Maker City KC

From Reggae Fest to Morgan Freeman: how one KC Maker grew her need for style into a small business

Lashon Mack has been making jewelry for 23 years. Growing up in Kansas City at Van Horn High School, she wanted to stand out; she was eccentric, a trendsetter. “When I was younger, I couldn’t find any accessories I liked at the mall, so I just started making my own,” Lashon says. Her first creation was a black and gold necklace with tiger eye chips and a black onyx stone, wire wrapped in sterling silver with matching earrings. She wasn’t intending on starting a career in jewelry-making, but the more pieces she created, the more people started asking, “Where did you get that? Can you make me one?” She started taking custom orders from her friends and family, then began selling more through word-of-mouth and at salons throughout the city

Lashon has always loved music and going to music festivals. So when she heard Reggae Fest was coming to Kansas City back in the early 2000s, she applied to sell her handmade jewelry. It was through Reggae Fest and other music festivals like it that she realized people really enjoyed her jewelry. She ended up selling at festivals all over the United States. One of her inspirations is singer/songwriter/actress Erykah Badu. “I’ve always liked her style and the way she carries herself and the message she puts out into the world,” Lashon says. It’s no wonder one of the moments she is most proud of is the day she met Ms. Badu, who selected some of Lashon’s handmade earrings for herself. “You know, Erykah owns a few of my pieces and has been photographed in them! Some of the Marleys own my jewelry, (singer) Jill Scott... and Morgan Freeman was even wearing a piece in a commercial a few years ago!”

Lashon is inspired by nature and the earth. “My accessories are not perfect; like nature. Each piece is unique and completely different from the next.” She graduated from using seed beads and wire to creating earrings, necklaces and bracelets with a variation of materials. “Any and all stones, wire, sterling silver, copper, brass, leather, chain, feathers… I’m using it,” Lashon says. She hopes her jewelry helps those wearing it become more comfortable with their natural, authentic selves.

When asked about the maker community here in Kansas City, Lashon says it feels like where she belongs. “I get the chance to interact with artists and people who are creative and who appreciate the same things I do. It’s been well needed here for many years,” she says. She currently studios in The Cherry Pit Collective, an all women makerspace at 31st and Cherry. She found this inspiring space when she was walking around Wanderfest, a street fair the local, small businesses on 31st Street between Cherry and Holmes put on, last summer. She and her friend Janeine asked if there was any available studio space and decided to make a home for creating jewelry this collective where they could surround themselves with female creatives. Together, they called their jewelry line Soul Rebels.

One of the greatest gifts of Lashon’s creativity is that she passed it onto her children (and she has raised nine of them while simultaneously building a small business for herself). Her daughter Essence handmakes natural baby goods called Left Hand Baby, she makes baby bonnets, hair oil, onesies, jewelry and more. Her daughter Ebony creates masks and accessories and her son, Jasaya draws and paints portraits.

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This year, Lashon wants to expand her business by creating an online sales platform, vending in more local fairs, and building up a following on her new Instagram account, Lovely Lashon. You can find her accessories locally in It’s a Beautiful Day and Arizona Trading Company.