Back row (from left to right): Nadia Paz, Trinidad Delgado,
Marisol Ceballos, Antonieta López,
Front row (from left to right): Alex Villanueva, Alberta López
A year ago, the members of Green Muse Home Cleaning might not have imagined they could own and run their own house cleaning business. But in May 2011, the Latina women in this Hendersonville-based cooperative hired their first manager, and they’ve already begun cleaning. Despite having a manager to deal with finances and clients, Muse Home Cleaning has no boss; the same six women who clean houses also collectively wrote their bylaws and contracts, decided their wages, and are responsible for hiring new staff.
The process began in late 2009, when the Latino Advocacy Coalition (LAC), of Hendersonville, received a grant to help begin a cooperative of Latina women from Henderson and Transylvania counties. The following summer, a group of four women recruited by LAC enrolled in a business training program with the local organization Mountain BizWorks. They received additional support from the Center for Participatory Change (CPC) and the Latina cleaning cooperative Home Cleaning Professionals, which are both based in Asheville.
In April 2011, after recruiting several new members and meeting weekly for over half a year, Green Muse Home Cleaning became an official business. Green Muse’s mission: to offer high-quality residential cleaning services with products and services that promote healthy and sustainable lives for their clients and the co-op members and their families. Many Green Muse members have years of experience cleaning houses, offices, and factories, but this is the first time they have managed their own business. Here’s what a few of them had to say about Green Muse Home Cleaning.
Nadia Paz (back row, far left) is originally from Mexico and has lived in the United States for ten years. She has three children.
Q: How would you describe the Green Muse cooperative?
A: Lots of people don’t know the term “cooperative”… and for me it’s also something new; it’s new for women to work in a team, learn how to direct ourselves, and to maintain a dialogue. I think that a cooperative is two things: it’s your work but it’s also learning how to be a leader. You learn how to speak, how to listen, how to work in a group… and when we are not in agreement, each one uses her imagination and thinks: ‘How can we make this better?’
Q: Are there times when it’s challenging?
A: There are some days when we have meetings and I wonder if it’s worth it to go every Friday, traveling almost an hour… but after almost every meeting, I leave happy and energized.
Olimpia Carachure (back row, far right) is originally from Mexico and has lived in the United States for twenty years. She has three children.
Q: Why were you interested in Green Muse?
A: There is very little opportunity for one to excel economically here, so I took a lot of interest in this job. I said to myself: ‘Here is work for us, and [it will allow me to] forge ahead here with my kids and succeed economically’.
Q: Do you have advice for other women interested in starting a cooperative similar to Green Muse Home Cleaning?:
A: This kind of work is a very important opportunity economically but also socially, because you’re with other women and you get to learn about your coworkers. I’ve often been alone and don’t have lots of family here, so it’s good for me to work with and also get to know [the other members of Green Muse].
Q: In three years, what do you hope Green Muse will be?
A: I hope that it will have progressed; that it will have more employees, more houses to clean, and to have worked well, not only as a cooperative but also economically for the employee’s families.
Alberta Lopez (front, far right) is originally from Mexico and has lived in the United States for eleven years. She has two children, and her sister, Antonieta (back, second from the right) is also part of the cooperative.
Q: What’s exciting about being a part of Green Muse?
A: The most exciting thing is that we’re going to work for ourselves, that it’s our company, and I think [because of this] we’re going to get more time to spend with our families.”
Q: What’s hard about it?
A: It’s hard because we have to come to all our decisions together…For us as women it’s even harder because we have kids, and when there are issues at home, we are still working to make this cooperative. [In the future] if the cooperative has a problem, it would be difficult, but I believe that if we talk together in those meetings we can find solutions…
Q: What’s your advice to other women?
A: I think that just as men do, we women have to find ways to develop ourselves, to leave our houses, and to learn more… Women have rights to go forward and reach their dreams!
If you want to inquire about Green Muse Home Cleaning, you can call Marisol at (828) 233-6251 or email email@example.com