I first met Kris Ammon in a Design District showroom drooling over vintage Natuzzi chairs and Oushak rugs. Undeniably chic and smart, I instantly formed a girl crush on this female entrepreneur. A couple of Insta DM’s later and Kris, founder of KCADesign, has given SMUStyle the low down on how she got started, what fuels her insane artistic skills, and the simple – but necessary – steps to take your drab Louis Vuitton Neverfull to new heights.
Tell us about yourself.
I graduated from SMU in 2004 with an Advertising/Marketing degree and I spent the first decade of my career doing just that. I worked for many years at Neiman Marcus in the marketing department, and then also at ad agencies that focused on high end luxury, beauty and travel brands. I made a big career leap a few years ago to work in interior design (specifically in sales), and I loved it. It was such a refreshing change from what I did previously and I feel it really helped prepare me for where I am now with my business.
Personally, I live in Dallas with my husband and English and French bulldogs. When I am not working (which isn’t often), I love trying new restaurants, high tea (love the tea at the Joule!) and Pilates.
How did you come up with the KCA Design Co. concept?
Several years ago I co-founded Betchy Sketch, an illustration brand as a creative outlet for myself. It happened mostly by accident, but that is how I started doing live sketching events around Dallas and got my feet wet having my own business.
Late last year I decided that I needed to finally take the plunge and focus on my business full time. I was still working in interior design at the time, but started working on my site, business plan, logo, etc… in my free time at night and on the weekends. Fast forward to January, I left my job, took a master calligraphy class, flew to NYC to train with an amazing artist to learn new hand painting skills, and launched the brand officially. My main services are calligraphy, illustrations, hand painting and live events (personalizing pieces and live sketching).
How does ordering work?
Ordering is very simple; you can email me, contact me via my site or message me on Instagram and I will give you a custom quote, lead time and even send a concierge service to come get your pieces (and then return them when they are done!). I try to make the process as easy for my clients as possible.
Caroline and I can attest to the simplicity of ordering. After Kris arranged for her concierge to pick up our items from our apartments, we then began exchanging emails to discuss our visions! I opted for a classic block monogram in red with a white shadow on my Louis Vuitton cosmetic pouch. Kris jazzed up Caroline’s Chanel flap bag with a trio of stunning butterflies. SWOON. From denim jackets to Gucci clogs – Kris has it covered.
How has the response to your new business been?
To say I have been thrilled with the initial response would be an understatement. I have been so fortunate to have an amazing group of friends and family who all rushed to give me business my first couple weeks to get things going, and so many have been great referral sources for me and I am so appreciative of that. I love nothing more than the feeling of showing a client their piece/order and seeing how excited they get about it.
I have such a long way to go, but I am enjoying the initial launch phase and all thing trials and excitement that come with it. I truly am energized and so happy to wake up (which I do at 5am daily) to start working on orders!
Where do you find inspiration for you and your brand?
So much of my inspiration comes from my love of fashion and all things strange and gorgeous. My style is a little on the edgy side, so I try to balance things I like with designs that clients want to see. I am constantly asking followers and clients what they want to see and where I can focus to give them what they want, which is the most important thing.
What are your most popular orders?
Right now painting bags and accessories is the biggest piece of my business as well as my made to order denim jackets. Clients love adding fun phrases and custom designs to pieces to make their pieces completely unique to them. I am always happy to design a completely custom piece for a client if they want something no one else will have!
What’s the biggest trend you’ve seen since beginning your company?
Personalization is key. Clients want to put their stamp on everything; whether it is a made to order denim jacket with all the right patches and paint or having their dog painted on a makeup bag, everyone wants their pieces to reflect their personality and interests.
Best piece of style advice?
Less is so much more. I am in the process of purging my closet in a major way right now and instead I am focusing on really great and classic pieces that fit me well and are flattering on (I used to buy a lot of ill-fitting pieces on an impulse and never wore 85% of my closet as a result). Stick with really great quality pieces that truly fit you and you will always have something to wear (and you will look amazing and timeless).
Needless to say, Kris is a power house. I’m still not totally sure how she runs a business full-time and manages to look the way she does. Let her be an inspiration to us all. Follow her on Instagram (@kcadesignco) to stay updated on her latest events and hilariously relatable sketches.
Ladies – our campus is cluttered with Neverfulls and Goyards. Do yourself a favor and try something different. Start with KCADesign.
All photos courtesy of Kris Ammon of KCADesign Co. Feature image by Zoe Dennis photography.