Making something from nothing: A reuse challenge

Making something from nothing: A reuse challenge

Most people planning the refit of a retail space would bob along to B&Q and buy a few fittings, maybe  a rail or two, and go about their opening. Not Kecks, we like to think outside the box a little, and so our Upcycling Lounge refit will be sourced entirely from reuse!

Starting my second upcycled shop refit, i have been reminded of the sheer scale of materials available to those looking to use second hand resources. Of course, working within the business, the stuff crops up during the working week: but networks like Bristol Reuse are striving to make them accessible to the public.

Often what is needed, is a bit of a rethink of what is necessary in a business: what must be bought new, and what can be borrowed, or reused.

In a recent t-shirt upcycling workshop with Call of the Brave we reproduced handpicked designers from local artists, and transferred then onto reworked t-shirts, using hand made stencils.

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The results were great, a brilliant day all round, and Call of the Brave now have an upcycled option alongside their ethically sourced tees: check out their crowd funded designs!

We also managed to catch up with Made in Bristol TV to film the first of our features on their ‘Thrifty Thursday’ pieces. This time we took second hand clothing from Emmaus and showed people how to make their festival wardrobe by repurposing and restyling what they already own!

So, in both cases, materials already exist to suit peoples needs – all we have done is facilitate that. Simple!

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So with the Upcycling Lounge set to launch in 2 weeks (eeek), we at Kecks are hoping to once again inspire reuse at every stage of the project.

Step one:our fixtures, fittings, and paint….all in tomorrows blog!

 

 

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Sustainability – teamwork

Sustainability – teamwork

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.  ~Margaret Meade

 

I’ve been pretty absent from blogworld – the practicalities of building my business have taken up a LOT of time…who knew there were so many types of clothes rail to choose from?! Plus battles with finances, but we all hear that one, right?

One thing that has kept me going through this chaos, is the collaborations with pals, and those just happy to help.

The more i have delved into sustainable living, the more i realise it really only works once everyone gets into it – the potential is incredible when you combine practical and creative talents without the red tape of corporate living.

Cisco-Zenoss-Collaboration

For example, the guys over at Freecycle – this online listing of donated goods has enabled thousands to get the stuff they need for free – whether it be furniture, or clothing, even sometimes food – and dispose of what they don’t need. Even down to unassuming stuff like old hair dye, it all stays out of landfill and saves money for the recipient. I have personally furnished most of my home with it, and as a single parent, have put clothes and toys back in and been thanked in a most heart warming way. If your local network needs a boost, why not encourage friends and family to whack something on there – advertise via social media – and watch it grow as word spreads. Its amazing what trash you can dispose of and what treasure you can find.

http://uk.freecycle.org/

Another great factor is that Freecycle is based on basic human courtesy and generosity – simply asking and giving thanks is discouraged in consumer society, and should be encouraged way more. When i reached out to an old uni pal of mine for some help with a promo video, he offered his time in exchange for accommodation during one of  their many filming trips around the country – he and his partner’s company kindly filmed, edited and produced the piece and it just hit 200 views. Incredibly generous, and we had a great time working together and a bit of partying to boot.

If you fancy a video of your own, or have any other filming projects, give them a shout, I will be for my next shoot:

http://gem177.wix.com/fancypantsproduction

The film was not complete without some music, so i contacted a band i have seen several times at gigs and festivals called ALASKA. They also agreed to let me use their latest single as the background music in exchange for a little help on their South West tour – amazing eh?

ALASKA Photo
http://www.alaskaofficial.com/

 

They just released their latest single which features a collaborative artwork  with Dots Printhaus who live in their hometown of Leeds.

http://www.tellusrecords.bigcartel.com/

Give it all a look, its incredible stuff, and all based on a spirit of collaboration and working together to make the projects that may not get funding or support of the ground. Much like my own little Kecks Clothing.

Next up is some work I’m doing with the brilliant Figure 8 Festival in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support – tickets are on sale now, and I’ll keep you posted with all developments! check it out!

http://figure8festival.co.uk/

Saying hello to HMRC – registering your business for taxation.

Saying hello to HMRC – registering your business for taxation.

Having being accepted onto the government New Enterprise Allowance scheme, i’m now an up and trading business! Hurrah!

As you may have guessed there are a few little hurdles for new starters, so i’ll take you along with me as i attempt to tackle them.

First of all Registering with HRMC.

Whether you are setting up a partnership, Ltd company, going self employed, or a sole trader, you must register with the Taxman as soon as possible! Serously. T’aint worth the aggro if you don’t.

If you’re a UK resident, the relevant info is here: https://www.gov.uk/browse/business

It takes 5 minutes and there is a wealth of advice on how to handle your taxes out there. As i am a numerical dunce who genuinely has a freakin panic attack when thinking about taxation, i took a course on the topic via BRAVE

http://www.brave.org.uk/startup

and if you are Bristol based, there is also OUTSET

http://www.outsetbristol.co.uk/

Most areas have equivalent programmes, and theres always the good old Jobcentre if you can stand it… All worth a look – i feel much better about it all…but will still be employing an accountant asap.

Next, Registering the Company Name…phew!

Meanwhile, enjoy this clip of someone giving the Taxman hell xx

Business plans; how to not freak out.

Business plans; how to not freak out.

I’m partly writing this for myself as a bit of reassurance that the cleverly formulated business plan that i have in my head will make it to paper by the end of today.

Writers block has kicked in at the crappiest time indeed.

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So, once again, i have turned to that there interweb for some advice and found some motivation in the information offered. Also helped me to calm down a bit as i juggle making new stock with nursing an ill kid, all whilst assessing my new business and trying to market it…phew!

  • The Guardian has a great small business section, you can join their hub for regular updates, and these tips on writing business plans helped set my brain whirring – it’s more general than detailed, but sets you on the right direction

http://www.guardian.co.uk/small-business-network/2012/jul/06/business-plan-writing-tips

  • Barclays have this, rather dry, but detailed guide on their site. more useful for the real sitting down, drafting stage:

http://www.barclays.co.uk/Startupsupport/Writingasmallbusinessplan/P1242559649359

  • The Dummies cheat sheet is where i’m at: i have this open while im typing to keep me on track, and usefully, it lists all the potholes i should avoid

http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/business-plans-for-dummies-cheat-sheet.html

But these are just a few, if you find any, please let me know in the comments!

As i have mentioned in previous blogs, i am on a mentoring scheme with BRAVE. They have supplied me with a lovely mentor who offers me honest advice and tea, soothing me with his Liverpudlian tones (sounds like perving, i’m just really grateful) – they are Bristol based but most areas have this kind of scheme,

http://www.brave.org.uk/

and i’m also speaking to Outset – can never have too much help eh?

http://www.outsetbristol.co.uk/

This is all via the New Enterprise Allowance – set up by the government to help people transfer from benefits to self employment

http://www.dwp.gov.uk/adviser/updates/new-enterprise-allowance/

I have been glad of the help of the support schemes, their workshops have been invaluable, and would warn anyone thinking of embarking on this, the NEA scheme is in no way generous – i am personally taking the chance as my personal circumstances make it hard to find sustainable work, but its still a big risk, and lately i’ve felt rather bonkers for taking this direction. Still, i’d rather try and fail then put all my hard work into businesses that benefit others without ever knowing if i could go it alone. Sadly, the Jobcentre often seem to be in conflict with the scheme, so you have to keep pushing that you are starting a business before you get plonked on a ‘Work Scheme’ or some other unhelpful nonsense. Be bold, and make them listen.

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The prospect is hard work and in light of the painfully short NEA timescale and low payments:

“a weekly allowance worth £1,274 over 26 weeks, paid at £65 a week for the first 13 weeks and £33 a week for a further 13 weeks”

you do need to plan well and be realistic about the potential for your venture – a business plan can be your personal goal and the main KPI for your venture.

If you don’t know what a KPI is, you may not be ready yet…

So, with my harsh assessment of my own ability and a frugal, Northern loathing of borrowing or spending money, i’m off to tackle that plan head on…after a cuppa…

Wish me luck!