We had the good fortune of connecting with Bee Coleman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bee, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
To Be Loved conceives of ourselves as a resource who provides caring, professional, knowledgeable and trustworthy pet care that is as good for our community’s pets as it is for their families and as our shared neighborhoods. By using love, creativity and reciprocity as core values, our newly formed worker-owned cooperative will be an example of what is possible when everyone knows what it means to be loved, from our pets to the most marginalized members of our community. In undertaking this just transition, we reflect a radical commitment to caretaking, for self and for community, as a tool for community building. We believe cooperatives stand as a powerful demonstration of a reality that does not center, celebrate or remain dependent upon capitalism – and we believe anything that undermines the extractive, exploitative greed of capitalism, that recenters love and care for community, is good for the world.
What should our readers know about your business?
To Bee Loved launched during the summer of 2016 in the Leimert Park area of South Central LA as a sole proprietorship by Brandi *Bee* Coleman offering pet care services including dog walking, overnight care, daycare, cat care and dog friendly social events. When Bee set out for LA in 2010, their half-baked idea was to go into business on their own working with dogs, but it was participating the Black Lives Matter uprising of 2014 following the deaths of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner that inspired Bee to create a pet care business that could serve as a tool to lift up black communities and disrupt the insidious prison recidivism cycle that preys on Black bodies in order to sustain an economy that profits from the forced, nearly-free labor of the incarcerated. In 2018, Bee started becoming interested in worker-owned cooperatives as mechanisms to elevate community empowerment from employment to democratic ownership and community self-governance, elements of a radical new world that is now being called in by the contemporary iteration of the BLM movement to #defundthepolice. Our just transition from To Bee Loved the sole-prop to To Be Loved the coop started officially in the summer of 2019 when three of our workers engaged in the cooperative development offered by The LA Co-op Lab. Along the way, TBL has experienced challenges and disruption from internal and external forces that, though difficult, served to cultivate a spirit of creativity and resilience to respond and evolve. We have learned that with love, determination and support, anything is possible. On June 22, 2020, To Be Loved was officially incorporated with the State of California as a California Cooperative Corporation! We are grateful for our journey and invigorated by the road ahead which, COVID or not, is lined with possibility; particularly the Downtown Crenshaw campaign to purchase the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza (aka the Crenshaw Mall) as a community and install worker-owned cooperatives in the reimagined, community-owned property.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When I host visitors I love to highlight my favorite spots around South Central LA and Inglewood since they remind me so much of my last home, Washington, DC. We visit the shops in Leimert Park, including Hot and Cool Cafe, Ride On! Bike Coop, Sika, and attend the Sunday market and drum circle. We’ll go on a bike or car tour viewing my favorite murals around the hood and take a hike in Kenneth Hahn State Park – from the top you can see the ocean. We eat at Black owned restaurants like Post and Beam, Hotville Chicken and Dulan’s. Depending on the time of year, we’ll attend an outdoor concert or movie and visit hiking trails and the beach in Malibu.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My business owes its success and is evolving into a collective ownership model thanks in large part to the ongoing support from my best friend turned coworker turned cooperative, co-owner Lena Williams. The story of To Be Loved is what it is because Lena has been involved since the early days and has remained steadfast and consistent as we experienced change and growth. As co-owner, To Be Loved the co-op is just as much Lena’s as it is mine, and this is a model we mean to demonstrate to anybody interested in starting a business. As the saying goes, “if you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together.”
Elegant D Photos