Music, media and entertainment---how you want,
when you want, where you want.

Shop small: Five holiday hacks for supporting KC makers without leaving home

DATE POSTED:November 27, 2021

Editor’s note: Startland News explored its 2021 archive of most-popular maker stories — as well as looking at the creatives behind its own T-shirt campaign — as part of the newsroom’s five-part holiday gift guide. These items are all available online now. Featured stores, makers and products were not asked to pay to be included in this series. Click here to follow along with the multi-day gift guide as it develops. 

Creatives and entrepreneurs in Kansas City do work that matters, Kevin Garrison said, outlining his vision for a recently released T-shirt that celebrates the collective accomplishments of local innovators. 

Kevin Garrison, Risotopia

Kevin Garrison, Risotopia

“It just really [speaks] to that entrepreneurial spirit and doing work that makes you wanna get up in the morning and do something that changes the world or changes your community,” explained Garrison, a veteran graphic designer and founder of Risotopia, detailing his inspiration for the “Do Work that Matters” tee — one of three designs that make up a limited edition collection of T-shirts that in-part support Startland News’ annual reader support drive. 

Additional shirts in the exclusive collection were designed by Whitney Manney, fashion and textile designer and founder of WHITNEYMANNEY; and Kearra Johnson, rising graphic designer and founder of Studio LO. 

The T-shirts are available only on the Startland News website this holiday season. A percentage of all sales will benefit the designers or a local charity or non-profit organization of their choosing. 

Click here to explore the limited-editing Startland News tees.

Kearra Johnson, Revolution Card Deck, Studio Lo

Kearra Johnson, Revolution Card Deck, Studio Lo

“I wanted to partner with Starland News to do this tee because they played a big part in me starting up my business and sharing my creativity with the world,” said Johnson, outlining her vision for the collection’s “Start, Grow, Flourish” design. 

They were the first to break the story of the Revolution Card Deck and my journey of getting that into the stores — and eventually sold worldwide. It was only right that I helped Startland News out with this campaign.”

Johnson’s design embodies the entire Kansas City entrepreneurial ecosystem, she said, and reflects the sentiment that every idea — no matter its industry or stage (from a high-tech startup to a Main Street maker) — starts somewhere and can grow into something beautiful.

“One thing we all have to do is have that courage to start somewhere. And in starting, that’s when you grow and learn how to operate your business — and [eventually] it will flourish just as you dreamed,” she said. 

Whitney Manney; Todd Race Photography

Whitney Manney; Todd Race Photography

Manney shared a similar vision in her approach and contribution to the limited edition collection, “Worlds of Creation.”

“It represents that we make the city what it is,” Manney said of the bold, three-color design. “I wanted the design to mimic a compass. … I wanted to design something that signifies that makers and creatives really do have a place in the business space — and that we really do rock this city.”

Kansas City makers, however, aren’t only in the business of wearables or design. Startland News worked with four additional makers over the past year to highlight their creative contributions across industries from tech to ceramics — many of which are sold exclusively or easiest to find online. 

Five local ways to fill your online shopping cart

Tiny TV Classics by Basic Fun!

TinyTV Classics by BasicFun  — $26

Tiny TV Classics from Basic Fun! are miniature recreations of televisions — representing eras dating back to the 1950s — that show clips of a popular movie or TV show from the correlating decade. The first release of these miniatures feature clips from “Batman,” “Back to the Future,” “Friends” and “South Park.”

The entertainment devices were created by Overland Park-headquartered Tesseract Ventures. 

“I gravitate toward working on things that haven’t been done before,” John Boucard, founder and CEO of Tesseract Ventures previously shared with Startland News. 

“There’s the ‘moment of astonishment’ for children and consumers who are delighted by our tech. I am all about creating that moment — and I think we can do just that with our Tiny TV Classics.”  

Available in Walmart stores and online. Click here to shop now. 

The Object Enthusiast, Duet

Ceramics from The Object Enthusiast — pieces start at $36

Only two weeks into a college elective course in ceramics, Emily Reinhardt knew her path was designed for pottery — sharing that she quickly fell in love with the extended amount of time and patience it requires.

“From start to finish, I’m enamored with the process of ceramics — drying, firing, cooling — and bringing something to life. I think the process is just as magical as the outcome,” said Reinhardt, who founded her ceramics brand and online shop, The Object Enthusiast, in 2011 after graduating from Kansas State University.

From trays to dishes and vases, Reinhardt can spin up just about anything. 

Click here to shop The Object Enthusiast or here to learn more about Reinhardt’s journey. 

Blankets by Beyond Borders Collective — starting at $150

This Kansas City company’s mission to connect U.S. consumers to native blankets ethically produced by artisans in Ecuador is all about empowerment.

“It all began when Raul, an entrepreneur from Quito, Ecuador, and Kirsten, a missionary from a small town in the heart of Nebraska met and fell in love with each other while she was volunteering in Ecuador. As they were getting to know each other, Raul introduced Kirsten to the art and beauty of textile blankets crafted by indigenous families there,” the company explained of its purpose and beginnings. 

Click here to shop now or here to read more about the ethos and origins of Beyond Borders Collective. 

ChessUp by Bryght Labs — $390

An Overland Park-built connected gaming startup is making moves that run the queen’s gambit with ChessUp; a first-of-its-kind, strategy-first, connected chess board that serves as a coach, analyst, and worthy opponent — all in the course of a single game.

The startup secured more than $1.7 million in crowdfunding earlier this year and became Kickstarter’s most-funded chess project of all-time. 

Click here to pre-order ChessUp boards — expected to ship in 2022. 

KC Entrepreneurship Support Tees by Startland News and local makers — $50

Startland News has partnered with three local designers — Kearra Johnson, Kevin Garrison and Whitney Manney — to celebrate the entrepreneurial, creative and innovative spirit of Kansas City in a wearable way. Donate $50 to the non-profit newsroom’s annual reader support drive and you’ll receive your choice of T-shirt (locally printed at Kansas City’s own Oddities Prints) — and a portion of the proceeds will be returned to the designer or a local charity or nonprofit organization of their choosing.

Click here to shop this limited edition collection of Kansas City-inspired tees and help fund local journalism in the process. 

This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.

For more information, visit and connect at and

The post Shop small: Five holiday hacks for supporting KC makers without leaving home appeared first on Startland News.