When Risa Gotlib was living in New York and going through her “quarter-life crisis” in her late twenties, “I was wearing ripped jeans all the time. It was so depressing.” She started doing power yoga, acquired a wardrobe of crazy yoga pants, and felt renewed. After five years, Gotlib–Ann Arbor born, bred, and educated–moved back to town and trained as a vinyasa yoga instructor. Last spring she started a yoga studio on Pauline, where she teaches early morning “hot vinyasa” classes (other teachers cover slower styles). And she’s seldom out of those crazy yoga pants.
Now she’s selling them, and other “studio-to-street clothes,” in her newly opened store upstairs on S. State, Tiny Buddha Boutique. “My boyfriend is always saying, ‘Can you put on some real pants and an actual bra?'” she admits. If today’s outfit–camo-printed pants and a black tank top–is representative of what’s in her closet, the answer to that question is probably no.
“There aren’t any of the funky, cool, underground, small, independent,”–she stops to breathe after the adjective pile-up and adds “I know I talk fast–yoga clothing brands represented in Ann Arbor. There are only Lululemon and Athleta.” In New York, she worked in the fashion and marketing industries and not only knew the brands but wasn’t shy about cozying up to their makers. “I was always calling them up and saying, ‘Can I get a discount for sending you guys so much business?’
“Once you go Teeki you never go back,” she tells a customer in the dressing room. Teeki pants, in whimsical prints, are made from recycled plastic bottles and fit like a second skin, she says, and they’re relatively inexpensive at around $70. She holds up some flowered leggings with a fox hidden among the flowers. For those who haven’t yet made it to Teeki, she has other brands, like the $98 Outdoor Voices pants the color of a chocolate-strawberry milkshake. Or the shirt with “Kale” printed across the front. Not only a sanctimonious dietary boast, it mimics Yale University’s typography.
When another customer leafing through the racks lets out a yelp from a pulled trapezius, Gotlib instantly has her down on the floor, easing it with a pretzel bend called “threading the needle.” She says she won’t always be at the store to apply emergency physical therapy–she has a studio to run–but “everyone who works here is from the studio. Probably all of them would be able to do this.”
Tiny Buddha Boutique, 213 S. State (upstairs), no phone. Mon.-Sat. noon-8 p.m., Sun. noon-6 p.m. tinybuddhaboutique.com