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B2B ID: Amber Ladley

NAME: Amber Ladley

JOB TITLE, COMPANY: Co-founder, Knack: The Art of Clever Reuse, Easthampton

WEBSITE: www.knack.org

AGE: 34

WHEN THE BUSINESS STARTED: In May of 2012, I read an inspiring article on good.is, the social network for social good. I started crafting the idea of opening a creative reuse center and introduced it to my dear friend and fellow Knack co-founder Macey Faiella. Her superpowers in interior decorating, thrifty creativity and organizing functional space balanced my own, and knack.org was registered on July 1, 2012. One year later, we opened our doors at Eastworks in Easthampton.

WHAT YOU DO: I run a creative reuse center that offers reusable materials to use in creative projects. My role includes brainstorming ideas, sorting through treasure troves of new materials, and crafting. I also do all of the Web design and development for the business.

EXPERIENCE: I have always been a creative entrepreneur at heart. I grew up in a household with a dad who owned a successful business and a very crafty mom. I spent the past 12 years in Web design/development, first as a freelancer and later at healthcommunities.com and Mount Holyoke College. I recently returned to freelance to allow myself greater flexibility for building Knack.

THE MARKET: Everyone who wants to live a green lifestyle, support local artists and of course the creative community seeking access to affordable arts and crafts materials.

HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: Word of mouth, our website and social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. We also opened a pop-up shop over the holidays at The Parlor Room in Northampton and have participated in local events, including the Northampton Department of Public Work’s Reuse Rally for the Arts, Hilltown Families Community Service Days and Art in the Orchard.

WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? Most of our financing hurdles have been paid in sweat equity. We’ve hauled a lot of “junk” and up-cycled many roadside finds in the past year to build the space we have today. In addition, we launched a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo this past spring. We raised enough contributions to front our initial expenses of opening a brick-and-mortar shop.

KEY TO SUCCESS: Support from family and good advice from really smart people.

CHALLENGES: Growing the business while holding down other jobs and raising families.

MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: Accepting material donations in a taped-up box. We do not accept Raid.

WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: Creative ways to reduce landfill waste.

WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY: Many people in our creative economy, locally and virtually, who are inspiring and knowledgeable. My career coach is introvert expert Val Nelson.

TOP GOALS FOR 2013: 2013 has been an incredibly busy year for me with many goals already being accomplished. I’m hoping to let everything settle in for the next few months and look forward to planning for 2014.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Your online presence matters.

B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle, owner of Beetle Press in Easthampton. Beetle Press offers writing, editing and graphic design services. www.beetlepress.com. to suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at beetlepress@charter.net.

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