Some companies hire at-risk youths, others employ the disabled. A few employ only women and others are focused on kids. They donate to charities of all kinds. “These are all businesses that are mission-oriented,” Daniels, 37 and a Lincoln Park resident who carries the title of co-founder (along with a partner based in Atlanta), says. “Increasingly we see consumers wanting their shopping dollars to do good. In seeking out a ShoCo member they can be sure of doing that.”
Subscribe to Crain’s for $3.25 a week
There are no dues charged to members, some for-profit and others non-profit, and Daniels is seeking to jumpstart the modest city grant into a campaign to find support from the private sector. If she can accomplish that, she foresees taking the ShoCo idea to other big cities, with Atlanta a likely destination.
Members so far are delighted by the higher public profile that their ShoCo membership provides. Quilen Blackwell left his studies to become a minister in 2014 to start up Southside Blooms in Englewood, which hires at-risk youths to cultivate flowers and bee hives on 10 acres split among various empty lots around the South Side, including one parcel next to the Cook County Jail. Last summer 34 young people, mostly aged 16 to 24, took part, some of them referred by the county juvenile justice system. Each worked as many as 25 hours a week and earned $15 an hour. Duties included manning the Blooms flower shop on 63rd Street.
“This is good money for these kids,” Blackwell says. “It’s typically used to supplement the income in their households.”
Oksana Ambroz-Trychta emigrated to Chicago from Ukraine 22 years ago and started up It’s Oksana, which produces linen and hemp bedding and curtains as well as tablecloths. Linen is made from flax, which requires far less water and fertilizer than cotton, and thus is deemed environmentally friendly. Ambroz-Trychta sends a significant share of her profits back to embattled Ukraine each year to support orphanages for displaced children. She also contributes to Chicago’s Ukrainian National Museum.