Photos and story by Shana Siren Kempton
“Good things coming,” the sign teased with a storefront window stuffed full of colorful balloons hinting at a celebration of sorts. As promised, good things came!
Ampersand Design Studio has opened the door to a joyful world of punchy design with its first independent brick and mortar shop in Waldo. It’s filled with bright colors and bold graphics on everything from wall art and hook pillows to t-shirts and accessories to an eclectic line of Kansas City ware. It’s filled with inspiration and yes, good things.
It’s a burst of sweetness from the juice of pinkish cherries found on “les cerises,” a risograph or digital screen print; a wave of calm from a whimsically arched door painted the color of the bluest sky that leads to their working studio space; and a dose of playfulness from the rainbow typography cheering passers-by on. The colors spill into the soul and the graphics lighten the mood. A pick-me-up if ever you need one.
Neighboring other local favorites such as McClain’s Bakery, Front Range Coffee, and Create Space KC, Ampersand joins a robust community of entrepreneurs and makers along Gregory Boulevard between Grand Avenue and Oak Street. Ampersand Design Studio fits right in while raising the vibrational vibe of this sunny locale.
The name says it all
Ampersand owners Carrie Kiefer and Morgan Georgie have been best friends since meeting in art class at the University of Kansas in 1999. The two Kansas City natives became inseparable and today still live less than a mile apart. After graduation they worked no more than 10 feet from one another during a decade-long career at Hallmark. In 2010, the two started their own company calling it Ampersand based on the “&” symbol.
As their website states, “The ampersand symbol connects two separate elements together – making it the perfect name for our company.” Their collaborative work starts with an array of color, cut paper, and hand lettering, passing back and forth ideas and revisions for a seamless final digital design. Their team includes four designers, one shop manager and the invaluable inspiration from their families, especially their kids.
When the lease on their working studio was to expire, they began searching for a new space. “We fell in love with this exact street and location, and we feel like it was meant to be,” says Georgie. Kiefer adds, “It wasn’t really our intention to have a retail space until we saw this and thought this could be a great location for that purpose.”
For years, Ampersand products have been available around the city at Made in KC Marketplaces, online, and even in national stores such as West Elm, Target, and Crate and Kids. Their dream to house everything in one space is now a reality and heeds the urge of one of their best-selling stickers that simply states, “come together.” Georgie shares, “It’s all more personal this way. NOW we get to watch people shop, get to talk to people, hear stories, and make friends.”
What’s in store?
“We love color and a bold statement,” says Georgie. “We kind of never grew out of the rainbow loving stage.” It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows in the shop – it’s also oversized fruit paired with French words, and phrases like “on the bright side,” “come together,” and “heck yes!” The products literally speak for themselves.
The dynamic duo say they want customers to feel a sense of optimism through their designs and products. “A lot of people come in and say it feels really happy in here and that’s the best compliment,” says Kiefer. “That’s what we’re looking for – happy and playful.”
Georgie continues, “The playfulness is something that is constantly happening in here – not taking your home or your fashion too seriously. Go ahead and put the really fun, colorful pillow out there, buy the art that has neon cherries on it…let your kids pick a fun sticker. You can be more playful every day.”
For more information and to view products, please visit https://ampersanddesignstudio.com/. Ampersand Design Studio is located at 211 E. Gregory Boulevard.