April 2023 Director's Notes
Another Earth Month has come and gone, and I am proud of all that Scraplanta has accomplished in just one year. Last year, I was staring at an empty storefront and wondering how we were going to transform this space into a bustling creative reuse center. I hunkered down in my room and worked through our Form 1023 and other important documents to get Scraplanta our 501(c)3 status. I spent my days quietly at my computer, sending cold emails and trying to plan our opening. I had no idea that April was only the beginning of our 6-month struggle for inspections and permits.
And then we opened...
Although the opening process was stressful, I think everything happened at the right time. By the time we had our grand opening, we had a fully stocked store and an eager audience who was ready to create sustainable art! The past six months have been surreal, and I can't believe it's been a year since we got access to the empty storefront with no electricity, outdated plumbing, and stripped flooring. Volunteers and board members poured countless hours into painting and installing floors. I was shocked by how much the store transformed in a matter of weeks. We scraped up bookshelves and fixtures to display thousands of pounds of materials that were spilling from our back room.
I held my breath the entire opening weekend. As I drove up 285, I would ask myself, "Is anyone going to come to Scraplanta?" I look back and feel silly about being worried. Folks came from everywhere to support Scraplanta! They eagerly brought their friends and planned trips to come visit us in the Briarcliff Village Shopping Plaza. I was proud to be a part of folks' weekly routines. I took notes on the skills folks wanted to learn and tried to connect with artists who were interested in teaching community workshops. I started to make friends with customers and volunteers. Even the other businesses in the shopping plaza and around Tucker came by to shop for their stores!
It was only up from here!
It wasn't until January when we had a morning without customers right at opening, and I panicked because maybe this creative reuse thing wasn't working out. Then customers started to trickle in, and eventually, we had a store full of folks who were happily shopping and filling their bags with art supplies and things they didn't know they needed. With increased demand came more responsibilities outside of the store, and I know the board member had vibrant family and community lives, so we made the decision to hire folks.
Little did we know that these additions to our team would be the creative masterminds behind our efficient and beautiful store layouts. Levi, Dana, and Sarah excelled at creating a welcoming atmosphere at Scraplanta. Their customer service skills exceeded all of my expectations, and I glowed whenever customers raved about the friendly service provided by our team. We had folks who came back just to chat with the reuse specialists!
In February, I looked up and realized Scraplanta has been incorporated for 5 years! I knew that called for a celebration especially since it coincided with Mardi Gras. I spoke with Susan to learn more about Scraplanta's early days and founding members, which is the subject of another amazing blog post. The staff brainstormed ideas to celebrate our 5th birthday, and before I knew it we had exceeded our goal to raise $500 for eco-friendly cleaning supplies, improved volunteer management software, and classroom supplies.
In March, we finally hosted our first set of classes. Words can't express the joy I felt when I saw folks enjoying the workshops. I saw a few of the same names on the RSVP, and I couldn't stop smiling. During the first few classes, I anxiously paced like a wildcat because I didn't know how much guidance the instructors and students wanted from me. Once I was able to relax, I even joined in on a few workshops and learned how to make amazing skills like applique and painting without a brush. At the end of March, I even got the chance to host a Comedy 'n' Craft night with local comedians, and we had a ball!
Afterwards, participants reflected on their experiences and how happy they were to have the option to create in the company of other folks. I felt happy to know that I can bring joy to so many people.
As our first Fiscal Year as a non-profit wraps up, I am happy that Scraplanta is here to stay and grow with the community. Some customers wondered if we were a temporary pop-up or a dream, but I love to reassure them that we're here to serve the community through sustainable and accessible art programs and affordable supplies. I'm always eager to know what classes folks would like to see at Scraplanta, so if you have anything on your mind, please feel free to comment below. You would be surprised
to see what folks are willing to teach.