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Jennifer Brown Book Signing 2

Creative Inspiration for Writers: Interview with Bestselling Author Jennifer Brown

We are excited to introduce you to bestselling author Jennifer Brown.  Jennifer writes women’s fiction and middle grade fiction.  Check out her latest suspense thriller SHADE ME.   For a complete list of Jennifer’s books please visit her website  www.JenniferBrownAuthor.com.

So how do we know an actual real-deal author?  Kristi is friends with Jennifer.  I asked them for a photo and this is what I received.

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As you can see they work out together and are both a little camera shy.  

We are grateful to Jennifer for giving us some insight and advice that keeps with this summers theme of creativity in life.   Do you ever wonder what surroundings a bestselling author works in?  What inspires them?  What other creative talents they have?  If so, read on!

 

1.  What inspires you creatively?

I have always found that enjoying other artistic endeavors (mine or otherwise) tends to inspire me. A great book, a meaningful song, a deep movie, a poem or painting that I connect with — when I see something great that someone else created, it makes me want to create, too.

2.  What kind of surroundings do you like to write in?

I can write in pretty much any kind of surrounding, but don’t love dark and gloomy areas. I tend to keep it to my kitchen table, where I’m surrounded by windows and can see and hear what the kids are up to. I can’t really write to music, unless it either has no words, or has words in a foreign language I can’t understand. My brain just latches onto words too easily, and it gets distracting.

3.  Who inspires you?

In terms of inspiring specific pieces, that could be different on any given day.  But in terms of who generally inspires me to write and makes me want to be better what I do?  Stephen King. He’s a master storyteller and I wish I could spin a yarn the way he does.  Also, Lin-Manuel Miranda, because he packs so much meaning into his work, and I love deep meaning in art. And Marian Keyes, because her work is light and fun and romantic and sexy.

4.  How old were you when you started writing?

Gosh, even before I could write, I was a storyteller. I would draw pictures and tell the story out loud as I turned the pages. I wrote my first short story when I was eight. I wrote a picture book in high school. I’ve just always written for my own entertainment. I started writing with the hope of publication in 2000. I was *mumblemumble* years old.

5. Do you have any other artistic outlets?

Here’s the thing. I can draw and paint pretty well, but it gives me the rage. Like, serious rage. I hate it so much, so I never do it. I do, however, play piano. It was something I wanted to do my whole life, but never had the opportunity until I was an adult. I’m self-taught and try to practice every night (when my cat, who loves nothing more than to walk across the keyboard, will let me).

6. How long does each stage of the writing process take?

Depends on the project, actually. It takes me a lot more time to write a 100,000 word YA or adult novel than it does to write a 40,000 word middle grade novel. Also, my writing availability fluctuates through the year, depending on how much I’m traveling to speak, whether there are holidays, or if I’m just personally busy. But generally, it goes something like this:

Writing the rough draft takes anywhere from 3-6 months. After turning it in, there is a several-month wait for my editor (and others in the publishing house) to read it and write a revision letter, and also suggest revisions on the manuscript itself (the length of time on this really fluctuates, depending on the editor’s other projects and workload). Depending on how heavy the revisions are, that stage can take me anywhere from 4-8 weeks to complete. Then I wait a couple months to either get another revision letter, or (if the editor feels the revisions are complete) to get copyedits. Copyedits are detail edits, and grammar tends to be pretty cut-and-dried, so they take much less time – hardly ever more than a couple weeks. From there, within a month or two, I get what’s called first pass pages, which is where the book is laid out and I can make one final look-through to fix any small errors that have been missed. That takes about a week. During this whole process, the editor (and others) is working with the designer to come up with a cover and any interior design, and not long after first pass pages, I will get ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). Those tend to come out a few months before the book is released, to give reviewers time to look at and review the book before it comes out. I would say the entire process, from idea to bookshelf, can take around 18-24 months. Patience is a must-have skill for any writer.

7.  What advice do you have for kids & adults who dream of being a published author?

It’s never too early; it’s never too late. Read. Read a ton, actually. And try to absorb what you’re reading in terms of style and craft. Pay attention to what makes a story good and what makes a story bad (in your opinion). Write. Every day. Even if you’re just playing with bits and pieces of stories and techniques. And, finally, believe in yourself. Too many would-be authors give up too easily. You are going to have days, weeks, months, years, where you are certain that you stink and it will never happen for you. You will get rejected. You will get bad reviews or hateful emails or harsh critiques. That’s just part of being in the business. Sometimes the writer who gets published isn’t necessarily the best at writing; she’s just the best at believing in herself and sticking with it the longest.

We so appreciate Jennifer taking the time to share herself with us.  We’d like to congratulate her on her nomination for the 2016-17 Gateway Award for Torn Away!


Don’t go yet!  We have exciting news!

Jennifer is hosting a give-away on her Facebook page.  You could win a signed book by Jennifer Brown and this fabulous necklace from our Literacy Kansas City Collection.

Hang Ups Live Love Read Necklace

Hang Ups Live Love Read Necklace

Here’s how you enter:

  • Visit Jennifer Brown’s Facebook page and find the post announcing this contest.  Don’t forget to “like” her page to keep up with news and announcements.
  • Post a comment and link on her contest post telling her which of our Hang Ups products you absolutely love.  You can find us at www.hangupsinkc.com.
  • The contest runs from August 9th through August 26th, 2016.  It is open to US Residents only.

Meet Our Friends Rebecca & Norman: Robot Maker and Presidential Hopeful

Say what? Norman, a current top-runner in the presidential race, and I would like to give you an exclusive, never-before-granted tour of Remnants by RJ: Where the Robot Magic Happens.

For those of you who don’t know, Remnants by RJ is just that—a collection of society’s cast off “remnants” that I (Rebecca Jackson) transform into fun, quirky pieces of art. I tend to see what something could be, instead of what it just is.

Primarily, I make recycled robots. I take discarded bits of life—those things lurking in attic boxes or collecting dust on thrift store shelves—and allow them to find their way to a new reality through trial and error assimilations. Each robot is a transformation of the ordinary into something magical with a name, a story, and a personality.

Just like Norman. As soon as the clock knob came to rest on his little film canister head, I knew I’d found my robot counterpart.

Norman is the odd-bot-out in most situations. He has the innate social skills of an ostrich/warthog hybrid and often feels a bit insecure. You might say, Norman is—and always will be—an underdog. But who doesn’t enjoy rooting for an underdog? Despite his insecurities, he accepts himself as he is and enjoys sharing his journey with the world.

Today, that journey takes you inside The Workshop.

Norman 1 Norman 2

Finished robots, photo shoots, and packing materials reside in the outer sanctum of the workshop…as does the all-important Drill Press of Awesomeness. (If the house were on fire, I would save the drill press first, then maybe the kids. But seriously, they have legs, they should be able to get out on their own.)

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The inner sanctum is a small square room, located in close proximity to the drill press, that houses the workbench on one side and the robot part shelves on the other. Despite its cluttered, slightly haphazard appearance, the shelves are mostly organized and bins are labeled as necessary: arms, eyes, legs, small feet, etc.

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When a robot begins the reassembly process, it’s a matter of trial-and-error. I usually have the glimmer of an idea and begin looking for potential bodies and heads. Then it’s a matter of trying them out.

Norman is currently overseeing the reassembly of a very special robot for Carolyn. (Since neither of us want to ruin the surprise, this is only a sneak peek. You’ll have to wait for the final reveal.)

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I often try to add something personal or unexpected. It is very important to me that each robot is one-of-a-kind. Despite traditional robots being streamlined, replicated machines, I don’t ever want to mass-produce anything. I love the way my recycled robots find their way to a new life all their own.

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Equally important is my commitment to recycling. As a society, we are often obsessed with the next bigger, better thing. That leaves a whole lot of consumer waste in landfills or sitting on shelves in a thrift store. Incorporating those old-fashioned or outdated materials into my work is not only a commentary on the never-ending race to the future, but it is also a challenge to rethink the familiar, giving it new life as an eco-friendly, sustainable piece of art.

Of course, that’s a natural segue into a concluding paragraph with a good dose of campaign propaganda. Norman is currently running for President of the United States on a platform of “Recycling Materials, Not Ideas.”  Among other things, Norman believes that humans, like recycled robots, are endowed with certain unalienable rights, like Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Appendages.

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Together, Norman and I are ready to start infecting the world with imagination and kindness. Won’t you join us? I bet, with your help, we can change the world.

Thank you to Rebecca & Norman for guest-blogging for us in our summer creativity series!  If you’d like to see more of Rebecca’s creations or follow Norman’s Presidential Campaign here’s where you can find them: remnantsbyrj.com, on Etsy, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and via email at remnantsbyrj@gmail.com.

 

Preservation Hall Jazz Band NOLA

Creative Inspiration from New Orleans

In our last blog post we suggested some ways to nurture your creative spirit.  I (Carolyn) took our advice and tried #15 last week.  I took a trip to New Orleans with my husband.  It’s impossible to spend time in that city and not feel creatively inspired.  They have the best of my favorite forms of creativity:  food, art and music.

On Monday night, after a day of exploring the Garden District and French Quarter, we visited Preservation Hall, an all ages historic jazz club in the French Quarter.  The music was amazing and I fully enjoyed it but by then I was a little creatively distracted; imagining all pieces of jewelry I could make from the instruments that the musicians were playing.  So the first chance I had when I got home I made a few new things.

I have thinking about how to use a piano key for a while.  I started off with the idea of making earrings but I ended up with a necklace.  Isn’t that always how the creative process works?  You never know what the end result will be.  You can find this necklace on our website by clicking here.

Piano key "before" picture.

Piano key “before” picture.

Cutting piano key with scroll saw.

Cutting piano key with scroll saw.

Sanding piano key with disc sander.

Sanding piano key with disc sander.

Cutting piano key into smaller pieces with scroll saw.

Cutting piano key into smaller pieces with scroll saw.

Piano Key Necklace

This is what emerged from the dust – a piano key necklace

Piano Key Necklace

Piano Key Necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trombone player at Preservation Hall was amazing.  His trombone caught my eye and I was thinking about making a necklace with it.  This is what emerged today.  You can find these earrings on our website in silver by clicking here and in gold by clicking here.

Trombone

Trombone “before” picture.

Cutting the trombone with my Dremel

The first cut.

Cutting the trombone down to size using my trusty Dremel.

Cutting the trombone using my trusty Dremel.

Sanding metal isn't for the faint of heart or for gloveless fingers.

Sanding metal isn’t for the faint of heart or for gloveless fingers.

My drill press making drilling holes for the ear wires quick and easy.

My drill press makes drilling holes for the ear wires quick and easy.

Trombone Earrings

Trombone Earrings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, the upright bass.  I’ve been eyeing the tuning pegs for some time now.  Little did I know that they are extremely difficult to cut and virtually impossible to drill a hole through.  This is what I ended up with after several broken drill bits and a bruised pride.  You can find this necklace on our website by clicking here.

Upright Bass scroll and pegs.

Upright Bass scroll and pegs.

I could unscrew the tuning peg so I had to cut it off using my Dremel.

I couldn’t unscrew the tuning peg so I had to cut it off using my Dremel.

The end result - necklace made from bass peg.

The end result – necklace made from bass peg.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also have other jazz band inspired jewelry available on our website made from drums, saxophones, clarinets, trumpets and more.  Check out our Band of Angels Musical Instrument Jewelry Collection by clicking here.

It’s important to note that no working instruments were harmed in the making of this jewelry. We only use instruments that have been deemed irreparable by experts.  A portion of the proceeds from all of our musical instrument jewelry collection goes directly to Band of Angels KC, an organization who collects, repairs and distributes instruments to kids in need who would like to participate in band and orchestra programs.  Our donations, specifically, are used to send kids in need to music camp.  We are very proud to work with this amazing organization.

We had such a wonderful time in New Orleans and appreciated every second of our visit.  We hope that you find a magical place that inspires you this summer whether it be in your back yard or somewhere far away.

 

Hello June! What’s Up?

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June is a busy month with so much to be excited about!  We start the month with a bang, on June 4th, by going to see the Canadian band Barenaked Ladies at Starlight Theater.  It’s a family event for us:  Carolyn’s whole family are going along with Kristi and her youngest daughter Mary Alice.  It’s the kids first concert and they are all very excited.  If you have a chance to grab last minute tickets we highly recommend it.  This band is very fun, creative and happy.

The following Friday, June 10th, Kristi & I will attend Art That Blows, an event that benefits Band of Angels KC.   Local artists have repurposed and donated non-functional musical instruments into pieces of art for this event. Guests may bid on the pieces during the silent auction starting at 5pm and then enjoy a live rooftop performance by DJ Ashton Martin while overlooking the breathtaking Kansas City skyline. Tickets are still available.  You can learn more and purchase tickets by clicking here.  Kristi and I have donated a whopping 40 pieces of jewelry made from retired instruments to this event.  We are excited to meet the other artists who will be in attendance as well as Band of Angels supporters.

On Friday June 17th and Saturday June 18th (from 5pm-11pm each evening) Kristi and I will be hanging out in our booth (with all of our Hang Ups) at SoJo Summerfest (formerly Jazz in the Woods).  Check out this fun festival for local food & brews, local music and to meet local artisans to support local charities.  Does it get any better than that?  This event takes place at Corporate Woods, Overland Park KS and is a free event so come by and see us!

Last but definitely not least, Sunday June 19th is Father’s Day!  Like so many other people out there we are desperately trying to think of unique and fun gifts for our Dad’s and our husbands.  If your husband or father is a musician we have plenty of options for you on our website.   For example, this money clip features a key from a retired trumpet.  A generous portion of the proceeds go directly to Band of Angels KC and will help to send kids to music camp.  There’s nothing better than a gift that gives back.

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That’s what we have going on this June.  We’d love it if you could come out and say hi to us at any of these events.  We wish you all a safe and happy June!

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Looking for Unique Gifts For Graduates?

Look no further!  We have a great selection of graduate gifts from hand-stamped pieces to jewelry made from musical instruments.

This is a small selection from our Literacy Kansas City Collection.  A portion of the proceeds from this collection will be donated directly to Literacy Kansas City.   Literacy KC’s mission is to advance literacy among Kansas City area adults through direct services, advocacy and collaboration.  Their vision is literacy for all.   Who doesn’t love a gift that gives back by helping others?

Dream Vintage Spoon and Belt Cuff Bracelet from Hang Ups in KC Dare To Dream Handstamped Bracelet from Hang Ups in KC Antique Typewriter Key Necklace from Hang Ups in KC Live Courageously Handstamped Spoon Bracelet by Hang Ups in KC Enjoy the Ride Leather Stamped Bracelet by Hang Ups in KC On to the Next Chapter Hand Stamped Bracelet By Hang Ups in KC Dream Big Hand Stamped Feather Necklace With Brave Wings She Flies Handstamped Long Necklace Oh The Places You'll Go Hand Stamped Leather Bracelet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jewelry from our Band of Angels Collection also makes great gifts for students and teachers.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of every item in this collection goes directly back to Band of Angels KC.  Band of Angels is a non-profit organization who collect, repair and distribute instruments to kids in need.  They also send many kids to music camp every summer.  We have a lot of fun making jewelry from the instruments that cannot be repaired.  Here’s a small sampling of what is available on our website.

Violin String Earrings

Cello Tuning Peg Necklace Saxophone Key Cuff Links Clarinet Key Necklace Drum Cymbal Cuff BraceletHammered Flute Body Earrings Piano Wire & Leather Bracelet Viola Wood Earrings French Horn Valve Key Necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To order you can visit us online at www.hangupsinkc.com or simply click on the photos of an item that you like from above.  Orders arrive in a pretty muslin bag with a thank you note from the Director of the non-profit that benefits from the gift.

We wish you all a very safe and happy graduate season and Memorial Day Weekend.  Happy Victoria Day to our Canadian Friends!

What Pulls at our Heartstrings here at Hang Ups in KC

Instead of showing you our love-themed jewelry for Valentines Day we decided to tell you about a cause that we love instead.

If you follow us on social media you hear us talk a lot about Band of Angels a lot.  Who are Band of Angels?  Band of Angels is an amazing Kansas City based non-profit organization who collects used music instruments from those who no longer want them and helps make them available to kids in need who couldn’t otherwise afford them. Donated instruments are refurbished and restored to playing condition before given to a student. Cash donations are accepted also, which are used to purchase instruments. With these instruments, students can join their school’s band and orchestra programs. Also, funds raised help send students to summer music camp with full scholarships.  To learn more or donate please visit them at www.bandofangelskc.org.   Hang Ups in KC partnered with Band of Angels about two years ago.  We take instruments that cannot be repaired and make jewelry from them.  A generous portion of the sale of every piece of our musical instrument jewelry goes directly back to Band of Angels.  If you would like to check out our Band of Angels Collection on our website click here.  Here’s a small sampling of what we can do with retired instruments:

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Clarinet Key Necklace                                             Drum Cymbal Earrings

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Saxophone Key Cuff Links                                     Trumpet Valve Cap Necklace

Band of Angels has two major fundraisers a year:  Heartstrings in February and Art that Blows in June.  Last Saturday was the most successful Heartstrings Gala yet.  There were approximately 400 attendees who showed up to support this amazing cause.  George Shelby was the special guest performer.  During his 35 year career he has played saxophone with Beyoncé, Michael McDonald, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Toto, Bruce Springsteen, Hilary Duff, Bono, Sting, Elton John, Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, Johnny Mathis, and many others.  Joining him on stage were Band of Angels beneficiaries and wonderful spokespeople Morgan & Connor Cravens.

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Carolyn & Kristi hanging out with George Shelby

Just click on this link for a peek at Band of Angels Gala 2016 featuring George Shelby and Morgan and Connor Cravens performing.

Here’s a few more photos of this fun event.  If you live in the Kansas City area please join us next year.  Keep an eye on the Band of Angels website for details.  Tickets sell out fast!

12715964_1086071488119342_9114371353106603901_o[1] 12710748_1086067334786424_5069310862741253996_o[1] 12646797_1086069868119504_5147038494270701928_o[1]  We are very passionate about our partnership with Band of Angels and are grateful that our path crossed with Mike Meyer from Meyer Music two years ago.  We would like to say thank you to the entire Meyer family for involving us with this amazing organization!

Happy Valentines Day!

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Kristi & Carolyn with Valentines Matt & Dwayne

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving from Hang Ups in KC

Five orange pumpkins sit in a row in front of a distressed, wooden background.

We both feel so blessed with the support of our families, friends and our customers on this crazy fun journey we’re on.
If you’d like to come out and see us in person in December we’ll have a pop-up shop open at Meyer Music in Overland Park (corner of 133rd and Quivera) on Saturday December 5th and at Meyer Music North (at the Boardwalk Square Shopping Center) on Saturday December 12th.
We wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving!

Hang Ups in KC at the Kansas City Symphony

KauffmanB

One of our goals for this fall was to introduce our Band of Angels Collection to symphony gift shops across the country.  Our Band of Angels Collection features handmade jewelry created from retired musical instruments.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this jewelry collection goes to Band of Angels KC, a non-profit dedicated to collecting and distributing instruments to kids in need.

We are very proud to announce that select pieces from our Band of Angels Collection can now be purchased at the Kansas City Symphony Alliance Shop!  This shop is located in the Brandmeyer Grand Hall of the award winning Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

These are a few of the designs that can be found at the Kansas City Symphony Alliance Shop:

150111-BA Flute Key Charm Necklace CRsm

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We are passionate about our work with Band of Angels KC and have great plans for the future of this collection.   We have a favor to ask of you.  If you have any contacts at Symphonies, Operas and Performing Arts Centers across the United States, Canada or anywhere else in the world please share our work with them.  Word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool.

Thank you for accompanying us on this wonderful journey!

31 Finds and Flavors of Kansas City

Kansas City is a great place to start a small business.  There are resources such as the Kauffman Foundation, creator of the 1 Million Cups program that specifically support entrepreneurship.  Presenting at 1 Million Cups was an amazing experience for us.  In fact, that is where we met Mike Meyer from Meyer Music and co-founder of Band of Angels.  Check out our Band of Angels Collection, jewelry made from retired instruments here.

There are also several programs/ groups such as Made in Kansas City, Handmade in Kansas City and KC Source Link that specifically work at growing the local economy by encouraging people to buy, eat and drink local.

For the month of May KC Source Link (together with Shop Local Alliance) is hosting a fun promotional program called 31 Finds and Flavors of Kansas City, Entrepreneurs in Action.  Several of our Handmade in Kansas City Team Members have been and will be featured.  We’ve all answered a fun questionnaire so you can get to know us a little better.  Hang Ups in KC will be featured on May 9th.  One of the questions that we answered was what we considered our “entrance music” or theme song.  Can you guess what it is?  Check out our feature on May 9th to find out.  Click here for the link to make it really easy.  You can also learn more by searching #shoplocalkc.

Here’s the schedule of businesses that will be featured.  If you know any of them please help spread the word on social media by using the hashtag #shoplocalkc.  We encourage you to check out the businesses that are new to you.  In our opinion the only thing better than shopping local is shopping local HANDMADE.  Enjoy!

Flavor Day Holiday
Remnants by RJ 1 Space Day
Wood + Salt 2 Brothers and Sisters Day
Creations by M and J 3 day after Baby Day
Springboard Creative 4 National Candied Orange Peel Day
Panaderia de las Americas 5 Cinco De Mayo
Aunt Christy’s Country Kitchen 6 No Diet Day
KC Cool 7 National Tourism Day
Worlds Window 8 No Socks Day
Hang Ups in KC 9 pre Mother’s Day
Indigo Wild 10 Clean Your Room, Mother’s Day
Dolce Bakery 11 Eat What You Want
Fusion Fitness 12 Fatigue Syndrome Day
Red Dirt Shop 13 Donate a Day’s Wages to Charity Day
Lu & Ed 14 Chicken Dance Day
Family Bicycles 15 Bike to Work Day
Nuggets of Goodness 16 National Sea Monkey
Life’s Gems 17 Pack Rat Day
Tulle Box 18 No Dirty Dishes Day
Ugly Glass & Co 19 May Ray Day
Snow & Co 20 Pick Strawberries Day
Tasty Thai 21 National Waiters and Waitresses Day
French & Music House 22 Musical Instrument Day
Ni-Cherns Designs 23 Lucky Penny Day
Handmade by Lolo Z 24 Tiara Day
Geek Chic Boutique 25 Towel Day
The Little Wing 26 Sally Ride Day
Swim Zip 27 Sun Screen Day
Stand Out Style 28 Golden Gate Bridge
One More Cup 29 Get Caught Reading
Coffee Girls 30 Neighbor Day
Ocean & Sea 31 Aquarium Month (June)

Hang Ups in KC Small Business Saturday & Cyber Monday Sale

Help us celebrate Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday!

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It’s our best sale of the year! Save 30% off purchases made Saturday, November 29 – Monday, December 1, 2014. Visit www.hangupsinkc.com and start shopping now. We have unique pieces that make great gifts for eveyone on your holiday list. Check out our Literacy Kansas City Collection to find gifts for the teachers and book lovers on your list. Check out our Band of Angels Kansas City Collection to find gifts for the musicians and music lovers on your lists. These two collections of jewelry help us to share our joy of reading and music, and allow us to give back to our community. See our website for more information on both of these great organizations. Just use the code HUTHANKSU when you are checking out to take advantage of this great offer.

We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for supporting our small business!

Kristi & Carolyn