My Kansas City // Morgan of Ampersand Studio

One of my many dear friends from my days at Hallmark Cards, Morgan, is with us today for My City. She is one half of the pattern queen duo over at Ampersand Design Studio. She took me to a few of her favorite places in Kansas City.

Little Freshie is a new place in Kansas City, but it was started by Lindsay Laricks, a mutual friend of mine and Morgan. Lindsay is well known in Kansas City for her previous venture Fresher Than Fresh Snow Cones, which she still serves now out of her new soda fountain and espresso bar, Little Freshie. Morgan wanted to meet up there first thing, which couldn’t have been more perfect. The lighting while I was taking this shot of the exterior was amazing!

It was a crisp morning in early June, so a latte was the perfect start. I must say, this was hands-down, the best latte I’ve ever had. Angie, Lindsay’s coffee expert, explained the seasonal blend of beans she and they guys over at Oddly Correct came up for Little Freshie. I also had a blueberry scone, and again, it was the best scone I’ve ever had! I realized after eating this scone that I had been eating terrible scones my entire life.

These little guys stopped by outside of Little Freshie, and I just couldn’t help myself. HOW CUTE ARE THEY!?!? I’m surprised I didn’t pick them up and take them home with me!

Morgan’s modern design aesthetic blends perfectly with her partner-in-crime over at Ampersand, who has more of a whimsy/vintage flair.

We had a lot of color going on.

The juices at Little Freshie were deeelish! I highly recommend them, especially on a hot summer day!

A little skyline view of a portion of Kansas City. The round building on the right is the Sprint Center (FYI, the Sprint headquarters are in KC), and the oval building on the left is the headquarters of H&R Block. In the middle with the red dome is the Power & Light District. A collection of mostly bars and restaurants. In the middle of them (under the dome) is a huge open courtyard where you can carry your drinks around. They often have concerts and events there.

After lattes, juice, scones and macaron tasting at Little Freshie, we went over to Retro Inferno. They were late to open that day (we called because there was no one there) so I didn’t get to take any fun photos of the inside, but they have tons of mid-century modern furniture.

The exterior of Retro Inferno pretty much fits the store.

Next we went to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art where they have a great museum shop filled with books she likes to get for her son. The Nelson (as most KCers call it) is well-known for the shuttle cock sculptures out on the lawn. They are giant. Can you see little Morgan? There were also three kids eating their lunch under this one. Lots of wedding photos are taken at The Nelson.

Yep, this was our favorite book. Morgan has been obsessed with rainbows since childhood. 

Just so you can get a feel, this is the main entrance at The Nelson.

Because I know you want her outfit details: Denim Shirt from GAP, similar / AG Neon Stevie Ankle Jeants (got mine at Anthropologie) / Sandals are Cynthia Rowley 

Let’s hear from Morgan:

Why did you take me to Little Freshie, Retro Inferno, and The Nelson?
Little Freshie is a brand new Italian soda & coffee shop that a friend of mine, Lindsey, just opened. I hadn’t been yet and thought my date with you was the perfect time for a first visit! I’ve already been back multiple times! Everything Lindsey touches is incredible, and Little Freshie is no excpetion, Plus, my mom makes Parisian macarons that are sold there! What’s not to love? Retro Inferno is a funky store that carries classic 20th century furniture and collectibles. I can’t get tired of mid-century modern furntiture, so I love wandering around in Retro Inferno to see what new pieces they have! The Nelson Atkins Museum has always held a special place in my heart since I was little. I actually grew up about a mile away and at a very young age, my parents enrolled me in summer art classes there! I can’t help but think those classes had and large part part to do with the fact that at age three I declared that I wanted to be an artist and I eventually grew up to be a designer! They really helped form who I am today! It’s always nostalgic for me to go back there. Recently, The Nelson added on an stunning new contemporary wing to the museum which includes a giftshop that I can always count on for unique kid gifts!

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?
Oh, I have so many! I love to cook, but going out to eat is always such a treat! For dinner, I love to sit outside at Westside Local. I am always craving their $2 “Localities” and Starters like deviled eggs, olives, and their cheese plate. For a casual lunch, Spin Neapolitan Pizza cannot be beat. I’m stuck on their goat cheese, chicken and caramelized onion pizza with a Sonoma salad! Yummm. Right next door is Glacé Artisan Ice Cream where I usually get the two scoop cup: Bananas Foster and Fleur de Sel Caramel. For brunch, I crave the French Toast at Eggtc. It’s packed on weekend mornings, but sipping on my favorite soy, caramel latté makes the wait pretty sweet! If for no other reason, visit Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ so you can say you went to the the restaurant that’s in a gas station. I get the Z-man with fries … do not skip the fries. I repeat, do not skip the fries! Kansas City is known for it’s BBQ, but we have another little secret: great Mexican restaurants! Rudy’s Tenampa Taqueria has awesome spinach cheese dip and fresh ceviche! My husband and son and I land here on many a Friday night! Also in Westport, I can’t wait to hit up the newly opened Port Fonda – an authentic Mexican food truck turned restaurant, and Beer Kitchen should not be known just for their beers, the food is excellent! If you’re up for a late night drink, hit up Manifesto – have their famous mixologist or one of the super knowledgeable servers pick your drink for you! 

Beyond the restaurant scene, KC is full of little hot spots. For your fashion fix, there are two Kansas City originals that are my favorite places to visit. You can’t beat the unique finds at Halls and the instant style you can walk out the door with from Standard Style. To suit up your man, go right next door to Baldwin. Everyone that works here knows their stuff and they are happy to help you pick just the right piece for whatever you might be shopping for. Represent your love of KC with the Baldwin signature ballcap. My husband proudly sports his all the time and you might just catch a celebrity or two wearing them (eh hem, Jason Sudeikas).

Last, but definitely not least, my favorite place for a good workout is Fusion Fitness. I’m seriously proud that KC has such a cutting edge studio! Be ready to sweat and seriously not take a single break for a straight hour, but the music will make you feel like you’re in your favorite dance club and the instructors will keep you inspired!

What are your favorite items in your home?
Many of my favorite things are pieces that my husband and I have collected together over time. I’m actually pretty frugal, so most things that we own that are more of an investment have been gifts from him (yes, he’s pretty amazing). Paintings from art fairs that we have walked together or even pieces of furniture that I had my eye on and he will surprise me with! Some of my favorites are a Michelle Armas painting and my bright turquoise leather pouf! But honestly, my most prized possessions in my home are the photos. I’m an obsessive photo taker and love documenting our family’s life. Being surrounded by friends and family and pictures of places we’ve traveled together is really what makes our house feel like home.

What are some patterns that you continually find yourself attracted to?
Being a surface pattern designer I literally never stop looking for pattern. I see patterns in everything and always keep an eye out for what is going on in the industry. I’m always drawn to more bold, graphic and super colorful patterns like those of Marimekko but most recently I have found myself drawn to mixing and matching with florals and patterns that hint towards cultures outside of my own world!

How do you get inspired to create patterns for Ampersand?
I never really know what is going to inspire me to create the next pattern-unless it’s a commissioned piece. I frequently snap pictures of my day to day life that end up sparking an idea. One pattern I recently did derived straight from pine needles and leaves laying in my driveway. Another from a flowering bush in my backyard, and yet another from the architecture on a parking garage! Like I said, it can come from anywhere.

What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened with Ampersand so far?
I’d have to say that the most exciting thing that’s happened with Ampersand so far is something that literally just happened last month! A long time dream of mine was for my partner, Carrie, and I to take our pattern design career to the next level and attend The Surtex Trade Show in New York City! Just this past May, we made it!!! It’s a trade show just for selling and licensing your pattern designs so all types of companies attend looking to fill their next product lines. We talked to manufacturers in fabric, bedding, journals & notebooks, wallpaper, stationery and so many more! So fingers crossed that you all will be seeing our designs on some fun products soon.

What’s a typical workday like for you?
Well, right now I work a few days of the week and stay home with my one and half year old son a few days, too! But really, I need to get some work done every day. So the days I’m with my son, I work during naps and in the evenings in my home studio. Then on my official work days, my business partner, Carrie and I always work together the entire day. It’s amazing how much more we get done when we are sitting side by side! We like to get out of our studios and go somewhere where we can sit outside or have some great coffee! We’re always hopping around to the best places with free wifi! A typical day usually involves some of all of these things: packing up and shipping the orders from our etsy shop, at least one client meeting/conference call, lots of email correspondence, blogging and social network updating, and then, of course, dedicated time to design and bounce ideas off of each other. We are graphic designers and pattern designers so we have jobs doing everything from branding to websites to gift wrap to fabric! Needless to say, there is always a never-ending checklist! It can be a bit overwhelming at times.

What are some things you don’t like about running your own business?
The entire business side! Ha. It’s true though. Carrie and I are both such creative people, running our finances, doing taxes, sending invoices and collecting payments are not at the top of our list. Ever.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to go into graphic and pattern design?
Just do it! My advice would be to always follow your passion and stay true to yourself. Don’t watch what others are doing too closely, make things all your own!

What are your goals for the next year?
I really hope that Ampersand partners up with some amazing companies to create some unique, creative and high quality products! I am dying to see our patterns on home furnishings like wallcoverings, rugs, and pillows or on great stationery and journals!