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Introducing our first Cairenn™ ambassador: Artist, Megh Knappenberger

Posted by Michael Wilson on

With the launch of our first women’s timepiece, The Cairenn™, we are profiling NIALL customers whose ‘strength runs deep.’ We begin this series with local artist, Megh Knappenberger.
The name "Cairenn" comes from the same Irish history for which our company was named. In mythology, Cairenn was NIALL's mother and, according to legend, Cairenn was a woman who represented triumph over adversity. Tales speak of Cairenn's turmoil of making tough decisions with elegance while maintaining tranquility. 

Wife, mother, entrepreneur 
Like most women, Megh is a busy lady. She is the mother of an active 3 year old son and wife to an Art Director at a local ad agency. She is also a serial entrepreneur. Until about 18 months ago, she was running a successful branding business in the West Bottoms. A third and fourth generation entrepreneur on either side of her family, she always knew she’d be her own boss. Her design business was booming for close to seven years when she decided to shut the doors and pursue what many would consider the most ill-advised career move you can make (well, second to watchmaking)—she became a full-time painter. 

Strength through adversity 
Megh was going full-steam ahead in her business a couple of years ago. With a 1-year-old at home and clients all over the country, she was traveling frequently and her health began to catch up with her. A back injury that began as a nagging pain became debilitating. And she learned the lesson so imperative to new parents, and so difficult for new moms: that she had to be first. For Megh, “having a baby was a wild experience. All of a sudden there’s this little person who is wholly dependent upon you and you love them so much that it’s very counterintuitive to put yourself first. But it’s what you have to do.” She took a 4 month sabbatical from work to focus on healing her back, and, consequently, the rest of her well-being in the process. 

An idea just so crazy, it may work  
During this sabbatical Megh began to paint again, something she had always done on the side. She was a gifted artist from a young age, but took the sensible route when attending KU and pursued a degree in graphic design so she would have a commercially viable source of income. “I never even considered painting as a ‘real’ job before now,” said Megh. But after recovering from nearly a year of chronic pain, she decided life was too short not to follow her passion. So she tied up the loose ends and closed her design business in pursuit of a new career in painting. 

Confidence is key
Armed with only a steadfast belief that, “it was going to work,” and an incredibly supportive husband, Megh set out to do just that. With her background, she brought a business acumen to the table that is very uncommon for an artist. When asked how she was able to make this leap, she said “it was all about confidence for me. Believing and knowing that I had the talent and drive to make this happen. Everyone has ideas and dreams, but few people have the confidence to actually pursue them. If I fail, then I fail. But at least I’m trying and learning and doing what I love, and I’m a better wife and mom for it. That’s really all I can ask for.” We’ve seen Megh’s confidence on display at NIALL where her collection of officially licensed Jayhawk paintings, The Original Six, are currently hanging. 

Break the rules 
“For me, one of the coolest things about being an artist is the ability, and really the expectation, to know the rules and then completely obliterate them. There’s this unwritten rule that artists have to be starving, that they have to do hundreds of tiny gallery shows in the hopes of being discovered, that they can only sell paintings when they die. I don’t subscribe to that belief. I have a family to support, and a really big vision for what I’m going to do with my career. In order to do that, I set the bar really high right out of the gate.” Megh has taken a non traditional route in her relatively new career as an artist, selling most of her work via social media sites like Instagram and Facebook, and doing brand collaborations like this one with NIALL. And people are taking notice.

The Jayhawks 
When Megh painted a portrait of James Naismith back in the summer, it was an instant connection for NIALL founder, Michael Wilson. “I saw that painting on Instagram and knew I had to have a print for the store. Once I met Megh, it quickly became clear that we should collaborate on something KU related,” said Wilson. On the heels of our successful Fieldhouse Blue timepiece, it just made sense. A few months later, Megh called Mike to her home to see the six large paintings that are now on display at NIALL. It was an instant hit.

With The Original Six, Megh became the first artist in decades to be granted licensing from The University of Kansas. The project has generated interest from Jayhawks all over the country and put Megh on the map— a swift rise to recognition for a new artist. The originals are currently on display at NIALL, priced at $25K apiece and are garnering lots of interest.
Megh has also created a limited edition print set of the Jayhawks that are each hand-signed and -numbered. With only 152 sets available, they are a truly exclusive gift for the KU fan with everything this holiday season. They are priced at $1500 for a framed and matted set, or $1200 for the prints-only. They may be purchased here. [ https://www.meghmakesart.com/the-original-six-jayhawks-limited-prints/standard_products/theoriginalsixltdprints ] Orders must be placed by Nov 30 for holiday shipping, so get yours today. 


Seeing and Purchasing A Cairenn

The Cairenn stainless bezel pricing begins at $2,250 and the diamond bezel at $5,275.00. The demand for Cairenn has been outstanding. We will be doing everything in our power to keep them in stock during the holiday rush. The best way to see and purchase Cairenn is to visit our flagship retail store on the Country Club Plaza, located at 612 W 48th Street in Kansas City, MO. If you are interested in a custom engraved caseback, please allot five business days for the engraving. 

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