In the short version of creative entrepreneur Emma Tuccillo’s story, in 2017 she noticed a house for rent while taking a walk on the aqueduct trail with her mom. “It was a former goat barn on an estate from the late 1700s,” says Tuccillo, 33. With rentals extremely hard to come by in Hastings, she quickly signed the lease and moved in. “The house was in wonderful condition, so all I had to do was paint and decorate.”
But the longer version of Tuccillo’s Hastings tale is, well, longer. “Growing up, my parents were always taking my brothers and me on day trips to towns like Woodstock and High Falls, so I had a connection to the Hudson Valley from a young age,” she says. Her mom, a photographer, and dad, a musician, emphasized arts and creativity by example. When it came time for college, Tuccillo decided to study photography at SUNY New Paltz.
She spent any free time between classes exploring Minnewaska State Park and surrounding towns. After graduation, she found “a lovely little house in Rosendale” where she could start her life. “I juggled three jobs to afford the rent,” says Tuccillo. “I worked in a farm-to-table restaurant, a photo school, and a furniture and lighting design company.” These early experiences intensified her love for the local creative community and inspired her to start a lifestyle website called And North (andnorth.com), a curated guide to upstate New York. The passion project —started with a group of mostly college friends—would ultimately allow her to create the professional role of her dreams.
Her vision in starting And North was to inspire both Manhattan dwellers and upstate locals to explore the beautiful regions north of New York City, and in turn help small businesses grow and thrive. What began as a longform, online magazine has evolved into carefully researched and beautifully presented reviews and recommendations. Users can search for stores, specific kinds of lodgings (such as dog-friendly), or browse Buy North for unique properties through a partnership with the Lillie K. team. Guides to popular towns offer the scoop on restaurants, bars, shops, hotels, and more. Special events, such as an annual Soirée on the Railway, bring community-minded people together.
“And North has allowed me to continue to pursue photography but also design, styling, event planning, social media, and business development,” says Tuccillo. “I love that my role changes 10 times on any given day. There’s always something new to learn, and someone interesting to talk to.”
Next up: getting And North Adventures, day-long experiences in different creative and outdoor realms, up to cruising altitude. “The first one, in September, included private fly-fishing lessons on the Esopus Creek and a special dinner at Deer Mountain Inn. More events will be planned for spring,” says Tuccillo.
Instagram (@andnorth) has played a significant role in the brand’s narrative, with the audience growing organically to 58,000 at press time. “In the early days of the platform, it felt easy to tap into a global group of creatives. I met many close friends through Instagram and formed wonderful professional partnerships as well,” says Tuccillo. She also maintains a hashtag for her home (#MyHastingsHouse) and an account for her photography business (@emma_austen).
Meanwhile, Tuccillo couldn’t be happier in her hometown. She lives a few minutes away from her parents and Nan, her 96-year-old grandmother, and has several close friends within walking distance. “Hastings has always been a magical place to me,” says Tuccillo. “But I had to move away and experience something different before realizing how truly special it is.”