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Social media boosts Des Moines home décor store

A toilet tank lever being on the wrong side of the toilet and a sink not being far enough away from the wall helped launch CK Design Co.

Courtney Kennedy opened her store at 550 SW 9th Street in Des Moines on Feb. 24, 2017 to sell vintage home décor with a mid-century, bohemian, eclectic style with a Southwestern influence. Her shop also features handmade tables and cutting boards from local woodworkers, along with handmade soaps and candles.

But despite some tears, Kennedy, 25, thanks that Fire Marshal because it allowed her to grow the CK Design Co. online brand.

“That allowed me to start selling online, and now its half my business,” Kennedy explains. “It’s cliché but everything happens for a reason.”

Now Kennedy utilizes social media – specifically Instagram and Facebook – to not only promote the new pieces she finds from various estate sales and auctions across the Midwest, but for direct sales.

“When I bring new stuff in I do live videos and half of that will sell right away,” she explains. “And I’m starting to do more with Facebook and boosting posts. It’s nice to pick a demographic on Facebook to target for my ads. I like how I can use some psychology behind it.”

On its business page CK Design Co. has nearly 6,000 followers on Instagram and Kennedy has over 12,000 on her personal page.

Kennedy says, “Social media is huge and if you aren’t using that for your business, you are missing out on an untapped market.”

Lincoln welcomes customers to CK Design Co. The sign on the door warns customers to, “Beware of hyper Corgis inside.”

From marketing to retail

Kennedy graduated from A.I.B College of Business with a communications degree in 2015. When her and her fiancée Alec Kennedy were looking for their first home, they settled on a fixer upper.

“Because everywhere we went, I didn’t like a certain thing or wanted to change something,” Kennedy explains. “So we bought a piece of crap house and fixed it up. And I fell in love with that process. And as I was doing that I had a sign like this is what I’m supposed to do.”

After working for Farrell Brownell Group and Happy Homes in Des Moines doing marketing and interior design work, she decided to start her own company.

“I figured I would do it now while I’m still young and if I fall on my face at least I could say I did that and could do something else,” Kennedy says. “If I would have known how difficult and winding the road would be it might have deterred me to be honest. There’s a lot of red tape.”

It took eight months to turn an idea into a store.

Originally, Kennedy thought her store would have more of a farmhouse style. But she found a style that the Des Moines market was missing.

“So I liked mid-century, bohemian, textiles and it would frustrate me that there was nowhere in Des Moines I could go to buy that stuff,” she said. “You have to order it online. There wasn’t a store specifically geared to fit that style. So this offers something that Des Moines didn’t have before.”

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The inside of CK Design Co. is filled with vintage home décor. Kennedy calls her style “Boho” with a Southwestern influence.

A customer is put to work

Kennedy says she’s had customers travel from as far as Wisconsin to visit her store.

One customer, Nickalena Bedwell, not only shops at CK Design Co. but she will work there when Kennedy is in Italy getting married this summer.

“I offered to help out and ease some stress off her,” Bedwell says.

Bedwell lives in Altoona and first came across CK Design Co. while browsing on Etsy, a website focused on handmade and vintage items. She purchased a vintage spice cabinet and has since purchased a couch, chairs, bowls, wicker furniture and candles.

“After speaking with me she could point me to things she knew I would like and fit my personality,” Bedwell said. “Her store represents who she is: fun, unique and stylish.”

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(From Left) Courtney Kennedy with her assistants Calvin and Lincoln.

What about the dogs?

Kennedy says she’s obsessed with the dogs and since she doesn’t have any kids – yet – they are her babies.

So she brings her dogs with her to work.

“I get a lot of people who will pop in to see the dogs and buy something,” Kennedy says. “Or someone will message me saying they want to come to the store this week, but they want to know when the dogs will be here. So they are kind of a good marketing deal but I genuinely like having them here.”

1 Comment

  • Julie Kuchemann
    Posted June 15, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    I absolutely love to hear a strong young woman feeling passionate about design and creating it. Huge appreciation for this dream into reality 💪🏻

    This is a must see in Des Moines!❤️

Comments are closed.

Social media boosts Des Moines home décor store | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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