want women to feel amazing when they leave.
Is there a story behind the shop name, River Mint Finery? The River Mint is actually a river in Cumbria, England where Cindy (previous partner and co-founder) spent a lot of time in her early days. Family heirlooms always inspired an appreciation for the rich architecture, intricate antiques and beautiful jewelry of historic England. I spent a large portion of my childhood at “the river” which referred to the St. Lawrence River and I was heavily influenced by the same tranquil landscape. I continue to draw inspiration from the beauty of historic river towns and with that inspiration comes an element of calm, textural minimalism that is reflected in our store design and product assortment.
Our store would always have a large center table layered with jewelry from a finely curated selection of makers and designers that seemed to almost be passed down for generations. The word “mint”, a nod to history, metals and of course the color; reflects old coins and the art of casting metal in contrast to the soft hue which carries a certain level of sophistication in decorative arts and fashion.
What are River Mint Finery’s best-selling or “must-have” products? Anything by Monica Cordera. Her collections are composed of timeless limited edition garments with minimalist designs that seek purity and simplicity. Everything is one size fits all, and is meant to be worn with ease beyond the season for all women.
I would also say jumpsuits by Apiece Apart, cozy knits by local designer Eleven Six all made in Peru, the best worn-in jeans by Levis, hats by Janessa Leone all made in LA, always layered gold chains in different sizes, small delicate stud earrings, and diamonds by Gabriella Artigas, also made in LA. For the perfect fragrance, it’s always No. 4 by Maison Louis Marie, and the Forest candle by Night Space.
Where are River Mint Finery’s products sourced and made? At River Mint Finery, finding lines where mindfulness meets material has become more and more prevalent as we all want to consume less and feel good about who and what we are supporting. We do most of our buying in NY and LA and pre-pandemic we started shopping the Paris market. I am also bringing in more lines from local designers, there is so much product being designed and/or made here in the Hudson Valley which is amazing.
We definitely stand behind the slow fashion movement designing, creating, and buying products for quality and longevity. It is more sustainable, makes life easier, and you can bring items into your home that you know have been made well, thought over, and are meant to last.
Who are River Mint Finery’s customers? Our audience is broad, mostly women ages 30-65, upstate NY locals and also the weekenders from the city as well as international tourists. We are also reaching more men than we anticipated which is amazing.
How has the internet impacted your business? We launched our e-commerce business a couple years before we opened this store location and it has definitely really helped to spread the word. I have noticed a lot of our customers love to preview online and then come in knowing exactly what they want to see and try on.
Have you adapted your business to the coronavirus pandemic? For sure, and I think in a couple of ways. First, like most retailers it has made us more adaptable to new ways of shopping and servicing our customers. From virtual shopping, to style boxes which is sending our clients a selection of items to choose from at their home, as well as getting more creative on social media with in store style videos and designer features.
More importantly, I think the pandemic has in a lot of ways validated what we have always encouraged at River Mint Finery, why we decided to open the store in the first place. I am also a designer and work on both sides of this business and I don’t think people always think about all the items that fill a store and how they get here. We recently wrote a feature about it and I think it speaks a lot about retail:
We are at the end of the supply chain. We are the space that hosts a myriad of designers and makers and showcases the creativity, hard work, and labor of many other people. From fabric houses and sewers, to bench jewelers and tanners, we support a long line of people that are doing what they do best. We find ourselves on the foothills of why we made the decision to do what we do, and more importantly, love. As we continue to adapt our company to the realities of the times, we will continue to embrace what we have always practiced; buying purposely.
Kathryn Hammill, shopkeeper at River Mint Finery
Who inspires you? Michelle Obama and my 13 year old son Luca
What inspires you? Natural materials and understanding how things are made. And then the usual creative forces: art, architecture, music and wandering around the woods or a city.
Before I was a shopkeeper, I…. worked as Design Director of Decorative Accessories at West Elm and I am also the co-founder of the luxury home fragrance brand, Night Space.
Did you have prior retail experience? No, but I think designing products for West Elm and for my own wholesale collection helped me to really understand the retail side and what people look for in products.
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? Sounds clichéd but other than the usual creative side of things related to owning a store, it really is the customers. Talking with them, learning from them, and hopefully making them feel amazing when they walk out the door.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? Make sure you absolutely love it, it’s constantly evolving and it never stops. Stay true to your vision.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? Being a shopkeeper is only half of what I love to do. I would still be working as an independent designer, consulting and creating scents for my home fragrance brand, Night Space.
What are your favorite local independent businesses? Sawkill, Hops Petunia, Village Coffee and Goods, Lola Pizza, Facets of Earth, Zaborski Emporium, and of course my neighbor Le Canard. Minna in Hudson for beautiful housewares and Glo Spa in Woodstock for a retreat.
What are your five favorite shops? Ok, I have six. So hard to choose. Deyrolle in Paris, Clic in NYC, General Store in Venice, CA, DeKor in NY and LA, Kabinet and Kammer in Upstate NY and La Garconne in NY
What are your favorite Instagram accounts? wearepampa marymacgilljewelry stemsandforks realfunwow 7115nyc
I wish I could… be a better runner.
ON THE FUTURE OF RETAIL
“This is hands down the hardest question. Everything we have always known and loved about retail is in flux and diving into the core of what originally inspired us has completely changed. We are watching our towns shift, and people and companies are changing the way they do business as well as the way they shop. Only time will tell but where will our towns and cities be without independent retail shops? I think more than ever we all crave more “real” interaction and we are savoring the time we can connect with people who make up our communities and daily lives, if even for a brief moment.’
270 Fair Street