We Are Upstate NY with Designer Anmy Leuthold of Elwyn New York
We first noticed Anmy Leuthold on Instagram. A striking beauty, she stars in a series of vignettes modeling the numerous ways to wear her line of bespoke silk scarves. An expertly wrapped scarf serves as a halter top or headwear. A folded silk scarf is presented as a pouch; an elegant accent on a purse, or flirtatiously tied around one’s wrist or ankle.
Founder and designer of Elwyn New York, Anmy’s designs favor a fashion-forward approach with a historical sensibility. Like Hermès, Elwyn’s timeless scarves are collectible and make for exceptional gifts. With names like Charmed Sautoir Scarf, Peeking Tiger Scarf, Shakespeare in Love, Cockatoo Carnival and Verdant Romp, you can’t help but dive into the beauty of each intricate design. Better yet, visit a local shop (like Three Turtle Doves in Woodstock, NY) to feel the luxurious quality of Elwyn New York’s ethically-made silk scarves to fully appreciate the fine craftsmanship. And while you’re at it, see how many different ways you can fashion one scarf on your body!
Inside+Out Upstate NY chats with Anmy about her business, being independent and socially responsible, and her love of living in Upstate NY
Where are you originally from and how did you wind up in the Hudson valley–Woodstock specifically?
I was born, raised and educated in New York City and attribute my aesthetic sense to my life experience designing for other NYC fashion houses and in great part to my parents. One could say that I’m a Local Woodstocker through marriage. My husband, Mick, and I met in LA and we had the opportunity to buy a Woodstock home in 2007. He grew up here and when he first introduced me to the Hudson Valley, I felt a palpable, creative energy and fell in love with the area and its undeniable charm right away. It wasn’t until 2018 that we decided to move to Woodstock full-time. Never in my life did I think I would ever grow weary of living and working in New York City, but I wanted to make a big change in my life. To start something of my own. At the time, I didn’t know what that was, but I knew I had to do something and Woodstock would give me the gift of a little more time to figure it out. I rolled around a myriad of ideas, but none really clicked until I came up with Elwyn New York a luxury silk scarf company with a conscience.
What inspired the idea for your business and what was your journey?
My mom instilled in me a love and respect for beauty and a passion for styles from the past. When I was a child she was forever dressing me and sewing my clothes. I remember her working peacefully at her sewing machine which was always set on a glass table. I would sit under it, clinging to one leg, while she peddled her foot with the other and then I would look up to observe the fabric glide meticulously across and above my head. She would make me beautiful silk patchwork, brocade skirts and jackets from antique Crazy Quilts; add vintage Irish Lace to the collars of my button-down shirts; convert Victorian eyelet petticoats into sleeves, and trim my jean skirts with French Toile and fashion them as a ruffle at the bottom. Not only has her personal fashion sense affected me profoundly, but it was at her print studio where I received the training I needed to become the print designer I am today.
In 2019, I wanted to thank my mom for all she has given me with a small token of my love and gratitude. She is a self-professed “scarf person” and I decided I would design and create one for her with her name on it for Mother’s Day. I researched how to have it made and in the process, realized and declared to myself, “I can actually DO this.” I thought it would be so special if my customers also had the option to personalize their scarves with their names or initials. A unique quality of my business that no other luxury company offers yet. I launched my company in May 2020 and the scarf I designed for my mother is in my current collection and goes by the name, “Garden Lace”. She loves gardens and lace.
Your scarves are beautiful! Tell us about your design process. What do you love about it?
To give you a little background… not only is my mother a print designer, but my late father was also a textile designer too. His office overlooking Bryant Park had a large, covetous library that spanned 20 feet high. A rolling ladder to get to the tiptop. I remember vividly spending hours touching and sifting through the pages of pasted swatches, mesmerized by color, design, and texture. Delighted by the graph paper filled with tiny, shaded-in boxes, representing the weft and weave of the fabric. The bountiful spools of textiles. The scent of fibers would cling to my clothes. He would get excited about things like mixing fibers.
“You choose each fiber for its merits and have the best of both worlds— for example, the comfort of one, the washability of the other. It’s like a good marriage. If both partners are too much the same, there can be problems. If they are different, that adds spice.”
I loved the way he would explain things to me like I was his equal… My love for old books and vintage textiles and how I incorporate them into my designs stem from their parental guidance and gentle osmosis. It is thanks to their stylish influence and their knowledge surrounding design that I have formed a fashion-forward approach with a historic sensibility.
I think of my scarves as a collage of imagery, woven together like a quilt that tells a little, secret story. And what fairytale is without some magical creatures? if you look at my scarves you can see that I’m very drawn to nature. My father grew up in the Swiss Alps and at a very young age, he exposed me to the wonders of the natural world and the importance of it. Something Woodstock and the surrounding area has a lush abundance of… One only needs to step outside and take it all in. Inspiration galore!
What is your fashion philosophy and who inspires you?
I don’t know if I have a fashion philosophy, per se… But I think it’s important to wear things that make you feel good about yourself and furthermore, it’s important to ask yourself, “will I wear this, years from now?” I imagine my scarves to be heirlooms, keepsake pieces that can be handed down for generations and in large part is what sustainable style is all about. I have items in my closet that I have had in my possession for over 20 years because I love them and they stand the test of time. Well-made collectibles and not fast fashion disposables. Although I am not immune to the allure of fast fashion, sustainability is important to me and I always strive to do better personally and business-wise.
Not to be trite, but Audrey Hepburn is someone who inspires me daily. There is a reason she has been admired for decades… Not only did she have talent, elegance and timeless style, but her beauty shined from the inside out. Kindness was her philosophy and she was always giving back. I wanted to follow her lead and somehow do something for “the good” right from the get-go. I decided to partner up with One Tree Planted and with their help, for every scarf I sell, trees are planted in areas of the world where forests are in jeopardy and deforestation is prevalent. I like to think that as I grow as a business, so do the forests of the planet. This is just the first step. I intend to do more.
What is the most challenging part of running your own business?
I’ve always been creative and have never had to handle the “business” aspect of a job. This is a whole new ball of wax for me and as much as I would love to just design to my heart’s content, I have to balance the other parts to make a company successful. I’m still a baby business and am really just learning as I go along, but thankfully I have people in my life who’ve been running their own business for many years and I can count on them for sound advice. There is no shame in admitting you don’t know something or in asking questions. I am also learning that inevitably mistakes will be made and I have to roll with it, adapt and be resilient.
How do you grow your business and how do your clients find you?
I basically launched my business at the start of Covid and have had to rely on the web and social media for much of my growth, forgoing any travel, large indoor trade shows, and such. But I’m happy to say, people seem to find me and have taken interest in my product. You, for instance, somehow stumbled upon Elwyn and I am now so thrilled to do an interview for Inside + Out Upstate NY!
Wendy Goodman from Curbed/New York Magazine also did an absolutely delightful article on me, my home and my scarves titled “The Fabric of a Textile Designer’s Life,” which also helped drive traffic to my website. Heather Nicosia owner of the beautifully curated Three Turtle Doves Woodstock boutique was the first to carry my collection. She understood my aesthetic right away, is always excited about the new scarves that come in and continues to be a design confidante. We are very much fans of each other. I also have had the privilege of participating in Field + Supply a large outdoor trade show/market for makers and artisans. I am happy to say that I will be there again in the fall. It’s an invaluable way to be seen and to gain exposure/clients/buyers.
Elwyn New York piqued some interest in the interior decorating world at this trade show as well. There have been discussions about framing my scarves and hanging them up as artwork or turning the bandana-size ones into throw pillows. I was excited to talk about all the different forms my designs can take. I’m constantly asked when am I going to start designing for the home. This is definitely a direction I would love to take in the future. I have so many ideas, but one step at a time…
We LOVE your social media posts and that you are the muse for your brand! How much time do you spend on social media and do you get clients from social media?
I’m my own “muse” completely out of necessity. I’m a bit of a one-woman show at the moment and have to do most everything myself. I do have to say, It is a little confronting putting myself out there like that. I feel a bit exposed…. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better to start off with a collection of bedding, haha. I didn’t think about the social media aspect of having a scarf accessories brand. But little by little, I try to stretch myself and get more comfortable in front of the camera. I take all my own photos, so at least I am alone when I’m shooting. There is comfort in that… Also, I try to balance my posts with pictures of me and pictures of just products. Mix it up a bit, to keep it interesting. I can only hope that what I’m doing resonates with people. All I know is that I’m reaching enough people that I get to keep going on the journey.
What is it about the Hudson Valley that makes it unique to live + work here?
Being able to take a hike or a swim after work, enjoy a mountainous sunset and eat local or homegrown foods has really brought a sense of balance to my life. I feel so privileged to be living here and every day I wake up with gratitude for everything this area has to offer. So many new things are happening here, new restaurants (Good Night is a new frequent haunt), bars and exhibits to visit. It feels like we are in the midst of a cultural Renaissance: more music and more art and I am so happy to be a part of it.
“I feel so privileged to be living here and every day I wake up with gratitude for everything this area has to offer.”
What impact does your business have on your town/community?
I don’t know if I have had an impact on the local community… I hope that my presence here has or will have a positive effect. But I can say for certain, that the town has left an indelible mark on me. Mick is always telling me: It is often said that when you are from or have lived in the Catskills and more specifically from the town of Woodstock, even if you leave and live somewhere else, the power and magic of the Catskill Mountains will always call you back… This has, at least anecdotally proven to be true. We know many people who have left and have come back, including my husband. Having owned a place and lived here for some time, I can believe that there is truth to this “legend.” I am always delighted to come home from any trip.
What is missing in the area that you wish we had?
I really like to occasionally shake it all out and dance! Perhaps a bar that also has an outdoor dance space in the good weather? Or dance pop-ups? Am I crazy? In the meantime, Mick and I like to have spontaneous, two-person dance parties at ours. I do spend a lot of the time designing on my computer, so It feels good to let loose every once in a while. And no, I’m not a good dancer, but do you have to be to enjoy it?
What local businesses do you rely on to be successful?
Three Turtle Doves, Field + Supply, and all the great eateries in the Hudson Valley
Who inspires you?
My mom is always content with where she is in life and no matter what the circumstances are, she finds the positive. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her complain about anything. She truly lives in the moment. I would love to be more like that. Maybe with time…
Tell us something about yourself that people might be surprised to know.
I didn’t go to art school, but I often wish I had. I majored in Dramatic Literature and minored in Journalism.
What would be your dream local Staycation?
I would love to check out Wildflower Farms Auberge Resorts and Inness or maybe even venture to one of those yurts in Bovina. Mick and I converted our chicken coop into a tiny house/guest cottage and sometimes we stayed there to feel like we are “getting away”. It really does the trick.
What is your current state of mind?
Happy. It’s been a delicious summer. But ask me again in April, when winter is just about over.
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Connect with Anmy Leuthold and Elwyn New York