Since she was a child, Sydney Gasper would tell grown-ups she would one day open a floral shop. And as a 16-year-old she took her first step by working for a Kansas City florist.
“I loved everything about working with flowers,” Gasper said. “But you start out doing the grunt work and then become a designer, it just takes awhile.”
After stints in catering and then as event coordinator for Amigoni Urban Winery, Gasper is focusing on her childhood dream at Ad Astra Market, a Mission shop she opened this summer with Janie Weeks, her best friend since they were 15. They each have three children, now teenagers or close to it, who were getting more independent.
“We were both at a point in our careers and our family life where it made sense for us. And the children help out,” Gasper said. “Now what I have always wanted to be has finally happened.”
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Gasper runs the floral shop, Weeks the bakery and cafe. Weeks had been in catering for 20 years before becoming executive chef of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City for more than five years.
The market menu focuses on healthy protein balls, baked goods and sandwiches, salads and soups with flavors changing daily.
This week the offerings included lemon blueberry protein balls; salad shakers (a salad in cup for customers to eat on the go after mixing in the dressing and shaking); build-your-own sandwiches; snack packs with pita and hummus; protein packs with hard-boiled eggs; fresh berries, cheese cubes and mixed nuts; yogurt parfaits; mini loaves (chocolate chip, lemon-blueberry and raspberry cream cheese); and cookies and bars (lime meltaways, blondies, chocolate cashew, lemon blueberry and more).
Prepacked lunch offerings included a veggie wrap with hummus, and an egg salad on croissant, both for $7 with a bag of chips included.
The Ad Astra Market owners said their spot, at 5811 Johnson Drive, is surrounded by other small businesses, many of them women-owned shops, so they’ve dubbed it the “Girl Power Block.”
“All the other shop owners have come in and welcomed us and recommended us,” Gasper said. “And with all the great families who live over here and support all the shops, it has a great small-town feel.”
Ad Astra Market, (a reference to the Kansas state motto, Ad Astra Per Aspera — to the stars through difficulty), is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. It also can be booked for events. This Sunday, Sept. 24, Gasper will lead a fall floral design class for 10 women, and Wells will provide a fruit and cheese plate, sandwiches and snacks for $80 per person.