Youth makers craft new Market-themed totes, shirts

Youth makers craft new Market-themed totes, shirts
Posted on 01/14/2022

Locally made products often pair high quality with a great story – and the Lenexa Public Market’s new merchandise delivers on both counts.

Market staff recently tapped talented youth entrepreneurs to create shirts and totes with a cheerful new design evocative of the Market’s diverse products and engaging atmosphere. Aidan Hall and Lila and Avery O’Hara have become mainstays of our Kid Makers Market and other shopping events over the last several years.

The quality and creativity of Aidan’s Kansas City-themed apparel and the O’Hara sisters’ art prints sparked the Market staff’s interest in working with them on new Market-branded merchandise.

“We had been toying with the ideas for new merchandise for the Public Market for a while, but I wanted it to be different this time, something with more character,” said Amanda Albert, Marketing & Customer Relations Manager. “The three of them have been so involved in the Public Market and were always great to work with, I was certain they could create something amazing. I think the final product is incredible and absolutely captures the essence of the Public Market. We couldn’t be happier!”

You can purchase the new designs at The Flower Market’s self-checkout kiosk. Prices are:

  • Small red totes: $20
  • Large tan totes: $25
  • T-shirts: $25
  • Sweatshirts: $30

Below, Aidan, Lila and Avery share how they started their small businesses and approach work like this new merchandise.

Public Market SweatshirtsAidan Hall (AH): I design and make Kansas City-themed apparel including shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and other fun products.

I design the graphics that go on my apparel digitally. Then, I finalize the work and get it transferred to be used for screen printing. After that, I put it on a shirt using a heat press.

My first item I ever sold was a duct tape wallet. I actually started out selling these at the Public Market when it started out. Since, I have invested in my business to expand my offerings.

Lila and Avery O’Hara (L&A): We sell prints on Etsy at our Etsy shop, Willow Tree Artistry. We use various mediums such as pen, colored pencil, and digital art to create original artworks.

The very first item we made was for our first Kid Maker's Market. We painted flamingos and other watercolor artwork to sell there. Some of our original Christmas artwork is still sold at our markets today. You can definitely see the change from 2018 through the cleaner lines and different styles.

We did our first Kid Makers Market three years ago and it kicked off our business. If we hadn't done that market, we probably wouldn't have been inspired to start our Etsy shop and sell our art. Sip Mingle and Jingle was a very lively event and it gave us a more independent experience. Our experiences with the markets have been so pleasant.

AH: Both these events have grown my reach with the community. The Lenexa community is very supportive of local businesses and has shown me the same support. There are many loyal Lenexa Public Market patrons. I’ve had multiple people come up to me and tell me they still have my duct tape wallets, which is cool to see the continued support from customers since day one.

L&A: When we were asked to help design shirts for the Public Market, we were so excited, and I mean so excited. We really enjoyed the whole process, from brainstorming the design to seeing it printed for the first time- that was so exciting. I think just coming up with a creative way to represent the Public Market, a place we spend much of our time at, was one of the most gratifying parts. There did come a few challenges with wanting everything to be just right. We love the Public Market and we wanted to represent it as best as we could, but we were pretty happy with the outcome.

AH: Then, I received the design and started the screen print process and heat pressed the designs onto the garments. The most challenging part was to get the artwork setup in the software to make sure that it preserved all the fine details.

L&A: It is the absolute best feeling when someone buys our prints. It makes us feel seen and appreciated. It is validating to know that people will pay their hard-earned money for something that we made.

AH: It makes me feel great that people like my products enough to wear them around!

L&A: Our dream is to have a successful business and spread joy. With every piece that we sell, we want that piece to hold a special place in the buyer's heart. It gives us so much gratification just to know that someone somewhere has one of our prints hanging in their house or sitting on their dresser. Just knowing that our work is everywhere is the best feeling. We both enjoy doing what we do and that's the most important thing. And, of course, it would be nice to get a flow of money as well.

AH: I hope to continue my business throughout college and post-college. I would love to expand it as much as I can, hiring employees and potentially opening up retail space one day!

L&A: If we hadn't taken a leap of faith at the very start, we would never be where we are today. If you are truly passionate about what you do, there is no reason to not at least try.

AH: I would encourage other kids to learn what they love to do and go after it! If a roll of duct tape can be turned into a product people are willing to buy, you can find anything you love to do.

Published January 14, 2022