It sounds backward in the time of COVID-19, but a new business is rising from the ashes of a popular nonprofit claimed by the pandemic.
Thistle Creative Reuse is a business with roots in the now-defunct SCRAP Denton.
“Once SCRAP Denton closed, we were all devastated,” said Kari Meyercord-Westerman, executive director of Thistle.
Meyercord-Westerman served as the director of SCRAP for several years before she left the position and moved onto the nonprofit’s board.
“We had poured a lot of ourselves into it. We put so much of ourselves into that building and that community,” she said. “We’ve all talked about our grieving processes. We all knew that Denton is such a special creative place. It has to have a creative reuse center. It just has to.”
After SCRAP announced its closing in July, Meyercord-Westerman started talking about a new creative reuse outfit in Denton with two other SCRAP alumni — Heather Leigh Hoskins, the education and art director for Thistle, and Jeanna Dunlap, the reuse and recovery director for Thistle. Hoskins was the education coordinator for SCRAP, and Dunlap was the reuse supply manager before it closed.
The women named the company Thistle as a tip of the hat to the gangly but charming plant, with its habit of blooming where it’s planted without much extravagance. Hoskins, a sculptor who earned her master’s degree from University of North Texas, has taken to painting the robust plant. Thistles survive in Denton’s dry, hot soil, and the women liked the association.
They just weren’t sure how the company would emerge.
“For a little while, we talked about starting a nonprofit,” Meyercord-Westerman said. “We discovered it wasn’t going to happen, not as fast as any of us wanted to. We felt we needed to do something. With Heather and Jeanna, they lost their jobs. We talked, and we felt like we could try it as an LLC and have it be very community-centric.”
So Thistle Creative Reuse is a new local business that won’t fix what wasn’t broken at SCRAP. Thistle will accept donated art, crafting and office supplies. But the company has broadened its donation base: fashion magazines and some vintage books, containers, DIY tools, gift wrap, gently used gift bags and a whole lot more.
“So we have a donation pickup form on our website,” Dunlap said. “When you fill out the form, you tell us what day we can pick up stuff from them. We just ask that it is neatly organized in a container we can keep.”
Dunlap said pickup days are Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Thistle is also modeled after SCRAP’s philosophy about partnering with artists and groups in Denton.
“Even though it doesn’t have 501(c)(3) status, Thistle is going to be very centered on community. We’re going to give back to the community,” Meyercord-Westerman said. “We want to be a resource for people who can benefit from the materials we save from the landfill.”
The company already has an online application for people and groups that might need supplies for educational programs, classrooms and nonprofits.
Thistle doesn’t have a storefront. Right now, it is selling items from an online shop at thistlecreativereuse.com. The company is starting out with an online store that will deliver within Denton and will ship all over the region.
“We do want to have a brick-and-mortar [store] someday. It’s just not safe right now,” Meyercord-Westerman said.
“We’re dreaming about the day we open a physical space,” Hoskins said. “In the meantime, it’s all online.”
Hoskins has already planned two virtual workshops. She’ll lead a card-making workshop on Jan. 23. In February, she’ll teach a virtual class on making beeswax wrappers, a reusable replacement for plastic food wrap. She also is offering private workshops for groups.
“A big part of what we’re doing is teaching people how to get more out of the things around them, and showing people more sustainable ways of doing simple things,” Hoskins said.
The owners said they will measure their first year’s success by a few simple things.
“If we collect 1,000 pounds of materials that would have gone into the landfill, I feel like that would be a big deal,” Meyercord-Westerman said.
“For me, it would be having people know what Thistle Creative Reuse is and what we do,” Hoskins said. “If the community knows us, that would be a major win.”
Dunlap said donors should be patient as they apply for a pickup.
“It’s just the three of us right now,” she said. “We’re doing everything from the online store to the pickups and shipping. It might take us some time to figure this all out.”