Mid Coast Modern and Soap Bar - Kansas City, Missouri

  • Published: Friday, Dec. 6, 2019

When Matt Bramlette found himself unemployed after a long and successful career in advertising and design, he took a new direction, stepped out on a limb, and opened a retail store. Since then, Mid Coast Modern has become a Kansas City favorite, selling handmade apparel, jewelry, artwork, home goods, and gifts for every style.

Despite his career in marketing and branding, Bramlette had no actual retail experience or entrepreneurial training. He turned to the Missouri Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of Kansas City in Kansas City, MO for assistance and support. He was matched with Business and Program Development Consultant, Rebecca Gubbels, who got started right away in helping him figure out how to evolve his idea into a viable business plan.

Receiving a dislocated worker scholarship allowed Bramlette the opportunity to enroll in ELEVATIONLAB classes at the SBDC. With Gubbels’ help, he was able to jumpstart the process of opening his business. He learned not only how to open the doors to his store, but how to keep them open and keep customers happy as well.

“The fact that there was a program available to dislocated workers like me was a huge incentive,” Bramlette recalls. “In fact, if it weren’t for the dislocated worker scholarship, I probably wouldn’t have taken the class at all. I wasn’t entirely serious about starting a business. I was fairly confident I wanted to start something new, but I didn’t know where to begin. There was a lot I needed to think through. I had the entrepreneurial spirit, but no business sensibility.”

After launching his store in 2015, Bramlette and his partner Rick came up with a new entrepreneurial idea- homemade soap. This time, they knew where to turn and sought out Gubbels to develop a new company, Bear Soap, which is a line of personal care products originally marketed towards men. Bear Soap has made a splash not only in Kansas City, but across the nation. They are continually releasing new products, including soaps for women.

Over the last four years, the SBDC has continued to provide Bramlette with assistance regarding employees, bookkeeping, financial analysis, and coaching. He’s also been able to set up an accounting system to keep track of profits and grow his business. Gubbels has not only helped with technical business questions, but with networking and event planning as well. Now, Mid Coast Modern sells local products made by local artists and has become a vital part of Kansas City culture.

Following the success of Bear Soap, Bramlette recently opened up a new store specifically for the brand. Soap Bar, only two doors down from Mid Coast Modern, features hand-crafted and eco-friendly personal care products for both men and women. They not only sell the soaps Bramlette and his partner create, but merchandise from companies around the country as well.

From being unemployed to being the owner and operator of two thriving businesses, the SBDC has helped Bramlette jump the hurdles necessary to be successful. As he continues to grow, there is no doubt he will bring his innovative ideas into more booming projects.

Original story from the Missouri SBDC at UMKC.