Some happy folks with inquisitive minds.

We are a handful of weeks into the development of the co-op, and have a lot yet to learn about how to get the business off the ground.

Our crew has a wealth of experience in founding, growing and scaling startup companies. But building a cooperative - in the way that we’re excited about - is something brand new, and requires quite a bit more scrutiny and careful planning to ensure we do it right. Earlier this month, we held our first meeting with our team of advisors, to start to tackle just that.

When we think about key questions we need answers to, they fall into five overarching categories:

  • Mission
  • Members
  • Model
  • Money
  • Metrics

We didn’t get through them all in this first meeting, but what we did, you’ll find below.


We’re not building the Design Cooperative for ourselves. We’re building it because we think everyone benefits if something like this exists. By separating our own wants and needs from the business, we got clarity about the impact it could have on others. And call us crazy, but we think a diverse, democratic, empowered community of designers forms the foundation of a movement that can change the world.

We’re not building the Design Cooperative for ourselves. We’re building it because we think everyone benefits if something like this exists.

We’ve waffled back and forth over whether the type of work that the co-op does matters. Does the work itself need to be impactful and purpose-driven to fulfill the mission? Or is the operating model itself the mission?

We don’t have the answer here yet, but we’d love to know your thoughts (and will share out our findings from our Design Week session where we’ll float this question to attendees).


We’ve made a big untested assumption here - and it’s that creatives want to be owners - of the business they work for, the work they choose and how the profit of that work is distributed. To be a worker-owner of a cooperative requires extra work on top of being a designer - it requires you to understand and be an active participant in how your business operates. And we don’t know for sure that there is a demand for that yet.

We’ll be testing this hypothesis in our Design Week session, and learning more about what motivates people in their design careers.


This is the hardest and most complicated piece to solve for, largely because it’s too easy to slip into building a traditional design agency. Here’s a sampling of what we’ve brainstormed as alternative models:

  • Fund the co-op’s work with impact driven companies via corporate sponsors.
  • Fund the co-op’s work by trying a spin on the 1% for the planet campaign by having corporations and/or agencies donate a small percentage of their annual profits.
  • Monetize the training of apprentices by charging companies to send junior folks to work with the co-op, or have them pay recruitment fee to hire from our pool of candidates.
  • Productize design offerings and let the membership decide who to sell those services to.

We’ve talked a lot of these concepts in circles amongst ourselves, but believe the best path forward is to take them to the community and find out which pieces resonate - which we’ll be doing with a few dozen fine folks as part of Design Week. We’ll let you know what we find out.