ELEVEN SIX WOMEN | HELEN + EMMA TUCCILLO
Photos courtesy of Emma Tuccillo | @emma_austen
Meet Emma Tuccillo and her incredible nan and dearest friend : Helen Madden Tuccillo (97). Emma, is the founder of And North: a curated, upstate lifestyle directory, a photographer, event planner and a marketing brand consultant. Emma resides in Hastings on Hudson close to her family and dear nan. Emma and I connected last year during a visit to our ELEVEN SIX Kingston retail store and bonded through her connection with our brand. On getting to know Emma further I learned of her special relationship with her nan and am honored to be featuring them together in our first cross generational ELEVEN SIX WOMEN story. There is nothing more inspiring to me than dressing women of diverse ages and creating knitwear pieces that can be timelessly worn and enjoyed between generations...
Can you share with us your path to becoming a photographer and how it led to starting And North?
Emma: I studied photography at SUNY New Paltz. After school, I stayed upstate in Rosendale and worked three jobs to afford my little Creekside cottage. I worked in a farm to table restaurant, a 19th century photo school run by John Dugdale, and a furniture/lighting design company called Materia Designs. Together, these experiences deepened my love for the creative community upstate and inspired me to start And North. When I moved to the city in 2014, I created And North to inspire people to travel north and experience the same sense of adventure and community that I had. With a focus on The Hudson Valley and Catskills, And North started as a long form online magazine where we would feature different businesses and creatives each week. Together with a small team, we produced hundreds of stories and grew a wonderful audience on Instagram. Over the years, And North has evolved to include special events like our Soiree on the Railway, brand partnerships, town guides, Stay North, our curated upstate lodging directory, and Buy North, a real estate partnership with The Lillie K Team. Through all of these avenues, our site inspires city dwellers and locals alike to explore the beautiful regions north of New York City while helping small businesses to grow and thrive. I work on And North full time while also doing lifestyle photography and consulting with brands on marketing and social media.
Helen (left) wears Sabine sweater and Emma (right) wears Sara cardi + Leah pant in Cocoa
From our conversations I know that you and your wonderful Nan (97) have an incredibly close connection and friendship. Can you share how she has influenced you in your life?
Emma: First and foremost, Nan is my dearest friend. It is a rare and unusual friendship separated by 64 years. I live just three minutes away so we often spend our evenings cooking, watching tv, or conspiring about a future party, a new plant to add to her garden terrace, or discussing our lives with great candor and understanding. We are always plotting something and if you passed by her studio apartment door on any given night, chances are, you’ll hear us giggling away, usually following a slightly crude joke or a one liner not usually heard out of the mouth of a 97 year old. It is fair to say, that Nan is a special person. We share our truest feelings about politics and people and relationships. Mine from my 33 years of life and her from her 97. She is politically engaged in a way that is beautifully astute, outwardly critical, and more open minded than most. She recalls growing up in the 20’s and 30’s in Brooklyn and having the fruit delivered from cart and horse and sharing a three room apartment with seven sisters and a brother during the depression. She has known war and loss and poverty in a way I can never relate to, she has lived through countless presidents and hardships and decades of fashion trends. But in the end, against all odds, it is a true friendship that knows no age and has very little to do with the fact that I am her grand daughter and she, my grandmother. To explain her influence on my life would be simple as she has influenced nearly every part of it.
Can you share a little about your life background, where you have lived, and how you landed in Greystone?
Helen: I was born in Brooklyn in 1925. I grew up with seven sisters and one brother in a four-bedroom railroad flat. It was a happy time because I had a mother who had a great imagination. Two days before my 17th birthday, I met my soon to be husband Kenneth which changed the course of my life. Over the years, I’ve had many interesting jobs including as a Girl Friday for a famous artist representative, as a manager at a fine leather goods store called Lederer on Park Avenue, and at many upscale women’s clothing shop. I have loved being a sister, mother, grandmother, and now a great grandmother. I had a great husband and three wonderful sons. My life has been full of joy, love, and excitement, and also heartache, but what life lived is not?
Can you tell us about your apartment and what you love about it?
Helen: I live in a studio apartment with a view of the Hudson River. It’s a “room of my own”. I knew the minute I saw it that it was mine. I love the proportions, the view, and the balcony which is now my garden where I can sit and read and read and read. I am surrounded by my husband’s paintings, (he was a prolific and wonderful artist). My home in Sparta was a lake house which I furnished with wicker furniture. Before I moved, I had my furniture reupholstered in black linen which works perfectly in the studio, as if it was all meant to be here.
Your beautiful abode: #myhastingshouse was just featured in Hudson Valley Magazine. Can you share with us what drew you to this house, its history, and your personal connection?
Emma: I quite serendipitously stumbled upon my house while on a walk with my mom on the old aqueduct trail in Hastings-on-Hudson. My home, a former goat barn from the late 1700s, is part of a more significant estate and happened to be for rent. I feel that my home is an extension of my personality and sense of style, it is always a work in progress and one of my favorite creative projects to work on. You can often find me rearranging furniture late at night when inspiration strikes or composing a still life on my lawn overlooking the Hudson. When you live in an old house, I feel that you are more part of its history than the other way around. I feel lucky to be one of its many caretakers in its long history and hopefully its long future ahead.
Emma wears the Kayln Cardi in Ivory + the Leah pant in Cocoa
What is your morning ritual?
Helen: I start my morning on my wicker wing chair with my New York Times and the New Yorker. Reading is my constant. It takes me all over the world in a spiritual way and is part of my never-ending learning. Before I read, I do my rowing for 15 minutes every morning. My son would say 20, but I have to be honest.
How would you describe Emma in three words?
Helen: Delightful, inspiring, and loveable.
How would you describe Nan in three words?
Emma: You chose the exact words I was going to use for you. Delightful, inspiring, and loveable says it all. I should also add stubborn, hilarious, and chic.
You must cherish your granddaughter living so close to you. What are your favorite ways to spend time together with Emma?
Helen: Just being together is a blessing for me, it really is. If I had to choose, I would say drinking martinis on my terrace, cooking together, and watching movies (we have a movie club with her brother Dylan where we enjoy watching old classics.) We also love fashion and spend our time plotting our outfits.
What does style mean to you and how would you describe your personal style?
Helen: Style is a reflection of who I am. My personal style is pretty classic with a bit of flair.
With your prolific years lived and life experiences what would be a pearl of wisdom you would pass to younger generations?
Helen: Your life is to be lived and not wasted. You influence others as you go which is a great responsibility. What’s most important to me are the friendships I’ve formed and continue to cultivate and family. That sounds trite, but it’s true. Family and friends...and books and fashion and flowers...
Do you have a recent book, film, series that you loved?
Helen: The book I read recently that I liked so much was called “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles. I also loved The Dubliners by James Joyce. I read Ulysses twice, but don’t ask me what it’s about. I couldn’t tell you in a word.
Emma: I read “A Gentleman in Moscow” on Nan’s recommendation and loved it. Nan and I also love watching “The Great” and are pretty sure that we are the only grandmother and granddaughter in the world who watch it together. We cackle at how crass and hilarious it is.
Having been born in 1925, how do you feel about the current state of the world? What excites you the most and what concerns you most?
Helen: I am frightened and distressed by the current state of the world because I am not sure where the country is going and if we canmaintain our democracy. I believe in a democracy and have never missed a vote in all my years since I turned 18. I believe there are still good women and men who will care for the future and that there are enough of them.
Emma (left) wears Sage tank in oatmeal with the Pia skirt in Ivory. Helen (right) wears Ali sweater in blush with the Leah pant in cocoa
How would you describe the ELEVEN SIX brand and which are your favorite pieces from the current collections and why?
Helen: ELEVEN SIX is elegant, refined, and fashion forward. I love the Sage sweater tank. It’s versatile and I can make different elegant outfits out of it.
Emma: At this point, I am basically living in ELEVEN SIX. It is my favorite brand for many reasons: I love its ethical approach to knitwear, its timeless and elevated look, and that the pieces are built to last. I am trying to be more considerate in the clothes and objects I purchase, so discovering ELEVEN SIX at this stage where I can slowly build a small wardrobe of pieces I will wear again and again works well with my goals and I just simply love them. Nan and I both love the Sage sweater tank, I love that we can both wear it and style it differently to suit our styles. Nan also lets me borrow her Uma sweater poncho which we both adore. It is is so chic and comfortable.