KC's Creative Couples

Three talented local couples demonstrate the exponential power of two in the realms of fashion, design, food and farming.

matt and emily baldwin

The Fashion Arbiters:

Matt and Emily Baldwin of Standard Style and Baldwin Denim

   Matt and Emily Baldwin are KC’s fashion royalty. More than any other local fashion personalities, designer Matt Baldwin of Baldwin Denim, and his wife, Emily, who is co-founder of the razor-chic Standard Style boutiques, have put KC on the national fashion radar with coverage in WWDGQ, Harper’s Bazaar and more. Matt’s own selvage denim label was recently declared by Esquire magazine as “The Best Damn Denim. Period.” And last July, Matt was named one of 10 finalists for the most prestigious fashion award in the nation for up-and-coming designers, The CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, which has launched the fashion careers of Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang and Joseph Altuzarra. The winner will be announced on Nov. 2. In the meantime, the Baldwins continue to reign as KC’s fashion-forward first couple and, well, stylistic standard bearers.


How long have you been a couple?

EB: We’ve been a couple for 16 years. Married 14 years.


Which came first: couplehood or working together?

EB: Interestingly, we met while working together at a summer camp after college teaching wakeboarding. We became best friends, however by summer’s end we began dating. We lived in Breckenridge, L.A., and Vail, [Colorado,] before moving to KC in 2003 to open our first store. Throughout all of our travels and jobs from waiting tables to hospitality, we have always worked at the same companies and together. It was preparation for being married entrepreneurs.  


How do you inspire or complement each other?

MB: I am always looking to grow and progress every season, so encouragement is what we do for each other in the process. To grow creatively, we push the boundaries together consistently.  


Advice on those rare occasions when you disagree or drive each other crazy?

EB: Don’t take it personally. Matt and I try to remember that this is a business and that healthy conversations and questions can bring about the best results.


What do you each admire most about each other creatively?

MB: Emily sweats the details out of care for her team, clients, environment. She has been so intentional about the vision that we started since Day 1.

EB: I love Matt’s free spirit and his ability to listen to sharp instincts that turn into trends. For example, the camouflage trend of 2012, where Jay Z wore the Baldwin camo pant consistently and then the camo trended for the next year globally.


What is the key to maintaining a healthy personal and work relationship?

EB: Keep perspective and make it fun. Life is a journey and although it’s been an intense hustle the last 12-plus years, we have created times to enjoy what we are doing. When it’s challenging you have to dig deep and encourage each other. We are best friends and find it a blessing we are together all the time. We learned boundaries about shutting work down at certain times and being present — most importantly for our three kids, but also for friends and family.


What is your best collaboration so far?

Our three children, Henley, Rogan and Rivington. 


Favorite creative pastime, artist and/or event in KC?

EB: We love to support the local charity events, taking our kids out to eat at our local favorites, and we love Sporting KC games. 


What inspires you the most creatively?

MB: It's all about relevancy of seasons and growing my exposure to travel with emerging cultural concepts. This last season’s collection was inspired by my travels to Paris. The people I'm most inspired by are risk takers who are passionate about life, and they define success not by what they do but who they are.

EB: I get inspired through traveling and micro-culture. Matt and I are always seeking the newest spots in food, music and shopping everywhere we go. I like watching what people are wearing, the environments, the interiors, the smell, the music being played. I am highly analytical so I just soak up as many details as I can.


   For more information visit standardstyle.com and baldwindenim.com, with two store locations, on the Country Club Plaza and at Town Center Crossing in Leawood.


john anderson and nicole williams utilitarian workshop kansas city

The Designers:

John Anderson and Nicole Williams of Utilitarian Workshop

    Anderson’s and Williams’ slogan at Utilitarian Workshop is “uniquely hand-crafted goods for the modern environment.” It is an admirable ideal and one quite in tune with today’s local, DIY ethos. The resourceful design duo craft everything from furniture to custom commercial and residential spaces, including some of the most character-laden spots in town like Port Fonda restaurant in Westport, which mixes rustic reclaimed barn woods with funky neon signs. The couple’s collaborative but comprehensive design program offers everything from graphic design and all aspects of brand identity to custom fabrication, creative direction and the sourcing of unique objects for an indelible environment. Their personal relationship is equally indelible, and they are currently planning their no doubt stylishly artisan and custom wedding.


How long have you been a couple?

JA: Nicole and I have been a couple for four years. We are engaged and currently planning a wedding. We have a beautiful daughter, who is 17 months old and a temperamental 10-year-old lab/Australian Shepherd named Syd.


How did you meet?

JA: We met through a mutual friend while waiting for an elevator during a First Friday exhibition.


Which came first: couplehood or working together?

JA: When we met, we quickly realized our compatibility both personally and professionally.

NW: You could also say there was a mutual respect for the other’s medium.

JA: We shared many common interests and tastes in art, music, design, food, etc. Working together was a very natural progression, and it was something that came easily for us.


How do you inspire or complement each other?

JA: We both are constantly sharing inspiration; we tag each other on Instagram when we find something intriguing.

NW: …in addition to travel and day trips to fun or sometimes bizarre locations.

JA: We do a lot of talking and dreaming about places we would like to visit or projects we’d like to accomplish.


How do you collaborate or divide the labor?

JA: Specifically, Nicole focuses on the graphic-design-related elements while I handle the physical fabrication and design of furniture, fixtures and specialty pieces.

NW: There are really no boundaries when we’re collaborating. It’s this sort of seamless, open communication where we know there’s no offending the other — as we both know it’s a natural part of the process. He strengthens me, just as I do him. I’m not afraid to tell him to tone it down or turn it up. If we’re categorizing “styles,” I’m the conservative one and he’s the free­thinker.


What do you each admire most about each other creatively?

NW: I admire his true ability to think outside the box. He’s not a man about trends. He has a genuine knack for creating and designing spaces that are truly original without relying on the Internet or others’ opinions. Look at the spaces we create; there’s nothing else like them in KC.


What is the key to maintaining healthy personal and work relationships?

JA: Moderation and recognizing when to step away and recharge the batteries.

NW: Communication and a light­hearted personality. The ability to take everything with a grain of salt.


What is your best collaboration so far?

JA: We are genuinely proud of all our projects including Port Fonda, Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters, Second Best Coffee and Heirloom Bakery & Hearth. However, our locally driven, handmade goods storefront was our biggest accomplishment. We created a venue where artists and makers could explore their craft and develop relationships with other creatives. The shop operated as a pop­up-style venue that was open to the public on weekends only and ran for a duration of one year. We are very proud of our successful model, which influenced others in our community to adopt and support a more local approach to commerce.


What dream collaboration would you like to do together in the future?

JA: We dream of creating a destination venue for private events and gatherings.


For more information about Utilitarian Workshop, visit utilitarianworkshop.com.


daniel heryer and brooke salvaggio badseed

The Farmers:

Daniel Heryer and Brooke Salvaggio of Urbavore Farm and Badseed Farmers’ Market

     There is nothing quite akin to Badseed Market, the family-run, sustainable Friday night farmers’ market located in the Crossroads and fostered primarily from Heryer’s and Salvaggio’s urban farm, Urbavore, out back and a few other local farms. Sign up for Badseed’s weekly emails and you will get a mouthwatering missive about the market’s latest bounty, such as “bodacious beets,” muskmelons, blackberries, fresh basil, free-range eggs, “white satin carrots,” “kale bouquets,” heirloom tomatoes and the “sexy veggie of the week.” The market also offers things like heritage pork from Parker Farms Natural Meats, croissants from Ibis Bakery in Lenexa and French farmstead cheeses from Green Dirt Farm for one-stop shopping. Badseed and Urbavore are true labors of love for this dynamic couple, and they’re changing the face of local food consumption in KC one gorgeous purple carrot at a time.


How long have you been a couple?

BS: We are married and have been together for eight years.


How did you meet?

BS:  As aspiring farmers, we met at a rather nerdy "soil science" workshop in Spring Hill, Kansas.  Dan was the only other young person in the room!


Which came first: couplehood or working together?

BS:  Our relationship began with a rather intense friendship.  Dan would volunteer his labor on my eclectic urban farm in south KC while working full-time on another organic farm in town. He was the only other person I'd ever met who had the drive, passion and tenacity to match my own.  Furthermore, we shared the same values and environmental ethics. We had no interest in consumerism or materialism, we enjoyed sweating and working hard for nominal monetary gain, we had the ability to live on a shoestring, and conformity wasn't in our vocabulary. 


How do you inspire or complement each other?

BS:  Dan is a rock.  He inspires me to persevere despite the absurdly long hours, incredible risk and unending challenges we face as we build our solar-powered farm and home from the ground up.  My fiery, loud-mouthed nature complements his quiet, serious disposition. 

DH: Brooke is passionate.  She brings the humor out of me with her crass cynicism.  If it weren't for her, I might not say a word or crack a smile all day.  Throughout our relationship, her passion has combined with my steadfastness to make us both feel that together we can take on anything.


How do you collaborate or divide the labor?

BS: Dan prunes and manages our 5 acres of orchard, he operates heavy equipment and takes the lead on building projects like the construction of our earth-bermed home.  I manage all greenhouse production, do most of the seeding/planting in the vegetable production and manage the Badseed Market. We both weed, harvest, care for livestock and sell at market. 


Advice on those rare occasions when you disagree or drive each other crazy?

BS:  We literally work together 24/7 and raise a child on top of that so, yeah, we argue a lot! But at the end of the day, we truly share the same vision and are purely driven to steward our land in a responsible manner while feeding the community. That said, Dan usually lets me get my way when it comes to what and when to plant!


What is your best collaboration so far?

BS:  Our 13.5-acre farmstead is an "edible oasis" that has sprung up from raw land with no other resources than our own two hands over the last 5 ½ years.


What dream collaboration would you like to do together in the future?

BS:  We are currently finishing up our passive-solar, earth-bermed home (think hobbit house with a modern twist).  Our next project is a multifunctional barn made out of used shipping containers.  We will break ground this winter. 


Favorite creative pastime, artist and/or event in KC?

BS: I make a point of crafting meals from scratch each and every day for my family.  I love to cook the food that I grow, and I enjoy canning and putting up the harvest for winter. 

DH: Bicycles and coffee are my creative pastimes.  I have always found a good ride that took me to new places to be a source of inspiration.


For more information about Urbavore urban farm and Badseed Farmers’ Market, visit badseedkc.com. The Badseed Farmers’ Market is open every Friday night from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Nov. 20 and will be open until 8 p.m. in the winter months at 1909 McGee St.




Categories: Art, Arts & Entertainment, Fashion, People