Sisters bring Caribbean culture to the Hamptons with Hidden Gem boutique
Women’s empowerment wasn’t preached to sisters Tanya Willock and Temidra Willock-Morsch while growing up. They learned about it by observing the lives of older females in their family.
“My family grew up in Antigua and struggled financially,” Willock-Morsch, 33, says of the women on her mother’s side. “They grew up in a tiny 20-foot by 10-foot home with an outdoor bathroom. Unfortunately, this environment led many of the women to abusive relationships, but they had the courage to leave those situations and raise their children on their own and create a better life for themselves.”
Another woman who showed a lot of strength was their mother, the sisters say.
“Our family was very much a matriarchy, and we were able to watch my mom take charge of every aspect of her life as well as stand up for herself whenever the time arose,” Willock, 29, of Hampton Bays, explains. Her mother is a first-generation immigrant. “So being a strong, independent, empowered woman was all we’ve ever known.”
Willock and Willock-Morsch have created impressive lives for themselves, too. In 2019, they opened the Hidden Gem home décor and gift shop in Southampton, and they’ve drawn attention on Long Island and beyond for their Caribbean-look offerings not usually associated with the Hamptons. The duo has been featured in the print and online magazines of such style authorities as Martha Stewart, Vogue, HGTV and House Beautiful.
Though Willock and Willock-Morsch grew up in Springs, their Caribbean roots were firm. They would visit Antigua, but they were also surrounded by reminders of their heritage everywhere they looked in their Long Island home. Their mother, Genevieve, now 53, decorated with lots of bright colors and prints — very different from the blue and white and coastal looks widely identified with Hamptons homes.
“Our mom has always been stylish, and our house was always beautifully curated and designed. She never missed a detail,” Willock-Morsch, of East Hampton, says. “She also gave us the creative freedom to decorate our rooms how we wanted, so I think it has had an influence on our shop and how we curate things.”
The sisters make some things sold at their store. Their late maternal grandmother, Alice Desilvia, moved to America shortly after their mother and taught them as children how to knit, crochet and sew pieces to be sold in their front yard in Springs.
Willock-Morsch later became a fashion design student at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles who had a job designing custom rugs. Willock studied fine arts at SUNY Purchase in Westchester and for three years worked as an art gallery manager.
When they decided to open their shop, the pair was confident their sense of style would work with Hamptons customers looking for something different from the area’s more traditional styles, and owning a business together worked perfectly for the two’s sisterly dynamic. Willock says she can be a little “disorganized,” while Willock-Morsch, a divorced mother of a 2-year-old girl, keeps things under control.
“We shared a room growing up and I had the typical ‘older sister’ role. I was very focused and always in charge of my siblings,” Willock-Morsch, notes. The sisters have a brother Jari, 23, of East Hampton, who has collaborated with them on a T-shirt and hat collection.
“I would consider myself very much the more rebellious one,” Willock, who is engaged, adds. “I was the kind of kid who had no issue taking my shoes off whenever I got a chance, and my sister would always make sure I put them back on.”
Store open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., currently closed Friday through Sunday; 47 Jobs Lane, Southampton, 631-259-3494; hiddengemny.com.