Tiffany Heaton King and Suzanne Southard, founders of SouveNEAR, talk selling souvenir art in this week’s Pitch questionnaire
King: I’m from KC. My parents called me the “Queen of River Quay” because we lived in the River Market when I was born, and apparently I was the only baby there. (My “baby book” tells of my early trips to neighborhood-association meetings at the bar.)
Southard: I’ve lived in a number of places but spent a good part of growing up years in Hutchinson, Kansas.
King: I moved to Old Leawood for the midcentury house of my dreams.
What I do
King: Work to build a brand that’s all about great souvenirs designed and made by inspired artists and artisans in the cities they represent.
Southard: Meet KC artists and makers, collect their great work and sell it from a vending machine. Crunch numbers, strategize for growth, work with a great partner.
What’s your addiction?
King: Little Freshie’s Chai Pistachio Brittle. It’s just the perfect combination of spicy, salty and sweet.
Southard: Making lists, thrift-store shopping.
What’s your game?
Southard: iPhone Boggle, Pop-a-Shot
What’s your drink?
King: Lattes by day. Out and about — Russian mule.
Southard: Hot tea in winter, margaritas in summer. Anything with ginger in it, anytime.
King: Café Gratitude, Blue Bird, Papu’s
Southard: Home. For a date night, Novel. For comfort, McCoy’s.
What’s on your KC postcard?
King: I’m partial to Hammerpress’ “No Whining” postcard. It really captures the Midwestern sensibility in a fun way.
Southard: Not cow-tipping
Finish this sentence: “Kansas City got it right when …”
King: City partners collaborated to make our town so ridiculously supportive of entrepreneurship. I really feel so fortunate that we could start our business here — the knowledge that has been freely available to us has been invaluable.
Southard: The Crossroads District became what it is. I lived here in the early ’90s, then moved away for many years. When I moved back, I was so happy to see the transformation.
“Kansas City screwed up when …”
King: Can’t talk trash about my hometown.
Southard: It lost public confidence and community investment in its schools. I still know people leaving because of it. Our kids are in a public school, and we love it, and things are improving, but there are certainly challenges. I would love to see our schools become really creative and vibrant and cutting-edge and draw people to the city. All our kids deserve it.
“Kansas City needs …”
King: I would very much like to see a morning dance club (more fun than the gym). Also, adult gymnastics! I’ll throw out these (questionable) ideas for another, more enterprising entrepreneur.
Southard: More activity along the river. We don’t have a beach, but we could make the most of the waterfront we do have.
“In five years, I’ll be …”
King: Amazed by how little I knew five years ago. Hopefully, I’ll know more by then. And play the piano better.
Southard: Planning another business venture or taking a road trip in a VW Westfalia. Or both.
“I always laugh at …”
King: My 9-year-old reciting funny Shel Silverstein poems. And my 6-year-old making me play “drill sergeant baby.”
Southard: Myself. And the people I love the most. And Louis C.K.
“I’ve been known to binge-watch …”
King: Last Tango in Halifax, House of Cards, Homeland.
Southard: The last TV show I binge-watched was Breaking Bad. Other than that, birds.
“I can’t stop listening to …”
King: Serial podcast. (Don’t tell me how it turns out if you know. I’m not done yet.)
Southard: Courtney Barnett, Beck, Magnetic Fields, Bahamas, my brother’s Spotify mixes.
“I just read …”
King: All in Startup by Diana Kander and Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Southard: Barbara Kingsolver, Wendell Berry.
The best advice I ever got
King: One of my favorite quotes is by Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
Southard: Not words, but a whole life. My late grandmother believed in education for its own sake and at any age, to never be satisfied with what you know. She encouraged me to go back to art school.
King: Have that third drink.
Southard: You can do that later. (I’ve taken it to heart too many times.)
My dating triumph/tragedy
King: My triumph was marrying my husband, Steve, who inspires me with his endless creativity, love of learning and self-motivation.
Southard: Once I sent a really long, overly dramatic e-mail when I had just been asked out for coffee. Super embarrassing! He married me anyway. Triumph!
My brush with fame
King: Swing dancing with Ang Lee.
Southard: I’ve been in the company of celebrities a few times. I’ve usually been told about it later.
My 140-character soapbox
King: Anyone want to join me for a bonfire of Monster High and Equestria Girls dolls? #maybesomebarbiestoo
Southard: My family recently went through some hard times. It’s been said a million times, but small gifts of love and generosity can be really big. Kindness matters.
What was the last thing you had to apologize for?
King: Being impatient.
Southard: Not reading the warning label.
Who’s sorry now?
King: The haters.
Southard: Still me.
My recent triumph
King: Launching SouveNEAR with Suzanne!
Southard: Getting SouveNEAR going! I love it.
Look for the SouveNEAR vending machine at Kansas City International Airport.