Life in KC

Designer charts a new course with Mid Coast Modern

“It’s weird this is considered work because I like doing it,” says Mid Coast Modern shop owner Matt Bramlette.
“It’s weird this is considered work because I like doing it,” says Mid Coast Modern shop owner Matt Bramlette.

After years climbing the corporate ladder in the advertising industry only to find dismay in managerial duties, Matt Bramlette stepped down to find new ground.

“I didn’t want that to be the only thing I ever did,” says the former art director and designer.

Bramlette made a list of everything he enjoys: travel, art, music and creativity.

“I tried to think of how I could tie them all into a job I’d like,” he says. “That’s how I landed on owning a store.”

Nearing its one-year anniversary, Mid Coast Modern, 2119 Washington in the Crossroads Arts District, caters to seekers of artisanal-level goods such as candles, birthday cards, art prints and gourmet spices. About 40 percent of the products are made in Kansas City, and almost all of them are produced in the United States.

Bramlette describes the shop’s wares as “modern handmade” lest someone mistake the store for selling Grandma’s knitted sweaters.

“I focus on the modern aesthetic,” he says. “Everything in here has good design sensibility.”

Top-selling items include Pickwick & Co. candles, Kansas City pride-themed apparel and home décor. You’ll also find stationery, jewelry and Bramlette’s own emerging line of personal goods, Bear Soap Co.

Bramlette meets makers across the country and knows the story behind every brand he carries.

“It’s interesting to meet people in this industry because there are no barriers, even on a national scale,” he says.

Not only does Bramlette spend an immense number of hours running the shop himself, he also coordinates pop-up shops, takes online orders and connects with customers on Instagram. (Follow him @midcoastkc).

In its inception year, Mid Coast Modern — and its owner — have constantly evolved.

“I’m still trying to find the right niche for the store,” Bramlette says.

He has already discontinued certain lines that weren’t working and found new creative outlets for his own design work.

“Instead of designing for other companies, I like designing for myself. It feels more pure,” Bramlette says.

His second-year business plan is to remain flexible and build his own business ladder, one rung at a time.

“This has been a major shift in income for me, but I feel more fulfilled,” Bramlette says.