Anyone lucky enough to come into contact with Princeton resident Tracy Dart can see in an instant her signature style: the twinkle in her keen eye and an inspiring mix of grace and fortitude. So when we first heard the buzz a few years back that Tracy was teaming up with her equally fabulous sister, Christi Pringle (who hails from Charlotte, N.C.), we knew their fashion collaboration, FOUND, would be one to watch. Now, with three years under their belts, and two upcoming trunk shows in Princeton this week—Tuesday, October 22 Wednesday, October 23—it was the perfect time to catch up with this dynamic and super-stylish duo.
Bricks & Mortar got the inside scoop on how it all began, the adventures they’ve had along the way, and where they are heading next. Maybe our favorite part? Hearing the FOUND motto they established from day one: Dream Big. Work Hard. Be Kind. Give Back. Have Fun. Or, in the immortal words of A. A. Milne (and another favorite FOUND mantra), “A little consideration, a little thought, for others makes all the difference.”
Bricks & Mortar: How did FOUND begin?
Tracy Dart & Christi Pringle: We unintentionally started FOUND three-and-a-half years ago, and it started with a single bag. Christi was pondering her oldest son’s graduation from high school and what her future would look like. By chance, we were in New York and met two sisters from Columbia, South America, who were promoting their fledgling business helping the women of their country. They showed us beautiful, handwoven Wayuu bags and explained how it may take a village woman up to one month to create. We were moved; we decided to support them and placed an order on the spot. Then Christi and I looked at each other and said, “Now what?!” After searching for other special items to add to our first trunk show, it was obvious we were on the hunt and were finding treasures from around the world.
B&M: Do either of you have a formal fashion background?
T&C: Our father was a pilot in the Air Force and we had the opportunity to live and travel abroad, which exposed us to many different aesthetics. We grew up sewing our own clothes and modifying things we found to create fashions inspired by those we would see on [fashion journalist] Elsa Klensch and could not find in our small South Carolina town. I have a degree in interior design and Christi is a former ballet dancer. She has a terrific, innate sense of style. Our approach may be different, but we both have developed our sense of style informed by these backgrounds.
B&M: How do you source your collections?
T&C: We are constantly gobsmacked with the tiny corners of the world that create stunning pieces with dignity, pride, and skill. Some finds are just for fun, while others are artisans and designers who empower women and strengthen their local community. We are lucky enough to have our designers recommend us to their fellow artists, and the FOUND family network expands. We try to bring something new and unique at all price points to each season’s collection.
B&M: Are you each drawn to different styles?
T&C: I trend toward “uptown” and Christi [is more] “downtown,” but we happily coexist in SoHo! Our collective eye has evolved. We simultaneously will spot a gem and get giddy with excitement. Although we each have veto power, we are able to straddle both our our styles with our finds pretty easily.
B&M: How did you come up with the “pop-up” trunk show strategy?
T&C: It’s really the concept of small-batch shopping opportunities. We find interesting pieces and want our FOUND followers to have a chance to find a treasure for themselves. We limit how many specific pieces we offer in a market, so that there is less chance of running into yourself. It allows you to be you, and your friend to be her. Friends graciously host us in their homes, and we have also begun to participate in a few selective school boutiques. Our Charlotte market has grown, and we are experimenting with a commercial space in a new, luxury concierge apartment building this fall. The trunk show format allows us to morph as we grow.
B&M: Tell us a little about your latest whirlwind buying adventure.
T&C: Finds from our Paris trip last January just finished production and are part of this season’s shows. However, we both just returned from independent milestone adventures, and joined up at the end for an insane amount of fun. I traveled with my family to South Africa and was able to touch base with some of our sources. Christi settled her youngest into St. Andrew’s, in Scotland, and made her way south. We met in Barcelona, then traveled to Rome, Ischia, and Paris finding treasures along the way.
B&M: How has Princeton embraced FOUND, and what are some of your favorite things about living here?
T&C: Princeton is an amazing community with a genuine interest in supporting local [merchants]. Part of our mission is to spread a little kindness and give back along the way. We proudly commit to supporting organizations who spread love in all its shapes and forms. With each show, we select a local charitable organization to raise awareness [for] and support. Combine that with some of our initial buys from designers who are giving back on their own, and we feel like we’re doing something in our own small way to make the world a better place. Friends, old and new, come to find meaningful pieces to keep in their closets for years to come, all the while knowing that purchases give back. We want fashion to be accessible. Our upcoming Princeton trunk show proudly supports the Princeton Nursery School.
B&M: Other than trunk shows, how can someone purchase from your collection?
T&C: The best way to stay informed is to follow us on Instagram, @shopfound, or visit our website, shopfoundcollection.com. We will post items that are available after our shows. We are hosting two shows this week in Princeton: Tuesday, October 22, from 2 p.m.–7 p.m.; and Wednesday, October 23, from 9 a.m.–2 p.m. at 34 Cleveland Lane. We are also participating in the Princeton Academy “Tis the Season” boutique on November 5, and the Delbarton School “Shop Til You Drop” boutique November 18–20. Online shopping may be in our near future, too, and who knows about a brick-and-mortar store. One can dream!
B&M: After traveling the world, are there any creature comforts you can only find in Princeton?
T&C: Small World and the new Sakrid Coffee to start our day, Olive’s midday, and Bent Spoon to cap it off! You can usually find the FOUND team, late on the night of our final day, at Conte’s. And when we need to recharge, we book a session at Sault Haus. Those are just a few—there are so many reasons to “live local” in Princeton and enjoy all the outstanding dining and shopping establishments.