Hamptons Chatter With Serena & Lily’s Serena Dugan

by Sydney Sadick

While farm stands, restos, and gas stations are the typical sights when driving along Montauk Highway, once you hit Wainscott, there’s a chic diversion on the road: the modern and colorful Serena & Lily Beach Market. On Saturday, the store hosted a day of shopping for all things decor (plus their recently launched apparel line!) along with bites and drinks. We sat down with Serena Dugan, the company’s co-founder, who came from her Northern Cali home base to spend the weekend out East. 

Welcome back to the Hamptons!
Thanks! We set up the store two summers ago; this location used to be Georgica Creek Antiques. It looked very different than how it is now, but there was something very magical about the space! We thought this would be the right spot for our first store.

What were you doing before you and [co-founder] Lily Kanter launched the company?
I was a decorative painter and commercial artist: I created hand-painted custom patterns on walls and artwork on commission for private clients. I also had a line of printed fabrics. I worked with a bunch of catalogs, and while I was promoting my line, I met Lily.

Tell us about Lily!
She’s my business partner. I handle the design and creative side, and she handles the business side. She owned a great high-end baby boutique outside of San Francisco. I was introducing my services to her, and when I showed her my fabrics, she felt that they’d be a good fit for her clients and wanted to represent me. She said she could really see the fabrics on a baby bumper. There first time we met, she said “Let’s partner on this.” So we started the company in 2003 with baby and nursery decor.

Do you get asked a lot “Who is Lily?”
Oh yeah. All of the time. A lot of people say, “Oh, is Lily your daughter? Or is it a name you just made up?” And I’m like, “Nope, we’re two real people!”

What made you want to open a store in the Hamptons?
We have a very distinct look and product line, and we can envision the lifestyle in which the product lives, and lives happily. When I came to the Hamptons for the first time, I felt it was the physical interpretation of our product. We met a lot of customers in the Hamptons who’d already known about our brand and were super excited about us. It made us feel like we’re in the right spot to say something beachy, breezy, fun and exciting for the lifestyle we envisioned.

Why did you decide to expand into apparel?
I’ve always been inspired by fashion, but I felt like there was something missing in the market. Every category and product line we’ve added or created within the brand has been for a reason. I wanted to reinterpret all the silhouettes I’ve worn over the years in a way that was modern and wearable.

What’s one of the most popular items chez Serena & Lily?
The textiles! I design them, and I think that they bear the clearest stamp of who we are. We’ve also become known for chairs. It’s one of those funny categories that’s emerged as a surprising niche for us.

What are you looking forward to this summer?
Summer snuck up on me this year! I’m looking forward to a little downtime with my kids. It’s the best. I don’t have plans yet, but I’m going to go somewhere. I like the unknown. In years past I’ve come out to the Hamptons about every three weeks, so I’m definitely planning on coming back out with my kids. I’ve come to know the back roads, the good beaches, and even random things like where to go for good corn.

So where do you pick up cobs out East?
Pikes Farms, in Sagaponack, is the best!

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