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Seeking co-founders, staff, fiscal sponsors, advisory board members, and contacts

If you sign up at the below contact form, we will be in touch soon with plans for our first information session. We anticipate the first session to happen between now and the end of August.

Identafire is a full-service graphic design and web design firm that uses exceptional design to extend the reach of mission-driven organizations’ message and impact. We design digital and printed marketing collateral, design and redesign websites, and create visual identities. Read more about why Identafire was started.

Identafire is expanding to include an Art Skillsharing Cooperative which will give students the opportunity to learn practical art skills in an accessible, community-centered environment. The Cooperative will also develop and release product lines within its own brands. It will consist of a) an educational program geared towards practical artmaking techniques and tools, and b) a retail program wherein products are researched, developed, and fabricated in-house.

That’s the vision, at least! The hope is that you will attend information sessions and help
develop/evolve/co-create the vision!

Please note:

We’re in a community-gathering and sourcing stage of this project. No hiring decisions are being made at this time. Our hope is that folks who are interested in this project will attend information sessions, help us refine, change, and build the idea, and those who really feel aligned with what develops will stick around through to the time we are ready to formalize the co-op. We want to work with folks who are looking to create something new from the ground up, and who will have a stake in the co-op as a founding member. 

We mention Identafire’s existing graphic design operations mostly to give background information. The focus of this Call for Interest is a co-op that makes practical art skills accessible to the Oakland (and surrounding) community, as well as models for potential compensation for artists using those skills. 

On this page:
Positions to be Filled | Why | Problem | Solution | Proposed Offerings | Equipment | Timeline | Pathway to Launch | Who | Contact


Positions to be filled:

Please note: no hiring decisions are being made at this time. These are positions we are looking to fill over time as we ramp up operations.

  • Co-Founder, Design Principal, Instructor*
    (filled by Aaron Joseph), $40/hr*
  • Co-Founder, Marketing & Social Media Director, Instructor*
    20 hours a week to start, $40/hr*
  • Co-Founder, Studio/Production Manager, Instructor*
    20 hours a week to start, $40/hr*
  • Co-Founder, Enrollment/Recruitment/Community Outreach, Instructor*
    20 hours a week to start, $40/hr*
  • Contract: Grant Writer/Corporate Sponsorship Acquisition
    Monthly retainer, Amount TBD
  • Staff: Graphic Designer
    10 hours a week to start, $30-33.65 DOE

* Instructors preferred to have strong experience in one or more skills listed in the Skillshare Education list on page 3.


Why?

Mission Statement

To nourish and nurture Oakland’s (and the surrounding area’s) creative spirit, talent, and possibility in a community-centered, abundant, worker-owned, cooperative environment. To make artmaking and self-started product design knowledge and tools accessible to all, especially Q/T/Black/POC/Indigenous/Disabled folks and those who are formerly incarcerated or face other challenges when trying to make a living, or just to live. To innovate and provide new ways for artists and makers to sustain and thrive by making art as a livelihood.

Vision

The co-op will be a place for skilled artists and artisans to thrive and pass on their knowledge and skills, as well as learn new ones, all in a space they can also create new work in.

The co-op will be a place for new artists, designers, and artisans to dip a toe in–and later completely dive into if so compelled–to artmaking skills that they can use to express themselves and/or monetize in the workforce or their own enterprise.

The coop will bring in visiting artists to diversify offerings and build community.

The coop will provide an ecommerce platform and physical retail space to showcase and sell student and member creative works. Fair and equitable licensing and profit-sharing agreements will ensure fair finances, and each artist will retain ownership of their original work.


What

The Problem

Art school is prohibitively expensive and elitist, attending and graduating college is not everyone’s goal, artistic programs are the first things to be cut in the public education system, and today’s employment market is challenging even if you do have a college degree. As a result, many people–especially in communities of color in lower-income school districts–do not have an opportunity to gain exposure to art and artmaking.

Artmaking is a rewarding way to express oneself and, if one is lucky and dedicated, can be a way to earn extra or even primary income. However, none of these benefits can be realized without access to artistic tools and education. Additionally, we believe that artmaking can and should be compensated like any other profession.

The Solution

The coop will provide community access to artmaking tools and techniques, instruction on how to use them, potential ways to monetize them, and referrals to local programs like Uptima and RUNWAY for especially driven potential business owners.

The coop will also provide an ecommerce and limited physical retail marketplace for students and members to showcase and sell their creative work.

Internally, the coop will be worker-owned, with pathways from student to coop member to further support itself and the local community.

The coop will be supported by Identafire’s existing design services and will in turn provide administrative support.

Proposed Offerings

Skillshare Education (as single day workshops, multi-day bootcamps, and retreats)

  • Textile Screen Printing
  • Screen Printing for Paper
  • Basic Sewing
  • Advanced Sewing
  • Patternmaking for Sewing
  • Basic HTML
  • Basic CSS
  • Basic Product Design
  • Basic Monetization Strategies for Makers
  • Creative Crochet
  • Tabling, Vending, Selling
  • Basic Laser Cutting
  • Basic 3D Printing
  • Vinyl Application
  • Adobe Illustrator?
  • Adobe InDesign?
  • Adobe PhotoShop?
  • Adobe Xd?
  • Weaving?
  • Survey of everything!

Marketplace

  • Ecommerce platform for showcasing and selling member and student products and product lines
  • A physical retail space (a corner of the studio to start, a dedicated space down the line)
  • Marketing support

Paths to Monetization & Coop Membership

  • Opportunities for students to help fabricate products for sale on the marketplace and be compensated for their time and labor
  • Studio and equipment access to produce their own work
  • Educational offerings for Monetization Strategies for makers and product designers
  • Apprenticeship/other pathways to membership

Products/Brands

  • Affirmation Puzzles
  • Student/Member-created products (TBD)
  • Tote Bags
  • Laser Cut Keychains

Partnership Pipeline

We hope to partner with local non-traditional funders like RUNWAY and Real People’s Fund as well as business accelerators and support orgs like Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative.

Current Equipment

  • 1 Industrial sewing machine
  • 1 Conventional sewing machine
  • 1 10×10” 3D printer
  • 1 Screen Printing Exposure Unit
  • 1 Screen Printing Film Positive Printer
  • Assorted screen printing squeegees, screens, inks, spatulas
  • 1 12×24” Screen Printing Flash Dryer
  • 1 Cricut Autopress heat press
  • 1 Cricut vinyl cutter
  • 1 Glowforge Pro laser cutter
  • 1 Glowforge portable filter unit
  • 1 Band Saw
  • Assorted Jewelry-making supplies
  • Pressure Washer Unit

Planned Equipment/Facilities

  • Oakland Studio/Office/Retail Space
  • 4 work tables
  • Desks
  • Chairs
  • Office Equipment
  • 4-5 Conventional Sewing Machines
  • 1-3 Industrial Sewing Machines
  • Conveyor Dryer

When

  • Call for interest: through August 15th
  • Info Session(s): Mid-August through Mid-September
  • Setup and Beta class offerings: September-December, 2023
  • Full service launch: January, 2023

How

Again, this is just the framework that has been envisioned. We can all co-create this process as well.

We are in the process of securing loan funding from the Real People’s Fund in the $100K-250K range to kickstart the formation of the coop and support the first year of operation. We are also in discussions with and seeking potential fiscal sponsors and advisors.

Proposed Pathway to Launch

  1. Convening, Ideating, Visioning: We have retained the services of Sarah Lightfoot and her firm, Keyring Consulting to help see us through the creation of a coop that is in alignment together in terms of vision, group governance, ethics, etc. Key Ring specializes in facilitating Community Conversations toward arriving at group decisions that truly reflect all constituents’ input.

    We could start with a presentation of the idea for the coop as it is now, outline levels of commitment, explain what areas of input and ideation are needed from the prospective coop members, field questions, share initial financial projections, etc. Keyring Consulting is available for a number of facilitated convenings to help develop a collective vision and plan for getting the coop off the ground.

    We could follow a hackathon model to design the coop, products, education model, etc. We could design a hackathon for the public to attend to begin sourcing possible collaborators and future members and students.
  2. Co-op Formation: Decide who will comprise the first iteration of the coop, form the legal entity, codify bylaws. Define the co-op Board of Directors.
  3. Setup: Secure physical location suitable for planned offerings. Develop curriculum. Begin marketing to students and customers. Set up office and studio. Create MVP website with existing products.
  4. Beta Run: Begin offering beta versions of classes, explore open studio time for students and coop members.
  5. Launch!

Who

Aaron Joseph (he/him/they)

Aaron has a strong background in print and digital design, having founded and run Identafire Design, LLC since 2017, worked as Creative Director of SF Media Co., a Web Producer at the SF Symphony, and a Web Designer at Motorola. A graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he has analog printmaking, fiber art, and artmaking leanings and interests that inform his design work and ethos. Aaron was born and raised in the East Bay to a Black father with Southern roots and a white mother who is the first-generation daughter of Latvian immigrants. His identity as a Black, Queer person–in a society where the idea that whiteness is “normal” and “default” went unquestioned until very recently–has informed his art and design from high school through to his career today.

Aaron is also an Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative graduate and has pitched for, received, and repaid a loan from RUNWAY, a non-traditional funding and financial innovation firm serving Black entrepreneurs. 

Support & Advising by

Dian Harrison, MPA, MSW

Business Advisor, Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative

Visionary non-profit executive with over thirty-five years’ experience managing dynamic, multicultural organizations. Nationally recognized leader in advancing social and health care justice through innovative policy and programming. Outstanding record of developing, inspiring, and directing professional teams to reach well-defined, strategic goals. Strong communication and coalition building skills, with the energy, knowledge and savvy to influence decision makers and funders in all sectors, from the local community to the international level.

Specialties: Strategic leadership and planning, organizational development and management, program development including international programs, fiscal management and fund development, advocacy efforts, public affairs and media relations, community organizing including coalition and alliance building, board governance in the nonprofit sector.

Dian has a strong background in education having worked as an Associate Adjunct Professor and Coach at UCSC School of Public Policy, a Consultant in the Peralta Community College District, and having also co-founded Scholarait, an educational curriculum startup.

Sarah Lightfoot, MA

Founder, Keyring Consulting

Sarah skillfully takes groups, large and small, through Keyring Consulting’s Community Conversations methodology to build true participatory consensus among stakeholders. Sarah is also an Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative alum.

Contact Us to Learn More or Ask Questions

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