Spotlight: ReThunk Junk
How did your business get its start?
ReThunk Junk has evolved over several years of hobby art incorporated with a desire to create a successful art business. The idea started about five years ago when I joined a Green Team at work. One of my tasks included creating a new idea, within our group, to bring awareness to the program. At that time we only focused on recycling and reducing. I immediately noticed we were missing the repurposing portion. I suggested repurposing trash into art. The response was positive.
One night I was crafting and brainstorming new ideas. I heard a very loud bang that startled me. I quickly noticed that a pop can had exploded because there was pop all over the wall and floor. I walked over to clean it up and noticed the way the can split when it exploded. It split toward the top and almost looked like it was smiling at me.
The next day I designed a large Browns helmet made from little paw prints I punched out of orange pop cans. I had leftover can pieces that were also turned into mini wall art pieces. Not long after that a few more pieces highlighting my love for the Cleveland Cavs and Indians teams were created. Ohio State wall art pieces also really seem to compliment the Cleveland art.
In 2016, I noticed my son, Michael, had an increased interested in creating art as well. He was also very talented with technology and science. During his senior year of high school, he took an Engineering class. He came home one day and showed me how he could engrave and use a laser to cut wood and other materials. I asked my son if he thought the laser would cut through vinyl records. He wasn’t sure, but took a record with him to try. He asked what design he should try. I jokingly said the Cleveland skyline. He had to create the design on the computer first. This involved many precise mouse clicks with the proper tools within the computer program. A few weeks went by and he presented his first vinyl record design. I was shocked to see it was in fact the city of Cleveland’s skyline. He immediately went to work on his next vinyl design, the state of Ohio. He created several other local designs in 2016 including a special design that highlighted what we felt were the best Cleveland landmarks.
We started with our first art show in October of 2016. We worked several art/craft shows during the 2016 holiday season and opened our Etsy shop last year as well. We worked together on some projects, but most of our designs were separate. I predominately made inspirational wall art using homemade paper as my background and pop can art highlighting Cleveland & Ohio sports teams. Michael created all the vinyl record designs and I painted the backgrounds. We decided to focus more on Cleveland and Ohio as we started to create new designs. CLE and 216 wall art started selling like crazy. It was clear that our prime customers agreed with our design choices. We started working together more as a team throughout the end of 2016.
We consider October – December 2016 our beta test period. Most of the vinyl/wood decal items used to create the art was made using my son’s high school equipment. We could not mass produce nor would he have access to the machine for much longer. We sold out of all vinyl designs by mid-December 2016.
In order to continue we needed to purchase a machine of our own. We wanted to avoid taking out a loan. We tried a local paint night idea that may work in the future to generate capital during Spring/Summer months that may not be as busy. We needed something fast in order to continue our momentum. At the advice of a friend, Michael started a Kickstarter project in hopes of raising money to purchase an expensive laser/engraving machine. The project failed.
At that point we regrouped. We made a decision to become co-owners/sustainability artists for the same company in January of 2017. We reorganized our thoughts and decided to start a smaller Kickstarter project for a CNC machine rather than a laser machine. The new Kickstarter project was a success.
How long have you been in business?
ReThunk Junk has been in business for just over one year.
What do you like most about your job?
I love everything about this business! I love working with my son first and foremost. I love highlighting my hometown/state through art, I love repurposing wasted items, and I love meeting people in Cleveland and surrounding suburbs. Clevelanders are like no other people. They are genuine and loyal to their city. I love seeing a complete stranger value our art. That means it is really cool, not just because my mom says so. ☺
What makes ReThunk Junk unique?
Although the Cleveland skyline and the state of Ohio are nothing new, ReThunk junk features the beauty of our hometown while repurposing what some refer to as trash. We started by using many repurposed items within our product line. We mainly focus on repurposing old/damaged music/movie/game Medias (records, cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, Sony/PlayStation games, VCR tapes).
What does keep it local mean to you and your business?
Keeping it Local to our business means getting out into the community and taking part in local events which allows us to get to know our customers and vice versa. We collect different Medias from people in the community and return it to the public in art form. When it is necessary to purchase reclaimed wood/canvases/frames etc. we shop local to support other local business owners. We don’t necessarily want to keep our business exclusively local, but our art highlights our local community and our state, so it is important to remember where we came from and who we consider our people. We started local and plan to continue to branch out locally.
How did you come up with your business name?
The ReThunk Junk business name was a rhyming joke that became reality. I came up with a list of strong contenders and created a few small surveys on social media. ReThunk Junk 76 was born.
What do you like best about working in Cleveland?
Cleveland is my hometown. I was born at the Ronald McDonald house in Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in the 70’s. While I lived in Cleveland my parents took me to see the Cleveland Indians play often. We took the rapid and saw many Cleveland buildings and land sites on our ride. It was my favorite part of childhood. As a young child, I loved municipal stadium, the Cleveland buildings, the Cleveland Indians drummer, and the blimp. I went to my first Indians & Browns game in municipal stadium.
As I grew older, I spent more time downtown enjoying the lake, the bars, the restaurants, and the view. I started to like basketball and football too. At the time, neither Cleveland team was very good, but they were my teams regardless. The tribe was doing pretty well for a change at Jacob’s field, the stadium I intently watched the city build. I also watched as Cleveland built a new basketball arena and football stadium.
My parents not only passed along a love for sports, but also a love for music. I watched as Cleveland won the right to build the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I also watched Cleveland put together a sweet Science Center. The city was really starting to come back together as other projects spun off of the large to further beautify the city and provide a sense of pride for our once crumbling city. It makes me proud that Cleveland, my city, has risen from what some refer to as rubble.
Are you offering any special services right now?
ReThunk junk has unveiled our 2017 creations for Fall/Winter and has also provided more options for our classic wall-art designs. In addition to vinyl skylines this year we designed mini-skylines using damaged or unwanted CDs, DVDs, and video games. We have also started to create designs using cassette tapes and VCR tapes.
In addition to wall-art we have started a new t-shirt line which focuses on Cleveland and Ohio themes. We have also brought on a few local artists to design other products based on our brand including dog clothes, aprons, purses, candles, and cards. These items will be available at our shows in the near future.
Are there any details about your company that you want everyone to know about?
We would prefer to not destroy good music to create art. But we have also noticed there are a lot of music forms going to waste now, stacking up in landfills, collecting dust in homes due to MP3 music & other technology advancements. When choosing the media type to display in our art we use the media forms that are clearly non-usable first. Next, we may use a specific piece of music media in good condition if requested or if we have multiple copies. We really love repurposing all the old AOL and Netscape CDs!
We accept donations of all music media types including vinyl, CDs (DVDs etc), cassette tapes, eight tracks, reel to reel.
Anything else (special events, ideas, ect.).
The ReThunk Junk 76 Etsy shop has returned from our creation vacation. ReThunk Junk 76 is the shop name. Here is the shop link. https://www.etsy.com/shop/ReThunkJunk76/items?source=aw&utm_source=affiliate_window&utm_medium=affiliate&utm_campaign=us_location_buyer&awc=6220_1509035707_0ed4ef21c74a206607351644ed9775e2&utm_content=413949
ReThunk Junk has booked to feature our creations at local art shows in the following areas throughout Nov/Dec 2017: Cleveland, Chagrin Falls, Chardon, Mayfield, Painesville, Rocky River, and Strongsville. All email list customers will receive email notification of our shows and special event sales. Email contact info to RethunkJunk76@gmail.com if you wish to be on our email list with the words “email list request” in the subject line.
Currently we are developing professional relationships with local businesses. We are working communicating with bars, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, and gift shops in more than one capacity to purchase our products when decorating their business, for resale, or for promotional events. If there are any small businesses that are part of the Keep it Local group that are interested in forming a business relationship, please let us know.