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Word spread about her new venture. Soon people started contacting her. She now has almost 300 people signed up as designers. She attributes this to KC's small-town habit of spreading news fast.
"It's always the question when you're in a meeting or you're talking about somebody: 'Oh, you know so-and-so? Yeah, she's friends with ...' and you end up realizing how small Kansas City is."
In July, Stalker went to an art show at Fringe Fest. She was walking around and started talking to a couple of the artists. They asked her name.
"Oh, I'm Carman," she told them.
"Carman Stalker? You're with WearHaus, right?" they replied.
"It's like you're like a celebrity in Mayberry or something," she says. "It's kind of nice — it feels good that people recognize and appreciate and support the people who are actually trying to do something good for the city."
Stalker says she recently met with Jeff Fortier of Mammoth Productions, a music-promotion company, and they talked about things they want to do so that Kansas City will be recognized as a cool place to live.
"If all those people who have that vision start aligning themselves and start working together, it could maybe become more of a big city and less of a small town," she says. She says she has seen a slow convergence toward that goal from different artists and designers around town. "Once we do that, the shit's going to hit the fan. In a good way."
For 30-year-old John Teasdale, running into someone he knows is so common that he doesn't even think about it anymore.
He remembers going to Arrowhead for the big Kansas-Missouri football game on November 24 with his two brothers and his sister-in-law. In the vast parking lot, which was packed with an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 revelers, they kept running into family and friends. "It was wild — it didn't matter if you had MU or KU on because you all grew up together," Teasdale recalls.
One of their stops was the Orscheln family tent, where Teasdale ran into about 20 people he knew. "It was the whole Rockhurst and St. Teresa's people," he says.
His father, Joseph, was governor of Missouri from 1977 to 1981. John lived in the governor's mansion until he was 2 years old. After Teasdale was defeated in 1980 by Kit Bond, the family moved back to Kansas City. John grew up near Red Bridge and went to St. Thomas More for grade school before attending Rockhurst High School.
He went to college at the University of Notre Dame — then came back to Kansas City after graduation. He's now director of operations at DeLaSalle Education Center, an alternative private high school. He's also active in the philanthropic scene, now in his second term as president of the Bacchus Foundation. Throwing three big events every year as well as smaller parties, the all-volunteer group of young professionals raises money for an "annually selected beneficiary" such as the Rose Brooks Center, the Good Samaritan Project or the Children's SPOT at St. Luke's Hospital. According to Teasdale, Bacchus has raised more than $1.5 million for good causes in its 54 years.
He describes Bacchus as a "connector," a sort of stepping stone for future board members of institutions such as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art or the Lyric Opera. "We try to train people to work on a board, on a committee, to get used to fundraising, because every charity needs fundraising."
Kansas City's small-town characteristics help in those efforts. "Whoever said it's not what you know, it's who you know, is absolutely right," he says. He thinks people in this town value relationships, family connections and school affiliations. "It helps out businesswise and definitely socialwise," he adds. "It's great because a lot of people will vouch for others when those relationships are needed to do business or whatever it might be."