The Rural We: Marlene Marshall
Marlene Marshall has been many things during her circuitous career. She is now the proprietor of the elegant and cozy vintage clothing store Discipline Park, just off Warren Street at 25 North 5th Street in Hudson, New York. She is also an accomplished artist and designer, and author of three books on mosaics, shell design and “Woodland Style.” All of these endeavors, however, are just her side projects. During the school year Marshall teaches art and design to special needs adults and children at risk with Community Access To The Arts. If all that weren’t enough, Marshall is hatching a new plan: to design, build and sell her own chic clothing items. That could mean the end of Discipline Park. So, vintage shoppers: best make some time to comb through her racks now.
I moved to Hudson 17 years ago. I thought it was a very interesting community and I always liked challenges and change so I said, “Well, you never know what will happen.” Then I thought maybe I’ll open a little shop, which was always something I wanted to do. I always loved fashion, I’ve always known how to shop vintage. My father was a very fashionable man; I grew up in Filene’s Basement. When I opened the shop seven years ago it all sort of came back. It’s a supplement to my teaching but I found I’m quite good at it.
Thankfully, my business was strong from the day I opened my doors. I really didn’t know what I was doing, honestly. I’m the type of person that I just jump in and learn by doing. I have a following that lives here, young Brooklynites, too, and I have a lot of Bard students who come. They’re very stylish.
When I’m looking for items to sell I don’t really look for labels. I look for really high style and good quality. If people have flair and they can take care of their own look, anything works, and I love that. Those people are my best customers. You have to really love the thrill of the hunt, too. People want to find some treasure. It’s been a lot of fun.
I grew up in Boston and moved to Manhattan with my children in 1978. In doing so, we bought a country house in Sheffield, Mass. so that we could have a dual life. Eventually we retired to the Berkshires and I opened a small restaurant in Great Barrington called Chelsea. Then I opened a gallery in Stockbridge called Image. After that I worked many jobs.
I had a studio and I made mosaic items for stores but I found it very boring, actually. It wasn’t inspiring. I was actually asked to write my first book. I’d never written a book but I said yes in panic and I did it, and it really turned out to be good for me. Now I’ve written three. These things just fall into place sometimes.
That led to a lot of travel all over to teach, including locally at IS183. Doing that turned into my current job teaching art with Community Access To The Arts. I’ve been with them for 17 years. I work with special needs adults and in the prison system in Pittsfield, teaching women who are incarcerated. I work with kids at risk and at the juvenile detention center. It’s a very rewarding job. It’s been a complex career—I’ve been all over the place!