After Ryan and Jessica Mead made some furniture for their Northland home, friends wanted some of the 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.
With some online success, they decided to free up their garage and lease a space between the Boulevard Brewing Co. and the Roasterie factory on Southwest Boulevard.
“I can turn right to get beer and left to get coffee,” Ryan said.
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On First Friday weekends they would open the workshop to the public. But then customers wanted them to extend their retail hours, and online customers from the Kansas City area wanted to just 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 Observer hard-cover pocket books from the 1950s to 1970s.
Their furniture pieces are made from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma reclaimed wood. A desk with steel frame sells for $650 and a hexagon side table with steel hairpin legs comes in three different 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, in colors ranging from black to dark gray that they clean and coat. Some retail shops around town also 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 textile blanket rugs. They also sell vintage furniture.
Other locally made products include Ryan Hubbard’s Kansas City Icon Prints, as well as posters and greeting cards from Hammerpress.
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 2001. 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.
“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.”