Carli Goltowski uses her fashion sense and love for philanthropy to give back to those in need through her downtown boutique, Good Neighbor.
By Alexa Caccamo
Photography by Alyssa Lopatin
After working as a buyer for companies like Kohl’s, The Sharper Image and Shinola, Carli Goltowski, a Monroe native, runs the clothing boutique Good Neighbor in downtown Detroit.
Goltowski, who’s in her early 30s, grew up loving fashion and took her passion to Central Michigan University where she studied fashion design and merchandising. After graduating, she moved to Chicago to work at a women’s boutique and then Milwaukee to work at Kohl’s headquarters.
“This is where I learned about the vendor world and product buying,” Goltowski says. She returned to Michigan, where she worked for The Sharper Image and then Shinola for four years. Goltowski opened Good Neighbor on Farmer Street this past November.
Goltowski says she wanted to open a store that brought both quality clothing and reasonable prices to Detroit shoppers.
“We have quality, casual clothing, and I do my best to source pieces that will last for more than a season. I want to get away from ‘fast fashion,’ ” she says. “I want there to be quality as well as good price points, where it’s not too expensive, but also not too cheap where the item wears out and you can’t wear it after two washes.” Good Neighbor carries a number of brands, including Levi’s, Free People and Metro Detroit jewelers like Elaine B. There is also another factor that plays into the buying process: philanthropy.
Goltowski has partnered with brands that give back. When customers buy a product, a percent goes back to a nonprofit or charitable organization. While she wants to generate business and give customers what they want, Goltowski says she runs Good Neighbor as a way to help those in need.
“Hence the name ‘Good Neighbor.’ I have a lot of brands that do that — that have either a bigger mission and they’re supporting women makers, or they’re giving back to organizations,” she says. “I do my best to carry brands that have a bigger meaning.”
Some of the philanthropic brands include GoodMan Brand, ABLE, Rebel Nell, York Project, Detroit Tee and Pingree Detroit. Each contributes to organizations that either support women, veterans or local communities. Goltowski says that just like fashion, giving back to the less fortunate has always had a special place in her heart.
Goltowski has taken mission trips to Moldova, where she saw firsthand how people need help worldwide. She says she realized she could help organizations and charities through the fashion industry.
“(I did) not have to completely change careers to help people, which is what some people think they have to do,” she says, “but they just have to define it in their own way.”
With Detroit going through a renaissance, more business owners are striving to make an impact in the city, which is why Goltowski chose Detroit to open Good Neighbor.
“You can’t really do this in other cities and have that impact, and we are just really excited for the future and what’s to come,” she says. “I want to bring brands that you can’t get anywhere else, and I want to bring that to people living, working and visiting Detroit.”
Kielee Grey McNally, 26, Grosse Ile native and fashion blogger, has been to the store a few times and says it has a “comfortable vibe” and helpful staff.
“When I walked in to buy my friend a gift, I knew I wanted a piece of jewelry but didn’t know exactly what. I described to Carli what I thought would best represent my friend and she suggested the perfect piece of jewelry — a necklace by Rebel Nell,” Grey McNally says. “Overall, I love the curated selection Good Neighbor has to offer and the positive environment that radiates throughout the store.”
Goltowski says she hopes to expand to more locations in the future — ultimately opening her door to more neighbors.
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1435 Farmer St., Suite 115, Detroit