After Ryan and Jessica Mead made furniture for their Northland home, friends wanted one-of-a-kind, handcrafted pieces of their own.
Soon the couple had turned their Kansas City, North, garage into a full-time workshop, selling the pieces on Etsy. They named it Tyler Kingston Wood + Supply Co. after their sons, Gentry Tyler, now 10, and Isaak Kingston, 8.
“I can turn right to get beer and left to get coffee,” Ryan said.
Initially, they opened the workshop to the public only on First Friday weekends. But then customers wanted them to extend their retail hours, and online customers from the Kansas City area wanted to stop by and pick up their orders to save shipping costs, making for constant interruptions.
So they looked at retail spaces throughout the metro. A space at 422 Armour Road was between their home and workshop and in a corner location across from the busy First Watch parking lot.
Their shop, which opened April 7, has a Southwest vibe with plates featuring cacti; soy candles; necklaces with antler, mountain range or pineapple charms; plaques with such sayings as “She’s whiskey in a teacup”; cast-iron buffalo-head bottle openers; a longhorn steer skull ring; copper postcards; “Made in the Midwest” T-shirts and pennants; and vintage hardcover Observer’s Books from the 1950s to 1970s.
Their furniture pieces are made of reclaimed wood from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. A desk with steel frame sells for $650, and a hexagon side table with steel hairpin legs comes in three sizes starting at $98. Custom pieces take four to five weeks.
The couple said their reclaimed wood gets its character from knots, nail and bolt holes, saw marks, blemishes and notches. But they sand it smooth and seal it with a clear poly finish at the studio, which now has three other employees beside the Meads.
They also make industrial-style bellman garment racks from unfinished piping that they clean and coat. Some retail shops around town use the displays, but most of their commercial customers are in California and New York.
After their furniture, the second most popular items at Tyler Kingston are the Southwest blanket rugs. They also sell vintage furniture.
The couple were dating when they both got jobs at Commerce Bank downtown, Jessica on the second floor and Ryan on the 13th. They married in 2002. They started Tyler Kingston six years ago and did it on the side before Ryan left banking in early 2014 to concentrate full time on the company. Jessica followed in September 2014.
Gentry recently asked why the brothers weren’t getting royalties from the use of their middle names.
“I told them, ‘Your royalties are your shelter, food and clothing,’ ” his father said with a laugh. “But he knows when he wants something extra he will come down and sweep at the shop or break down boxes. So he’s learning.”