A few months ago, yours truly had the good fortune of crossing paths with talented designer, curator, and Hamptons shop-owner Natasha Esch. For those not in the know, Natasha is the founder of MONC XIII – perhaps Sag Harbor’s most perfectly appointed home furnishing store. Previously a successful Los Angeles based interior designer, and before that the president of Wilhelmina Models, this German/Swiss native has spent the past few years with her refined eye turned toward the curation of aspirational interior assemblages. With a stock list that ranges from 18th century antiques to mid century classics and luxe contemporary finds – the resultant MONC XIII has captured the imaginations of stylish East Coasters and beyond. Last week, with the shop freshly stocked and styled for summer, D caught up with Natasha for a first look at MONC’s summer closeup and a little delve into the creative mind behind it all.
D: What spurred your transition from the presidency of Wilhelmina Models to interior design and the opening of MONC XIII?
NE: I was always drawn to a career in the creative field but having been raised in a pretty conservative German environment, the idea of being a “starving artist” was not viable. Once I started working in the world of modeling, I was fortunate to be exposed to all of the amazing creative people that finally inspired me to take the “cold jump” and pursue my passion of design. I moved to California, renovated my first house, and it got published in Elle Decor. After that, my design career developed quickly. I really enjoyed my time in California but I also knew that LA was not a permanent destination for my life. Once we had kids, we decided to move back to the east coast to be near to our families and the Hamptons felt like the perfect spot. Having curated so many of my client’s homes, I felt the time had come to present my own vision in the form of a store and MONC XIII came about.
“MONC XIII is not just a store…it is a gathering place for all things creative, a place that embodies what it sells: Living the good life.”
We do many events at the store that celebrate this, whether it is a book signing for the amazing designer Steven Gambrel or salon type nights focused around art and entertaining… we designed MONC XIII to be like a home – to show people how to incorporate all the elements into their lives, whether it is decor, lifestyle [or] entertaining. Many of our customers like to say that they would want to live at MONC XIII and that is really the ultimate compliment of what I try to create… a place you don’t want ever to leave, that makes you feel great.
D: When putting together a beautiful space… where do you think most people go wrong?
NE: I think it is important to create layers in a home (varying textures and scale, etc.). I think there is a tendency to not think about how the elements interact with each other. Also…
“People often [decorate for] scenarios that don’t occur more than twice a year and then compromise on design[ing] for everyday life… which is really the important essence.”
D: Do you have any secret, go to sources for finding unique pieces for your store and home?
NE: Yes, but I won’t disclose, haha!
D: What has been the most challenging aspect of founding and maintaining MONC XIII?
NE: Well, I wish I had built a store twice the size to accommodate all the great things I find and would love to carry. As a result of not having more space, my challenge continues to be editing. On the other hand, it is exactly this challenge that I believe makes MONC XIII a success….a highly edited environment.
D: What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
NE: “Only pursue a line work that you are passionate about. Passion alone will not guarantee business success but lack of it will guarantee failure” and…
“Don’t be stagnant… Challenges and disruptions are the inspirations of the future”
D: If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give your younger self?
NE: Looking back, I always wish I would have had the chance of working for a major design firm. I really believe, the advice I would give to my younger self is “get in the vicinity of greatness”. So if you want to be a designer, go and try to work for the greats in that industry. The learning from this will be the best education ever.
As for the name, MONC XIII… it’s an acronym for Natasha’s family – M for her husband Matt, O for her daughter Orchid, C for their family name Coffin and XIII for the day on which her son Sky was born. They invite you to experience their world next time you are in the Hamptons at 40 Madison Street in Sag Harbor, New York. For those not in the area, you can access nearly all you see here and more at monc13.com.
photos courtesy of MONC XIII