Upcycling for the Ritz

 The scrap that ended up working best was his own in House scrap pile, so while the pieces at our shop also came from him, we pulled right from this box for all 200 bookmarks, then I walked away with the box of skinnier scraps from that! you can find them for sale in our hardware section in the shop :)

The scrap that ended up working best was his own in House scrap pile, so while the pieces at our shop also came from him, we pulled right from this box for all 200 bookmarks, then I walked away with the box of skinnier scraps from that! you can find them for sale in our hardware section in the shop :)

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I’m not going to lie. I didn’t think it would work. When the kindest woman ever from the Ritz Carlton hotel reached out to share they were looking for custom handmade bookmarks for use as guest amenities, preferably silver, I didn’t think we here at Upcycle Parts Shop would be the right fit. We’re scrappy. They are the RITZ! So, we talked about that. I shared my concerns, and we agreed we would proceed and then communicate if it wasn’t the right fit. (We’re learning this is just the right process for most things in life and work, isn’t it?) Our fun and up-for-innovating-small-business owner friend Gary runs Initially Yours Engravers in Lakewood, and he was phone call number one. When the Ritz said silver bookmarks, I thought of the flat rectangle scraps Gary has been donating for years, multi-sized, sometimes sharp on the edges excess cutoffs from plaques and trophies. We had boxes of it in our shop basement, some ancient, some new, in gold, brass, and silver. Gary loves creative projects and does printing as well as engraving, and he was game. So after discussion on the right kind of scraps and a tutorial on how to tell if it’s a good-to-reuse-scrap of silver or not. (honest here again, I still can’t tell) plus some innovating together, listening to more sports talk radio at his shop than I ever have in my life, prototyping and me learning how to use a machine that rounds corners (I fell in love with that machine. It literally cuts corners!), we had a sample. The Ritz gave us their thumbs up, and ta-da, economy from reuse! It worked! Two hundred bookmarks and a happy customer later, it was a thrilling project and we hope for more like this. Less waste, more guest amenities!

Truth is, this is my humble dream, to create more and more and more economy from reuse! The dream version is to hire more of our neighbors in St. Clair to do it with us. Step by step. Scrap by scrap!

Gary is great to work with, in case you have a creative project that could benefit from his printing on metal, engraving, and general make-it-look-fancy skills, find him on an old but functional website: iyawards.com, call him and ask him to turn the radio down!

Thanks for reading,

Nicole, on behalf of a killer upcycle team, and with 5% more ability to talk sports than before this project ;)

 Above: This is Frankie on the left, and She’s the kindest collaborator ever! She’s standing with Nicole,  co-founder and Artistic director   Left: This is Gary, co-visionary and owner of our favorite place to get fancy thing printed, Initially Yours at 15028 Madison Ave, Lakewood

Above: This is Frankie on the left, and She’s the kindest collaborator ever! She’s standing with Nicole, co-founder and Artistic director

Left: This is Gary, co-visionary and owner of our favorite place to get fancy thing printed, Initially Yours at 15028 Madison Ave, Lakewood

Meet Dasha:  Neighbor, Intern, Customer Service Extraordinaire 

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"When I'm old enough, can I work here?"  It was one of the first things our neighbor Dasha said to us when she, her mom, and her little brother came into our shop in the late spring of 2014. We wouldn't open until July and we were moving furniture around, painting everything we could, and hoping we would have enough creative material donations to open (we did, and we haven't spent another minute worrying about that, because you all are so generous!) 

The blinds were closed, Dasha was embarrassed because her mom knocked on the door anyhow, determined to try to engage the way she wanted. We know this because we heard them talking on the inside of the closed blinds, and we opened the door and invited them in to see what we were planning.  It was this friendly curiosity that first made us feel welcome in Cleveland's St. Clair neighborhood, and it was that day that Dasha asked if she could work for us. So you can imagine we're proud & excited that the now 17 year old is our first ever teen apprentice/paid intern!!

Dasha was newly 13 when we first met her, and that summer her brother CJ and her volunteered with us everyday.  It was their family that first made us feel welcome, and her grandma and mom who one day brought by 2 large trays full of vinyl letters being sold for cheap at a garage sale. "We got these for you" they said.  "You clearly 'get' us" we said back, with gratitude.  Dasha was helping us run a Hackathon event on the campus of Case Western Reserve University earlier this month, and we snapped a few picture and asked a few questions. 

Where do you go to high school Dasha? Ohio Virtual Academy, it’s an online school, which is basically the same as a brick and mortar school. We have teachers, deadlines, projects, but what’s really nice is the flexibility of it.  That’s the benefit.

Why is flexibility important to you?  As I get older there are more things that I want to do with my time.  Being able to have more time for religious purposes is important to me. I’m able to do more than I could if I went to a traditional school

What excites you about being an intern at Upcycle Parts Shop?  The opportunity to meet more people. I think it’s an opportunity to get into things that I wouldn’t be able to usually.  Problem solving comes up a lot.  I like that. And I like working with people; other staff and customers.   These are important for the field I want to get into.  I want to be a computer support technician.  When people have problems they’re not usually happy so being able to change my perspective to reflect how they’re feeling and helping them feel better and solve their problem in an efficient way is my goal.