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Keep It Local Blog

Stories, interviews, and local insights that we hope will inspire you to support the local shops, restaurants, and services that make Oklahoma unique.


Get to know...Tad Kennedy of Kennedy Tire & Auto Service

09.17.19

Get to know...Tad Kennedy of Kennedy Tire & Auto Service

We love the courage and grit displayed by small business owners who are following their passions. Tad Kennedy started working at a tire store when he was just 14 years old. Ten years later, he bought the business. We asked Tad to help us get to know him and Kennedy Tire & Auto a little bit better:

Name: Tad Kennedy
Business: Kennedy Tire & Auto Service
Title: Owner/General Manager

How would you describe your business to someone who hasn't had the chance to visit yet?
We provide fast and friendly complete auto care. We are located in and serve Edmond and the surrounding cities. We guarantee the best price, the best service and the best warranty.

Tell us the origin story of Kennedy Tire & Auto Service.
I started working in the tire store when I was 14 years old. After working in the tire store during and after college, I was able to purchase the business when I was 24. It was a four bay shop that sold tires and very limited automotive repairs. Through a lot of hard work, we have been able to grow the business to an 18 bay location that provides complete auto repair and new tire sales.

Kennedy Tire & Auto

What do you love about operating a small business in Oklahoma?
There are a lot of real friendly people in Oklahoma. It is such a pleasure to serve these people and help them with their automotive needs.

What challenges or risks have you faced operating a local business?
Competing against the big chain stores can be very difficult. We have been able to provide a high level of service that sets us apart from the chain stores. A high level of locally owned service will always be valued by savvy shoppers.

What advice would you give to someone who dreams of starting their own business someday?
Be willing to work hard and be creative and provide the great service that people can’t get at the big chain stores.

What are the most popular items that you sell? What are your favorite items?
Whether it’s tires or auto repair or auto maintenance, we really enjoy offering our customers the best value for these services and products. People love our warranty that is four times longer than other automotive businesses.

Kennedy Tire & Auto

What’s your favorite thing about your job? 
Serving others and helping them make what’s maybe a frustrating day into a better day. When people come in with car problems, they can be frustrated. We love it when they leave with a smile on their face and realize that we really care about helping them.

What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Helping people understand that we really care about them and we really want to help them maintain and repair their vehicle in a cost-effective way.

Who do you admire in your line of work? Do you have any professional heroes?
The most successful people in my industry are the ones that really care about taking care of customers and providing honest and value driven services. I have had the pleasure to get to know a lot of very sharp and smart business people that have high integrity.

Do you have any favorite moments or milestones since opening your business? 
We have been blessed to be able to win the Oklahoman’s Reader’s Choice Award as one of the top automotive and tire businesses in Oklahoma City multiple times.  We have also had multiple basketball players from the Thunder NBA team bring their vehicles to us. It’s always cool to see the other customers become very excited when they see an NBA player come to the door.

What is something that people might be surprised to learn about your business?
We can beat the chain stores on price, service and warranty every single day.

What motivates you to keep doing what you're doing?
My customers. I love helping people and making their day better.

Kennedy Tire & Auto

In your opinion, why is it important for people to support locally-owned businesses?
Locally owned businesses are what keeps the community together. Whenever someone new comes to town you don’t ever tell them about how great the chain store is, you always tell them how great your favorite locally owned businesses are. That relationship, is what makes where you live a community.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An accountant

What was your first job?
Paper route when I was 10 years old.

What do you like to do in your free time?
Spend time with my wife and kids. I enjoy hanging out with friends and going to sporting events. Enjoy road cycling and traveling.

Is there anything that you'd like people to know about you or your business that we haven't covered yet? Tell us about it.
Jesus loves you and he has a plan for your life. We have "owners manuals" (Bibles) in our show room and provide them free to anyone that wants one. We are in the business of serving people and helping people, whether that be customers or employees.

Kennedy Tire & AutoPhotography provided by Kennedy Tire & Auto



Kennedy Tire & Auto has been Edmond's favorite family-owned auto shop since 1974. Whether the need is repairs, tires, or maintenance service, they aim to deliver excellence to every customer, every time. You can find Kennedy Tire & Auto at 530 W. Edmond Road. Make sure you show them your Keep It Local Card to receive • 10% off auto maintenance & repair labor ($30 MAX), • Discounted oil & filter service ($3 Basic, $5 Semi-synth, $7 Full synth), • $5 off tires (certain brands) kennedytireauto.com

 


Get to Know...Malissa Skrastins of MK Willow & Co. Salon

08.15.19

Get to know...Malissa Skrastins of MK Willow & Co. Salon

We love the courage and grit displayed by small business owners who are following their passions. After 16 years of working in a salon, Malissa Skrastins and Kasie Peak decided to purchase a salon and make it their own. We asked Malissa to help us get to know her and MK Willow & Co. Salon a little bit better:

Name: Malissa Skrastins
Business: MK Willow & Co. Salon
Title: Owner

How would you describe your business to someone who hasn't had the chance to visit yet?
MK Willow & Co. Salon is a full-service salon focusing on natural and organic hair care.

Tell us the origin story of MK Willow & Co. Salon.
After 16 years working for Eden Salon, we purchased Eden on Western Avenue in October of 2018 and it became MK Willow & Co Salon. Same great staff and services you have received for 30 years!

MK Willow & Co. Salon on Western Avenue in OKC

What do you love about operating a small business in Oklahoma?
The local community of small business owners and having personal relationships with our guests. We know your families, your joys and trials, and we adore sharing them with you.

What challenges or risks have you faced operating a local business?
Competing with online or corporate companies where the money spent there doesn’t stay in our community.

What advice would you give to someone who dreams of starting their own business someday?
Work hard and listen to the advice of those more successful than yourself.

What are the most popular items that you sell? What are your favorite items?
Aveda Haircare / Evo Haircare

Aveda products at MK Willow & Co. Salon

What’s your favorite thing about your job? 
The people...both staff and guests, hands down.

What’s the hardest thing about your job?
When guests have to move away.

Who do you admire in your line of work? Do you have any professional heroes?
Jan Hill - owner of 3 successful salons including Eden Salon Oak Grove and Eden Downtown. We purchased Eden on Western Avenue from her in 2018.

Do you have any favorite moments or milestones since opening your business?
The support we feel from the incredible reviews we have been given on our FB page and Google reviews.

What is something that people might be surprised to learn about your business?
We are a woman-owned business.

What motivates you to keep doing what you're doing?
Again, the staff and the guests.

In your opinion, why is it important for people to support locally-owned businesses?
Because more of the income generated stays in our community. We support local schools, little league, charities, and fundraisers.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Ha! A dentist.

What was your first job?
I worked in a pear packing shed in Northern California.

What do you like to do in your free time?
Travel / live music / photography

MK Willow & Co. Salon


MK Willow & Co. Salon is fully committed to the belief that what you put ON your body is as important as what you put IN your body. Stop by and say “hello” to Malissa, Kasie, and the team at 4200 N. Western Avenue in Oklahoma City, and make sure to show them your Keep It Local Card to receive 20% off a retail purchase. To learn more about their services and prices, or to book an appointment visit willowandcosalon.com (At the time of this post, MK Willow & Co. Salon was offering $20 off service for any new guest. Download the coupon from their website.)

Get to Know...Ashley Ray of Simplicity and Co. Tea House

06.18.19

 

Get to know...Ashley Ray of Simplicity and Co. Tea House

We love the courage and grit displayed by small business owners who are following their passions. At 23 years old, Ashley Ray (with her husband, Austin) quit her media job to pursue her dream of opening a loose leaf tea house in Stillwater, OK. We asked Ashley to help us get to know her and Simplicity & Co. Tea House a little bit better:

Name: Ashley Ray
Business: Simplicity & Co. Tea House
Title: Owner

How would you describe your business to someone who hasn't had the chance to visit yet? 
We're a modern loose leaf tea house in Stillwater, OK. All of our teas are all-natural, fair trade and organically grown. We serve tea drinks and have cultivated a cozy, inviting space for guests to study, read, spend some good time with a friend or just relax. We also offer tea event bookings in our Fireplace Room with vintage teacups, scones and decor. Our goal is to make tea approachable to anyone and bring it back to the modern day. Tea isn't just for grandma anymore!

Tell us the origin story of Simplicity & Co. Tea House.
My husband and I dreamed of a loose leaf tea house in Stillwater because we had to keep going to the city (Oklahoma City) to purchase our loose leaf tea. There's just something about seeing it and smelling it that makes all the difference. We also craved a quiet, calm space to spend time in and read together - all the coffee shops in town always played loud music and had tons of busyness going on. We wanted somewhere really calming and peaceful for people to relax. We came up with the idea during my senior year of college. I worked for Oklahoma State University in media for about 6 months before quitting to go open the shop. I was 23 (years old). I couldn't believe how many people we talked to before we opened spoke so rudely to us and looked down on us. They never thought we could do it. It drove us (and still does!) to push even harder to make it happen - if nothing else just to prove them all wrong! We really believe young people are the future of entrepreneurship, especially in our small town - us and other young families are what's bringing vibrancy back to our Downtown!

Interior at Simplicity & Co. Tea House

What do you love about operating a small business in Oklahoma?
I love meeting people I probably never would have otherwise. I also love meeting people when we're not at the shop that say, "You're the tea people?? I LOVE that place!" It's a huge honor.

What challenges or risks have you faced operating a local business?
Being in a small college town - we honestly don't make big bucks and it took us several years to make it through a studentless summer without taking out more loans. It's awesome to see, as we've become more of a local "standard", how our people have really taken care of us and summer doesn't scare us anymore!

What advice would you give to someone who dreams of starting their own business someday?
GO FOR IT! You'll never start if you wait until you feel ready. The best way to learn is just to do it. It's never going to work out perfectly, or the way you imagine, but it's so rewarding to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Your community will thank you!

What are the most popular items that you sell?
Tea drinks are our biggest selling item - during the summer our top selling tea is Watermelon Refresher and during the winter it's Butterscotch.

Wall of tea at Simplicity & Co. Tea House

What’s your favorite thing about your job? 
My favorite part of the day-to-day is doing photoshoots and scheduling social media. I also love getting our team together. We're so lucky to have such great people working for us - they're family more than employees!

What’s the hardest thing about your job?
Taxes, budgeting and making money decisions. Not my favorite parts!

Who do you admire in your line of work? Do you have any professional heroes?
I really admire what Erica with the Tea Bar in Portland has done. She also started her business at a really young age and has grown it so much. It's so inspiring. Being a young entrepreneur doesn't mean you can't be really successful.

Do you have any favorite moments or memorable milestones since opening Simplicity & Co.?
When we first opened, we snagged a spot in a shopping center that was already set up for a restaurant. We liked the idea of Downtown, but didn't think we could afford rent and a remodel. Well it turns out that the shopping center rent was what we couldn't afford. We wanted out but had NO CLUE what to do. One day, a woman walked in and asked me, "Are you Ashley? I have a spot Downtown for you if you want it!" I'd never met her before but she had a gut feeling about me and asked. We moved two months later and it's been the best thing to happen for our business. We love getting to be a part of the Downtown community and all the events held there. I love that all our business friends are a quick walk away. It's a crazy story and I'll forever be grateful she walked in that day!

What is something that people might be surprised to learn about your business?
People always think we're a chain! I guess because we have such high standards for our branding. It always makes me laugh. Sometimes I think we did TOO good of a job.

Iced tea at Simplicity & Co. Tea House

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to travel and I NEVER wanted to work in an office. I always had tons of crazy business ideas as a kid and my parents always let me try them. Owning my own business wasn't ever even a question.

What was your first job?
My first job was working for a local studio photographer in Downtown Stillwater. (Right around the corner from our shop!) I edited and ordered images for them and eventually got to shoot a little too before they retired and moved. I'm so thankful I've always gotten to do something I've loved!

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to read and visit the library at least twice a week thanks to my three-year-old! I photograph a few weddings a year and love shooting new photos for S&Co. We are huge foodies, so if eating can count as an extracurricular activity - we're into that. We love visiting cities and trying local restaurants.

What motivates you to keep doing what you're doing?
Our Downtown community. We so believe in our town and see the potential it has to grow beyond just somewhere people live for four years while they're in school. I want it to develop it's own unique culture and getting to be a part of that is a huge honor.

In your opinion, why is it important for people to support locally-owned businesses?
The culture of towns and cities is BUILT on small business. You don't visit or go on vacation and eat at chain restaurants. You go and get a taste of the local culture. The same goes when deciding where to live. People want culture, they want relationships and they want to feel they belong. These aren't things you feel at chain businesses. You get that at small businesses. I think it's important to support them so they can stay open and BE THERE for their community!

Mug of hot tea at Simplicity & Co. Tea HousePhotography provided by Simplicity & Co. Tea House


Simplicity and Co. is a modern loose leaf tea house that features over 80 different teas, handcrafted specialty drinks like tea lattes & sparkling teas, and tea by the ounce. They also offer their private Fireplace Room for parties and event rental for up to 20 guests. Stop by and say “hello” to Ashley and the team at their beautiful downtown location in Stillwater, OK and make sure to show them your Keep It Local Card to receive $1 off any tea drink.  simplicityandco.com

9 Reasons to Shop Locally

04.11.19

Ever wonder why supporting local businesses even matters? Well, here's 9 reasons: 

Shop Local

When you "keep it local," you’re not just helping local business owners – you’re also helping yourself! You’re contributing to creating the kind of city we all want to live in, with unique character & culture, a strong & thriving economy, and a tight-knit community. The best part is that the more our local businesses succeed, the more we'll see new businesses open – making it even easier to continue shopping locally in the future! It's not just a trend, it's a choice.

(We'd like to thank Thompson Mitsubishi of Oklahoma City for providing this digital poster for us to share.)


Q+A with Denise Duong

11.13.18

Q+A with Denise Duong

You may have admired her artwork in local galleries, on the Plaza District's Plaza Walls, or outside OKC's 21c Hotel. We sat down to chat with Denise Duong, the local artist behind the 2019 Keep It Local Card design.


What’s your background and what led you to pursue art? 
I’ve always wanted to pursue art.  It was the only thing that I ever wanted to do since my first memories.  I've been creating things constantly. I come from a Vietnamese family that immigrated here.  They would question my decisions, but were always very supportive. (Of my dreams..not my teenage choices sometimes.)  But good grades went a long way in our house.  Just don’t royally f*ck up and you were good.  

How would you describe your artistic style? 
Narrative with humor, yet there is depth.  

What inspires you when you’re creating art? 
There’s so many elements about traveling that are inspiring.  The people, the colors, nature, the air, the sounds, the buildings.  The emotions of past present and possible future.  I can be home and be inspired as well.  I pretty much soak up my environment physically and mentally.

Who are some artists whose styles you really admire?/Is there any specific artist who has particularly influenced you? 
I admire so many artists.  I love styles that I can not do.  I admire the detailed, the realistic, the simple and abstract.  I was told my artwork is very French - one of the reason’s why I visited France.  It seemed kind of like my past life. Haha.  I like the multi use of materials that Rauschenberg does.  And I love the strange  sculptures of Modigliani.  

What do you love about the current art scene in Oklahoma? 
I love how supportive everyone is. Everyone is excited and its very energetic.

Do you feel that you have any limitations as an artist right now? 
Not that I can think of.  I feel grateful I’m able to do what I do and plus some!  Well, of course there are always these grand ideas that cost money to do. So now, it's just about taking time to map out ideas and see how to fund some of them. 

Where can people find your art? 
In Oklahoma City, you can find it at JRB Art at the Elms, and my gallery Little D Gallery - both in the Paseo (Arts District)!

Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about? 
I just finished 2 murals at Plaza Walls (OKC).

I should be able to start my project with the Faces of the 47th in a few weeks.  I’m wheat pasting 47 faces of public school kids on the old Jesus Saves building on NE 10th Street (OKC).  Its just a reminder to voters in November to vote for pro public education.  WE are 47th in the nation in the public school ranking.  

We are celebrating a one year and 1 month anniversary at Little D Gallery on December 7th. 

I’ve got a show in Seoul (South Korea) in March 2019!  

Oh, and working with Lance (McDaniel) on some small animations for an opera in November.  

What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to make a living as an artist? 
Persistence.  Don’t let rejection take you down.  And self impose deadlines - they work...at least for me.  And be true to yourself.  Find your lines and strokes and be true to them.  

Where can people follow you on social media? 
Instagram: @lildfromokc

Facebook: I think I’m just Denise Duong 

Twitter: I think it's @deniseduong ( I got my actual name because I signed up while living in San Fransisco in exchange for free drinks and food. Who knew it would get so big.)

Is there anything we haven’t asked you about that you want to tell us? 
I have a bull terrier named Debo that I love. That’s about it.  

Hope this isn’t all over the place.


2019 Keep It Local Card