By Ellen Vera
Heritage Hill, an apparel company focused on Black culture, became worker-owned with the support of Co-op Cincy last month, joining a growing wave and helping build wealth in Greater Cincinnati’s Black community.
Brandon Z. Hoff started Heritage Hill in Avondale in 2019 after noticing a lack of diversity in the world of collegiate merchandise. He planned to supply apparel to historically Black colleges, while also enabling students to make products for their schools.
“The goal was to unify the Black entrepreneurial community with the Black consumer,” Hoff said.
He learned about Co-op Cincy from a friend and took part in the Business Legacy Fund program in 2021. He was looking for a way to “participate in capitalism without being predatory.”
The co-op business model appealed to him because it centers on fairness. With this model, the company is owned and managed by the employees. “I really want people who work in the company to have an opportunity to benefit from the company.” he said.
Hoff pointed out, the co-op business model has a long history in the Black community.
“This has been very important for Black Americans, since there has been a history of disenfranchisement and discrimination. Black people have had to work together.”
Heritage Hill finished transitioning to the co-op business structure in February. Currently the co-op has three worker-owners, with two people interested in joining.