Ampersand Design Studio is where color and pattern come to play. Morgan Georgie and Carrie Kiefer are not only founders of this fun Kansas City-based art and design partnership but are also best friends.
“We studied graphic design together at the University of Kansas School of Fine Art,” say Georgie and Kiefer. “We believe it was no coincidence that we first met in a typography class (even though we had no idea that we’d eventually start Ampersand together). After graduation, we were both hired by Hallmark Cards where we worked together for almost a decade. After about two years, although our careers were fulfilling, we naturally started talking about starting a company together. We’d always dreamed of paving our own path and making our own unique mark on the world. After scheming and countless late nights of freelancing on the side, we decided to start a business creating patterns and artwork for modern, everyday living.”
Georgie and Kiefer named their design venture after the ampersand (&) - the symbol in the alphabet that gets to have a little more fun. The ampersand also represents their combined work effort.
“In addition to the bold scale and color palette in our art, another aspect that makes us stand out is the simple fact that our business is a partnership between two best friends,” they say. “We realize a partnership like ours is rare and really special, and we believe 100 percent that the business would never exist if it weren’t both of us doing it together.”
Their inspiration to create comes from the world around them: “We find inspiration everywhere we go, from the floor of a favorite restaurant to an accidental color palette of painted buildings placed next to each other. Traveling and experiencing new things, whether it’s food, art or an experience, always gives us a creative boost. Our work is frequently full of bright color, so we joke that we never grew out of that whole rainbow-loving phase from our childhood in the ‘80s.”
Ampersand has collaborated with companies including Target, Crate&Kids, Hallmark Cards and West Elm in addition to their own line of products.
“Some of our most popular products have been stationery, housewares, and kid’s room décor, including rugs, bedding sets and fun coordinating pillows. We’ve also loved seeing the rise in KC pride and the popularity of our Kansas City tees, mugs and glasses.”
Kansas City continues to play a major role in the lives of both women.
“The two of us grew up in Kansas City. We both thought we might move somewhere else in our early twenties but always planned to return. When we got job offers at Hallmark Cards right out of school, those plans quickly changed. We knew it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
They say that when they moved back to Kansas City after college, they experienced their native city in a new way and fell in love with it all over again.
“We lived (you guessed it) right next to each other in the SoHo Lofts and Quality Hill Apartments, worked downtown and frequented the many restaurants and bars that Kansas City had to offer. Now, living in Prairie Village and Fairway with five kids between our two families, we are positive that choosing our hometown as a place to raise our own kids was the best decision. The way Kansas City has changed even in the past 15 years is astonishing. There are so many different areas to explore—we love trying all the new restaurants, nightlife, children’s parks and activities. We are now on a new adventure of falling in love with Kansas City through our children’s eyes.”
Georgie and Kiefer say that 2019 will be an exciting year of expansion for Ampersand with new launches including a textile collaboration with two collections of patterned fabric by the yard, as well as new lines of pillows, rugs and kitchen accessories.
“We are also looking to expand our team in the next few months as we grow our own product line and continue to maintain our licensing partnerships,” they say.
Find Ampersand’s artwork on products ranging from textiles, stationery, home decor, fashion and children’s products in various boutiques in the area, the Ampersand Shop inside Made in Kansas City Marketplace on the Country Club Plaza and online at AmpersandDesignStudio.com.