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Meet Casey Simmons of STUFF

Today we’d like to introduce you to Casey Simmons. She and her team share their story with us below:

Since a store named STUFF began in the late 1990s, it has grown into one of the most well-known and respected businesses in the handmade gallery industry. The store now offers work from over 300 hundred artistic sources. At that time, the sisters insisted on not being called “a gallery.”

At that time, the term “art gallery” didn’t fit. Yes, they represented fine artists and fine crafters from the region and beyond. But they weren’t “stuffy” – pun intended. They aimed to be accessible, approachable, open every day, energetic, friendly, open-minded, hip, current, fashionable, and they wanted to create a space for everyone. Now, the term “gallery” conjures many ideas. They have finally adopted their rightful place as a gallery.

One of the most notable parts of this small but well-loved family business is its commitment to the community. They have an expansive program that supports local charities, schools, and not-for-profit organizations. Sloane Simmons and Casey Simmons both serve on community organization boards of directors and have committed time, expertise, and money to over a hundred charities.

They have grown to be an award-winning business – proud to have been nominated for eight consecutive years as being one of the top galleries and stores in America that feature Fine American Craft and honored as one of Kansas City’s Top 25 Small Businesses. Their awards include ethics in business awards and other notable recognitions.

Today, Kansas City – like most cities in the United States – is filled with a new generation of art galleries. a store named STUFF has most definitely evolved, too. But their roots, their mission, and their vision have remained the same – to make art accessible to anyone and everyone, every day.

So… is a store named STUFF an art gallery? Damned skippy it is! And it is a store, an experience, a family of artists, a team of great staff, a local boutique, a destination shop, a hangout, and a place online to find the stuff that makes your home, life, and gift-giving memorable.

This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
We – The STUFF Sisters – have faced challenges both expected and unexpected. A global pandemic was certainly not in our plans. In our 25 years, we have survived economic crashes, shuttering ice storms, three landlord changes, and many other “beyond our control” challenges. But, one of the biggest challenges has always been being respected as professional business people.

Many people like to think that women business owners, notably retail store owners, are just having “fun” pursuing their “hobbies.” It could not be further from the truth. Small businesses are sophisticated operations that take dedication, knowledge, and talent that are greatly underestimated.

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
Take breaks! You can only grow personally and professionally if you take breaks. Take vacations, take a coffee break, take lunch breaks, go on a quick walk. You can not be your best self you don’t look up and see the sky.

Perspective is everything. Get out of your business, your house, and your own head.

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