Jodi Kostelnik, a DC local and founder of The Neighborgoods, is a one-woman show making products with so much love! This talented lady creates food-themed, GIFTable goods for lots of occasions (housewarming, birthdays, holidays, hostess gift, thank you, wedding, etc…)! Like what you see? Well Jodi is the host of our POTATO PRINTING DIY! Come out THIS SUNDAY to West Elm DC to learn how to create your own fun design on to a tea towel or tote bag with potatoes! Yup, you read that right. Not only will you get to learn this fun craft, but you’ll also receive exciting surprises from Stacy Kleber Designs, sips + treats, & 15% off West Elm all day!
In addition to The Neighborgoods, I also have been running a design business, Hello Neighbor Designs, for the past 11 years. For the first few years, I took on any kind of job offered to me — from fashion to real estate, non-profit, and everything in between. After starting to feel burnt out, I attended a HOW design conference and kept hoping it would “change my life”… and I’m so happy that it did!
That conference is where the seed was planted that I should have a niche and figure out what my favorite type of project was.
After several months of contemplating, I decided my favorite projects were the jobs I gave myself, packaging up the cookies I made for my clients every year for the holidays. Once I figured out the foodie scene is where I wanted to be, I needed to start finding clients in that industry. I didn’t have any food clients at the time, so in order to build up my portfolio to include the food-related work I wanted to be doing, I began illustrating recipes.
I started with the cupcake recipe that I made for my husband every year for his birthday because it held a special place in my heart and then moved on to his family’s pancake recipe that showed up on our breakfast table at least once a month. This was in November of 2013 and with the holidays coming up I thought it would be fun to print my personalized cupcake and family pancake recipes onto dishtowels to give to family and friends that year.
After doing some research and discovering screen printing was a much more time consuming process than I had originally thought, I decided not to print the towels that year and to sign up for a full semester screen printing course in the beginning of 2014 to really learn the process and see where it took me.
My very first print was the cupcake recipe onto a dish towel and I never looked back. I began making new designs and kept printing more dish towels until people in the print shop started to ask if they could buy them. Once my inventory was building up I decided to give myself a company name and see if I could make it work…and now I’m creating dish towel gifts for everyone!
Naming my company was such a hard thing to do! Both of my businesses have neighborly names (Hello Neighbor Designs and The Neighborgoods) because I wanted the name to reflect that local, neighbor-like feeling I hope people get when working with me. Even more than that, the idea of being part of a neighborhood has always been something that’s resonated with me. I’m frequently chatting with neighbors when I’m out walking my dog, and have formed great relationships with the people living in my buildings, next door, and down the street.
I lived in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for ten years, and really grew to know and love the community there. I loved that sense of “this is my neighborhood,” feeling like I was a part of it, and it was a part of me. I loved getting to know the people, the shop owners, and all that was happening. I moved to DC a year and a half ago and am thrilled to have a new neighborhood to get to know and love. I’m still exploring and discovering all it has to offer, while making some new neighbor friends along the way.
Being a small business owner I get to do ALL the parts of my business! At times that can be very overwhelming, but there are definitely moments that remind me why I love doing what I do. Those reminders vary day to day, from finishing a new design and seeing how it looks on a towel fresh off the press, to meeting fellow small business owners to collaborate (or commiserate) with. Above all, I love interacting with customers (and shop owners), getting to see their reactions to my products and hearing their stories about how they gifted one of my towels to a friend who loved it! Bringing a smile to someone’s face and being able to brighten their day makes it all worthwhile.
There isn’t one moment that jumps out as being my favorite, but rather a lot of little victories along the way because you need to recognize and celebrate the big and the small! When I started my business, I loved that I was able to make a personalized pickle design for my pickle-loving friend. The ability to create exactly what I wanted was so cool. Many towels later, I got a call from Amazon to be a part of their new Handmade at Amazon launch. Other highlights include being featured on Buzzfeed, being instagrammed by Martha Stewart who posted a picture of my buttons, and any time a new shop picks up my goods!
I enjoy working at craft and foodie markets (especially when I’m next to a cocktail booth!). A lot of work goes into setting up and breaking down but I always get such an adrenaline rush just being out there talking to the people, sharing my goods, getting their feedback, and making them smile with my foodie puns and playful designs.
I’m a one-gal show just trying to keep the hustle going every day, working out of my apartment with my trusty sidekick, Frankie, my dog (and at times my “alarm clock”, who is better at making me sleep in than wake up). I am fueled by coffee with a side of sweets, and lots of veggies on the side (in the form of food and dish towels).