This past January, the storefronts along West Asheville's Haywood Road got a new neighbor: Custom, a hers and home boutique. But Michelle and Tammy Goni, sisters and owners of Custom, didn't want their store's offerings to end at sweaters and decor. They wanted to be sure the new kids on the block would continue to spread positive change throughout their community--in Asheville and back home in Mexico.
What is the mission of Custom in regards to community outreach?
Tammy: Michelle and I believe that your blessings are to be shared, not hoarded. Part of the vision we have for the store is to use it--through various fundraising promotions and endeavors--as a catalyst to get women involved in helping other women.
I know you recently held one of your first community fundraisors: a clothing swap. Can you share the details?
We held a clothing swap to benefit the ABCCM Women's Shelter. Prior to the event, we asked people to bring in nice clothing and other items they no longer wore. We received so many donations that we had to put them in storage! The day of the event, people paid $7 and were allowed to take up to seven items. It was a madhouse! We raised $600, and there were two truckloads of leftover items. When I dropped the items off at the Shelter, the women helped me unload everything. It was a humbling experience. The women were so grateful and excited to be getting new things.
I know you were both born in Mexico and have family there. Was this an important part of creating Custom and its community-minded approach?
Having been born in Mexico influences everything from the aesthetic of our store to our approach. We grew up in a country where there's a huge socioeconomic dichotomy. Growing up there has made us very aware that no matter where you are there are always people in need, and that it's our job to help them.
One of the ways we're trying to bridge our community here and our...