Disclaimer: I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing, but I’m willing to be vulnerable & share what I’m learning, what I’m struggling with, and how I move towards abolishing all systems of oppression & domination. Today, I'm examining anti-capitalist business models.
I recently got accepted into Uptima Entrepreneur Collective's Freelance Course. It is a six-week class that is helping me better articulate everything Queerly Complex. It's forcing me to dig a bit deeper into the motivations, values, services, and dreams that make up my cosmology and apply them to my small business. Plus, I get to do this amongst women of color comrades who are also working towards their own self & collective sustainability & liberation, while also grappling with how we navigate the shit show that is capitalism.
Which brings me to this weeks class: Business Models.
Whew. Yesterday's workshop went deep. As a cohort, our fabulous facilitator Wendy Martinez Marroquin, helped us collectively set our space by acknowledging our personal ethnographies / cosmologies, centering equity, and grounding on the steps of our ancestors past & future before getting to work on our small businesses. This intentional, communal opening, setting, and holding of timespace was an antidote / salve that helped me more deeply & critically engage with the days concepts & texts, specifically Business Model You's Personal Business Model Canvas.
I had watched this video (and a few more) early yesterday morning before my day even started. They produced deep critiques ahead of our upcoming workshop. I had a hard time just letting concepts be concepts, and instead started lobbing my anti-capitalist tirade against it. Still, I tried a simplified version of it before my morning appointment: supporting the Race & Equity in All Planning People's State of the City Action.
When I arrived in the Parking Lot of City College with San Francisco artist Megan Wilson (a fellow anti-capitalist comrade) for the People's State of the City action, I was greeted by fellow comrades I have not seen in person since before the pandemic.
One was Alyssa. They are now in the eighth grade, and when in sixth grade, I was Alyssa's teaching artist in their Language Arts class right as the pandemic started. Alyssa also identifies as polysexual and is a badass activist. When Alyssa asked the fabulous question,
"So are you doing what you used to be doing?"
(Tangent: Please ask me this question anytime because I love that it asks a question about behaviors instead of art or work.)
I was able to respond quite assuredly, "Not quite. I've launched my own business called Queerly Complex. I help weirdos & queerdos & comrades express their complex emotions & radical politics, all with a dash of pink & fabulous merch."
Alyssa replied, "Do you have a website?"
I typed the address in their phone and listened to them squeal with delight when they saw Nimo. They continued scrolling and exclaimed, "I want it all!" Alyssa was especially drawn to the Political Clown Defend Trans Folx, telling me, "I love clowns."
We put the phone down and got back to work adorning cars with posters demanding to Stop the Sellout, and a New Era of Housing Equity for the People. We parted ways, each of us into a different car. And set out across the San Francisco stopping at sites of housing & cultural resistance.
And this was all before class. Needless to say, I was in quite a different space then when I first watched the above video at 5am.
Wendy introduced the Personal Business Model Canvas by asking us first to define value. Value to me is always a tricky thing when talking about business, capitalism, and anti-capitalism. Value signifies the singular by the very nature of its spelling, which in business (no matter B-Corp, S-Corp, non-profit, or soloprenuer) is always reduced to money. Values on the other hand help me better navigate anti-capitalism because it forces the plural into the dialectic, which is inherently in opposition to capitalism's need & push & urge for / to control through extractive gatekeeping.
Another cohort member, Brenda Salgado, introduced Eight Forms of Capital by Ethan Roland & Gregory Landua. While I don't love the word capital and would prefer Values, the concept underneath it all--that there are multiple ways that we must view / engage with / make sense & meaning of all the components of this cosmos--resonates strongly with my anti-capitalist / anti-reductive cosmologies.
Being in camaraderie & solidarity with other small business owners and entrepreneurs that are trying to create ways of being outside of systems / behaviors of oppression & domination is crucial to having to engage with the capitalist system, which we all must for survival. Yesterday's workshop reinforced that for me because after our communal definition of value / values / capital I was able to really dig into the Personal Business Model Canvas and define Queerly Complex. And what's even more grounding in anti-capitalism for me is that my relations cultivated at yesterday morning's action are the result of decades of deep commitment & solidarity with San Francisco communities constantly at threat of displacement, gentrification, eviction, and colonization at the hands of a corrupt City Hall.
So what did I discover about Queerly Complex's Business Model? Here's some insights (re)discovered thanks to deep camaraderie & solidarity:
- Queerly Complex is dedicated to working towards abolishing capitalism & abolishing capitalism is a work-in-progress & I want to share my grappling with it because I know others are struggling with how we abolish capitalism while we also still struggle survive within it & the whole thing is a emotional & mind fuck.
- My own struggle & grappling with / of the emotions & values of anti-capitalism is the source of Queerly Complex's voice & aesthetic & cosmology.
- Queerly Complex makes it fun & easy for queerdos & weirdos to state exactly how you feel & what you believe, so you can find your fellow comrades wherever they may be (near or far).
- This is all gonna take timespace & will never be finished in my lifetime, so Queerly Complex isn't just merch or art or me. It's an idea, a thought, a dream that one day all systems & behaviors of oppression & domination no longer exist.
Whew...like I said, yesterday was powerful & I went deep in the workshop. And it's bringing deep clarity to Queerly Complex, something that's truly invaluable.