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Issue Date: January 2013

Most Interesting People 2013: Nicole McGee

Nicole McGee

reuse artist, 32

Changing her focus McGee left a career in nonprofits to follow her passion of reuse. "I had a great job, but I really started paying attention to what could give me energy and what I really wanted to do in Cleveland. The idea of building a community around reuse, and reclaiming materials and breathing new life into them was really interesting to me."

Making sacrifices "I miss paychecks — there's something beautiful about a paycheck every two weeks. I never fully appreciated retirement and health care until I had to take them on as an entrepreneur."

Favorite materials "My floral centerpieces for Aladdin's are made from excess flooring. I love, love, love brown paper bags and use them for stationary, paintings and wall art."

A pop star "Each time we've done the Collective Upcycle pop-up boutique, it's been more successful than the last. It's clear that people value Cleveland and its empty space being activated."

In the bag As an active member of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 project, McGee has shared her reuse philosophy as well as her design aesthetic at annual summits. "We discuss zero waste and reuse. This past year, they asked me to come up with a bag to hand out information to attendees, so I created a design from vinyl wall coverings."

Hands-on help She wants to give adults the opportunity to engage in hands-on, creative work. "Adults don't carve out that creative time in their lives — that time is usually reserved for kids. I think it's good to work with our hands and allow our minds to take a break in a rejuvenating way."

Going, going, gone Her jewelry, available on Etsy and at Turnstyle Boutique in Gordon Square, is her most popular item. "It has to do with people's appreciation of reuse and the story tied to the item. They get to wear something pretty funky and share the story of its origin with others."

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