Brightly is a new worker-owned, community-led eco-friendly cleaning franchise based out of New York City.
According to an article on Shareable, a nonprofit news source, Brooklyn-based social services organization Center for Family Life (CFL) introduced a co-op franchise model to two existing cleaning co-ops in the city. Shareable reported that the sector of worker-owned businesses in the United States is remarkably small, coming in at only about 6,800 workers out of 160 million. Domestic workers also often face poor working conditions including low wages.
Brightly, an eco-friendly cleaning service, is the first franchise of its kind—that is,completely worker-owned. When customers hire a cleaning professional from Brightly, they are also hiring a co-owner of the organization itself.
Franchising allows for corporations and nonprofits to license a business model which allows other independent owners to start a business under the same brand. This often comes with its own set of barriers as most franchisees—in spite of corporate support which allows for reduced start-up costs—are required to foot a significant financial buy-in.
CFL is using the franchise model within its licensing structure to give workers full governance of the brand. According to Shareable, this idea has been in incubation since as early as 2006, when women at an ESL program in Sunset Park, New York expressed a need for better-paying jobs with better working conditions.
Phyllis Robinson, Coopportunity Coordinator at CFL explained to Shareable, “Initially the question really was ‘how do we really create a network of cleaning co-ops to support each other, to learn from each other and together build something bigger out of each individual co-op? It wasn’t that we set out to do a franchise [… ] We set out with the vision and what we learned was […] that what we were trying to do was considered a franchise.”
Fighting for better working conditions is a growing trend among restaurant employees and domestic laborers, and hopefully businesses like Brightly are a step in the right direction for a future in which franchising empowers more workers. CFL intentionally created a model that can be applied to other industries, and even recently created a co-op startup guide. According to Shareable, CFL is setting its sights on nanny cooperatives for the next worker-owned franchise.
Read the full story on Shareable here.