From late-night hangouts and favorite taco joints to morning routines and coffee runs, peak behind the curtain to experience a day in the life of some of the makers and doers driving Kansas City’s creative movement—and defining a lasting local culture.
- [Interviewer] That looks great.
- These are little footed cups,
so I'm doing lots of multiple small ones
so I'm throwing off the hump,
which just makes it easier to not have to
center tiny pieces of clay on the wheel.
This is a porcelain clay body,
so it's super soft and it'll fire super white.
My name's Emily Reinhardt.
I'm the founder and ceramic artist
behind The Object Enthusiast.
We make a lot of handmade pottery,
functional vessels and vases.
I mean for me, owning a business is hard enough
even when things are going really well financially
and just day to day operations.
And I have a lot of peers and friends who run
the same type of business in New York City or in Los Angeles
and the struggles of getting packages to the post office,
and affording studio space, and affording employees.
I don't think I could do what I do here somewhere else.
I was coming in town to do a lot of events and pop up shops
and things with my business and every time I left
I was like I just wanna be a part of that, permanently
and not just swing in town for it.
So for me it was just a slow draw back into my hometown.
I never thought I'd end up back where I grew up.
And it feels so different than when I lived here as a kid.
- [Interviewer] What got you into objects?
- [Emily] I really love...
I'm very interested in what people collect
and the stuff that people live with and
just surround themselves with
and I think that says a lot about a person
so I think it's kinda what got me started
making those things, was just wanting the things I make
to complete someone's space.
Well, it's funny.
I played Barbies a lot when I was really young,
but I wasn't playing dolls, I was setting up their homes
and I was building objects out of Sculpey
and firing them in the oven
and making accessories for my Barbies
and playing Barbies was all about setting up their houses
and their stuff.
So it wasn't like the Barbie itself.
Feedback is so valuable and having people shop in person
and getting to come to the studio and pick things out,
feel things and hold things
and mention what they're using it for is really,
it motivates me to make new things
and keeps the new ideas fresh and interesting.
Having that need to keep something that meant something.
And I think that's probably how I've latched on
to making things and just wanting the things I make
to speak that way to someone else.
And wanting the things I make to become an heirloom,
like a held on treasured thing.
This holds my rings.
My husband gave me this or whoever.
It has meaning beyond liking the way it looks.
- My name is Chris Goode.
I'm the founder of Ruby Jeans Juicery.
We started a juice company here in Kansas City in 2015.
It's all named after my late grandmother
who died of type 2 diabetes back in 1999.
The true passion of why I wanted to start
centers around my grandmother and the way she ate
and how she never got into living healthy.
Serving that need at home, in these very streets
that she walked was important for me.
It's important for our foundation to be at home
in a place that it's most needed.
And I've always just had a huge affinity for the underdogs,
the people that go after what they're passionate about
with a zeal that can't be matched.
So I like to put my money where my mouth is.
The little resources that I have,
I'm gonna drink coffee, I'm gonna get a haircut.
I might as well support our city.
The people that bleed and mold the city
the same way that I do.
- You guys are in a magical spot right now man,
just being right here on the corner of 18th and Vine.
Right now when we started the Historic Lincoln Building
which this building's over 100 years old,
even like myself having the opportunity to come
to 18th and Vine it was like an honor, man.
I can remember writing book reports about 18th and Vine
and now having the chance,
the opportunity to not only establish a business
but to be involved from a community standpoint,
reaching back and giving back to the community
and right now from corner to corner from 18th
all the way up to 19th and Vine
you have a total of over 30 of either black owned,
black ran or black operated businesses.
- I was telling him how I went to
Saint Vincent's back in the day,
which is now Operation Breakthrough,
and then here I am, 31 years later
operating a business right across the street.
So that parallel is pretty dope.
I think that's a blessing,
it's a blessing to be able to create impact and change,
you know what I mean?
From a very positive perspective.
It's like you live it and you go through it every day
but it's almost surreal when you think about it
because it's like not only are we creating our own legacies
for ourselves and for our children
but we're trying to change the landscape of our city.
So it's pretty cool.
So from a black owned business perspective,
to actually set up a brick and mortar location
will the first inside of a Whole Foods in history.
It's amazing and it is Kansas city.
That's who we want to be,
is a part of the fabric of Kansas City.
And we're only standing here because of Kansas City
so it's just one big circle of support, of loyalty,
of love for our city.
It's well kept secret that's becoming
more and more known about.
Man, my grandma, man.
I think she would just be proud, man.
I think she would just be honored to see what's been done
in her name and the legacy that's been created.
I think at Ruby Jeans if I really had to think back
these three and a half years what we've done the best
to add to the landscape of Kansas City
it's being a place that can be truly diverse in every way
surrounding something that is beneficial
to everyone that's there.
When you come into our doors during a lunch traffic period
you'll see every walk of life.
And I think what it's done is sitting where we sit
right here at 30th and Troost
it's allowed people from all sides to come together
and gather around something that's healthy
and meaningful to their life.
- I like to go out and do one day characters.
- [Interviewer] Yeah that's awesome.
Does that kinda take you back to your roots a little bit?
- Yeah, it's 100% only for me so I never talk to anybody
about what I'm painting
and honestly most of the time I actually don't even know
until I get there and just like a lot of things,
I start with the eyeball
and then I just start painting a character
just to knock the stress off, I guess.
- [Interviewer] Okay. No expectations.
- Nope, no.
It's called 100% freestyle and no expectations,
no concern about whether it meets anybody's approval
or it's selling anything or anything like that.
It's just really about almost walking up to
a vertical sketchbook and enjoying myself.
I'm really lucky that I've had the support.
At the beginning it was a little sketchy.
People weren't really sure what to expect out of it
and as the city grew, so did people's attitudes
towards different kinds of artwork.
Participating in that process has been a real blessing.
It's still sort of surreal to sometimes drive by a mural,
go to work, see a lot of stuff up on the walls
and see people enjoy it.
But seeing people enjoy it is the thing that keeps
motivating me to try to figure out
what the next step is going to be.
I like to keep people happy and entertained if I can.
- [Interviewer] All right, you good?
Painting these, they were actually somebody
that constantly harassed the rhino.
And in my original paintings
they used to represent peer pressure.
The bees were constantly trying to get the rhino
to turn from a rhino into a bee.
But that was after I got kicked out of school
and I was trying to figure out
what I was supposed to be doing with my life
and at that time a lot of my friends were consistently
trying to work on me to go out and do stuff
that wasn't really gonna be beneficial to my life.
But I used to draw them always as angry
or I would be angry at them about it
because I felt like it was being done to me on purpose
and so as I started letting a lot of that type of stuff go
and realized that it was actually me pressuring myself,
thinking that I understood what everybody's motives were,
the bees just starting moving happier and happier
and started just representing people.
It became a fun way to do characters
that just represented citizens.
So I worked for a sign shop that did all the ADA signs.
So those pink signs behind you, next to the office doors.
And then I met somebody from facilities and I'd come in
all covered in paint and he'd tease me and be like
you know, you need to look nicer when you come in here.
And I teased him back and said,
you need some better murals
or you need some more murals in here
and he challenged me back and said
well, show me what you got.
And I brought my portfolio in.
I was working in the sign industry
but I wanted something with better insurance.
And I hit him up and said I need to do something,
my wife and I are gonna have a kid.
And he said all I can do is get you in
as a maintenance painter.
Once they see what you can do
then I think your job's gonna change and mold.
And I think I only did maintenance painting
for about six months
and I did a mural on the ER
and then people started asking where did that come from
and then these small design jobs ended up
eating away at one job and one day they came to me
and changed my job description.
It's sort of like a trip around the world.
A lot of these kids are bound by how much travel
and stuff they can't do
because of what they're saddled with.
So a lot of these kids have appointments
and things that can't be broken.
As they're going through this process
and working towards the healing process this is what we hope
is something kids can look forward to.
There's life beyond these walls.
There's stuff that I can look forward to going and doing.
Big Dude's Music reached out to me
and I painted that mural with my friend Gear
and when we first started it we were two guys
standing out on the street with spray paint cans
in a city that a lot of people had not seen that happening
out in the public other than the idea of
this is either gang related or this is something
that's related to an illegal activity.
And people drove by, cussed us out.
I'm not gonna say what they said to us but it wasn't nice.
And one person even threw their lunch and their drink at us.
And when Big Dude's finally decided to remove the mural
just because of age, a lot of people freaked out
and were upset that it was gone and I got a flood of emails
of people upset about the fact
that part of what had become normal for them was gone.
And that was actually one of the first times that I felt
like I sorta made it
because an area that was either confused by it
or upset by it at first,
or it was considered radical went from feeling that way
to taking ownership of it.
And I actually felt like I was a little bit more a part
of Kansas City at that turning point
was when people wanted to make sure that it stayed there.
That was a pretty awesome feeling.
- [Interviewer] Describe who you are
and what is meaningful to you.
- My name is Fidel and I sell cigars here in Kansas City.
I'm a very big cigar salesman type of a man.
I'm Sly James, I'm the mayor of the city.
I consider every child in this city
to be one of my children.
I like City Year because of the near peer approach.
And that message is being delivered by people
who spend time with them in their environment
everyday and meet them where they are.
I always like to try to find new places
and places that are small and local
and somebody turned me on to this and I went,
and then we went back and we went back again.
It's good food, it's a nice atmosphere, unpretentious,
a little small place.
And when you have people that are investing
that kind of time and energy into something
you kinda want to encourage them.
So I show up and eat at a lot of different places
just because a, I love the food, but b,
I want them to know that we appreciate them being there.
They're providing jobs, contributing to the whole feel
of Kansas City.
It's just another place for me to tell people who say,
hey where should I go to lunch?
Hey, why don't you try this place.
We shouldn't be talking about it
'cause now I'm just gonna get hungrier.
My calendar often is nine o'clock meeting,
10 o'clock meeting, 11 o'clock meeting, 12 o'clock,
and it goes like that sometimes until four, five o'clock
and then there's something in the evening
or another meeting off campus,
or hoping on a plane and going somewhere
and you don't have time to think during that stuff.
You're responding and reactive.
I like to be proactive
and the place that I'm able to have those proactive thoughts
is at home.
Usually after a cigar and some scotch.
- [Interviewer] What gives you the energy to do this?
- I think you pick up energy from the crowd.
Just being around people.
There's a lot of times you're dragging
but you get reenergized when you're around
the groups of people or whatever the case may be.
Admittedly sometimes it's hard being on all the time.
To be real honest with you.
My favorite activity when I don't have something to do
is to do nothing.
- [Interviewer] I'm sure that's a nice change of pace
from your normal schedule.
- It is very nice.
Very much appreciated.
Just do nothing.
And I've always thought that you're best
when you reinvent yourself every 10 years or so.
Just do something different.
Get excited about things again.
Stop doing the same old, same old over and over and over.
Even though it's fun you start getting into a real pattern
and you lose some of the excitement.
So it's gonna be exciting to get cracking
on something new next year.
Working on the book, gonna do some consulting,
gonna do some writing, gonna do some speaking
and try to control my life
but also just stay engaged in issues that I care about
but without being tied down
and fettered by being an elected official.
- I've always felt like the summer,
the couple months in the summer of my childhood
sort of had the same vibe as that Sandlot movie
so I had this group of friends and my older brother,
who was just a year and five days older than me,
so we were thick as thieves.
We just had this group of friends
that our goal in the summer was to find some form
or fashion of baseball to play.
We had like three or four solid spots
but each spot had it's own little unique characteristics
and some spots we had to play with a tennis ball,
some spots we would play with a whiffle ball bat.
Our favorite spot took the most effort,
was to walk up, I think it was probably of couple miles,
was to walk up to this park in Olatha
that seemed like a long, long walk when you're a little kid.
We would go play home run derby
with real bats and real balls on a 200 foot field.
Somehow there were not a lot of home runs hit
so I don't know if we could actually call it
home run derby but...
Those are the times that I really remember.
And so in 2013 my brother passed away.
My older brother that was a year,
almost a year exactly older than me.
And that was sort of the catalyst for me
to make some changes in my life
and so it just sort of brought back this flood of memories
of my childhood and some of the best times I had with him
and strangely enough almost all of them
revolve around baseball or sports.
So I think it was just sort of a little bit of a sign
to do something with that.
Seeing people purchase something that was made
in Kansas City in Canada or,
I think we've sold some stuff in Denmark.
A lot of people think that the best stuff
comes out of New York or LA so when someone buys something
from Kansas City that lived in one of those cities,
there's just something good feeling about that.
Like we're sort of helping put an end
to the flyover country thing, I guess.
I'd say that what has given me
the greatest sense of accomplishment is working with
local big name companies to bring us sustainable work
because nothing excites me more than the prospect
of being able to provide steady jobs.
It's exciting to maybe someday be viewed as
a great employer, that sorta thing.
There's companies like Cerner that provide us
with a lot of work.
Obviously being a baseball themed company
working with Dayton Moore and the Royals.
The day that they ordered some stuff from us was
sort of like a big victory, mentally, for me
'cause I'm a huge Royals fan and the baseball connection.
So them taking note of a baseball themed startup company
was pretty exciting.
There's so many great companies in Kansas City
that want to help the smaller ones grow.
- You can tell a bunch of big dudes were eating in here.
- [Interviewer] Yeah! Or sweating...
- It's like a make out section in here
I want you to say your memorized lines
- Memorized lines?
- We've been working on this for three weeks now.
- My father has been an entrepreneur
for as far back as I can remember.
The first image of me seeing a black man be successful
and create his own.
It's just a natural thing for me
to want to support Kansas City.
- [Interviewer] City shuffle. Kansas City two step.
- This song is playing, man.
It's one of the most popular songs,
the Kansas City two step.
Uncle Earl over there who specializes in it.
I don't know if y'all can see them platform boots
he got on from over here, man, but...
- How I steps in the building, like this.
That's how I step into everywhere.
- And, sorry.
Do you, okay. Um...
So I think I have to start over.
- [Interviewer] Who is this?
- This is Ruby, this is my dog Ruby.
She's part of the team too.
There's three of us who work here full time.
It's me, myself, Jordan Aloni and Shelby Mary, and Ruby.
- [Interviewer] She's posing now.
- You'll see a film crew here.
Don't be worried, they're doing cut outs for
the next episode of Equalizer three.
Denzel got sick and they needed
What's so funny?
- [Interviewer] That is a great question.
Where is the first place you'll drive yourself?
Or do you drive yourself?
- No I don't.
Every now and then I sneak out.
What do you mean I'm a liar?
Every now and then I sneak out.
I mean literally maybe once a month,
once every two weeks or something.
And I'll drive to Burger King
to get a sandwich on a Sunday morning.
- The stack of wallets over there,
we call it the Monarch wallet.
It's sort of like a nod to Kansas City.
We call our bill fold the Leroy, Leroy Satchel Paige.
We call our bifold the Ewing bifold.
Just things like that.
We keep it subtle so people outside Kansas City won't..
It's just a name but hopefully in Kansas City see it.