From prints and stationery cards to silk-screened posters, tees and tote bags, one local lady launched a new business that shows women empowerment through chic and swanky designs.
Hello “Miss Thang,” “Miss Bees Knees,” “Midwest Swanky Gals”! You are the go-getters – the tenacious few – those who aren’t afraid to be who you are and rock it.
No one understands you better than fellow swanky girl and owner of Kayla Risch Designs and Midwest Swanky Gals (MWSG), Kayla Risch herself. “I think there is this unsaid code between these types of women. It’s something in us – wanting more for the world,” she says.
Risch emphasizes that she has a big heart, a big laugh, and an even bigger passion for design. With the support of her hardworking family and friends she doesn’t have to “work” a day of her life – because she does what she loves. “I come from a hardworking family and have had to work very hard to be where I am, so I try to keep things real around here,” says Risch.
The whole thing started as a happy accident. Starting a city flea booth two years ago, Risch was determined to sell some art as a way to start paying off her student loans. While maintaining her full time job as a senior designer at Landor Associates, she would draw until she fell asleep at night.
In an effort to feed her “artsy” side, in addition to her daily work at Landor, she started silk screening and created her first prints – Ohio Girl & The Queen. “I was literally hand dying bags in my sink – it was my own sweatshop,” Risch laughs. “I had my poor mother cutting artwork to frame hours before city flea. This was just going to be for fun – I had no idea what the turn out would be.”
“Well, my little hobby sure worked,” Risch continues. “The response was worth all the hard work and I felt like I was giving the world a piece of me.” After her success, she continued around five city fleas creating new tote bags, tees and a card/print line.
“I always told myself as a designer – I didn’t want to lose my edge,” says Risch. “I haven’t seen enough women in art here that represents empowerment. So with that – I created an art silkscreen line and MWSG was born.”
Today, MWSG offers a range of originally designed prints, stationery cards, silk-screened posters, tees and tote bags. The theme is around women empowerment and femininity. “I have a mix of Girl Power & Ohio Girl tees – along with painted lips, XO’s, patterns & featured fashion illustrations,” says Risch.
Getting her name out there, however, is what has brought her solid street cred. “I had a large illustration mural featured in the Cincinnati Museums Princess Diana exhibit this past summer, and was commissioned to illustrate and design The Queen Bee 2014 poster ‘Born to Rule,’” says Risch. “I illustrate OTR’s Malice Ball posters and my original ‘Ohio Girl’ is in Frameshop’s gallery. Since my last city flea I now carry my stuff at Brideface & Cincy’s first juice bar Off the Vine in OTR. Plus both those businesses are owned by amazing hustling Ohio women. No joke. Go support.”
As for Rischs’ personal goals for MWSG, she hope to gain clients and store interest. “I would love to keep doing city fleas, but it’s a ton of work selling print goods all in one day,” she says. “I would love to sell my stuff more fluidly in stores and create my personal brand – but most importantly, I want to keep making more art.”
Ultimately, Risch hopes that Cincy women will see that they are all Midwest Swanky Gals. “There is such wonderful women to look up to and be friends with right next door,” she says. “I want them to rock a little tote or have Ohio Girl print hanging in their office because of what it stands for. So go ahead – be awesome. You have my permission.”
To check out Kayla Risch Designs, follow her on Instagram (@kaylarishdesign), on Twitter (@kaylarisch) or on Facebook. She also has an Etsy shop, and will be launching her blog and website in approximately one month.