Channeling Her Retro

How Kudzu Antiques’ Kate Lawes balances today, tomorrow and beyond

The story behind Kudzu Antiques + Modern is a true hometown success story. After college, Atlanta native Kate Lawes flirted with the idea of joining the family antique business her mother started in the old DeKalb Purina Seed and Feed store, but was flatly rejected. Her older sister, Russell, was already involved and her mom had different designs on Kate’s future. Disappointed, Kate turned her efforts to building a career in sales.

It would be years later, as her mom’s health began to decline, that Kate and her husband, George, stepped in to help. And then it hit Kate. She realized that her earliest attraction was real. She indeed had a passion for the business. Following her mom’s death, George and Kate decided to continue the family legacy her mom named after the overgrown kudzu vines seemingly overwhelming it. So, in 2001, they quit their careers, bought the business from Kate’s family and jumped in full time. “We were eager to put our creativity into every fiber of the business and see what we could build.”

Like any business with up and down cycles, Kate admits it was a struggle for a number of years. Short on cash, new to learning the business and continually patching the roof, the Lawes pushed on. And then, something magical happened. As the years went on, and their tenacity and love grew, so did Kudzu Antiques, eventually evolving into the perfect blend of old and new.

Sectioning the 26,000-square-foot store, customers could shop for furniture, yard art, pottery, gifts, and so much more. Today, Kudzu Antiques + Modern is like three stores in one: an antique mall, a furniture store and a gift store, including a sister store, Kudzu and Company, in Sandy Springs. As its reputation grows, it has become a staple for friends, family and out-of-towners alike. “When people ask me what I love about Kudzu, I say everything. The customers. The dealers. Our team. The continuous hunt for antiques from all over the world. When you shop Kudzu, the bet is that you will get fabulous finds.”

Above all else, if you ask Kate what makes Kudzu what it is, her answer is community every time. Even with the scores of newcomers who shop the store every day, it is the regulars that give the store its legacy. “Some come to see what’s new, others just come by to chat. This is a community that stepped up to help us through the 2008 economic crash and COVID. Without sounding too corny, I think people love us because, while we aren’t perfect, every one of us leads with good intentions and has a sincere heart. It is part of the Kudzu experience.”


Kudzu Antiques + Modern

2928 E Ponce de Leon Ave.


Decatur Rapid Fire…
Kate Lawes
Kudzu Antiques + Modern

Biggest influence?
My dad.

Three traits every leader should have?
Be a good listener. Allow space for new ideas. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Be humble.

What book are you reading now?
“The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig

What are you binge watching?
“Extraordinary Attorney Woo”

Who is the artist you cannot take off your playlist?
I don’t have a playlist, but love to stream Radio Paradise.

Biggest thing on your bucket list?
A family trip with our adult children.

Favorite Decatur spot?
This is a toughie. Going with fail safe, Butter and Cream.

The first place every newcomer to Decatur should visit first?
At the risk of sounding self indulgent, I chose Kudzu. Our team loves to welcome newcomers to the area and it’s fun when they find something special for their new digs.

The best thing a customer ever said to you?
Something along the lines of, “Kudzu is experiential; it’s like a living organism.”

What’s your favorite quote?
“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life with what we give.” — Winston Churchill

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