Whitney Goodman: Owner of WM GOODS
As far as I'm concerned, finding a brick-and-mortar store that carries ethically made items is like finding gold. WM GOODS is not only a place to find ethically made products, but it's also a simply delightful environment to spend time in. Next time you're in Portland, stop by the store to see what I'm talking about.Whitney, the founder and owner, is such an inspiration to me.
Share a little of your personal background
Hey! I’m Whitney and I was born & raised in Portland. I moved to Boston for 2 years for school and then transferred to USC, where I started to get really sucked into the LA-aesthetic of natural materials, hand crafted goods, etc.. After graduating with a communications degree, I went to NYC to work in fashion PR and worked for some amazing brands, including Mara Hoffman, who really became a mentor for me and taught me so much about authenticity not only in your personal life but in your professional one. I was involved in social media, fashion week, editorial shoots, pitching new lines & products, event production, collaborations, and more. After a brief return to LA, my now-fiance and I moved back to Portland so I could chase my dream of opening up a shop. And here we are, a year and a half later!
What was your inspiration for WM Goods?
As I mentioned, I felt a connection with a California/LA vibe that was a bit warmer, more welcoming, and brighter than a lot of the other store concepts I was seeing, particularly in Portland. In general in retail, it felt to me like there was a lot of sameness on the market and I’m so excited to see this shift to small businesses that are making unique pieces rather than just seeing Acne, Rachel Comesetc. everywhere (both brands I love, by the way). I also wanted to offer a shopping experience that was inclusive regardless of budget. We offer pieces that range from $6 to $600. It’s always killed me to walk into a shop, feel inspired by beautiful things, and then quickly realizing I can’t afford any of it.
Has the store evolved much since you first opened?
I think so! I feel like we have stayed true to the core idea of WM GOODS being inclusive, warm, and welcoming, but I do think we’ve evolved a bit in our buying. When I first opened the shop, I had to buy my first two seasons before our doors even opened and I had any insight into what people would really connect with. A year and a few months later, I have that relationship with the customers, the insight into what they are drawn to, and their communication about what they’d like to see more of. I really want to create a dialogue between us and the consumer. We listen to everyone that we help out- if their response is that a certain line feels to “young” to them, the fit doesn’t quite work for their body type, etc., we really want to take that into consideration and make sure that the next time they come in, we have something that speaks to their taste.
What have been the biggest obstacles in this endeavor?
Well, not having the information I just mentioned was a struggle for our first two seasons. I have never owned a store before, and frankly had only spent one summer working in a shop, so everything has been a learning experience to a certain extent. But I think being open & honest, connecting with other local store owners, creating strong relationships with my designers, and hiring amazing girls who bring their own set of skills to the table have all been majorly helpful in steering this ship.
How do you select products for the store?
I’m always searching for new lines, whether that’s on Instagram, blogs, having customers come in and share a line they love, or in visiting other shops while I travel. When it comes down to actually buying pieces for the shop, it starts with if I like it and would wear it myself, or know someone in my immediate circle who would. If the answer is yes, then it’s about making sure that the price point is reasonable, the quality is there, and that I have a connection with the designer.
Describe your personal style...
99% of my style is dictated by comfort. I can’t stand to be cold, constricted, or feel like I’m wearing a costume, which usually leads me to pretty simple pieces. I’m trying to put a little more thought into it now, and I happen to be fortunate enough to be in a position where I can shop the designers I love, which doesn’t hurt. In general though, I’m a jeans, t-shirt/cozy sweater or sweatshirt, and sneakers, girl.
Do you wear or use any of the items that WM GOODS sells?
Yes! For the beauty products, we don’t buy anything until we’ve tested it ourselves. I have to restrain myself when it comes to buying clothes and shoes. Being around it all just makes it too easy!
What's been the most rewarding part of founding the shop?
I think of myself as someone who is creative and has always enjoyed curating things for other people- whenever I find a blog I love, new product, song, designer, TV-show…whatever it is, I feel a pretty compulsive need to share it with others. WM GOODS is really a manifestation of that. I love creating connections with people that walk through our doors and learning about others & hearing their stories. Seeing someone try on a piece that perhaps they wouldn’t have otherwise tried on and witnessing that immediate shift in confidence is pretty amazing too.
Where would you like to see WM Goods in 5 years?
We are starting to get on a path of collaborating with others, which is something that I am really passionate about and hope continues to grow. My immediate goals are to develop & strengthen this business, create meaningful relationships, and partner with others that are doing unique & interesting things (we have a lot of exciting events coming up- stay tuned!). It would be great to get to a point where we have a solid online following as well. But the biggest thing to me is the idea of seeing more people that really connect with what we are doing. We love having someone spend time in the shop, sign up for the email list, and really stay connected with us, regardless of where they call home base.
Anything else you would like to share?
I would love to invite anyone & everyone to share their feedback with us on what they like, what they wish we were doing better or offering more of. Not to sound like a broken record, but I genuinely want to hear people’s thoughts and create a true dialogue.