Every success story begins with a spark of inspiration. For Sara Kenton, it was witnessing her husband’s unbridled enthusiasm over a $400 cooler from a company called YETI. Drawn by the emotional connection it forged with consumers, she knew she wanted to work for a brand that could inspire such passion. This desire eventually led her to join YETI, where she played a pivotal role in building their direct-to-consumer business from scratch.
Born in Austin and raised in Overland Park, KS, Sara returned to her roots to attend The University of Texas at Austin. “It was at UT that I developed an appreciation for brands capable of forging genuine, emotional connections with consumers,” says Sara.
While at YETI, fate intervened when Sara crossed paths with Chris Keller, who shared her Kansas upbringing and a passion for quality products. As coworkers, the duo helped propel YETI from a $30 million venture to nearly a billion-dollar corporation. Despite their successes, they longed for the startup days and dreamed of building something of their own.
Their shared expertise in rotational molding, the manufacturing process behind YETI’s coolers, laid the foundation for their next venture. Both with young families and a love for the outdoors, they envisioned enhancing outdoor experiences in their backyards. Thus, Tupelo was born, a company committed to crafting heirloom-quality outdoor furniture with durability and artistic design.
Their first product, the Loop Chair, launched in 2021 marking the beginning of Tupelo’s journey. To achieve their vision, they enlisted the help of Steve Nichols, a talented product and design expert, who elevated their ideas to new heights. The product line expanded to include four chairs and accessories like Cornhole and the Zephyr Tree Swing.
Tupelo’s dedication to craftsmanship and design soon garnered recognition from prominent media outlets such as Architectural Digest, HGTV, Forbes and more. Their commitment to “keeping it simple” became a core value. This permeated every aspect of their business, from product design to customer service and marketing.
As a fast-growing retail network emerged, Tupelo’s furniture found its place in high-end outdoor furniture stores in design-savvy cities like Los Angeles, Miami, and New York, as well as local establishments like The Backyard and Patio Store in Bee Cave.
As Tupelo continued to gain momentum, the founders’ focus shifted to scaling the business while staying true to their original vision. The passion and hard work invested into Tupelo’s growth reflected their dedication to the brand, its products, and the community that supported them.
“We take immense pride in building Tupelo here in Dripping Springs, as this community’s unwavering support has been humbling, and we want to make this town proud,” says Sara.
“My husband, Adam, recently marked his 15th year of teaching at Rooster Springs Elementary.” The Kentons have an eighth-grade son and a sixth-grade daughter, both sports enthusiasts. Sara has proudly coached volleyball at DSYSA for five years. Chris and Erin Keller’s fifth- and eighth-grade daughters are also involved in sports and cheer for Dripping Springs.
Approaching its fifth year, Tupelo remains committed to crafting exceptional outdoor furniture while fostering a love for the outdoors in families across the nation. Sara and Chris’ journey is a testament to the power of passion, dedication and the unyielding pursuit of simplicity to build a brand with an enduring connection to its customers.