Walking down Main Street in Cold Spring is an experience. On the pathway toward the Hudson River, a marvel of sights and sounds abound. Truth be told, there’s so much to see amid the backdrop of chirping birds and rippling water that it’s hard to know where to begin. Should you pop into that antique shop? Stop by that gift store for a quick browse? Dine al fresco at the charming little restaurant that caught your eye?
The answer to all is a resounding yes…as long as you swing by Paulette Cold Spring beforehand. After all, there’s no better place to enjoy a hot cuppa or a sweet local pastry while shopping for a birthday present or picking up a special something for yourself. In fact, there aren’t too many places like Paulette at all. With the exception of perhaps the bookstore bars of the Hudson Valley, no local shops rival the boutique café experience on Main Street.
That’s precisely the way owner Jacqueline Azria wants it, of course. A longtime stylist and fashion director, she channels her expertise into her latest endeavor in the Hudson Valley.
“I wanted to build a place where it’s a whole atmosphere,” she explains.
Admittedly, becoming a brick-and-mortar business owner was something of a jump for the fashion pro, who boasts more than 20 years in the industry. She got her start early as a stylist at Seventeen, then moved into notable positions like fashion director and creative director at CosmoGirl and Women’s Health. Around those roles, she also worked regularly as a stylist for brands like Eddie Bauer and celebrity personalities like Oprah.
As successful as she was in the world of fashion, she couldn’t shake the idea that had slowly started to form in the back of her mind. Recalling the cafés of her native France, she envisioned a hybrid coffee and clothing shop away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It would be a place engrained within the community, one where locals could stop by for a latte and a croissant in the morning or to browse a curated selection of clothing and knickknacks in the afternoon. It would break the rules of a traditional coffee shop and, in doing so, would define itself not by what it sells, but by the experiences it crafts for visitors.
So, with her decision made, she said farewell to Manhattan and hello to Cold Spring. She had already been coming to the Putnam County town as a weekender and loved its quaint beauty and freedom from chain store aesthetics.
“I fell in love with it,” she admits. “When I came to Cold Spring the first time a couple years ago I thought, ‘This is a little jewel.’”
Yet while she loved the village for her home, she thought it would be impossible to find a retail space for her concept store in town. She scoured venues in nearby cities like Beacon and Kingston, but never found exactly the spot she envisioned until she happened upon an empty office space right on Cold Spring’s Main Street. She knew it was the one in an instant, and soon found herself signing a lease and brainstorming a renovation to transform the drab former office into an interior that’s filled with light.
Paulette Cold Spring Made its grand debut in the Hudson Valley in mid-July. Named after Azria’s mother, a French hat designer, the store is a hodge-podge of fashion-forward wares that walk the line between modern and timeless, brand-name and indie, and affordable and upscale. In ode to Azria’s heritage, it stocks iconic French pieces like Bensimon sneakers, which Azria declares to be “the Converse of France,” and Saint James’ signature striped Breton top. For the most part, however, everything is American-made, with an emphasis on small-batch production and independent or women-owned brands.
“It’s a place that feels a little Isabel Marant-ish, a little Zadig [& Voltaire], a little French,” she says. “That’s really me. It’s uniqueness at an affordable price.”
What’s more, Paulette isn’t just a clothing shop. True to her concept store idea, Azria offers giftable items like handcrafted wooden bowls, small-batch cocktail mixers, and accessories galore. And did we mention she has a café, too? As part of the store’s open floorplan, its coffee bar is right near the shoppable section, making it the perfect place to pause and refuel or simply grab a French-inspired breakfast in the morning. To stock the micro-eatery, Azria keeps it local as can be with Irving Farm coffee, Bread Alone pastries, and, when her shoppers are very lucky, Salinger’s Orchard cider donuts.
“I wanted everything to be special,” she explains. “You browse, you take your time…it’s a moment where you exhale.”
To her point, Paulette is something is something of a breath of fresh air after the isolation of COVID-19. With its spacious setup, white walls, and naturally chic aura, it’s the sort of place visitors want to pop into for a quick browse or respite during the day. If they find their new perfect t-shirt or handbag, so be it. If they simply stop by for a coffee, Azria is more than happy with that, too.
“I hope it’s a place where people meet and take a break,” she explains of her vision for the future. For now, she’s taking every safety measure to keep shoppers healthy and comfortable. Masks and social distancing are required, and hand sanitizer is everywhere. Azria hasn’t set up tables in her café in order to keep the floor as empty as possible, but she plans to do so once it’s safer. Until then, she looks forward to greeting new faces with a dose of French hospitality in the Hudson Valley.
“It’s just a happy moment,” she says.
Paulette Cold Spring
114 Main St, Cold Spring