Co-Ownership Transformed Ethikli into a Community Hub for Growth

The Member-Owners of Ethikli celebrate the shop's two year anniversary party in March 2024. (Top left to right: Ry, Mad, Kat, Anelly, Quinton & Katy. Bottom left to right: Treva, Kora & Lex. Missing: Anthony & Tyrtle)

What’s the deal with co-ops? What’s it like working in one? 

These are questions I’m often faced with as a member-owner of Ethikli. 

One of the newest members of the Ethikli team, Mad, said they didn’t know working at a co-op was an option in Long Beach.

 “I was like wow this is my dream job, because I hate capitalism,” said Mad. They said they feel respected as a team member and are still learning, but also feel like a part of the company already. 


Co-ops are different from traditional workplaces in that they're horizontally led, meaning no member-owner holds more power over other member-owners, everyone is treated as an equal. 

Mad doesn’t like hierarchical workplaces because they feel bad in those jobs, but this has been really fun because they respect the business. 

According to Kat, a member-owner who worked before the co-op was born, previously felt like it was a little bit more of one person doing a lot of things. It was still a team, but the work was divided differently than it is now. 

Kat said that the company is more organized now. In the past the Ethikli team still had an input on what they wanted to switch, but now it’s more of a collaboration. 

“It just feels like it’s more community,” said Anelly, another member-owner who worked before the co-op formed. 

It’s really different from working for a boss, according to Kat. When we weren’t a co-op there was always stress, but at the end of the day it was like “I just work here.” Now it’s more of a group effort in that our actions often affect other members of the co-op. 

According to Anelly, if anything goes wrong it’s okay to lock up for 5 minutes to troubleshoot versus at other jobs it can be stressful when there is no help or understanding for problems. 

“If something goes wrong I know I’m not gonna get in trouble,” said Anelly. “Instead we’re gonna look for ways to solve it so that it doesn’t affect others on the team.” 

It feels nice in a co-op where we all feel heard and supported while other jobs can feel stressful or anxious. We have a greater purpose, according to Anelly.

“Other jobs I feel like you’re just there to work, get your check, while here you can build relationships. We all have so much in common, which is so rare at other jobs,” said Anelly. “Even being vegan it’s hard at other jobs because you get asked so many questions.” 

“Becoming a co-op has given all of us a lot more experience with taking on different tasks,” said Kat. “We all have a space to say what’s on our minds.”

We’re all figuring it out together, according to Kat, and it’s nice to feel safe enough to say certain things.

At other jobs, people risk getting fired for lack of availability or simply saying what’s on their mind. We have the power to change workflows and adapt as our business grows. 

Because we’re a co-op we’ve grown as a community, heard many voices, and shared ideas that are able to grow according to Anelly. 

“Katy (the founder) has always had this vision and so have we. Now we just have more people being supportive of others' ideas and we’ve seen it sprout and grow,” said Anelly. 

Not only are we putting effort, but customers enjoy our co-op by returning to the shop. 

We take more accountability, we don’t send passive aggressive texts, and we’re super direct with each other by giving tips and helpful advice. 

“We’re all human and we’re not going to be perfect,” said Kat. 

Some important traits for people who want to run a co-op include dedication and wanting to be part of something bigger than yourself, according to Anelly. 

Kat agrees that running a co-op takes a lot of self motivation. Most of the time we work by ourselves so independence is key. 

“We’re not just a cog in the machine, but parts of a whole, in a good way,” said Kat. 

We’re able to speak at meetings and discuss each other's ideas with support. We want this business to grow as we also grow as humans.

At other jobs the position/title you have holds a lot of responsibility versus at the co-op we’re able to complete each other's tasks and fill in when needed. Not one person is responsible for everything and we’re able to take on each other's tasks.

According to Kat, Katy seemed happy for the transition as this was something she also wanted.

“When I first came here it was already a nice working environment and once it became a co-op there was this sense of gratitude that it has become this better thing than it already was,” said Kat. 

Two of our member-owners, Ry and Anthony, started off as customers and really supported the co-ops early beginnings. Working with Katy behind the scenes to turn Ethikli into what it is today. 

We all have our strengths and our hobbies and we’ve all found ways to support our creative outlets through the co-op, whether it’s one of Treva’s poetry workshops or Anelly’s tea blend workshops. 

“It’s nice that we have the space to do so,” said Anelly, who also vends for the co-op by supplying chapstick. 

“It goes with my values and everything I believe in,” said Anelly. It’s exciting for her to have her own products in the shop. 

Kat, our social media wizard, has had a lot of fun and come out of her shell. 

“It’s fun to make things come to life,” said Kat. “I’m grateful for the opportunities. I feel like I have so much more room to grow here, which I didn't expect.”

We all have our talents and there are so many aspects to running a business, but through collaboration we each play an important part. 

Being here we don’t feel the pressure of having the title of ownership, because it’s a shared business. 

“It allows us to trust our own decision making skills,” said Kat. 

“It’s made me feel more confident,” said Anelly. 


As for me, Treva, I feel honored that I was chosen to take on member-ownership during the early transitional days of the co-op. 


I started out as a non-vegan with an interest in sustainability and have gone on my own personal journey as a member-owner by cutting out meat completely from my diet. 


The fact that the other member-owners took a chance on me means a lot and I’m personally excited to see where the business takes us as we each tackle different roles at the shop. 


Being a co-op has only made the team grow closer as we have so many shared values and support each other as well as respect each other in a way I’ve never felt before at my traditional jobs. 


To put it simply, co-ops rock and Long Beach needs more of them!

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