The ethos of local vintage shop and event space Maison DNA is kind of like a fractured fairy tale. A hub for counterculture kids of all ages to congregate, share their artistic visions, find cool clothes on the cheap, and leave feeling good about the time they’ve spent here at the "House of Designer Genes". Curating and selling fashions from the past is a big part of the experience, on top of being a welcoming place for artists, designers, musicians, and creatives of all kinds. As the story goes, the owners Beth and Jesse, two of the quirkiest and kindest characters in town, saw a ‘for rent’ sign in the window of this quaint Spring Street dwelling, and the rest was history. Every visit to the shop feels somehow unique, whether you're going to see an acoustic musical performance, to perform a live poetry reading, or to select a dossier of dreamy duds so that your tribe can frolic like pixies / cast spells with your coven in the nearby countryside.
And now the Maison is carving its legacy with a newly published novel about the shop and Newport's history called Newport Knights by co-owner, H. B. Loomis. Be sure to snag a copy of this fantasy fiction through Amazon, and read closely, as many of the characters were inspired by real life residents.
Are you a long-time Newport resident?
Yes, Rhode Island has been this former Bostonian’s home for more than a decade and it’s a great place to reside and work, surrounded by design, nature and art.
What does Maison DNA mean? How did you come up with the name?
Honestly, the name was born from the basic premise that everyone has DNA...it’s the very thing that makes us all unique individuals, not unlike the clothing hanging on the racks.
Do you have a favorite item in the shop?
Making the connect with that happy customer who buys one of our private label pieces redesigned for modern times. That makes all the hard work of saving quality merchandise from the trash heap of the uninformed worthwhile.
Where did you get all of the incredible clothes and keepsakes in your shop?
Maison DNA deals in a to-the-trade environment, meaning we purchase the bulk of our vintage inventory from estate agents, auction houses and similar antiques’ professionals. These relationships have been established over many years spent buying and selling textiles both here and abroad.
You also host events including open mic nights. Can you tell me how these came about, what guests can expect?
Gabriela Rassi and Bill Bartholomew of the band Silverteeth were instrumental in starting the Open Mic at the Maison last summer, and even though we no longer host this gathering for them, their commitment to creating a grassroots movement led to many well attended happenings. Dave Passafiume of Tweed Leisure currently brings lots of musical talent to the shop, and through his auspices the neighborhood has been exposed to so many great bands and solo performers. So a lot of credit goes to the local Newport area musicians - a lot - because music is the glue of any creative community. Follow Maison DNA on Facebook and/or Instagram for future event listings as a schedule is being worked on as this goes to press. Maison co-founder Jesse Stuckey and I have been talking a lot about talent lately, so we’re looking forward to hosting some outside the box acts down the road.
What sets Maison DNA apart from other local businesses in Newport?
No one has a monopoly on good ideas, and while the Maison is proud of its ‘go green’ foundation, it’s not about competition as much as it is about collaboration. Creativity is key, that and imagination are the magic ingredients of any successful enterprise.
Photos by Visual Manor