Native designers at Neechi Commons ‘not in it alone’ thanks to co-op structure

Roxanne Shuttleworth states a co-operative design is the right company structure for Native designers wanting to lift each other up.

She is a founding member of the Winnipeg-based Aboriginal Designers Cooperative, a collaborative model run by Indigenous artists who make custom clothing, jewlery and house decoration, and offer their products at a leased retail space at Neechi Commons — and continue to do so, even following the closure of the grocery and retail store in the area.

“We’ve always been a neighborhood that supports each other collectively,” Shuttleworth told CBC Manitoba’s Weekend Morning Show.

“It was constantly what’s finest for the community, what’s best for the village, which’s the co-op design. You’re not in it alone … we’re with a group.”

As the cumulative approaches its 3rd anniversary, Shuttleworth stated the organisation model– renowned Saturday on International Co-operative Day — isn’t really for everyone.Members must commit to interacting and align on shared goals, like retail storefront.It was constantly what’s best for the community, exactly what’s finest

for the town, and that’s the co-op design.-Roxanne Shuttleworth, co-founder of Aboriginal Designers Cooperative If they agree, members find it much better to work together than alone, she said.The co-operative

was motivated by Indigenous designers desiring to take ownership of their craft.

They said their designs have actually been appropriated by a few of the most famous names in style, and they desired to unify under one banner to share concepts, collaborate and refer their customers to other designers.She encourages customers to support genuine designers instead of the impersonators.”We have something to say through style, through clothing, through house design,”she said.That does not imply her styles are just for Native people. She loves seeing anybody using her original pieces, she said.Still leasing at Neechi Commons While the designers’co-operative store has grown, other co-operatives can struggle.Last month, the Neechi Commons grocery and store on Main Street– where Shuttleworth’s co-op lies– shuttered operations due to installing debt.Shuttleworth says it’s frustrating, considering

the prospective the Indigenous-owned food co-operative had.The closure hurts the

Aboriginal Designers Cooperative due to the fact that of the public perception that the structure itself is closed. Their gallery space remains open at 865 Main St., she said.

“We’re quite there,”Shuttleworth stated.