Unique, personal gifts are what people look for when shopping for others. And Neighborgoods founder Jodi Kostelnik’s foodie-inspired brand stems from this need.
Through her work as a graphic designer, Kostelnik began illustrating recipes and farmers market goods. At the time Neighborgoods came about in 2014, she was living in D.C. with her husband and was inspired by a community event where she saw screen-printing.
“I like to give people unique and personalized gifts, so I started this screen-printing class,” she says. “I loved getting away from the computer, and it was nice to be in a classroom setting around other students and pick up everybody’s energy and work with my hands. I went in with the idea of printing on dish towels to use as gifts, and I kept printing and having all of these ideas. It was just so fun for me to make something that makes people happy, to have this idea and then physically create it.”
The brand’s growth wasn’t something Kostelnik anticipated, but it presented her with the opportunity to start her own business, an opportunity that was also a learning process, which her creative community gave insight on.
“[Neighborgoods] was growing,” Kostelnik says. “I was getting inventory, and people were asking if they could start buying the dish towels. I realized I should try to make this a side business, but a design service and a goods product business are totally different. It’s exciting. I’m learning as I go, but I reached out to other creatives and people who run businesses, and they’re really helpful.”
After her first year of learning, Kostelnik began selling her towels at local craft shows and continued taking screen-printing classes to improve her craft. Kostelnik’s inventory has grown to include baby onesies and, more recently, greeting cards, prints and aprons.
Neighborgoods, which thematically hinges on food and color, is inspired by Kostelnik’s own life. “Lots of inspirations come from a lot of different sources, like food, talking to people or my personal experiences. The items’ main elements are definitely color. I love color in my life and the whimsical nature of how things are drawn. They’re very lighthearted and fun,” she says.
All of Kostelnik’s recipe prints have personal significance, like the cupcake recipe she’s made for her husband every year and a pancake recipe from her in-laws. “They’re my personal stories, but I love when customers say someone they know would love a certain item,” she says. “That just makes me feel so good because each person has their own story and can relate those to my products, which is nice.”
As the brand grows, Kostelnik says she doesn’t have major plans for the future; she’s taking a “see where it takes me” approach. “If you plan too much, you don’t leave yourself open to things you didn’t think of initially. In doing so, I’ve proclaimed that this is my year of transition. I’m trying to make my Neighborgoods work and design work equal,” she says. // Neighborgoods products are currently sold at Red Truck Bakery (Marshall), The Cookery (Arlington), Cheesetique (Alexandria), West Elm in Tysons Corner and online.