10 Promising Kansas City Brands to Watch

By most standards, Sandlot Goods has already “made it.” The handmade leather & accessories business has built a respectable name for itself in KC and has earned prominent regional media attention for its success. But the “sandlot” baseball concept has universal appeal with plenty of room to grow. Kansas City is Sandlot’s home base, but from here they can still swing for the fences. The team, led by Katy Bird, Chad Hickman and Ryan Hill, has the “it” factor of a brand that, in ten years, people will be proud to say, “they started in Kansas City.”

The metal foil print look is growing and seems to be a trend that’s here to stay. Indie Olive is poised to ride the wave. This stationery brand, based in Eudora, KS, is picking up on the popularity of its KC, Missouri and Kansas designs and focusing on growing a new stationery line. Say hi to Virginia and Dustin if something shiny catches your eye.

Cat Coquillette’s designs are identifiable, yet versatile. Her work could add playful swagger to a hipster studio in Westport as naturally as it could bring colorful serenity to a suburban boutique in JoCo. She can design for anyone. Unique style + mass appeal is a recipe we see taking Cat a long way.

Our food expert friends at Recommended Daily, who are co-hosting CRAFT, see a lot of potential in the team behind Born With Seoul, who’s hoping to bring Gochujang (a popular Korean condiment) to the mainstream in KC. RD’s recent feature on the local couple’s venture explains why Born with Seoul could be just what Kansas City foodies need to elevate the game of at-home Asian cooking.

In the city that Hallmark and Hammerpress call home, Survival’s quality of print design work is second to none. If there is a brand that can revive the old-fashioned sincerity and authenticity of hand-printed cards, it’s Survival. Joey and Amanda Gross make a rare husband-and-wife team that can turn a shared passion into a genuinely beautiful product. 

Speaking of husband and wife teams, Brendan and Amanda O’Shaughnessy’s lifestyle company, Ocean & Sea, is a model for any business in how to build a brand that precedes its business. The name, Ocean & Sea, is derived from their shared last name [ˈō-shôn-əsē >> ōSHən and sē], and every touch point reinforces the ‘nautical dream’ soul of the brand. Even the elements of its Kickstarter campaign show that these two are just embarking for bigger things.

Lisa Williams is already making Kansas proud. Her Milk + Honey Candles brand is a finalist for Martha Stewart’s American Made program. KC’s neighborly support could make a big difference in keeping this homemade brand’s momentum going.

Josh and Jenny Solar’s card business concept is a simple, but perfect. For $20+/month, you receive 5 original “happiness” cards to share with loved ones. The designs are heartfelt and uplifting to the extreme, which really sets them apart. Seems modest, but subscription-based services are hip with the kids these days, and so are handmade, nostalgic goods. Just ask Etsy. Happy futures ahead for Hello Happiness.

Honest, responsible sourcing is driving major consumer spending shifts in the US, and many KC makers are well ahead of the curve to reap the benefits. Golden & Pine (opening in 2016), will be making its debut at CRAFT and hopes to retail quality, responsibly-sourced home & garden goods that represent the values and stories of their makers. While Golden & Pine helps find and grow good, local businesses in 2016, Kansas City’s support could return the favor.

Lenexa-based Dark Horse Distillery is barely five years old, yet it's had a surprisingly quick surge to local prominence (if only there was a metaphor to describe that... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  ). From grain to bottle, everything is handcrafted in Kansas City.

Another local business that's given Kansas City something to sip about is Amigoni Winery, which was featured as one of Kansas City's top date spots this summer. Their award-winning wine has grown over the past few decades from a modest hobby into a thriving operation, yet always prioritizing locally sourced product. Amigoni is also bringing its expertise directly to CRAFT, offering wine seminars and tastings throughout the day.