On a foggy morning last May, Kendra and Carlyn Vellante loaded their car and drove to a secluded Montauk beach to shoot their summer lookbook. The concept: an opulent picnic to showcase the latest wares from Destination Haus, the luxury home boutique they run alongside their mother, Laureen.
Admiring their handiwork at wrap, the sisters texted a few friends: Would they care to come down and enjoy the beautiful, socially-distanced setup? Kendra photographed the scene not anticipating that her Instagram post would go viral and that a thriving franchise would be born—one that would buoy the family business through an unprecedented retail season.
Designing and delivering bespoke picnics proved a natural pivot for Destination Haus, which sells custom-crafted dinnerware, vintage glasses, soft goods and tabletop accents amongst their inventory. Their Montauk shop now does double function as a showroom (bulk items are stored at an offsite warehouse), and the ladies drilled down on their globally curated ethos, introducing destination-driven picnics. “Last summer, we had a client who had planned a trip to Capri to propose to his soon-to-be fiancé,” offers Kendra. “So we brought Capri to them with a lemon yellow-themed, Italian-style concept.”
For their second summer of picnicking, the trio has upped the ante, partnering with local catering company Hamptons Aristocrat on destination menus and adding a full-time chef to their “in-haus” services. “It’s almost like we’re an event production company now,” laughs Laureen, whose ethereal fine art photography is available exclusively through Destination Haus’ art wing.
While a happenstance of Covid-19, there’s a timelessness to picnics that harmonizes with the shop’s emphasis on handmade goods from craftspeople around the world—a quality that brings Carlyn back to her days studying art history in college, where the alfresco tableaus of the French Impressionists left a lasting mark. “There’s something magical about a picnic,” she says. “Our clients feel that romance, too—like they’re in a moving picture.”