Kate McConnell grew up in a large family, and she often visited and shopped at estate sales and thrift stores, repurposing her finds. She studied textiles at the University of Kansas, and the education proved to be life changing. “It was the dawn of mega fast fashion, and I could see that the quality of the fabric and the patterns declined,” McConnell says.
She worked in a fabric shop in Lawrence in addition to her studies, and after graduation she applied to work at Asiatica with owner Elizabeth Wilson in Kansas City. “That was when I started really understanding construction. By 2014 I was production manager, but I continued to cut because I loved it. It informs the process in so many ways.”
McConnell is now a designer and production manager at Asiatica, but she has also started her own business. Originally, she started designing and making dresses and gowns and selling Kantha blankets at pop-ups prior to the pandemic. “The aesthetic is just a part of me,” she says. “Even if they weren’t art. I had become so engrossed in my job that having pop-ups with my clothes was fun.”
But her business is evolving again. She continued to show and sell product through Instagram during the shutdown. Once things began opening up again, she started to rethink her operation. “The pop-ups were popular and successful, but also a lot of work,” she says. I wanted a place to land.”
McConnell has just leased a booth at Urban Mining and it’s affecting her business in positive ways. “I can change things every month if I want to and expand what I offer. Also,
I’d rather be there talking with people than working only on social media.”