Read Time: 10 min. Every now and then, we get requests on what it’s like to work at a worker-owned cooperative. So we thought we’d offer this helpful tidbit to those of you who are currently working at a co-op and trying to find ways to grow. This is just an S2-tailored list of some of our favorite people who helped us become (and are still helping us!) who we are today. We’d also love to know who YOU believe are the support systems of your cooperative! If you’d like to have the contact of the exact folks we work with, feel free to reach out to us at info@story2designs.com. That way, we can forward you our various consultants’ info + email deets.
 

A Culture Consultant with an Anti-Racist Lens

We work with NONWHITEWORKS.

We initially hired a consultant to help us with some transitions in our office. But because we prioritized someone who was representative of our values, our consultant continued to help us beyond that point. One of our members, Jordan, even made a rubric to help us choose a consultant. While this rubric is not comprehensive of our values, it offered a great jumping point for us to start finding folks that fit our basic needs at the time:
  1. a person of color
  2. a person who worked with cooperatives before
  3. a person who worked with small businesses before
  4. a clearly outlined workshop (having tangible deliverables was really important to us so we didn’t get lost in the sauce or have endless discussions without action), and
  5. a clear timeline.
We all contributed to creating the final rubric and it served us well in finding someone who suited our organizational needs. By having an office culture consultant, we were able to have expertise on many topics:
  • How to make our hiring process equitable
  • How worker-owner transitions could work, and
  • Our consultant would even challenge us to grow and imagine ways of structuring our cooperative.
We’re now able to handle many of these challenges on our own from coming up with how to support those through bereavement, having a baby, and professional development. Of course, none of it is perfect as we are still learning and it is tough to work with limited resources, but the ways in which we are able to re-imagine a cooperative and use our resources in ways that truly benefit our members’ wellbeing and their life beyond the workplace has been exceptionally valuable for us.
 

A Lawyer who Loves Cooperatives

We work with Cerebrate Law, PLLC.

Working with a lawyer who absolutely loves cooperatives (and has even attended some of our wild karaoke and board game sessions during pre-pandemic times) has been a gamechanger. For us, it was really important to have someone who could translate those legal documents into palatable language AND someone who could help us find creative solutions in a timely manner.
 
By having a lawyer in our court, we were able to see what limitations we had from our own by-laws, as well as how we as a creative studio could protect ourselves in the event of job mishaps and whatnot. It was also nice to have a lawyer who was down-to-earth and not condescending to us, and as simple as that might sound, that’s also something we try to carry into our work. While we might be the experts in the design, we still defer to our clients as experts in their work, everyone has something to bring to the table!
 

An Accountant Who has a Co-op Network

We work with Business Services Cooperative.

We feel super lucky to have our accounting team. Through the pandemic they were able to:
  • Help guide us through applying for tricky loans
  • Willing to chat with our lawyer if needed
  • Suggest when we needed to ask our lawyer q’s instead of them, and
  • They were proactive in sharing their networks with us.
Our accounting team is also pretty familiar with worker co-ops and the politics behind them. So we encourage any new co-ops to find an accountant with the same skillset! We’ve also worked with independent accountants who helped us during our itty-bitty co-op days. We are especially thankful for those that helped us when we were still growing into what we are today.
 
There are so many people who help make our cooperative what it is. From our family and friends to our community including these three folks, we are grateful to have so much support on our side. But what do you all think? Who do you believe is a crucial non-member of your cooperative? What do you think helps make a difference in a cooperative team? 
 
You’ve got the info, you’ve got the tools, now get on out there and make Huey the S2 Manatee proud! If you have any feedback or additional tips on writing CTAs, please share them with us and we’ll circulate them to our community. You might even find your writing tips featured in our newsletter!
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