Kidd Epps—Nashville-Based Designer, Builder and Entrepreneur

September 08, 2016

 

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times—the best thing about starting Slightly Alabama is all of the great designers I've become friends with along the way. Adding to that list is Kidd Epps, Founder and Creative Director of Kidd Epps Art Shop—a Nashville-based design studio specializing in furniture and lighting. I first met Kidd in January of 2016 during a trade show in New York. He had been contracted to design and build a special display for the newly created "Living Room" section of Liberty Fairs, curated by Andrew Livingston—Owner and Designer of Knickerbocker MFG. As what often happens in this industry when you meet a likeminded designer, it quickly feels like you've known each other for a lifetime. Perhaps it's the fact that I was born in Nashville where Kidd's shop is located or our mutual respect for Townes Van Zandt or maybe it's just because he's a damn good designer and a hell of a guy that made me want to get to know him better. This week, Kidd took a few moments to let me ask him some questions about his brand, his background and his philosophy. After reading the interview, be sure to check out Kidd's website: kiddepps.com and follow him on Instagram @kiddeppsartshop

What is Kidd Epps Art Shop and what do you produce?
KEAS is a studio focused on furniture, lighting, fixture, and design/build projects.

Where are you located?
We are located in Nashville, Tennessee.

When did you found the company?
The company was founded in 2012.

How many employees do you have?
We currently have three employees.

Ratio of standard products vs. custom work you provide?
We offer a line of products made to order through our web store and showroom, but we also work on a lot of design/build interior projects for resturants and even homes. The split is 80/20 design/build right now because we don't do any marketing for the product line.

We're small and we love creating big impressive projects like staircases that won't be duplicated. It keeps things fresh and inspiring.

Tell us a little about your customers. What are they like?
Our customers and clients are ones who believe in the people behind the product. They're the kind of people who understand you actually get more for your money buying things once—not only from an economic standpoint but because you have something that lives with you. Throughout your life, it becomes a part of your own story and that's where its true value becomes apparent.

How did you get your start in carpentry and design?
I grew up working on job sites in the summers, framing houses and developed a sense of working with my hands throughout the years. Then I went to college originally for computer science but realized pretty quickly that I sucked at math and so I moved to graphic design because I thought I could still work with computers. Well it turns out I'm not that fond of being on computers all day and I'm good at design! I never knew I had an artistic bone growing up. I grew up in a pretty gypsy type home and was never really encouraged to pursue anything so art or design was never recognized as a kid. But I worked in a few different careers that all sort of lend themselves to where I am today.

What or who are your biggest influences?
This may sound weird but I don't know! I'm influenced by fashion and other things I guess, but I'm not really a student of the arts. I really just make what I would like in my own home.

What's the best advice you've received?
In order to grow and reach your full capacity in business and in life you have to focus on what your talents are and surround yourself with people that are good at what you're not!

How would you describe your design aesthetic?
My aesthetic is definitely more contemporary but also timeless with a Nashville sensibility.

What's your creative process?
I'm not boasting here, but design for me comes really easily. Usually once the parameters are formed, it just comes. I definitely think that is because we keep it pretty simple and don't rely on bells and whistles.

What's the biggest mistake you've made starting your business?
The biggest mistake I have made and still make is thinking I can do it all by myself.

Where do you see your brand heading in the next 1 - 2 years?
I think our focus over the next couple of years is to begin working on small things that give us more reach and spread the brand a bit and definitely learn how to market!