From birthday gift to storefront

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2021

Some of the many home accessories available at Kouns Kreative Designs store, which recently opened in downtown Ironton. (For The Ironton Tribune | Mark Williams)

Longtime crafters Kevin, Aimee Kouns open store

By Mark Williams

For The Ironton Tribune

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From seasonal door hangers and decorative wooden sports jerseys to T-shirts and tier sets, Kouns Kreative Designs is a new one-stop-shop for unique custom decor in downtown Ironton.

“If they want to decorate with it, we can probably do it,” says owner Aimee Kouns with a laugh. “Sports are really big for us. We do all kinds of seasonal stuff. We’ve done Wizard of Oz, The Adams Family, Hocus Pocus, The Nightmare Before Christmas and we are working on a Scooby Doo-themed set right now.”

Founded by lifelong crafters Kevin and Aimee Kouns and located in a small storefront at 303 Park Ave., in Ironton, Kouns Kreative Designs is growing at a remarkable rate.

What originally began as a birthday gift idea for a friend in the fall of 2019 has quickly ballooned into a thriving small business with expansion on the horizon.

“We would take custom orders and schedule meet-ups in different places with customers, whether it be in Huntington, Ironton, Hurricane, wherever,” said Kevin Kouns.

As orders poured in, the logistics of the meet-up system were soon unrealistic.

“It became really hard to coordinate and meet with 60 or 70 different people, so we opened up this store as a centralized pick-up location, and it has developed from there,” she said.

Now, with over 200 custom orders awaiting production, Kouns Kreative Design is preparing to move into a bigger location on Center Street.

“It’s three times bigger than this place, and we are redoing everything in it,” Kevin said.

“I think, once the new store is ready, that’s when we will do our official grand opening,” Aimee added.

“We haven’t really even announced that we are really here yet other than on Facebook,” she said with a laugh. “No advertising or anything like that.”

Almost every item in the current shop is hand-crafted by the Kouns’ themselves in their home workshop.

Large wooden Ironton Tiger paws hang from the walls, while Ohio State and Marshall “leaner boards” line the corners and Halloween porch setters fill out the floors. Several unique “tier sets,” or collections of handmade items based on central themes, fill multiple shelves.

“This entire corner was full of leaner boards for every school last week, and now they’re almost all gone.” Aimee said. Looks like we are going to have to make more.”

As for production, Aimee designs and paints each item while Kevin crafts the handmade creations out of raw materials using industrial-grade machinery.

Working together, the couple can crank out almost 40 door hangers in a single day.

Aside from the brick-and-mortar store, Kouns Kreative Designs also offers wholesale items to other retailers in the area, a “Door Hanger of the Month” club on Facebook and even occasionally hosts “paint parties” in a neighboring storefront.

“We’ve done bridal showers, girls-night-out parties, even a big group of teachers had a big back-to-school get together,” Aimee said.

“They have to schedule these with us in advance,” Kevin added. “What we do is bring in the raw materials. It comes in blank. And we provide the paint, and they’ll assemble and paint their own door hangers. Aimee is there as kind of a guide or a coach. We don’t serve food or drinks, but if they want to bring in snacks or beverages, they’re allowed to.”

With so much going on, and so much more on the horizon, Kouns Kreative Designs is rapidly establishing itself as a creative name in the area’s business landscape.

Not bad for a side-hustle.

“I’m a mail carrier, he works full-time at Marathon, and we have kids,” Aimee said with a laugh. “It seems like we work 12–16 hours a day, seven days a week. But the outpour of support from the community has been amazing. And not just Ironton, but all over. Greenup, Russell, Ashland, Huntington, Wheelersburg, everywhere has just been so supportive.”