Family ties

L.A. and Gareth Brown come together at Edgartown’s Kin.


It was only natural for photographer L.A. Brown and designer Gareth Brown to embark on a venture together. After all, they are related — Lisa is Gareth’s aunt — but it’s more than just a bloodline that the two women share. “We have a very kindred sensibility,” says Lisa, who has been shooting and showing her work on the Vineyard for more than 40 years.
So when the two joined forces to open a gallery and boutique in Edgartown, they chose the name Kin to reflect their bond, both familiarly and aesthetically. Nestled in a corner spot on Kelly Street kitty-corner from the Chappy boat launch, Kin is a very welcoming little shop, neatly laid out, with surprises to be found at every turn.
To the left, the visitor will find racks of clothing by Gareth under her label, Rooey Knots. The styles are original and feature interesting fabrics — silk, floral-patterned dresses and tops, an edgy faux red leather shirtdress, tiered dresses in a (washable) metallic fabric, to name a few. One of the young designer’s most popular items is an eye-catching duster done in a variety of wool fabrics, as well as some lightweight options for spring and summer.
Gareth first began her design career upcycling vintage men’s ties into headbands and head wraps. She began selling them while living in China, and, when she eventually moved to Brooklyn, the headwear made up a large part of her design line, which she offered at flea markets and festivals throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. Up until 2020 she split her time between New York and Martha’s Vineyard, selling at the various flea markets on the Island in the summer. When the pandemic hit, Gareth moved full-time to the Vineyard and teamed up with her aunt, first offering their respective lines at Juniper in Edgartown before establishing their own shop.
The designer spent two years in China after graduating from Syracuse University with a major in fine art and a minor in entrepreneurship. Overseas she formed relationships with a husband-and-wife tailor team who do all of her sewing, and with small fabric manufacturers from whom she sources all of her materials. She selects leftover yardage from larger runs of fabric so that not only are her pieces unique, but she is also making an effort to be environmentally conscientious. “When I’m using ties I’m recycling, and when I use scrap material I’m not adding to the production cycle. I’m trying in my own small ways to be as sustainable as possible,” she says.
This approach to fashion design also ensures that the Rooey Knots pieces aren’t available in large numbers, adding to the uniqueness of each design and keeping the inventory constantly fresh.
Lisa Brown, whose business name is L.A. Brown Photography, ascribes to a similar process. She prints limited editions of her photos — in some cases only a handful — and selects one size only, which she finds the most effective for each individual image.
“My editions have gotten smaller,” says the photographer. “I don’t want to repeat myself. We only have so many moments in life. I still want to have the enthusiasm and joy for reinvention and imagination.”
Simple moments in time are what Brown captures best. Among her most popular images are two that she shot during time spent in Europe. In one, titled “The Crown,” a wedge-shaped flock of goats face the camera with quizzical expressions on their faces. Brown recalls capturing the once-in-a-lifetime image in a field in France. “I was walking the dogs when 24 goats started walking toward me. I started talking to them to get them to look at me. I had only moments to get the right light and settings.”
Another favorite of Brown’s photos from overseas is an image shot looking out onto a village street from inside a tiny grocery store in Belgium, where the photographer’s sister lives.
Vineyard scenes make up about 60 percent of Brown’s inventory. Among the most popular of those are a snowy shot of the Ag Hall and a spectacular image of Menemsha Pond as seen from inside an 1800s abandoned home, shot shortly before the historic house was demolished.
Brown offers some of her images printed on dishtowels and pillows, which make for great, affordable gifts. The charming little shop also features work from local artists Marston Clough (paintings) and Frank Creney (ceramics), as well as products made by various friends of Gareth’s from her time in Brooklyn. The latter include slip dresses made from flower-dyed silk, gem-encased candles, handmade soaps, and silver jewelry. “I wanted to showcase things that complemented our work,” says Gareth. “And also help other small business owners.”
“We wanted to bring a little Bohemian artist feel to the mix,” she adds. “I thought Edgartown was in need of that.”