Meet Your Neighbor: Shay Ramos
In this installment of Meet Your Neighbor, we thought we’d journey up north, to our Chelsea Market location which will be opening this week for online and curbside orders.
Shay Ramos, our team lead in New York, is someone who will always greet you with a grin and a wholesome meme. She has a knack for snapping cute pictures with dogs that visit our store and an even stronger intuition for when someone needs a pep talk and some cheering up. Beyond her on-the-nose brand recommendations, Shay approaches anyone who walks into the store with an open heart and an ear to listen.
Read on to learn about her thoughts on family, retail, and some of her favorite picks from Neighborhood Goods.
Can you tell me a little bit about your family?
I’m actually a first generation American citizen. My parents and my brother were all born and raised in the Dominican Republic. It’s been really great because I’ve had the privilege of growing up and being aware of my culture.
I didn’t speak any english up until third grade. One of the things that was very important to my parents was that although I was born here, they wanted me to be able to speak Spanish so whenever we went back to the Dominican Republic, I would be able to interact with the culture and speak with all of my family. This is something that, honestly, has shaped me completely.
It’s so hard to connect with a culture if you can’t speak the language. It really gives you a sense of gratitude when you are able to connect. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how much harder it is to pick up a language compared to when you were a kid. So many of my friends who are Hispanic as well tell me that they wished their parents taught them spanish [when they were young].
One time there was a group taking a tour of our store in Chelsea Market that was from Brazil. I ended up having the pleasure of giving the tour in Spanish and it was so great to be able to connect with people from a different country and tell them [what Neighborhood Goods is all about] but in a completely different language. Speaking Spanish allows me to connect with others and it’s really the best thing my parents ever taught me.
Skylar is great, especially their Meadow Scent. I actually have every item in that scent. Also, I love their origin story. Nothing better than a good brand with a great story that you can connect with.
Growing up, did you ever live in New York City proper?
We’ve always lived in the suburbs. When my dad first came to the states with his parents, he lived in the city but the hustle and bustle was too crazy for him which is why he ended up moving to the suburbs. Where we live in the suburbs but it's still very city-ish in many ways. If you drive 5 minutes, you’re in the heart of the town. There are stores everywhere and people from different ethnicities and cultures. It’s definitely not the city, but it’s a great mixture.
… I know he didn’t like the hustle and bustle but I love the hustle and bustle. The city is where I need to be! I ended up recently moving to the city where I currently live with my aunt in Washington Heights. There’s great food and it’s a very diverse area known for its Hispanic culture. A lot of Domicans and Puerto Ricans reside here.
I was recently talking to one of the other team members and we were saying how fortunate we feel to be from New York City and to be New Yorkers. One of the reasons why is that if you want to find culture, there are so many places to go and so many beautiful things that come with the city. Of course there are struggles too -- the expensive rent, the crazy commutes and the crazy stories, but that’s the city. It’s just a very, very special place.
I love that there is a smell for every experience and person. Always my go-to present.
Did you work in retail before Neighborhood Goods?
Yes, I worked in a store called Chic Boutique. It was a prom dress store so it was definitely a lot at some points. I had six fitting rooms to myself so there were times when I was helping 150 to 200 customers a day. It was insane but the pros always outweighed the cons. I lived for those moments when girls would come out of the fitting rooms totally ready to slay prom. Sometimes there would be girls that would come in off of a breakup and I would be like, “Oh, I got you girl. You’re not leaving here until we make him jealous.”
Also, seeing moms sharing a special moment with their daughters sometimes created a special bond. There are still customers I helped for their junior prom and they would send me pictures of their dresses for senior prom, asking me if I thought it looked good! My last job really shaped me into the person I am today.
This is also why I love NG so much because the way that I connect to customers is to be honest, authentic, and a great listener [and I can do that here].
It’s really special when you take an extra five minutes to really listen to customers and it makes it more than a job. I think that that’s the real secret to retail: just be an empathetic person.
The Disco face scrub was meant as a gift for my boyfriend and turned into my new favorite face scrub leaves my face refreshed, clean, and smelling amazing!
Some of our values as a company are accountability, experimentation, and heart- how do you weave those into your daily life at NG?
Accountability, I think, is so important, now more than ever. I think that it’s important to hold yourself accountable. If you are an associate or manager, or whatever your role is in the store, it’s your job to make sure that before you ask anyone to do something, you look yourself in the mirror and ask if you are representing this as well. There are days where you’re having a bad day and you have to make sure that you are treating others well, putting your best foot forward, and holding yourself to those morals. It’s not enough to just say things, you have to make sure you are following through.
At the store, the employees do a great job at holding each other accountable too. They established trust to then have conversations about treating others well and holding everybody to what we should be doing.
That’s one of the things that makes NG so great. Yes, there’s a lot of work to still be done, but we are able to use our hearts, point out the changes that need to happen, recognize and see the hurt, step up and hold ourselves, as a company, accountable.
Thank you for taking time to meet one of our neighbors and be sure to check out some of her picks mentioned above; Shay will never steer you wrong.