Warm sunlight bathes a future ceramics shop. A vintage Thomas Cusack Co. mural advertisement peeks from behind the plaster wall of an in-the-works photography space. Views from the second and third floors reveal a city skyline in creative transition.
Amid the freshly hung drywall and still-curing, stained hardwood staircases, Tyler Enders steps quickly between rooms in the new Made in KC Creative Studios space at 1735–1739 Walnut St. in the Crossroads Arts District. As co-founder of the rapidly growing retail operation that specializes in locally made goods, Enders and his partners not only are juggling a half-dozen stores and a collaboration with twice as many Hallmark Gold Crown locations across the metro. They also pop between multiple new job sites in mid-renovation.
Enders pauses momentarily.
“It’s exciting,” he says with a sly smile.
The Creative Studios concept is the newest piece of Made in KC’s expansion, offering private studio space for permanent partners, as well as open, shared spaces and coworking.
“We try to provide as many resources to the brands we work with as possible,” Enders said. “One of the resources that we haven’t provided thus far is physical space — we provide retail space to sell goods, but not physical space to make connections.”
Photography memberships also will be available, making use of the natural lighting soaking through large windows. It will be a feature reserved to those with memberships, rather than allowing one-off rentals of the space, Enders said.
“There are a lot of studio spaces that do rentals, but we’ll purely be working with people who are somehow connected to Made in KC,” he said. “The idea is to deliver a really, really good value to brands that don’t have a use for a photography studio on an extremely regular basis or they just need to take a few photos here and there.”
It’s about adding value specifically for Kansas City makers who, in turn, help build momentum for Made in KC’s retail business, he said. The Creative Studios concept envisions about 15 permanent makers, 20 people coworking and another 10 regularly using the photography space.
“Our hope is that as people drop in, they’re running into a photographer or designer and they get that kind of collaboration,” Enders said. “We made the barrier of entry really low to make it a central hub.”
Makers are expected to begin moving in at the end of June, he said.
Among them will be Summer House Films, a longtime Made in KC collaborator and production company relocating from The Bauer, and Emily Reinhardt, the ceramic artist behind The Object Enthusiast. Both will make use of private spaces, with Reinhardt planning a small shop with its own entrance off Walnut Street, and space for a kiln and a handful of workers.
The 2,400-square-foot top floor of the Creative Studios will house a company that has its hands in the music and apparel industries, Enders said.
“We’re actually collaborating with them on a new, kind of in-house Made in KC apparel line,” he noted.
The space will have some restrictions, Enders said. For example, work that creates dust won’t be allowed, with the exception of Reinhardt who is paying for a walled-off space, he said.
“Most of the makers will be people doing jewelry, small handmade products like textiles. There’s just not enough space for wood or other messy things,” Enders said. “We also don’t have the space for someone like Sandlot Goods [another longtime Kansas City partner] that needs 2,000 square feet of his own space and has heavy machinery. We’re on the second floor, so we just can’t.”
It’s still a perfect fit, however, for many of the designers and small-batch makers with which Made in KC works each day, he said. Such partners also are set to be featured prominently at the company’s coming Made in KC Marketplace on the Plaza, which also is expected to open this summer.
Made in KC’s Ariel Thompson is set to manage the Plaza store, as well as serving as the initial point of contact for the Creative Studios space in the Crossroads.
The arts district also is home to Made in KC’s headquarters, which sit above a newly opened retail store at 509 E. 18th St.