Creator Profile: Emma Tuccillo, Founder of And North, Upstate New York
Hi Emma! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Emma Tuccillo, the Founder and Creative Director of And North, a curated guide to upstate New York, featuring the best of travel and lifestyle north of New York City. My boyfriend Nick and I live in an 18th century Goat Barn in Hastings-on-Hudson with our cat named Cat.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
My background is in photography. I studied upstate in New Paltz which is where I developed my love for The Hudson Valley and Catskills. After school I worked in a farm to table restaurant, a 19th century photo school, and a furniture 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, I created the site to inspire people to travel north and experience the same sense of adventure and community that I had.
How did And North start and how has it transformed to what it is now?
And North grew out of my love for upstate. Together with a strong group of creatives, including our Design Director Tim LaSalle, Editorial Director Sylvie Morgan Brown, and Event Director Katie Lobel, we wanted to inspire others to leave the city and find wide open spaces and the strong community of small businesses that line the towns and cities north. Since launching three and a half years ago, And North has allowed us to travel all over upstate New York and watch new businesses and towns grow and thrive. We also began hosting unique events which allow our audience to experience upstate through our eyes.
What drew you to featuring people and places throughout New York?
It can certainly be argued that New York City attracts some of the most ambitious and talented people from all over the world. What we see time and time again are these creatives honing their skills with the best leaders in their fields and then deciding to leave the city to start their own endeavors north. In our opinion, this makes upstate New York one of the most culturally interesting rural outskirts in the world. There are renowned chefs choosing to open restaurants in the middle of nowhere, incredible artisans working from remote destinations, and talented visionaries opening up their first brick and mortars. On a personal level, we find that time moves slower when we go upstate and that our experiences feel more authentic and memorable. It is something we want to encourage more people to experience for themselves.
How do you discover the places that you feature?
We have connected to a strong upstate community, so many of the places we feature are recommended by friends and business owners. We also love to wander aimlessly and discover new gems along the way. Since we started, hundreds of incredible businesses have opened upstate, so we never feel strained for content.
How long after you began And North did you grow a team?
I started And North with a strong team of creatives who had the same passion for upstate New York. Today, we have an incredibly hard working core team including our Design Director Tim LaSalle and an amazing team of contributing writers and photographers.
Did you always anticipate doing events? What are some of your most memorable gatherings?
Our goal from the start was to connect people to the creative communities north, so it felt natural to eventually start hosting events. We love to highlight our favorite upstate makers at our events to spotlight all of the immense talent to be found north of the city. We have been very lucky to have friends host us on their properties, so our events have become more and more unique. This year alone we hosted a 1940’s inspired soiree on a vintage train through The Catskills, our second annual Harvest Dinner with Brushland Eating House, a Holiday Pop-Up in NYC featuring our favorite upstate makers, and a New Year’s Eve Ball. Each event allows us to make personal connections with our audience while showcasing the amazing chefs, makers, and artists that live north of the city. We can’t wait to see what opportunities present themselves in 2018!
How do you navigate brand partnerships and collaborations?
Upstate New York is such a sought after location these days, so many brands that we admire want to align themselves with the landscape and culture of The Hudson Valley and Catskills. Our partnerships often circle around our events, as they allow brands to create custom content for a specific group of influencers and artisans. When planning an event, we like to have the decor and food highlight local makers and partner with interesting brands that have similar missions and aesthetics.
How do you connect with your community?
Instagram has been the most amazing tool for us. When people are stuck at their desks, they look to our feed for inspiration for future adventures. We have been overwhelmed with the response to our images and are are always excited when our followers travel north with our recommendations in mind. We post features on places to eat, shop, stay, and explore weekly on our blog and send weekly emails with upcoming events and featured #andnorth images. Running an online business can often feel isolated, so creating unique events helps us to feel more connected to our audience.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from collaborating with friends. I am always dreaming big and there is nothing like having like minded people around to bounce ideas off of and to challenge you.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
I love that my role changes ten times on any given day. I go from planning events, to taking photos, to making spreadsheets, to formatting a blog post on a rotating basis, so I feel like my work is constantly reinventing itself and posing exciting challenges. I really have never once felt bored running And North, there is always something to do and someone interesting to talk to.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face with And North?
Running my own business is all ups and downs. The successes feel more joyful than anything else and the failures feel very personal. I hold myself to a high standard, so there is a lot of self doubt and the feeling that things are not growing fast enough. I also have a full time job, so balancing both worlds can be challenging, but I have certainly learned that I like to push myself and thrive on being busy.
You've grown quite a large social media following around And North. What is your relationship with social media (do you love it? hate it? feel like you need to have it?)
I really do love Instagram because of the community of creatives it has led me to. We have met many of our dearest friends and collaborators through Instagram, which I don’t think can be said for other social media platforms. It can be hard at at times to keep up with posting daily, but I find that when I am feeling my most inspired, I like to post more and share that excitement with our audience. It is certainly not hard to find incredible subject matter upstate, so I love sharing my findings on Instagram and seeing people’s reactions instantly. It has been so exciting to watch our audience grow, and even more wonderful to meet those individuals in person at our events.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
While running And North, I have worked with some of the hardest working and inspiring women. When we support each other, we encourage a culture of collaboration and help to expand the larger support system between all women. There is nothing like working with like minded women who are unabashedly ambitious.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
I could spend all day answering this question as I have met countless women in my travels whose work ethic and vision blow my mind. For our recent Holiday Pop-Up, I had the pleasure of working with Nina Barry and Alane Hogan, whose hard work, joyful attitude, and creative force set a new standard for all of my endeavors going forward. They certainly inspire me to be better and work harder.
What have you learned from owning your business that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
No one knows what they’re doing, so act confident, do your research, seek out advice from others, and fake it till you make it.
How do you manage your time?
I like to make lists and move from task to task a lot. It is sometimes more structured and sometimes quite loose, depending on what I have to get done. I am also incredibly lucky to work with an amazing team that helps me to stay on track.
How do you deal with moments of self doubt?
I try to remind myself of recent successes and seek out advice from friends and collaborators. It can sometimes feel lonely to run a business, but reaching out to my support system of people who believe in And North easily restores my confidence and inspires me to start dreaming big again.
What tools or resources have been most helpful for you in creating your business?
For me, seeking out advice from other female entrepreneurs has been incredibly helpful. The business of blogs is always evolving and changing, so there is no right or wrong answer to most questions, so seeking out informed advice and listening to my gut helps me to find solutions to difficult problems.
What are some of your favorite places in Upstate New York?
We work often with the amazing folks at Brushland Eating House in Bovina. That area is so special to me, as it has an amazing network of small businesses set on some of the most bucolic hills you’ve ever seen. I also love Greene County, which is across the river from beloved towns like Hudson and Germantown. That region feels a bit less discovered, so I love driving around and finding new gems. I visit Kingston quite often, as I have many friends who own businesses there. The Rondout District by the water is one of the best stretches in all of upstate New York with Brunette Wine Bar, Clove & Creek, Hops Petunia, Kingston Wine Company, and so many other great spots.