How To: Start a Creative Reuse Revolution in Your Community in 5 Steps How To: Start a Creative Reuse Revolution in Your Community in 5 Steps
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How To: Start a Creative Reuse Revolution in Your Community in 5 Steps

by Kyla Fullenwider

December 13, 2010

1) Create a business name and plan. "Once I secured a name I felt more invested and it motivated me to move forward," says Hernandez. Business plans are important whether you plan to file for non-profit status or not. A good business plan will help you find your strengths and weaknesses as well as potential opportunities you may not have flagged before. "It's a good exercise to go through and it gives you a plan that you can begin to visualize," she says.

2) File for non-profit status ASAP. Hernandez recommends setting up creative reuse centers as non-profits from the very beginning. Your non-profit status will allow you to receive tax-deductible in-kind donations and even on a location for your center, which brings us to the next step.

3) Find a central location. Teachers and artists will likely be the bulk of your regular customers, so try to set up shop near where they already go. Hernandez found a location near an art supply store that local artists frequent and had a built-in customer base from the start.

4) Curate your collection. One thing you have going for you in launching a creative reuse center it is this: people have stuff. Lots of it. Initially it may be hard to find the kinds of things you are looking for, but it won't be long before churches, businesses, and estates are offering more than you can likely handle. The key, then, is to curate. Once you've set up your system for accepting donations you'll want to create attractive displays for displaying the goods you do accept.

5) Build your community. A creative reuse center will never be a cash cow, but it can turn a modest profit and support local artists and educators if it's managed well. Hernandez created a "supporting artist" program to create opportunities for local artists and in turn has a steady stream of volunteers. Be sure to include your neighbors in the days and weeks leading up to your opening and contact local art schools and art supply stores. How you engage your community will be an integral part of your success or failure, says Hernandez.

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How To: Start a Creative Reuse Revolution in Your Community in 5 Steps