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Meet Johnny Dawbarn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Johnny Dawbarn.

Hi Johnny, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
We (Michele and Johnny Dawbarn) have been running small KC businesses for close to two decades now, I (Johnny) worked at Hallmark Cards as an Artist/Art Director/Innovation Leader for close to 25 years and now we are currently are the co-owners of sewKC (Kansas City apparel and accessories brand) sold at numerous retailers across KC including Made in KC, Kindred, Teaella, Midcoast Modern, 3&Me, SouviNEAR, Westside Storey, DEMDACO and Junque Drawer…and Collective EX an all-inclusive creative space (art studio, fabrication) home to a dozen artists ranging from design illustration, photography, woodworking @mcginnismade, metalwork @nomadmetalwork, to even floral design @floraloom. We’ve worked with such companies as Boulevardia, MIKC, Middle of the Map, EB&co, Kindred, Wonder Wonder, Dave & Busters, Monarch Bar & Grill, Pilgrim Coffee, Thou Mayest Coffee, Convivial, Dollar Shave Club and Shawn White’s Air + Style.

When the opportunity arose to add a new coffee concept to our studio space inside Collective EX, we thought about how it could be an amazing way to continue our goal of supporting local collaboration and creativity. The idea of having a social space where people can meet and work would be a natural conduit for the businesses we already own/run (sewKC/Collective EX) to interact within a gathering space for like-minded people to meet…over delicious coffee!

After some research, concepting and inspiration, HITIDES Coffee would be our new venture we’d be pursuing. The concept, a Hawaiian/ Tiki / Mid Century Modern inspired coffee shop with tropical-inspired beverages/food and all your classic favorites. We established new relationships/partnerships Snoasis Ice Cream and Donutology Donuts for a celebration of delicious artisan flavors, classic “go-to” favorites and unforgettable cross category treats. With exclusive blends of coffee/espresso roasted by partner and nearby neighbor, @Marcellcoffee to morning bagels provided by local favorite Meshuggah, we hope to create a warm, inviting atmosphere that celebrates the fun in our culinary process as well offer exclusive desserts…all with a tropical vibe!

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Well, 2020 alone was challenging for everyone and we most certainly were affected. Fortunately, with our range of experience, hustle and motivation, we were able to pivot in a really positive way. When the seriousness of the Coronavirus started showing up in the U.S. and began to take effect on the medical field’s supply of safety masks, a local doctor reached out and asked if we would be willing to make some handmade masks for her and her clinic. She shared a link to the CDC guidelines/pattern and how to make them within spec. We made a few and delivered them and they were unbelievably grateful. Friends quickly caught word of what we were doing and wanted some as well and began telling others. We rapidly recognized the need was going to be much more than what we anticipated and began to think how could we help out. After more material gathering, planning, converting our studio and assembling a creative team (most who were out of work with no income coming in due to other local business shutdowns) we began making multiples, with intent to donate one to facilities in need…every time one was purchased (buy one/give one).

When we posted that we were doing this to Instagram/Facebook, the orders and the number of “thanks” were overwhelming. Immediately we had thousands of orders placed from all over the United States, Canada and the UK which meant we were able to donate just as many and more (some people are electing to donate theirs purchased as well). Sewing around the clock with dozens of seamstresses in shifts, our talented team (within recommended social distancing) feverishly completed and shipped as many as possible. The KC Mayors office helped us to keep working with safe practice and gave us the needed permissions to be deemed an essential business. To date, we made over 125k masks…and honestly, the overall positivity from helping others in such a negative time is what drove and motivated us to keep working….especially in such a strange and difficult time.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
• BFA Design/Illustration major of KCAI • Former 25 yr employee of Hallmark – Artist, Senior Art Director, Innovation Leader, New Business Development

• Illustrative work for such local clients as American Shamen, Made in KC, Thou Mayest Coffee, Middle of the Map, Quixotic, and nationally such as Dollar Shave Club and Shawn White’s Air + Style.

• Design, illustration, branding and Concept and retail development…with a variety of capabilities to fabricate (Laser etching, 3D Printing, CNC Routing, Woodworking, Printmaking, Cut and Sew, Screen Printing, etc.)…a “Jack of all trades”.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
Well, we believe experiential retail is the new way of approaching brick and mortar spaces. If you think about companies like Amazon delivering via drone to your doorstep same day (slightly exaggerated, but not really) you really have to ask yourself why as a business owner are people going to come visit your shop? It can’t just be product alone anymore…an experience that is different, memorable and offers a variety of interests is a great way to ensure why your audience would come to see what you’re up to. Of course, once they are in your space, you have to deliver on quality products and cater to whatever level of engagement they are hoping for. And if you can over deliver on their expectations, then all the better…the element of surprise is a powerful thing! That’s exactly what we are doing with our Collective EX/sewKC/HITIDES space.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Sam Olsen, Nick Barto

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1 Comment

  1. Brend Geiger

    July 24, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    What a great backstory to an adorable presence in KC’s Crossroads. My girlfriend’s Henna Fuller and Lorraine Moore turned me onto your coffee shop, which I can’t get enough of and promoted on my Eatdrinkdive website!

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