I first met Barbara Pisch, the owner of P A T R I Æ, at the shop a bit after it opened and was immediately blown away by her product and aesthetic. Think piles of antique, handwoven hemp and linen textiles, dreamy linen tunics, and an airy, minimalist aesthetic. And then we bonded. Over the Grateful Dead. I spotted a t-shirt that she made, with the Dead’s iconic image, but it was modern and stylish on a perfectly worn in tee. So so good.
I visited her recently, to hear more about her story (and of course we had the Dead playing in the background). Barbara was born in Eastern Europe, in Czechoslovakia. Her family moved to the US as political refugees when she was 7 years old. She started going back at age 12 – to Czechoslovakia, now Slovakia. Barbara comes from over 5 generations of textile people – her grandfather was a well-known tailor in Slovakia, her mother is a tailor – so it’s no coincidence she is doing what she’s doing. When she started going back, at age 12, she fell in love with these fabrics. I love that she knew at a young age that this was meaningful to her. Anyway, in the early 90s, these textiles had no value, as people wanted new. People were giving it away and she hoarded it. She knew she wanted to do something with this, but didn’t know what – but felt a relationship to the aesthetic and her history. Barbara’s story is relevant fascinating to me as I write this blog and discuss and look at how people feel at home and what makes a home. And when you enter her store, there is definitely a sense of history and warmth and meaning and beauty. In her words, the Grateful Dead is sorta like that. They resonate to her work and the story of her life – thru the lens of nostalgia and collecting and sentimentality – “The Dead is musical equivalent to that”.
So back to Barbara. She, like me, was living in Brooklyn. She had a background in fashion and started making these tote bags in the city – they started becoming more popular – and soon she had a business. She was a bit disenchanted with parts of the city and started asking – where do i want to move – how do I want to move this business forward. And her story is returning to her US home, in Asbury Park (her dad and brother own Sweet Joey’s, a vintage store in Asbury). The store was happenstance, and the rest is history.
I really really like Barbara. I relate to her culturally, aesthetically, and felt connected to her. Hearing her story, how she got here, made me further feel for her product, so I thought it is important to include here.
PATRIÆ is this gorgeous space, filled with light, and stocked with textiles woven between the early-19th and mid-20th centuries. They are durable (and washable) organic textiles, “rich with individual stories of family-based village farming, indigenous heritage crafts, and traditional women’s work”. I love that so much. I’m someone that appreciates stories and meaning in objects in my home – so this place is right up my alley. She carries fabric rolls, towels, tablecloths, pillows, bedding, tops, tunics, bags – and they are all made in the shop. I think that’s some of the magic of the store. That there are 2 industrial sewing machines in the back that reflect Barbara’s history and continue in the tradition of local production and handcraft. And beyond that, the store, and textiles are just lovely and unique and this store is unlike any other I’ve ever been in. Hence, really really good, not just good for NJ.
PATRIÆ also carries these fantastic woven hats, art, handmade jewelry, ceramics and small leather goods. Once again, all handmade, all interwoven in terms of look and aesthetic. All really, really good.
And she also sells wholesale – but once again, it feels meaningful and organic. Her retailers that she has the best relationships with, the deepest connection to, and the most support from – are Little Neck in Brooklyn, a restaurant with a shop in the front, where they do sell her towels and totes. Freda in Marfa, TX and in the Ace Hotel in New Orleans does well on totes, tops, and tunics. And Marquet in Williamsburg sells her totes.
Here are some pics that I hope capture the feel of the store and her product. That said, textiles are things you have to feel and squeeze and touch – so go visit.
Ciao, Lauren xx
PATRIÆ 713 Bangs Ave Asbury Park, NJ 07712 www.patriaestudio.com Instagram – @patriaetextiles