The Kudzu Team

The Kudzu Brand Artists

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MURPHY FUNKHOUSER CAPPS is the CEO and chief brand strategist at Kudzu Brands. She is specialized in brand storytelling and brand strategy. Murphy has worked for two decades in corporate training, management, marketing and branding. She is a graduate of Leadership Asheville, Class 29, a member of the United Way Women’s Leadership Group and serves on the UNCA School of Business Advisory Board. She is also an accomplished performer, writer and speaker. Her original one-woman play won at the Colorado Theatre Festival and was nominated for a Denver Post Ovation Award. Murphy is a frequent speaker at UNCA, AB Tech and Blue Ridge Community College, guiding future entrepreneurs and small business owners. In her quiet time, Murphy can be found doing yoga (badly) or trying to read Mary Oliver without interruption. Coach or Consult with Murphy. Schedule here. Visit her personal website here. Murphy is also available for speaking engagements

HEATHER JOHNSON is the COO and managing partner at Kudzu Brands. Local to the Western North Carolina area, Heather graduated East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor in Business Administration. For over two decades, her professional career has included everything from business management to human resources, graphic design to corporate strategic marketing plans. Experienced in B2B and B2C marketing, her experience is specifically in strategic business management and developing brand management plans. Heather’s focus is to assist with day-to-day operations and project management for the Kudzu team as well as offer guidance and strategic branding insight on specific projects.When she is not putting out fires (aka fanning the flames of creativity), Heather likes to spend time with her family and work on her parent’s farm.

ASHLEIGH ROGERS is a graduate of Western Carolina University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. She is a creative with an eye for good typography, layout and strong design elements. Ashleigh focuses on executing details that might otherwise go unnoticed. She enjoys design work because of the creative process and the ability to bring clients’ ideas to life. When she’s not beautifying brands, Ashleigh enjoys pampering her pitbull, leisurely summer nights with her husband in their camper by the lake, and living a healthy lifetsyle!

BRIAN YATES  is originally from South Alabama, but lived in nine states before settling in Asheville 22 years ago. With a penchant for copy editing/proofing and a love of working with people, Brian’s role is brand cultivator and project manager. Previously, he spent 12 years in tourism sales, marketing and destination management as sales manager with the Great Smokies Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort, as destination guru at the Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau and as a freelance consultant. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from The University of Alabama before pursuing graduate studies at Western Carolina University. Brian has been an active volunteer with the Asheville Downtown Association, Asheville Area Arts Council and Bele Chere board of directors. He is also a cat lover and diehard Alabama fan.

DENISE SZAKALY is a northern girl who fell in love with Asheville ten years ago. Some may call her a “half-back” — As she graduated from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, with a B.F.A. in Communcation Design with a concentration in Illustration in 2005. Moved to Florida, worked as a Graphic Designer for Absher Design Group., Inc and then only made it halfway back (north) to Asheville, NC. While in Asheville, she has been the Art Director for WNC magazine and The Brite Agency, designing everything from publication design to logos and everything in between. With twelve years experience she has a good eye for detail, balance and a crisp clean design aesthetic, while also focusing her creative energies into conceptualizing and building client relationships. In her free time she enjoys camping, kayaking, a good book and of course, being crafty in her “craft corner”.

HANNAH TEO is a recent graduate of Montreat College, majoring in Communications and minoring in Business Administration. As a Communications Coordinator, Hannah is excited to help clients through their brand development process, as well as create beautiful copy to complement each project. Outside of Kudzu, Hannah enjoys discovering new restaurants, personal fitness, and traveling both locally and overseas.

LEAH MIDDLETON moved to Asheville from Seattle, Washington where she attended Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College to obtain her Associates in Applied Science, specializing in the Digital Media program. She began her professional career in 2015 as a freelance graphic designer and photographer before arriving at Kudzu Brands as a project manager. She has a particular interest in social media management, graphic design, copywriting, and photography. In her free time, you can find her and her husband enjoying a brew at a local brewery or booking their next trip.

LAUREN WRIGHT originally hails from Colorado. She graduated from the CU-Boulder with a BA in Humanities, focuses on English Literature and Gender Studies. She began her professional career in 2009 and has since grown to be a “wearer of many hats” within the digital marketing realm, with a particular interest in copywriting, editing, and social media marketing. In her free time, she likes to hunt for waterfalls, create fermented concoctions in her kitchen, and drink coffee.

NICK JONES is an Asheville, NC native with a formal background in digital media and the arts, ranging from fine art to graphic design. He carried over his passion of creativity and interactivity to a more expansive canvas, spending the last 3 years working on online branding and website design & development. In the “real world,” Nick relishes playing various musical instruments, exploring new places in and outside of the woods, snowboarding, and just spending time with good friends. Nick will be supporting our clients with website design, social media and SEO strategy!

SUSAN MORTON is from Tennessee but acquired a BFA in Graphic Design at Murray State University in Western Kentucky. Her experience is in the service industry but her education is in design. She enjoys many forms of art from simple sketching to welding large 3D sculptures. She is the proud mom of two adorable dogs and enjoys doing most anything she can do with them.

KENDRA DIAZ is a native of Tampa, Florida, but has called the Blue Ridge Mountains home for ten years. She graduated from Western Carolina University where she received a B.F.A. in graphic design. She provides strategic ideas for each project with a creative range from graphic design, website design, video production and photography. In her spare time she enjoys exploring mountain trails with her dogs, photographing sunsets and listening to live music.



A Brand New Year! As of January 1, 2018, The Brite Agency ( is now a part of Kudzu Brands ! Together, we have created one of the larger, more comprehensive branding and design agencies in WNC.