Aces Interview: Lee Smith & Kristen Puckhaber, Rich Kids Brand & Urbanity

I was originally going to post this yesterday, but what better way to kick off Small Business Saturday than with two of my favorite small business owners?

With Mikey McClarron, the reason why Lee & Kristen happened :)

I met Kristen way back when she was co-captain of Western Washington University's hip-hop dance team. I was always in awe of her amazing dancing and impeccably flawless streetwear-laced style. Sassy, smart and always sweet-natured, it's no surprise Kristen now leads the creative vision driving the burgeoning Seattle-based Rich Kids Brand.

Lee is the other half of this stylish power couple and creator behind both Rich Kids Brand and Urbanity Shop. With Lee's leadership, both the brand and shop are flourishing, garnering national attention while staying true to their respective vision. I have always resonated with Rich Kids' motto ("Rich isn't what you have, it's who you have beside you.") Lee is a such a bright entrepreneurial talent that I have a feeling we've only seen the tip of the iceberg with his ventures.

At Agenda

What's on your playlist right now?

Lee:

My playlist right now and pretty much all year around features Lil Wayne (All Mixtapes) with No Ceilings always being at the top, Pusha T, The Weekend, some turn up hood ish and blurbs of Pucks 80's butt rock.

Kristen: 

My current playlist consists of whatever Lee has in the car and my pandora stations combined, which turns out to be kind of all over the place...

  • Jay Z
  • Meek Mill
  • Mya
  • The Postal Service
  • Kendrick Lamar
  • Kanye
  • Prince
  • Lil Wayne
  • Modest Mouse
  • Janet Jackson
  • The Weeknd
  • The Beatles

Describe your style.

Lee:

My style has always been inspired by street culture and high end designers. I love what street and urban style represents, but you can't beat the fit of Saint Laurent or Balmain. You'll always see me in some exclusive Jordan's (og color-ways of course), Balmain Bikers or Japanese Denim, and I'm really feeling these PRSVR napa leather joggers that we just got into the shop. (We brought the leather joggers to Fendi 6 yrs ago) lol. I usually top it off with one of the authentic custom snakeskin hats we did and of course a Rich Kids tee or hoodie. I like to keep it exclusive, but always have some wow pieces that people are familiar with.

Kristen: 

I've never really had to answer this before, so it's weird because I feel like there could be a wrong answer...which there isn't one; since I grew up in the (hip hop) dance world, that has definitely influenced my “contemporary street” style. I dress comfortably, but like to have a little bit of that unique aspect to my wardrobe. I've always been a “thrifter,” I remember going in cliques to the local Value Village in junior high and finding those gem and at the time (late 90's), I didn't know how stylish we were.

Who inspires you?

Lee: 

Honestly my parents have always inspired me and pushed me to be who I want to be. Their support is amazing and I couldn't ask for more. I also get inspired by anyone who lives to push the limits and make their dreams a reality. Style wise of course the Pharrell's and Kanye's of the world, but in terms of business, people like Elon Musk and Richard Branson are people who consistently inspire me to keep on pushing even when things get tough.

Kristen: 

My parents; who are still (happily) married and who are working because they love what they do, not because they have to. My dad builds guitars now [after retiring in '97 as a Major in the Air Force, then after retiring from teaching high school Japanese this past year], and my mom is now an elementary school teacher [after spending time in the Air Force as well and raising my brother and I]. She is also in the midst of getting another teaching certification because she set it is as a goal (not because she has to). That inspires me.

I have been really fortunate to have had family members, friends, peers, etc. around me my whole life that I have always found inspiration in. I think people with creative minds can always find inspiration in even the smallest things. And it goes without saying that Lee inspires me; we constantly challenge each other and the end result is usually something amazing.

What are you reading?

Lee:

I'm not a huge reader because I have the attention span of a two yearr old, but I love to watch videos. I watch a lot of videos on the above mentioned people that inspire me and I like to catch up on articles/interviews of the movers and shakers of the world. I'm am heavy into blogs like: Upscalehype, celebritynetworth, and Forbes.

Kristen: 

I wish I had an answer that would make me sound super refined and cultured, but as of lately, any reading I have been doing consists of Buzzfeed and magazine articles. I have a “to read” book section awaiting me at home, that consists of “The Female Brain” (Louann Brizendine), “Kingdom of Fear” (Hunter S. Thompson), and “Proof of Heaven” (Dr. Eben Alexander), to name a few.

What are you most excited about in the coming months? 

Lee: 

I'm excited of course about the new Urbanity I just opened up in Bellevue Square, all the dope projects I have going on with Rich Kids and the launch of my new tech company. I'm pretty much excited for everything coming up because it's all companies I have started and that I truly believe in. We also have some dope collaborations and releases coming up that everyone will hear about shortly.

Kristen: 

Since the new Urbanity just opened, I'm really excited to see not only the store grow, but what the response to the womens side of the store is directly. I always admit that I do not live and breath fashion, but I do love retail and I love learning trends/brands and implementing them into my day to day (work) life.

I always get excited for upcoming trade shows and it is really interesting going as a buyer and as a vendor, so with future of Rich Kids, I am especially excited to represent at the next upcoming Agenda shows in Long Beach and Las Vegas and see what opportunities arise. We have been working really hard to expand and every day brings something new and different.

The new Urbanity in Bellevue Square!

Thank you!

Find Lee & Kristen online: Rich Kids Brand Urbanity

Read all of my Aces interviews here.