There are many notable New Jerseyans living and working in the Garden State each day. This month, Best of NJ is putting a spotlight on Caitlin Rinaldi, the 30-year-old owner of STITCH, a women’s clothing and accessory boutique with locations in Madison and Upper Montclair. STITCH is more than an inviting shop that sells chic and feminine attire for women of all ages: it’s a place where philanthropy thrives.
Giving back to the community is so important to Rinaldi—who worked as a buyer for retailer The Children’s Place before stepping out on her own—that she frequently donates proceeds from STITCH sales to charity.
Additionally, many charity events and fundraisers are held at both STITCH locations, but mostly in the newer Montclair shop. STITCH Upper Montclair is housed in a former, renovated bank, and the shop uses the bank’s old vault to sell shoes.
STITCH Gives Back
“My parents were always involved in different charities so I always knew about the importance of giving back,” explains Rinaldi, who has a fine arts degree from Rollins College. “Being a woman’s store I definitely wanted to focus on charities that improved the lives of women and also children.”
“About 2 months after I first opened the Montclair location, in spring of 2017, we hosted our first charity ‘Sip and Shop’ that benefited the Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown. We gave 10 percent of our proceeds to them,” says the New Vernon native.
Last week, Rinaldi participated in Montclair’s Ladies Night Out by selling a beautiful, empowering, one-of-a-kind necklace in her shop. All proceeds benefited S.O.F.I.A, a battered women’s shelter in Montclair.
The necklace—which has the personalization “Her Soul is Fierce, Her Heart is Brave, Her Mind is Strong,” was assembled by Cornerstone, a Montclair-based organization that empowers people of all abilities to receive opportunities for work, healthy movement and social engagement.
STITCH was also a Bronze Level sponsor for S.O.F.I.A.’s annual Walking with Purpose Gala, recently held in West Orange. Rinaldi donated outfits for some of S.O.F.I.A’s domestic violence survivors to wear at the fundraiser.
The Space and Styles
Private events are also available at each STITCH store.
“In the Montclair location, we recently held a private event for a customer who lost a relative to brain cancer,” explains Rinaldi. “Ten percent of the proceeds from the evening went to Voices Against Brain Cancer. The event was held after hours.”
Caitlin Rinaldi’s Montclair space is a unique spot with room for a few dozen people to comfortably mix and mingle.
“It looks deceivingly small on the outside, but it has high ceilings and ‘keeps going’ when you walk through.
Both the Montclair and the Madison locations sell pretty much the same merchandise. Guests are encouraged to check back often because new stuff is always brought in.
Also, in the Montclair shop, Rinaldi carries some accessories, such as scarves, made by local designers.
“I keep brands consistent between both stores and sell very similar merchandise that’s also very unique,” says Rinaldi.
“Both stores have the same aesthetic and target customer. I’d say 90 percent of our customers are working or stay-at-home moms—we get mothers, daughters and grandmothers in, shopping together, which is really fun.”
STITCH is the place to go if you want an item that is relatively timeless. They sell a little bit of everything, including jewelry, pajamas and loungewear, jeans, t-shirts, shapewear, dresses, you name it.
The only thing they don’t really carry is formalwear, such as prom gowns, or men’s wear. (At press time, Rinaldi was considering selling baby and kid’s clothing and accessories; so if you’d like to see that in her shops, give her a nudge!)
An Entrepreneur’s Mission
Rinaldi has helped design some T-shirts for local charities under a STITCH label, and that’s something else she’d like to do again in the near future.
“I always want people to feel like they can come to STITCH for a look that no one else in town will have,” says Rinaldi.
“I try to mostly pick brands that aren’t carried in major department stores, and my selection of brands is ever-changing each season. One brand of jewelry I carry is Kemi, based out of NYC. I also carry Artemis shoes, which are delicate, kind of bohemian, and handmade in Turkey.”
Caitlin Rinaldi, who employs a small, devoted staff which includes her mother-in-law, Jennifer, goes between both stores daily. She stresses the importance of being friendly and helpful to her customers. Making them feel comfortable and welcomed is incredibly important to her.
“We try hard to make the stores feel homey and inviting and try not to be intimidating. I always want customers to feel very positive about their shopping experience.”
This self-proclaimed Jersey Girl’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is: “Dive right in head first. I initially let fear of branching out on my hold me back, but since I opened my shops I literally never looked back. I’m constantly growing and challenging myself as a business owner and realized I can multitask and am tougher than I thought!”
Follow Caitlin Rinaldi and STITCH boutiques on Instagram.
598 Valley Road
12 Waverly Place