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Milwaukee co-op at Sherman Phoenix finds a way to succeed during the pandemic

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Posted at 7:05 AM, Dec 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 08:05:04-05

MILWAUKEE — On Nov. 20, a co-op opened up at Milwaukee's Sherman Phoenix. It's called Kujichagulia Producers Cooperative.

Kujichagulia is one of the principles of Kwanzaa. It's a Swahili word for "self-determination" and that's exactly what entrepreneurs who make up the business have.

Inside of the co-op, shoppers will find perfectly displayed special hand-made items for sale like soaps, candles, wellness products, even bottles of hot sauce.

"It's a blessing to see where it came from and where it is now it's been delightful," said Riddell Fairfield, owner of Little Junior Gourmet Sauces.

Fairfield is one of the 16 business owners selling his items at the co-op. Alicia Gilmore is another. She owns Say It Louder and sells T-shirts and jewelry.

"A lot of people had to make a pivot in order to make a living that have lost their jobs and things like that. So, we need to support our local artists," Gilmore said.

At a time when businesses have had to cut back on staff or furlough employees, these vendors found a way to get back to work. Being a part of a co-op allows them to share profits. Venice Williams created it.

"I've been blessed to curate sixteen different makers to come together as a cooperative and to bring what we have to the Milwaukee area," Williams said.

"To open a store on my own as one product and one business and one maker would have felt really crazy to me, but to say together we are stronger is a whole different story and whole different reality," she continued.

And it's working. Venice told TMJ4 News business is extremely good. She said when you buy from these locals, you're supporting their dreams.

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