At Fair Folks & a Goat, a new retail gallery and tea salon hybrid on New York’s Upper East Side, everything inside the gracious late 19th-century studio apartment is for sale. Well, almost everything — a small candy dish that reads “When I count my blessings, I count you twice” was a gift from co-owner Anthony Mazzei’s mother and “it’s a million dollars,” he jokes, while the vintage paperbacks lining a wall of shelves constitute an actual lending library. Here, the props and merch blend into a seamless backdrop for a new kind of social gathering. “We wanted to create a space for young people to have a home away from home, where instead of alcohol and loud music it would be more like a physical incarnation of a magazine, with design, art, fashion, and culture,” says Mazzei of his partnership with co-owner and creative director Aurora Stokowski.
The space is open during the late afternoon and evening on Saturday and Sunday by appointment only, and since it launched in November, the crowds have begun to swell. When guests arrive, they’re offered first tea, then cake, then jewelry on rolling carts (also for sale); Mazzei jokingly calls it “dim-sum retail.” But the terrific thing about Fair Folks & a Goat is that you don’t feel like you’re being sold a thing. It’s more like two incredibly stylish friends have invited you over to share their latest finds.
Mazzei, a former financier, and Stokowski, who studied studio art and was a jewelry buyer at the MoMA Design Store, met last summer and instantly clicked, but the hard part was figuring out where to host the thing. “Anthony was actually living in this space, but his landlords encouraged him to use it for the shop because it’s so perfect — an aspirational environment you’re not normally allowed access to,” says Stokowski. Once Mazzei had moved to an empty apartment upstairs, they assembled the offerings with the help of a few curation teams. The Future Perfect offered wares like Kiel Mead’s Birdie Lights and Jaime Hayon’s Showtime sofa on consignment, while the art was mostly chosen by independent consultant Amy Sande-Friedman, who culled the brightest stars from New York’s emerging scene.
The two recently closed on a house near the French Quarter in New Orleans; the goal there is to have artists build out the space and to offer 24/7 access in exchange for a small membership fee. On their way out of town to try and fix up their new property before that city’s Jazz Fest, Mazzei and Stokowski gave us a tour of the New York townhouse space and an introduction to the works inside.