Located in Southhampton, Hidden Gem is a retail diamond. Founded by sisters Temidra Willock-Morsch and Tanya Willock, the boutique features art, home goods, gifts, and more. Though there’s certainly a classic Hamptons-vibe to the space, the aesthetic of Hidden Gem’s inventory is colorful and fun — in large part to the creative vision (and custom designs!) each sister brings to the table.
With the pandemic, retail has suffered greatly and shops have had to quickly adapt to a new reality. Realizing that Hidden Gem’s loyal customers preferred to shop in person, the pair put together a virtual tour, allowing guests to “walk through” the shop and pick out items they love.
We sat down the Temidra + Tanya to learn a bit more about their career paths, why they love living and working in the Hamptons, and what they have planned next:
When did you first discover your love of interior design?
Temidra: I’ve always had a love for interiors. I loved furniture shopping with my mom as a kid and helping her rearrange her house. Then in high school, I took an interior design class freshman year and really got into it. I went on to study fashion design in college and ended up as a textile designer for a rug company.
Tanya: I’ve always been a fan of colors and patterns, and it wasn’t until I wanted to change up my bedroom back in the 4th grade that I realized what a space could do. The first interior design choice I have ever made was deciding to paint my walls gold and purple, and adding a canapé bed.
What sparked the idea to open a boutique? Have you always wanted to be in the retail and design world?
Temidra: Opening a shop has always been a dream of mine ever since I was young. Before deciding to open the shop I was creating products and trying to get them into stores. It really was a hassle. Stores wanted brands that were already established. Tanya was a manager of an art gallery. So I thought, wouldn’t it be great if there was a place where up and coming local designers and artists could showcase their work? Thus, Hidden Gem was born.
Tanya: I have to say Temidra was the brain behind it all, we’ve both always wanted to be our own bosses, and had dreams of working together since we were younger. I’ve always been a creator and wanted to share my work with the world and had wanted to create a space for other artists like myself to do the same.
When you first visited the space, it was in rough condition. What were some of the changes you made to transform it?
Temidra: Yes! The space was in pretty rough shape. We did the renovation ourselves with the help of my husband (Ken) and his friend (Nick). We redid the floors and took down a wall. My husband built us a gorgeous counter top made from cedar blocks, and he created custom shelving. We wanted everything to be white so we had a clean space to bring in all of our color and prints.
What do you love most about the neighborhood?
It’s full of brick and mortar stores. It’s a beautiful community filled with restaurants with outdoor seating and a great park. Our shop is tucked away in a quiet courtyard with a fountain and flowers. It’s very beautiful!
How would you describe the style/aesthetic of Hidden Gem?
Combining both of our artistic backgrounds (Temidra in fashion design, and Tanya in fine arts) we wanted to bring our take on design to the Hamptons. It was also really important to incorporate our Antiguan heritage so our shop has an elevated beach style with lots of handwoven products and mixtures of patterns and colors! Coming from an Island (both Long Island and Antigua), we are naturally inspired by beach life and the easy going lifestyle.
Where do you find the artisans you sell? Can you tell us about a few of your favorite products?
Temidra: Tanya and I design and make many of our products ourselves! All of the textiles (napkins, tea towels, aprons, pillows, block printed quilts etc.) are handmade by us. Temidra designs our rugs which are then handwoven in India. The artwork we carry are a combination of different local artists (Tanya’s work included). Much of our jewelry is handmade by friends or friends of friends. We’ve got a super talented friend that makes ceramic pieces exclusively for the shop. We also work with artisans in Africa to produce our hand-woven baskets.
What is it like working with your sister?
It’s great because we bounce ideas off of each other! Our combination of styles creates a really great mix. I like prints, and she likes prints. So our store is basically prints on prints on prints.
With COVID-19, it’s been a hard time for brick and mortar shops. What are some of the ways you’ve adapted, and what are you most looking forward to when you can officially reopen?
What makes our shop different is the way we curate it. Customers love our whole set up and kept calling us asking if they could come into the store. Throwing everything on a website just didn’t cut it for them so we decided to do a “virtual tour” where clients could virtually walk around the shop and send us screenshots of items they wanted.
We are most looking forward to engaging with our customers in person again! We are so patient about our products and what we do. It’s not that same feeling communicating over the internet. We want to be the shop designing and putting products together with our customers.