Meet the Makers: frittelli & LOCKWOOD
By Christine Murphy
A select few stumble upon their life's calling at a young age. Among that rare breed are New Yorkers Cecilia and Richard, the co-founders, designers and weavers behind the eponymous frittelli & LOCKWOOD.
As a child, Cecilia (the "frittelli" in this equation) researched Indonesia for a geography presentation at school. “I saw a picture of a woman at a backstrap loom; it totally fascinated me,” she said, “and so my Dad and I made a rigid heddle [loom] out of popsicle sticks.” It was the humble beginning of a lifelong calling that led her to study art at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and then took her to New York City's Garment District, where she worked as both a sample weaver and textile designer.
Cecilia’s husband, Richard (the "LOCKWOOD" half), worked in textile mills as a teenager, and, following schooling at Hobart College in Geneva, N.Y. and at Syracuse University, he repurposed those skills to create the necktie fabric that formed the foundation of frittelli & LOCKWOOD.
The path that now seems so direct in fact took a few twists and turns, primarily between the anchor points of New York City, the Adirondacks and the Capital Region. While working for other companies, Cecilia endeavored to start her own textile company. Most entrepreneurs — especially those of the work-from-home variety — typically require only a laptop for their livelihood, but Cecilia’s specialized efforts called for large looms. At the time, Richard was an English and Theatre Arts teacher at a public high school. The antique machines required some TLC and Richard began tinkering around. “What happened, of course, is that I got interested, not only in the mechanics of the looms, but also in issues having to do with design and with weaving; and before you know it, I was hooked,” he recalled.
The love of weaving is an all-or-nothing proposition according to Cecilia, who observed, “When people talk about weaving, they either absolutely love it and they are currently doing it, or they absolutely hated it. It’s one of those weird things; you don’t just dabble in it. You either get into it — hook, line, and sinker — or you say it’s not for me.” In turns out that weaving is as simpatico for Cecilia and Richard as they are for each other.
As the family business grew robust due to successful street fairs and wholesale accounts, the couple unsurprisingly outgrew their New York City apartment. In search of a larger, more affordable home-studio, they “kept driving north on I-87” and found a little farmhouse in Crown Point, N.Y., on Lake Champlain. Moving upstate came with major benefits. “Being up in the mountains, there wasn’t a whole lot of distraction. So we were able to really concentrate on our business, and we wove morning, noon, and night,” Cecilia mused.
A few years later, now with young children in tow, they relocated to Saratoga Springs, at the intersection of Beekman Street and Grand Avenue. Despite its walking-distance proximity to Broadway, the city’s main street, Beekman Street was one of the stretches in Saratoga that had evaded — or was overlooked by — sweeping renovation. The historic Victorian buildings that lined the road required major infrastructure overhauls, but local artists identified an opportunity: inexpensive properties for rent and purchase, and the charge of overhauling a blighted neighborhood and converting it into a creative resource.
This crossroads now is designated as the Beekman Street Arts District, anchored by Cecilia and Richard’s Textile Studio. The area spans three blocks that consist of residential properties, restaurants, art studios and galleries and shops. The annual Beekman Street Art Fair brings families into the previously overlooked neighborhood, and revives the communal spirit that defined this neighborhood a century ago. Cecilia and Richard have been driving forces behind the event’s formation and its continued success.
They are visionaries not just in regards to Beekman Street, but also in their forward-thinking production. They use eco-friendly fabrics, including bamboo. The integrity of their handwoven work — sumptuous fabrics worked into elegant yet modern designs for both men and women —
speaks for itself, but a little extra recognition never hurts. In 2012, frittelli & LOCKWOOD had the distinction of being named a "Crafts" finalist in Martha Stewart's "Made in America" competition. A lifetime of practice made perfect, right here in New York.