west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

With a brand called Happy Habitat and a line of colorful cotton textiles, it should come as no surprise that west elm LOCAL maker Karrie Kaneda has some pretty warm feelings for her home, Kansas City. Like many independent designers that work from home, Karrie’s locale has become her unofficial office, a place that acts as a source for inspiration and an incubator for ideas. Kansas City’s tight-knit community in particular has been a boon to business people like Karrie, its supportive arts scene and community of makers a definite perk of life in the so-called “City of Fountains.” We tagged along with Karrie for a week while she prepared for a big photoshoot of her latest work, hopping from shop to café and visiting a few friends in-between. Join in below + shop Karrie’s blankets on westelm.com!

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“I’m going to cram a lot of what I do into one week. There will be lots of coffee, bubbles, and food. A blur between work and play as that’s my life. So—here we begin. Kansas City. Here’s my favorite view of where I call home.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“I actually love Mondays. I love what I do, and can’t really call it work, so I look forward to what’s to come on Mondays. Timing on this west elm LOCAL city guide thing works out well, because I have a lot going on right now. There’s a big photoshoot scheduled next weekend, so I’m running around this week gathering props. I’m not going to lie, sometimes this is an excuse to business expense stuff I want. Grabbing a fiddle leaf fig today from Family Tree Nursery. I know the fiddle leaf is kind of cliched, but I like ’em anyway, so going with it. Of course, my eye goes to the patterns in the succulents. So much beauty and inspiration here—the air smells good. I always leave this place happier than when I arrived.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“Still hunting for props! I’m not a huge shopper, so don’t really know where to go and am not really sure what I’m looking for, so hitting places I know…that carry my throws! Jaclyn from The Coveted Home just brought back some amazing finds from her trip to Morocco, but always cool to see support for local too. The art here is by the insanely talented girls of Porter Teleo. Proud to say they are from KC!”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“I work from home and I have a tiny studio. People tell me when they see it, it’s so much smaller than it looks in pictures. Smoke and mirrors, people! I get bored working at home, so I get out as much as I can. I have a few coffee shop favorites. Broadway Cafe is a pretty unassuming place, but they finally know my order without me having to tell them and that feels good. Triple short. Good coffee is a necessity for me. Very important. I smile every time that heart cappuccino is handed to me, I feel the love.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“I’m SOOOO excited about this news! Just made a quick stop by my friend Adam’s place to see the progress on some furniture we’re collaborating on. Finalizing design on a bench and discussing wood and pattern options. My throws have been backed for upholstery strength use and we’re seeing how that feels. This is a sample for a friend made from reclaimed wood—you should feel it! So soft and smooth. Our line will be a bit different as this is custom work, but pretty cool to imagine how this will come together.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“More collaborating tonight! I’m working with the Ampersand Studio girls on designing some throws. Sometimes it’s good to get out of my own head. I get sick of working by myself, so it’s nice to bring in a new perspective. We had dinner and drinks tonight to discuss designing some throws that represent both them and me. Maybe it was the raspberry margaritas from Little Freshie, but we came up with 4 ideas super quick. Or maybe we just wanted to get on to the mouthwatering food at Port Fonda. I feel kind of weird not posting a picture of the iconic lighted Port Fonda sign, but since this is KC through my eyes, these are the things i notice. These cool little drawings are all over—done in a sharpie by tattoo artist Mikey Wheeler.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“We hit up Doughnut Lounge after eating at Port Fonda to bring home some donuts for the kids (haha—yeah, “for the kids”). I have to say the s’mores doughnut does not disappoint. After a few margaritas, we took some pretty ridiculous pictures with donuts while we were there. I’ll just say the fleshy color of the glazed donuts did no favors for the already inappropriate placement of the donuts—just use your imagination, I’ll spare you the pictures and instead give you this pretty one.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“Stopped by to take a snap of this on my way to picking up my kids from school. This is just up the street from me and it makes me so happy to see cool art and interesting food going in within walking distance of my house. This mural is by local designer Lance Flores. Beautiful work, lance! The pizza shop isn’t open yet, but I’ll be first in line.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“Big day today! First stop—Convivial Production’s studio. Like the Ampersand Studio girls, Chentell has become a dear friend. KC is such a great community, because like-minded people can connect and are so willing to share information. Maybe it’s a Midwest thing. Although Chentell makes ceramics, we have similar businesses, ethics, and goals and it’s so nice to be able to toss ideas around with each other. So today, I’m stopping by to pick her up for some lunch and talk—but also grabbing a gift for a friend while I’m here. I love looking around here—she’s always up to something new. And don’t let her sweet smile and demeanor fool you—this girl is one of the smartest and fiercest business women I know! These are some freshly made ceramics—I’ve never seen them at this stage—the color is like I’ve never seen it and it’s a bit unfinished. Always cool to watch her process and see how she has become more efficient. Chentell and I have a pretty serious trade program going. Apparently she has a file on me. I can’t get enough. Lucky to call her a friend.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“Next up—some lunch. I often forget to eat, unless I make plans with someone, but man, if I could eat this every day, I would never forget to each lunch. Pigwich is my new favorite. And i’m mad at myself for not grabbing to-go yumminess from The Local Pig next door. Lesson learned. Stock up next time I’m there.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“Chentell and I chatted too much at lunch and didn’t save much time to look around at Urban Provisions. Still on a hunt for props for the photoshoot. Not really sure what I’m looking for. I love visiting my retailers and am lucky to have a handful around town that are the coolest shopkeepers ever. Good people that I can truly call my friends.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“My friend Tyler knows not to meet me at a crappy coffee joint. Good talk, but I’m still not sure why we met—which I’m just going to enjoy. Just catching up and hearing of the latest at Made In Kansas City and other interesting projects he’s got going on. It’s refreshing to hear about prospective projects that have no real business value—I know that sounds nuts, but that’s the best part—doing things because they sound interesting and will be fun, not just for the outcome of making money. My kind of “business”. I’m a believer that you should do things because you truly love it, and are fulfilled by that and not to make a buck. Hopefully the money will follow, but if it doesn’t you still feel good about the experience.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“Gearing up for the big photoshoot on Sunday! I designed some new throws—they are a bit masculine and I wanted to take a different route stylistically speaking for photography. Typically, my designs and photography are clean and vibrant, so I’ll just say we’re doing the opposite of that. This concept has been so much fun to develop and pretty amazing how this team of people came together. This has gone way beyond just a photoshoot. I don’t have a big budget (actually, I don’t have a budget, because I don’t budget), so I can’t just call in a big professional ad agency. But that’s not my style, anyway. I wanted to work with people who haven’t done anything like this before. I figure we would come up with something different and unexpected. I didn’t want things overly-styled and perfect. I’ve met with everyone a few times, but time got away from us and now all of a sudden, it’s here! I hope we’re ready! Turned out last minute, I was able to get some of us together for drinks at my favorite place for bubbly—Ça Va. I think the stars are aligning. Hope the magic continues on Sunday.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“My work schedule is pretty random. I pick my kids up from school every day, so my days are cut short. I often work at night after they are asleep. Today, I’m catching a few hours on a Saturday morning. Like i said, I like to work and actually feel funny even calling it work, so I’m happy to do it whenever it fits in. Grabbing a cappuccino at PT’s today—and gathering my thoughts and image ideas for tomorrow’s shoot.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“Running a business with kids is kind of awesome, and I can’t really talk about Happy Habitat without mentioning my littles. I love that they are a part of it. They get to learn right along side of me. They see the good, and the bad—mistakes made and learned from. Chances are if you call me (and i actually answer—sorry, i’m bad about that!), you’ll be on speaker phone in my car on the way to a soccer game or at home with kids in the background. I used to be worried that people would figure me out— but now I don’t care. I’m always respectful to customers and retailers, but i don’t mind anymore if someone hears my kids. That’s real life. If it’s not professional, then that’s okay. Oh, and this is totally a #happyhabitatfakescene—I had to bribe my kids with ice cream sandwiches, apple pie and banana muffins to take this photo (the boy is a tough negotiator!).”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“Celebrated a friend’s birthday tonight and had the BEST dinner. Loved the dark atmosphere at Voltaire and the food was insane. I salivated over boar with plums, octopus and chorizo and scallops—yes, I ate 3 meals, but shared. Hit up Lucky Boys next door afterwards—good vibes for sure.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“Shoot day is here! I’m trying my best to let everyone do what they’re good at doing while staying out of the way—but still want to give a bit of direction (it’s my nature, i can’t help it!) I finally walked away during the main scene and let them do their thing. Couldn’t resist snapping a #peopleiknowonathrow of this beauty while trying to not watch what was happening in the other room. This is another one of those cases of someone that I’ve worked with who has also quickly become a dear friend. Maybe it’s the scorpio thing, but this girl is a special one. She’s here today to do hair and make up, but we’re also using her in a scene. There’s so much good energy here today—it’s pretty amazing.”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“Just a little peak of what’s happening. The light is gorgeous!”

west elm LOCAL - Kansas City with Happy Habitat

“And that’s a wrap! Thank you for coming along and letting me show you a bit about Happy Habitat and my city. Cheers!”

Move your mouse over me

Karrie Kaneda of Happy Habitat

After some soul searching, Karrie Kaneda left her corporate career behind to pursue her passion for art. Now, Karrie creates bold and bright throws made of recycled cotton for her company Happy Habitat. From her home base near Kansas City, the designs are sent to a small team of expert knitters in New Jersey, where they’re handcrafted to order. Follow Karrie on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Josh | The Kentucky Gent

March 1, 2016

Always heard great things about Kansas City, and now I’ve got a great list of places to check out when I finally drag myself their to visit. Thanks Karrie!

Gina

March 1, 2016

Karrie is the real deal. She oozes talent and Kansas City is so lucky to have her!!!

Jen Pollard–Park Place Designs

March 7, 2016

I have loved Happy Habitat’s happy textiles for a while now. Knowing that Karrie and I share the same hometown makes it even more special! And thanks for introducing some places even I was unaware of. Love this article!

Amber

August 3, 2017

Oh KC, how I love thee. Living abroad and missing the homeland, so B.I.L sent us a Happy Habitat throw. It delights us with the creativity from our home….and hurry up with that Design Shed furniture collab – ready to park on one of those fine textile+reclaimed wood benches!

Related Posts