Behind the Biz: Our Current Obsession... 1KC Apparel
Written by: Jenny + Brooke
We literally have to call each other before we meet up. Every time. Why? Because it's almost a guarantee that we will have on the same outfit. It happens a LOT! Especially lately because both of us are obsessed with every single item of clothing from 1KC. And, we're wearing something from the 1KC line almost daily.
Brooke used to own a boutique in Overland Park. Jenny used to shop at said boutique on the regular. We are both shopaholics and love learning about different brands. The deeper meaning. Behind the Biz.
So, when we discovered 1KC, we wanted to know more. We sat down with the owner, Amy Stewart. Here's the scoop:
Introduce yourself! Are you from KC or did you fall in love with it later?
Amy Stewart. Both my husband, Dave, and I were born and raised in McPherson, Kansas. We both graduated from K-State. We moved to KC almost 20 years ago. My husband’s job with Burns and McDonnell Engineering firm brought us here, thankfully. We have two kids, Addi (21), and Sam (16).
For the last almost twenty years I have had my own business called Amelia’s Designs (I design, buy product, and contract print out with two local printers). Over the years, I have designed for everything under the sun -- events, schools, churches, camps, teams, etc. But because of the success of 1KC, I have begun scaling back significantly as time goes by. If you ever have walked the halls in the children’s wing of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, you will have seen much of my work over the years (gosh, you may be young enough to have worn them had you gone there, HA). I’ve designed their Vacation Bible Camps, Basketball Camps, the Zone tees, Wild 1’s tees, Confirmation Tees, Building Better Moms, Women’s Conferences and much more! I’ve been doing it so long that my kiddos WORE the shirts, and now they help DESIGN the shirts! Ha.
Love that!! So, about KC...
We so love KC. Kansas City has the big town benefits and the small town feel. I think the deepest feeling that I have for KC is that it’s HOME. KC is where we have raised our children – and nothing roots you more to a city than the place you raise your family.
So, because of your love for our awesome city -- is that what inspired 1KC?
First, I have to give my thanks to Charlie Hustle. Charlie Hustle’s vision and success was a part of the foundation of pride that swept the city. His company inspired me to create. So with this inspiration I started praying for a 'brand and identity' of my own.
Over the years, I knew there was a 'division' in Kansas City. A historical division that some people were strongly aware of, others somewhat aware of, and some had no awareness of. From the beginnings of the city to the college rivalries, there was some element of division.
T-shirts. The first shirt I wanted to buy was that cool KCMO shirt (I think it had a circle with KCMO in an X pattern) but I didn’t feel right about buying it, since I wasn’t living in KCMO. Funny how I got hung up on that fact and how that played an important role in my journey to developing 1KC. (I have the upmost respect for those tees and brands).
The concept was coming to me as the city celebrated the Royals, though I lived on the Kansas side, they were my Royals. When the KC firefighters died back in 2015 in Missouri, they felt like my firefighters -- the state line didn’t matter to me. With these things in my mind, I walked and prayed for an idea! I know exactly the spot on the trail where the idea came to me…and it was: being united as one city and promoting that solidarity in our one city, ONE KC. So I went home and started designing 1KC.
As a designer, there’s that moment of 'oh my gosh, I've got it!' when your thoughts and ideas come together perfectly. That moment was when I took the number “1” and moved it into the 'K' of KC. Everyone in my family said, 'that's it'! Then I developed a mission statement and we started printing tees to test the market in July of 2015. When a young bartender at KC Bier chased us out of the bar to ask where my husband had gotten his shirt, I knew that we were onto something special.
Soon after, we set up a booth in October 2015 in the West Bottoms and started gaining more and more momentum every month. In the beginning, it was friends supporting us, then friends of friends... then friends of friends of friends! Bella Patina was a game changer for us, as well as the Holiday Boutique. About the time of the Just for Her Event this past June, things just exploded with new customers, supporters, followers and it’s been crazy ever since! Being in Trendz and other boutiques is super exciting as well! So grateful for the KC LOVE!
What's your favorite part of owning 1KC?
Oh my gosh, the CUSTOMERS! I absolutely love the interaction with our customers. Nothing makes me happier than a note on a website order, or a tag from a follower on Instagram. And I love the fun small conversations on posts. We get more messages than I can count just encouraging and thanking us!
And because we have such great customers – this allows 1KC to give back to the community. We have done a few different things over the two years we’ve been in business. In the beginning, we featured Kansas Citians and then donated to groups/foundations on their behalf. Then from August of 2016 - August 2017 we donated one meal for every short sleeve tee we sold. I don’t have the grand total of meals to date, but I do know that in one month of November 2016 we donated over 200 meals to Kansas City Rescue Mission!
As of August 2017, we have changed our giving to donating a one meal per day (minimum) to KCRM indefinitely. So now, we will give a percentage back to the community in different fun ways – rewarding KINDNESS with special emphasis on teachers! I have a passion for great teachers who impact our youth. We currently are trying to develop a statement/plan for giving to teachers. These 'teacher donations' will be given in honor of John Butcher (a teacher who helped my daughter find her way during some difficult high school days). I have plans in the works to donate to a teaching staff in KCK. I also will be donating from my sales in August and September to the BVNW Art Department in his name. So every month my husband will say, 'you have this much to give.' And then I’ll just wait for the right opportunity! Sometimes I send free stuff to people who have written a note to me – I just want to say -- kindness matters.
I also love that my family each has a specialty they lend to the company. My husband builds our displays, moves and sets them up (and even helps at the events). My daughter is our photographer and helps with product development. My son, also helps with product development, but he’s also a huge help with moving, counting, tagging, and shipping product. Everyone pitches in when their called upon, I couldn’t do without them!
So, now tell us some of your favorite things about Kansas City!
Favorite thing about KC -- the people. Of course! Favorite places – the West Bottoms! The Farmer’s Markets, we love those! We love eating out! We love the Flea Market, Taco Republic, Joe’s BBQ, Martin City Brewing Co. Anything local we love, especially makers like Gale Nation, Creating Jamie, GreenBeeKC, Sunkissed Earth just to name a few!
Ready to shop? Click here to see the 1KC collection.