2011 July 13
From The Daily in Print! The Artist, The Muse, Their Lazypoint
Giorgio Niro View Gallery
(NEW YORK) He’s an Australian creative; she’s his Brazilian inspiration. Together, Mark Smith and Claudja Bicalho own Amagansett’s Lazypoint, a charming cottage boutique buzzing with eclectic patrons, from a suited neighbor ‘just passing by’ to a certain Beatle picking one-of-a-kind dresses for his fiancée. The rustic retailer keeps all types coming back for more with handmade housewares from Bulgaria or lacy frocks found in an obscure Argentinean hideaway. Now nestled in new upscale digs at 303 Main Street, Lazypoint is sure to be this summer’s hautest and most exotic shopping den. MARIA DENARDO
What did you do before opening Lazypoint?
Claudja: I was a manager for Tracy Feith, opening all their new shops and training the salespeople. I actually had zero retail experience until 1995, when I first moved to the Hamptons. I worked for my friend Christianne in her shop for three years just to help out. I didn’t even want to do retail, but one day the lead salesgirl went to Paris, and I had to run the shop by myself. I realized then that I always liked hosting people. I am responsible for what you buy, and I don’t want you buying just anything.
How did you and Mark meet?
Mark: I saw Claudja more than once in very random locations at very random times over the span of a year in New York. I thought, “Who is this woman?” She walked right by me again! I finally said hello—then I went to France for three months.
Claudja: And then one day, he came back to New York, and we ran into each other again at the beach. I was with my kids, and he was with his kids, so the four of us had a play date. We started dating and later rented a place in Lazypoint. We’d live together in the summer for about five or six weeks, and it was magical. When the kids eventually moved out to do other things, we wanted to relive that period of nostalgia. So, we opened the store, and Lazy-point seemed to be the appropriate name.
Whose idea was the boutique?
Claudja: Mark’s. He knew that I wanted a shop.
Mark: I tried to put some artwork up anywhere I could—galleries, designer stores…Every year, I questioned how I was going to get through the summer, or how I could expose my work. Then I thought, ‘I don’t need anybody. I’ll just do it myself.’
Why did you choose the Hamptons as a retail location?
Mark: I lived in the city for 25 years, so I sort of saw what I thought were better times. It was more interesting in the ’80s for artists, and the rent wasn’t so expensive. It’s not cheap here, but it’s cheaper and less of a hassle. Plus, I always struggled as an artist in the city, and after awhile, it got tiring.
You moved the store a few blocks down on Main Street. How did you finance the larger space?
Mark: Claudja and I had just come back from Brazil, where we spent most of our time looking for great things for the store. We had the desire to move the shop but didn’t know how we were going to swing it financially. Somehow you get to this point where it’ll just happen. Things fall into place. I landed a job building a one-room, 350-square-foot house. It was a very cool project that made this move possible for us.
Claudja: I almost didn’t want to take this new space at 303 Main Street because it’s too far out, but the landlady really wanted me to take a look. We loved it, right, darling? Downstairs we’re going to have a showroom for Mark’s furniture.
Mark: I make it out of driftwood. It’s going to be a cross between a sculpting studio and a wood shop.
Is Claudja your muse?
Mark: Absolutely. We’ve been together for 12 years. I find her very amusing, so she must be, right?
Claudja: I never thought of it like that. I’m flattered. Are you married?
Mark: No, we both had been previously married, so we don’t feel like we need to get married again.
Claudja: We love going out, but we’re home people. We travel well together. Our relationship is very loving and full of understanding.
What’s the aesthetic of the new store?
Mark: We’re acknowledging the primitive right now. People in primitive cultures, or what we call primitive, have a deeper connection with nature.
Who shops at Lazypoint?
Mark: People with open minds. Our customer is sophisticated, travels a lot, and isn’t afraid to wear something out of the ordinary.
What’s your buying style?
Claudja: I have my own version of classic. I like pieces that are everlasting, no matter how much they cost or where they come from.
How do you price your merch?
Claudja: I have everything from $10 pottery to $50 bracelets. Clothes usually retail for $100 to $1,700, and jewelry is anywhere from $35 to $3,000. We have something to suit every bank account.
What are you really excited to sell this summer?
Claudja: I am loving the crochet and lace dresses. I don’t have enough for everybody, but I am trying to make more. It takes weeks to make one dress. I also love the brass jewelry we make in Brazil.
Tell us about your fashion line.
Claudja: It’s called ‘Claudja,’ and I mainly make wraps. This summer, I got a little distracted and made other things, like my jewelry and these little bikinis and skirts. It’s all coming together, though. Everything can go in your suitcase. When you wear it, you feel sexy and fresh and ready to go to the beach or to a restaurant.
Where are the Lazypoint products from?
Mark: All over. Seletti is an Italian housewares company. The 100% beeswax candles are from upstate. The bowls are from Argentina, the other pottery is from Bulgaria. The lace dresses are from Brazil.
What are some of the most memorable places you’ve traveled to for Lazypoint?
Mark: We went to Sintra, Portugal, where the European royals used to summer. They built these castles that looked like they were out of a fairy tale. Inside the town was a monastery of monks. We’d love to go to Patagonia next.
What are your plans for the off-season, when the store closes in September?
Mark: I organize events here about once a month to keep my sanity. We’re thinking of a knitting circle.
Claudja: We’re going to be traveling for at least two months this winter, and I’m going to try to get my line into hotels. That’s the kind of lifestyle that I want—wearing cover-ups and jewelry and traveling all the time.
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