MY KANSAS CITY // Carrie of Ampersand Studio

Prepare for some rainbow colors with this My City. I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with my friend Carrie, the other half of Ampersand Design Studio, (see her partner-in-crime’s feature here) while in Kansas City a few weeks ago. Carrie has a vintage whimsical style mixed with a bit of modern, which mirrors the style in her house and her closet.

I got lucky because it just happened to be the first weekend of the month while I was in town, meaning one of her favorite stores was open. Urban Mining is a vintage shop that is only open the first Friday/Saturday/Sunday of the month, and we hit it at it’s peak — Friday over lunch. The outside was full of color. Carrie mentioned that she already owned a vintage tray exactly like this one.

Vintage and crafty, see how the railing is knitted above? In the entry there was a lighting fixture (above) on the ceiling made of a twin mattress coils and rope lights. Crazy fun!

Even the open sign is vintage.

Taking the rainbow shelf to the next level… vintage rainbow.

Some of the best games ever. Operation! Twister! Taking me back to childhood. Although both make great drinking games for adults. Try it.

Our next stop was Pryde’s in Old Westport. I actually got Carrie’s wedding gift from her registry here, so I can honestly say she is definitely helping stimulate the economy in this store.

They carry all those things you see on Pinterest but have no idea where to get. Example: Oilcloth.

Right when you walk in there is a room full of aprons and cookbooks. I think Carrie was in homemaker heaven. She’s quite the entertainer.

I said there’d be rainbows. Kitchen utensils in every color. I know, it’s like kitchen candy. However, if I would have seen that OU logo I would have turned it around… MIZ!

Every time I see green milk glass I think of Carrie. She has a little collection in her home.

After an afternoon of shopping we headed to one of her favorite lunch spots (one of mine too!)  You Say Tomato (2801 Holmes). It’s a well-kept secret, but it was a weekly stop for me when I worked at Hallmark Cards. I literally dream about their hummus and BLT… which is exactly what we got!

We nabbed a spot outside, and I savored every bite of my beloved BLT and hummus. If you work in downtown KC, trust me on this one. But you will leave smelling like garlic if you eat inside. And they have the best tomatoes I’ve ever eaten.

Let’s see what Carrie has to say:
Why did you take me to Urban Mining, Pryde’s, and You Say Tomato? 
I picked each of these three places because they have so much personality. Urban Mining is like a mini treasure hunt each month (it is only open the first weekend of the month). I’ve found so many unique pieces for our house there that I love. Things are also merchandised so nicely and I always leave feeling inspired. There is so much goodness jammed into Pryde’s, I could spend a whole day there. I love cooking and entertaining so it’s kind of like a candy store for me. Everything you could ever need for the kitchen—they have it, and so many things you didn’t know you needed. Everyone who works at Pryde’s is so knowledgeable and helpful. The whole shopping experience there is a treat. I love You Say Tomato because it’s just kind of quirky, and the food is also great every time. I find myself craving it and I return there again and again. The hummus is SO freaking good.
What are some of your other favorite places to eat and visit in KC and why or what do you HAVE to get when you go to them? 
Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ. Kansas City is famous for BBQ and this is my favorite. I always get a Z-man (beef on bun with an onion ring and provolone on top) and fries. My other favorite restaurant is Thai Orchid. It’s in a strip mall, basically, but I could eat their soup and shrimp curry every day.

What are your favorite items in your home? 
My husband and I try to make a point of getting a piece of art or a print when we travel or for anniversaries, etc. so those pieces are really special to me. I also treasure items handed down to me from my grandparents. When I see furniture or dishes that used to live happily in their homes, I am reminded of them each day.

What are some patterns that you continually find yourself attracted to? 
Anything that shows the hand of the artist. I am always drawn to patterns with a lot of energy. I also love patterns with a little vintage flavor.

How do you get inspired to create patterns for Ampersand? 
Gosh, as trite as it sounds, I get inspired by anything and everything. For instance, one of the patterns I worked on recently was inspired by an old mattress I saw peeking out of a dumpster (seriously). I love to get out of my comfort zone and go to new places to refresh my point of view. Travel is perfect for that, of course, so I get out of town whenever possible!

What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened with Ampersand so far? 
We’ve had a long-standing goal of showing at Surtex and we did that this May! It was such a major undertaking and we had limited time to get ready because we split our work time with several days of being home with our little boys. The fact that we squeezed so much work out of our crazy schedules made us feel like we’d succeeded no matter the outcome of the show itself. 

What’s a typical workday like for you? 
We get together and go over our running to do list and tackle correspondence first thing including new client inquiries and estimates. We use our full work days together to schedule client meetings so there are often a few of those thrown in there. A good part of the day is administrative housekeeping, but we also use these days to look down the road and figure out big picture next steps. If we’re lucky, we get to do some designing. We do the majority of our design work at night and when our little guys are napping though.

What are some things you don’t like about running your own business? 
I’ll just say overall that I think the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. However, sometimes it’s hard that you can’t turn it off. You can do it all the time so it’s hard to really step away. It’s also tough to step outside of our expertise into things like finance, marketing, IT, etc. Being a two-gal show, a lot of our time is taken up with these tasks that aren’t designing. At the end of the day, though, it’s nice to have the challenge of getting our hands into all aspects of running a business and we’ve learned SO much.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to go into graphic and pattern design? 
I think the biggest piece of advice I would give is to really learn the basics. Get a good education and focus on how to problem solve. The concept is so much more important than personal style. Learn the history of art, graphic design, patterning, and then just get out and be constantly exploring and looking at what’s happening in the industry you’re interested in.

What are your goals for the next year? 
I think our main goal is to build on the momentum we have going now. We would love to get to a place where even more of our time is spent doing patterning. Having one year at Surtex under our belts, we hope to really focus on what did and didn’t work for us this year and adjust for the 2013 show. We hope to continue to build existing relationships and create some new ones with companies we admire and see our patterns on their products!

 I want to know some of YOUR favorite places in YOUR CITY! Tweet me where you’d take me @megbiram with #mycity in the tweet.