2023 Kansas Woman-Owned Retail Business of the Year!
Receiving award from Ks governor
September 30, 2023. 
TOPEKA – Governor Laura Kelly joined the Kansas Department of Commerce for the 38th Annual Minority and Women Business Awards Luncheon at Townsite Tower in Topeka. The luncheon, hosted by Commerce’s Office of Minority and Women Business Development, recognizes minority- and women-owned businesses from across the state and is part of Kansas Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week.
The awards luncheon and celebration recognized 12 companies, three individuals, and one corporation from across the state for their support and efforts to create new economic development opportunities.

Hat bar concept trending at downtown store

SEPTEMBER 12, 2023

Custom western-style hats are trending in Leavenworth as Artistic Works by Lu recently added a hat bar concept to the shop at 221 Delaware St. The concept allows customers to create a customized design of their own wide-brim hat. The option is an integral part of owner Lu Knueven’s shop where customers can also customize their own necklaces and bracelets from her jewelry designs and accessories.
Lu Knueven is a second-generation retail shop owner whose downtown Leavenworth shop has been thriving since 2007. Knueven’s retail experience stems from working with her mother, who operated a retail clothing store for decades in Audubon, Iowa.
Growing up under that tutelage gave Knueven the entrepreneurial experience she needed later in life to start her own retail business. At first, she made and sold her handmade jewelry through parties at clients’ homes and her own home. When she outgrew the home business, she bought a building in her present downtown location. Five years later, she bought the building next door, expanding the jewelry business to include fashions “to accessorize the jewelry.” Taking her business to the next step, Knueven acquired a second shop location in Springfield, Missouri. Her sister is the manager at the Springfield location.
“So, it’s a family business,” Knueven said. Her husband is the accountant and does the engraving. “We’re celebrating 16 years in the shop.”
Knueven’s shop has a southwest-boho “hippie” vibe, as she calls it, that are evolutions from her mother’s early 1960’s stylings. Her travels as a military spouse took her to San Antonio, Texas, a location that Knueven said influenced her jewelry designs.
“I love turquoise,” Knueven said.
By the time the Knueven family decided to stay in Leavenworth after military retirement, her jewelry business and wholesale network was thriving. Arizona and Texas were her favorite locations for acquiring the gems and stones that suited her jewelry stylings.
Recently, Knueven was attracted to a hat bar trend she saw growing as she networked in Texas.
The origins of a hat bar concept can be traced back, at least in part, to a hat company in Montana that may have accidentally started the trend. Since 1979, Larry Shore, with his wife, Terry Shore, have owned and operated WesTrends Ranch Store near Morris, Montana. Larry Shore makes customized hats for his customers. According to Shore’s wife, Terry, there was a point in 2006 when friends who were watching what Larry Shore was doing with hat customizations made comments that led to the term hat bar.
“As far as I know, we may have started that,” Terry Shore, in a recent interview with the Leavenworth Times. “I hadn’t known of anything before that – when we titled our steamer that was in our store. We were a mobile store at that time, and everybody said, ‘Well, it looks like you should be serving drinks.’ And so, we just named it ‘Larry’s Hat Bar’ – and we don’t serve drinks at all. He did a (custom hat) concoction of whatever people wanted.”
Since then, the concept – and name hat bar – spread in popularity as the Shores traveled with their mobile hat store to Arizona and Texas.
“That Texas thing could have kind of started with us, too,” Shore said. “Because we’re good friends with the American Hat Company. And they kind of went along with that (hat bar).”
Knueven said her travels attracted her to the hat bars that were happening in Texas. She then decided to bring the concept to Artistic Works by Lu.
On a recent evening in Leavenworth, Knueven and her marketing director Jennifer Behnke manned the shop’s hat bar for a special event. The two fashioned together custom designs of 13 attendees at the shop. The participants started with the basics by picking from an array of ready-made hat color choices. From there, they added a variety of accessories to create what Knueven calls “tell your story” customizations.
“It’s all about the stories,” Knueven said.
Hat designs may also include custom branded messages. The final hat product is burnished for a weathered, distressed appearance.
Wearing the trending new fashion might take a little courage, Knueven said, even for a fashionista as herself.
“I went to the grocery store today (in her hat) and I was like, ‘OK, this is a little gutsy.’ But let’s do this,” Knueven said.
Customer Cindy Page, who waited for her custom hat to be assembled, said, “You know, after I turned 65, I said ‘I’ll do whatever I want.’ You don’t have to get boring just because you get older. I just learned to start embracing my quirks.”
On Tuesday, the shop is featuring “Lu’s Autumn Affair – Live with Lu Virtual Style Show” which will continue with in-studio shopping Sept. 15-16 at the downtown location.
Knueven said she is making the hat bar station a permanent option at Artistic Works by Lu. Customers can also book hat bar party events at the shop at www.artisticworksbylu.com

Local entrepreneur celebrates 15 years in Leavenworth
Leavenworth Times, Nov 2022
Artistic Works By Lu - Lu and Tracy
Artistic Works by Lu, located at 221 Delaware St. in Leavenworth, celebrated 15 years of business this month. The studio-boutique features chic clothing and handmade jewelry created by owner Lu Knueven.
“I’ve been designing jewelry for 20 years. I started a business from my home and began by hosting home parties,” she said. “In 2007, I found myself standing with my husband in an empty for-sale store in the heart of downtown Leavenworth. The brick walls and vintage character was speaking to me. We decided to take my homebased jewelry business and turn it into a studio-boutique.
“When I started designing jewelry in 2003, I was an Air Force wife and mother of three children who wouldn’t have imagined I would one day own a studio-boutique.”
Artistic Works by Lu features a “Live with Lu” event every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. on Facebook where the newest additions to the store are modeled and available for purchase. These items will remain on the website until they are sold and are available for purchase in the store as well.
Five years ago, Knueven opened a second location in Springfield, Missouri, managed by her sister.
The studio-boutique celebrated 15 years with special business hours and “Live with Lu.” They offered “Lutinis” and coffee from The Wild Way Coffee Creations, a Kansas City small business owned by Lu Knueven’s daughter.
“I believe in bold personalities, feeling beautiful in your own skin and loving life,” said Knueven. “To this day my favorite part of designing is the end result of the smile that a beautiful woman wears when she feels confident.
“My mom owned a clothing store in Iowa in the 1970s. She had an entrepreneur’s heart and I think that inspired me. I’ve always liked creating and crafting. When I married my high school sweetheart and we began traveling with the Air Force, I would do craft shows while raising our three kids. While stationed in San Antonio, I fell in love with turquoise and created my first necklace. That became the inspiration for Artistic Works by Lu.
“Leavenworth has a hometown feel. I love the camaraderie here and how they welcome military families and make them feel appreciated. There is a sense of belonging that makes you want to stay.”
Artistic Works by Lu is open Tuesday through Saturday. Refer to Facebook or the website www. artisticworksbylu.com for store hours and to learn more about “Live with Lu” and other upcoming events.
A designer’s country roots and urban soul combine to create one-of-a-kind looks.
417 Magazine
Nov 2021
In 2002 Lu Knueven moved to Leavenworth, Kansas and began designing and creating custom jewelry as a creative outlet. “It started at my kitchen table and eventually grew to my dining room table that eventually turned into a store,” says Knueven, Owner and Designer of Artistic Works by Lu (1149 E. Republic Road, Springfield), a women’s jewelry and clothing boutique located in Leavenworth and Springfield.
The original Leavenworth location opened its doors in 2007. Knueven’s sister Carla has lived in Springfield for more than 30 years and is her connection to 417-land. Knueven began offering some of her jewelry at Harrison House Market. “That was my way of introducing my designs to Springfield,” she says. By 2019, a Springfield brick and mortar store was born.
At Artistic Works by Lu, shoppers can expect to find clothing and accessories with a twist. “The jewelry is what makes it different,” says Knueven. “That’s where the twist comes in.” Knueven still designs and creates all her jewelry, and a team of three women assembles the creations.
When asked where her inspiration comes from, Knueven says, “It’s in the beads. They talk to me.” Once a year she travels to a Tucson, Arizona, bead convention for materials and inspiration. In addition to beads, Knueven designs with stones, chains, leather and mixed metals.
In her shop, Knueven combines her jewelry with chic fashions to create her signature free spirited, bohemian aesthetic. “I just love it when women feel beautiful,” Knueven says. “I believe in bold personalities, feeling beautiful in your own skin and loving life. That’s my whole goal.”
Knueven designs new collections by the season and rotates her fashions to complement the designs. “Anyone can change a white T-shirt or black T-shirt into something that’s beautiful with just jewelry,” she says.