Since Maggie's began in 1992, we have helped to establish three 100% worker-owned cooperatives around the world: independent production houses that sell to a variety of clients (including Maggie's) and share all the profits among the workers. The first co-op (called the Fair Trade Zone) was formed in an economically ravaged area of Nicaragua, and it has since given over 50 hurricane refugees in the area a chance to earn an independent income in order to determine their own futures. Boasting tremendous success as the world's first worker-owned "free trade zone", the Fair Trade Zone now runs completely autonomously with a customer base stretching across several continents.
After also establishing cotton gin cooperatives and farmer cooperatives in Nicaragua, we helped bring the idea of worker-owned co-ops to the U.S. in 2008 by forming Opportunity Threads in Morganton, NC. Like the Fair Trade Zone, this is another 100% worker-owned business that is busy creating all sorts of products for Maggie's (and other customers), most notably our Tie Dye Chickens, which are handmade from irregular Maggie's socks.
Our latest project is to start a worker-owned sewing cooperative in Southwest Detroit. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), Detroit Community Cooperative, and Urban Neighborhood Initiative are already involved, and though this will no doubt be a challenging project, we are very optimistic about its prospects.