Carli Goltowski, Neighbor-In-Chief of the new Good Neighbor shop in Detroit, tells SEEN why she opened a clothing store for downtown residents and workers, her favorite fashion icons and more. Check out the shop on the SEEN Marketplace.
By Rachel Schostak
1. When and what inspired you to get into this business? I’ve been in the retail industry my whole life, and opening a store is something I’ve always wanted to do. I started getting serious about my own business two years ago when I took the Build Basics class with the Build Institute. This really helped me put my ideas to paper and create a proper business plan. I’m inspired by the city and all who are “doing things” to build it up. I knew Detroit needed this type of retail store to cater to all the men and women working and living in the area. Every major city has multiple retail districts, and I’m very grateful to be a part of the one that is forming downtown.
2. What does a typical day look like for you? Right now, things are crazy. Early mornings and late nights are the norm — I’m working hard to get my footing! On a daily base, I work on the store’s website, create social posts, communicate with vendors, schedule employees, tag and merchandise product and run a retail store for 10 hours.
3. Who inspires you in the fashion/design world? I’m inspired by all different forms of fashion and design. I’ve always loved fashion magazines — I’d save stacks and stacks of them when I was younger. Vogue and In Style magazine, especially lately, have been great about merging fashion with other high-profile topics, which I love and respect.
I love people (in real life and on Instagram) who do their own thing and create styled looks that are unique to them. I’m constantly taking screenshots of my favorites!
4. What do you love most about your role managing the store? Meeting the customer, the people of the city. Understanding what they need and want out of a retail store that is located near their work or home. This store is for the customers, so I interact as much as I can and learn from them and about their lives.
5. What is the mission of your store and how do you want customers to feel when they enter your space? The store’s mission is to be a Good Neighbor to all customers working, living and visiting the city. Being a Good Neighbor has a few meanings: I’ve curated a mix of products at multiple price point levels to appeal to a larger audience. I want to introduce customers to smaller brands they may have never heard of but carry the national, heritage brands they know and love and are comfortable purchasing. A majority of brands I carry stand for something and have a mission behind what they do; some are U.S. made, some use organic cotton and sustainable manufacturing processes, some give back a portion of proceeds to charities, some employee underprivileged citizens and give them careers and a better way of life. These are heavy things. And if everyone does their little piece, it’ll make a big difference in the long run. This is my little piec,e and I want to share it with the city.
I want customers to feel like this is for them. I want them to be excited every time they come in, knowing I have great product to touch and feel. And more importantly, they have a beautiful, warm space to shop in their neighborhood.
6. What are your current favorite items in the store? All of the jewelry. Local designers Goldeluxe and Elaine B are amazing, top-notch brands (and lady entrepreneurs). Venice Beach designer Sophie Monet blows my mind with her beautiful wood pieces! And the Wooden Ships sweaters — all of them.
7. Tell us what makes the in-store experience special? Well, the customer service is top notch. You will consistently get a genuine smile and enthusiastic greeting when entering and “see you soon” when exiting. We strive to make the customers feel special and comfortable. A glass of Champagne might be handed to you as well (if it’s after 4 p.m.). The space itself is beautiful and bright and easy to navigate.
8. Are there any new products or lines that you will soon carry that really excite you? Spring is going to be great. I have multiple lines I’m bringing in that aren’t in the fall assortment. Sarah Liller SF is one I am so excited for and one I think women will love. It’s produced in San Francisco with all fabric milled in the U.S. It has a small carbon footprint, and everything is washable — no dry clean needed. It’s modern, easy dressing for work and weekend. So excited!
9. In regard to your personal style, do you have a signature look or accessory? Hmm, I don’t think I have a signature look. But my friends have said all the clothing at Good Neighbor “just looks like Carli.” I always have jewelry on, mainly lots of small rings. That’s been happening since I was in middle school.
10. A few items in your closet that you can’t live without? Stretchy skinny jeans, boots, socks that don’t fall down in boots, oversized sweaters.
11. Who inspires your style? Do you have a fashion icon? As far as celebrities go, I love Mandy Moore, Jenny Slate, Gillian Jacobs, Busy Phillips. Cool, casual ladies who always look amazing and have a little grandma-esque style coming through. Icons are hard, but I love a good late ‘60s, early ‘70s singer-songwriter look — peasant tops, worn-in jeans, lots of jewelry.
12. What are your favorite 2018-2019 style trends? I think everything is “on trend” — just depends how you style it. I love dresses with sneakers and jeans and a sweatshirt with fancy shoes. Juxtaposition of practical and sass.
Also, there has been influx of brands that have a greater purpose and are reinventing the retail industry. I think it’s becoming the norm, and I love it. Every little bit helps.
13. Favorite quote or words to live by? “Just keep flapping wings — whatever you do don’t stop flapping.”
14. When not working, what are a few local places you like to hang at? So many, Detroit blows my mind: Gather, El Asador, Avalon, Standby, Axle Brewing, Founders, Tiger’s games, St. Andrews, Eastern Market, Queens…
Shop our favorite Good Neighbor items on the SEEN Marketplace:
SHOP: Apolis + Good Neighbor Detroit tote, $68.
SHOP: Turquoise mix heart charm necklace, $170.
SHOP: Tenden grooming roll, $65.
Stop by Good Neighbor at the location listed below. Follow @shopgoodneighbor on Instagram and other social media accounts for in-store events and new products!
1435 Farmer St., Detroit