Jenny Goodman

Photo: Heidi Harris

Photo: Heidi Harris

Age || 36

Company Name || Tilit NYC

Job Title || CO-Founder & COO

Company Start Date || November 2012

Years living in New York || 15

Social handles || @tilitnyc, @jennymcgoody

Company website || tilit nyc

What did you want to be as a child?

A Doctor.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting Tilit?

Focus, Focus, Focus! My favorite marketing professor at NYU said this all the time when I was getting my MBA and we were starting Tilit. And it’s continued to ring true not only from a marketing strategy perspective, but also in terms of product development and general business practices. Funny enough, when my partner Alex was beginning his career as a chef, the word “focus” was tiled on the kitchen wall. So focus is somewhat of a company mantra, so much so that we put it on a hat!

How do you define success?

Making a living doing something you love everyday.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned since starting out?

In running a business, I feel like I am learning important new things literally every day! There are so many bumps and challenges along the way, it's important to have the flexibility to pivot when something isn’t working. Never get complacent, always rise to the challenge!

What is your go-to motivational quote?

Recently I have been reading Oh the places You’ll Go a lot to my 2.5 year old daughter, so right now it’s: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Courtesy of Tilit

Courtesy of Tilit

What sparked your interest in redesigning how the hospitality industry dresses?

My partner Alex was a working chef at the time. Being a chef is such a cool job and takes a lot of pride, but there were no stylish options for workwear. The offerings on the market at the time hadn’t been updated in decades and were made of low quality materials that weren’t comfortable or flattering. At the same time, restaurant design was dramatically changing, and every new hip restaurant was being built with an open kitchen. So we knew the industry needed better, more functional, and more stylish workwear options. From the beginning we thought of the brand as a fashion line for chefs, with clothes that looked great both in the kitchen and on the street. We really see that ringing true with items like our jumpsuit and our chef shirt.

How do you hope Tilit impacts the hospitality industry?  

We want there to be better workwear options for everyone. We hope that when you wear our clothes you feel better and work better.

Do you have a personal motto?

“Don’t stumble over what’s behind you!” I try not to focus on the past and very much believe in learning from mistakes and then moving onward and upward.

What is your workspace like?

We have a very open work space with our showroom, office and some production all in one big space in the Lower East Side. We have a small team, so Alex and I sit with them. This way, there’s tons of collaboration and we’re accessible to our team. In the other half of our office we have production with seamstresses that actually sew custom aprons in house. It’s amazing to be so close to where the product is being made.

How do you overcome moments of self-doubt?

Make the best decision you can based on the information that is available at the time. Again, it goes back to not dwelling on mistakes. Hindsight is always 20/20, so just learn from your decisions and use those lessons moving forward.

Courtesy of Tilit

Courtesy of Tilit

What is the hardest part about being your own boss?

It’s so scary but also super rewarding to be responsible for the livelihood of others. Because of this I feel a great responsibility to the team that works so hard for us.

How do you handle situations where you feel overwhelmed?

Delegate! I am a firm believer in investing in training people and then giving them autonomy so you can delegate.

What are some of your goals moving forward?

See Tilit become the Carhartt of hospitality workwear crossing over from kitchens to street style slideshows.

What advice would you give to other women trying to enter your field?

Just go for it! There are so many tools and resources to help start a business these days, so use them to your advantage.

What is your design process?

We source a lot of feedback from our customers and try to constantly improve our designs based on them.

How has your background helped you with running Tilit?

Both my partner and I spent time working in restaurants, so we really believe in the value of hospitality. We try to treat our customers and community like family.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Sarah Fielding