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We’re Open KC: Coworkers launch online artisan hub after restaurant closes

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Posted at 6:37 AM, Dec 02, 2020

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Harley Sarls was drawn to art at a young age.

Her mother taught her to sew, then she took every art class she could. Through adulthood, she’s learned painting, drawing, photography, jewelry-making, wood-burning, woodworking and more. But art has always been more of a hobby.

Even after she launched an online outlet called “Odds and Unfortunate Ends” a couple of years ago, she still worked in restaurants as her full-time job.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Black Sheep, the restaurant where she worked with her sister and friend, closed.

Now, Sarls and her two former co-workers are diving into art full-time.

They created a Facebook page to promote their work as well as other artisans from the area. It’s called KC Local Christmas Shopping Hub.

In about one week, nearly 2,000 people joined the page and about 150 makers joined the discussion.

“My heart is so full,” Sarls said. “I did not expect to have this much community and everybody coming together and supporting each other. There hasn’t been any fighting, I haven’t had to delete any posts, no one’s been rude. Everyone’s just so supportive and it makes me feel good about our city.”

Sarls hopes the page continues to grow and bring business to local artists as they approach the holiday season.

“Even if you’re only going on to buy a $5 trinket or something like that, if everyone did that, a lot of these makers, that could be the difference between them putting presents under their trees. That could be the difference between them paying their rent this month and making their car payments,” Sarls pointed out. “And it’s really important to support local right now and show your community you love it.”

Sarls plans to keep the page going after the Christmas shopping season and maybe even launch a stand-alone website instead of relying on Facebook.

We've created a Facebook group, We're Open Kansas City, where members of the community can post businesses serving their community.