Growing up, Loni LaCour wanted to be a lawyer “because my dad told me I was good at arguing,” she says.
LaCour was born in Lawrence but spent most of her childhood in an impoverished part of Washington state.
“We didn’t have much, but my parents made sure we were well taken care of,” she says.
LaCour eventually moved back to Lawrence and enrolled at The University of Kansas. She took classes for one year. Then, her father passed away in October 2015.
LaCour had just turned 21 years old. She dealt with her grief by developing bad habits: partying hard and hanging around the wrong group of people.
“I was a college dropout with no real sense of direction. I have always struggled with my mental health, and when my dad died I just wasn’t able to handle it in a healthy way,” LaCour says.
Then one day, her mom handed her her dad’s old toolbox. Her father was a carpenter and as a young girl, she remembers him building a dollhouse for her with some old scrap wood. Once she had his tools in her hands, she was inspired to start creating.
She started by making reclaimed wood signs with goofy words or sayings on them, using some of that sass her dad so loved about her.
“I have always used my humor as a defense mechanism. I come up with funny and often vulgar sayings. I try not to take myself too seriously,” LaCour says.
Soon, people started asking her to make signs for them, requesting custom names and sayings. She started LaCour Design Co. in honor of her dad, David LaCour. Within weeks she was running a full blown operation in her one-bedroom apartment. Next, “I built a website and joined the maker movement,” she says.
Every piece she makes is made from reclaimed wood; no two are alike. She cuts, sands, stains, paints, and designs each piece herself. LaCour combines her love of modern farmhouse style and attention to current trends as the basis for her designs.
“I’m like Joanna Gaines, if Joanna Gaines drank a lot of beer and had a potty mouth,” she says.
Her father continues to be an inspiration.
“I want to spend the rest of my life trying to be a better version of myself to honor my father,” LaCour says. “He was persistent, creative, and personable, which made him a good businessman. I want to be just like him.”
When asked what she loves most about Kansas City’s maker movement, LaCour says it’s the people.
“I didn’t even know this community existed until last year when I started,” she says. “It is so risky being a maker and putting yourself out there, but it’s rewarding when you realize that you are not in it alone.”
Her advice to up-and-coming makers: Fake it till you make it!
“I am a 24-year-old woman of color who dropped out of college,” she says. “I wasn’t trained formally in what I’m doing, but if it’s healthy and it feels right then go for it!”
She adds that sometimes people put her at a disadvantage for being a woman, especially a woman using power tools. But she says she and other women in the maker movement shouldn’t let what people think keep them from doing what they’re good at.
You can find LaCour Design Co.’s online shop here, on Instagram, as well as in person at The Strawberry Swing’s 5th Annual Spring Swing, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 11 at the Wornall Majors House Museums, 8201 State Line Road.