SO YOU WANNA JOIN THE COLLECTIVE?
Before we get all serious and intense, let's start on a lighter note with some of the things that make Bijou Collective an awesome company to work with.
First of all, it's a chance to invest your talents in the service of progressive, change-making businesses and organizations. If you vibe with Bijou enough to apply, chances are you're going to love the client projects we send your way – but if not, we 100% respect your right to decline a project based on your convictions. Why wouldn't we? We'd rather have you doing your best work on a project you're psyched about than limping along on a project you're uncomfortable with.
Secondly, it's an opportunity to connect with and be professionally encouraged by a team of fun, supportive, and progressively likeminded colleagues. We have intentionally structured our company to avoid many of the pitfalls of a traditional workplace, such as toxic competition, unhealthy work-life balance, and structural exploitation. We all hold each other to standards of self-development, self-care and professional advancement. We know that YOUR success is all of OUR success, which is why each one of us is rooting for you to thrive.
Being an employee versus freelancing – both have their plus sides and their downfalls. Working with Bijou is really the best of both worlds: you can enjoy the camaraderie of working with a team, as well as the stability of working in the context of a larger organization, while also enjoying the freedom and self-determination that comes with location-independent digital freelancing.
Lastly, when you invest yourself into Bijou Collective, you are helping us build a successful model for what a healthy and socially conscious workplace can look like. We believe Collaborative Entrepreneurship is the future of work, and each team member is helping to pave the way.
AND NOW, DOWN TO BUSINESS
Bijou Collective is unlike a traditional agency, and we want to be very sure that anyone who joins our team understands exactly how working with us will be different, both in terms of our expectations as well as what we have to offer our team.
If you haven’t done so already, please take the time to read our explanation of Collaborative Entrepreneurship. Once you’ve read that page, if you are still interested in joining our team, please return here for a deeper explanation of who we are looking for, what we can offer you, and how to apply.
TEAM STRUCTURE & ETHOS
The first most important thing to understand is that we are not hiring employees. Repeat, you will not be “offered a job” with Bijou Collective at any time!
Rather, we are a collective of entrepreneurs who are collaborating towards a common goal: providing best-in-class marketing, communications and administrative support for our clients, while creating abundance in our present-day lives and stability for our collective futures.
Maintaining an entrepreneurial mindset is crucial to succeeding with Bijou Collective. It simultaneously provides you with added freedom, as well as creates an added level of responsibility.
Nobody at Bijou Collective is guaranteed a “steady paycheck” and nobody is sitting there bored and staring at the clock, filling a seat just to log the hours. As entrepreneurs, we are all responsible (to ourselves and to the team) for developing the business which sustains us. We are also responsible (to ourselves, to our clients, and to the team) for managing our time and interactions with integrity and respect.
When you join Bijou Collective, your workload may vary from week to week. Sometimes that will be a function of the client work our production manager has available to send you. Sometimes that will be a function of your own decision to work a lighter schedule, for personal or health reasons. You will set your own schedule, but in doing so, you will still be responsible for responding to communications in a timely manner, for being available at common meeting times and for delivering your work in accordance with client deadlines. If, for any reason, you're not able to do that, we're trusting you to communicate with your team so we can make sure your work is covered and we all stay in integrity with our clients.
If you feel your workload is consistently too light, the best way to remedy that is to go out and conduct business development using the tools Bijou Collective provides you with – namely our impressive portfolio and the reputation of our entire team. You will most likely find it is far easier to close business opportunities with a team behind you and intake systems in place, than it would be to close that same business while flying solo as a freelancer.
There are no “supervisors” or “employee reviews” here. There is no bottom or top of a pyramid. We are each motivated by our own personal and professional growth, and by delivering excellent work in service to our clients – not by “climbing a ladder” or other forms of exploitative competition.
We all hold ourselves responsible for delivering our best performance, for communicating openly when we need help or when we’re facing a challenge, for working through any interpersonal difficulties within the team using nonviolent and self-responsible language and communication techniques, and for knowing when we need to take time to restore ourselves through rest and play. We cultivate balanced lives and healthy perspectives, and we encourage those qualities in each other.
OUR FINANCIAL COMPSENSATION MODEL
There are three pillars of compensation at Bijou Collective, which we offer equally to all team members with complete transparency. As this compensation structure is very different than what is typically offered in a traditional workplace, we are not only providing a description of our system but also answering common questions in FAQ format.
The three pillars of our compensation are as follows:
An hourly rate of $25 per hour for time spent working on client projects (effective immediately upon performance of work, invoices processed twice per month).
NB: We have a hard boundary of a maximum of 50 billable hours per team member per week, with an ideal target of 35-40 during a typical work week. There are no emergencies in this line of work, which means that everyone can and should set aside their keyboard and live a balanced life.
A 10% commission for any business you refer into the collective (services fees only, effective immediately, paid out once per month according to what client payments were received the calendar month before).
Quarterly profit sharing, which is disbursed to the entire team in proportion to the number of hours each person has worked over their lifetime with the team (time tracking begins 1 January 2020, with the first disbursements processed in Q2 2020).
OUR PHILOSOPHY OF COMPENSATION
One purpose of this compensation structure is to blend both active income, which offers a livable rate of pay to our team immediately upon performing client work, along with sources of passive income which can steadily increase each person’s earning potential according to their contributions to the company, but which will accrue over time and will be paid out with less frequency.
Another purpose of this compensation structure is to reduce any vulnerability toward structural injustices, both the overt types (such as paying two team members a different hourly rate, when the only significant difference between them is gender or skin color), as well as less obvious forms of injustice (such as paying higher or lower rates of compensation based on traditional assumptions about the skill levels required to perform that work, and the value of that work within the company, which are both a reflection of unconscious biases).
Other forms of structural injustice in traditional workplaces include (but are certainly not limited to) tying promotions and raises to employee performance reviews, which are frequently influenced by a supervisor’s unconscious racial, gender, and other biases, and offering career advancement opportunities on the basis of how much overtime a person is willing or able to work, which may be limited by physical ability or whether a person is the primary caregiver to a child or dependent in the home.
No system is perfect, and we are constantly striving for improvement – but by offering a single hourly rate to all members of the collective, capping the amount of work we receive from our team members in any given week, and by linking any additional compensation directly to a team member’s objectively quantified contributions to the company, we have build in a system that helps us to flatten hierarchies and reduce the potential for injustice.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Answers provided by our founder, Safa Bee
Why are you only paying $25 an hour for professional services that often pay twice that much, or even more?
It's important not to get stuck on the "$25 an hour" concept – this is merely one of three forms of compensation which, when added together, have the potential to compensate you quite well.
You may also earn 10% of any services fees paid by clients you've referred into the Collective, whether or not you are actually performing work for that client. For example, a copywriter could refer in a graphic design project, and make an extra $6.50 an hour for work they aren't even touching. Now imagine that same copywriter refers three more projects to Bijou. At that point, her passive compensation from business referrals will exceed her compensation for the work she is actively performing.
It's your choice whether you want to occasionally earn fees through references that come up in casual conversation, or whether you want to actively pursue business development as an additional revenue stream using the strategies and tools we will provide you with.
Also, do keep in mind that there are many expenses being paid out of the rates our clients pay for Bijou's services: overhead staff (which we keep as light as possible), a marketing & business development budget (to help keep you busy), corporate taxes, money set aside for the future, and charitable donations.
If you first imagine the rate you could be earning in a traditional freelance role, and then you subtract all of the above expenses (as anyone who has been freelancing for awhile knows they inevitably must do), then realistically speaking you'll probably arrive at a number that is not too far off what we're paying you. Not to mention, your income may fluctuate more between periods of "feast" and "famine" rather than keeping a steady burn, and your slow periods need to be factored into your accounting.
And yes, when Bijou Collective derives a profit from our work, you will share in its disbursement, meaning again, your total rate of pay will be higher than $25 an hour. In the meantime, you will be making an immediate paycheck at a liveable rate of pay, while your additional income streams have time to mature.
But $25 an hour isn't "a livable rate of pay" for me, even while I build up my portfolio of referrals and accrue hours towards profit sharing. How am I supposed to live on that in the meantime?
Let me guess, you live in San Francisco. Amirite?
All salty sarcasm aside, I understand your dilemma, and I don't have an easy answer for you.
San Francisco has a long history as a haven for entrepreneurship. At the turn of the last century, my widowed great-great-grandmother packed up her seven children and came to the city, where she opened several businesses. She got her start selling baked goods in Union Square, at the spot where the cable cars turn around at the bottom of the hill.
As an inheritor of her entrepreneurial courage, I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. The fog, the redwoods, the Golden Gate – I feel their presence in my soul, and it pains me to live away from them.
I understand why the Bay continues to be an alluring destination for people with a pioneering, independent mindset. Unfortunately, it's not the haven for bohemian, forge-your-own-path creativity it once was.
At a certain point, I realized there were three kinds of people left in the Bay:
Firstly, there are the "winners" – those people who have unlocked the key to fabulous wealth, who live in relative comfort. Ironically, the degree of their privilege is often opaque even to themselves, because "fabulous wealth" in the Bay Area looks like a basic middle-income lifestyle.
Secondly, there are the "scramblers" – those people who are literally killing themselves with trying to win, and barely keeping their heads above water in the process.
And thirdly, there are the "oppressed" – notice I didn't say "losers" here, which you might have expected as a counterpoint to winning. But it's important to note that they have not landed at the bottom of a merit-based system. Rather they are individuals and families who have tried to make an honest living, and have still been forced into poverty by an economy that has spun out of control.
In all seriousness, you can be earning a six-figure salary in San Francisco and your household can be considered living below the poverty line. (Source: BBC) That's literally insane.
I looked around at this insane reality and decided I didn't want to be a scrambler for the rest of my life. Even if I did become a winner, I knew I would be doing so at the expense of the oppressed, and I wasn't comfortable with that option, either. So I made another hard decision – I left.
There's a great big world out there filled with amazing places and even more amazing people. It's just as nice to live in Bansko or Bali as it is to live in the Bay – honestly, probably nicer – and earning USD $25 an hour you can live there like royalty.
If you have a need or a desire to continue living inside the United States, there are many locations that can, with an investment of love, creativity and resources, be just as "hip" as the Bay Area once was. There's no reason why Detroit, Athens, Memphis or Boise can't feed your mind and soul. If you're committed to staying in California, explore Chico, Fresno, Arcata, Sacramento... Likewise, you'll survive there just fine making $25 an hour.
The fact is, the economy of the Bay Area (which I am using here as a proxy for every overpriced location) is a self-reinforcing cycle. As long as we insist that "top talent" have some inherent right to live in places like San Francisco, New York, London... Then companies will build their business models around compensating "top talent" to make it possible for them to live there.
And as long as there is an inflow of people willing and able to pay $7000/month mortgages for three-bedroom houses (not an exaggeration in the Bay), there will continue to be people scrambling (and failing) to keep a roof over their family's head, or spending 3-4 hours a day commuting so their family can live in an affordable location.
But this is simply unnecessary, especially in an age of technological innovations which allow us to connect with a team and perform work from a distance.
I'm just not willing to play into an insane and harmful pattern anymore, and I am certainly not willing to build Bijou Collective's business model around it.
The team here at Bijou is working to actively to demonstrate that there is a viable way to do things differently, which starts by being willing to step outside of the current system – however well you think it's serving you, personally – when you can see that overall the system is the cause of struggle and oppression for so many.
It means being willing to forge a new life path, and accepting that your choice comes both with advantages and with sacrifices, along with a heavy dose of the unknown.
It means getting really clear about what your personal values are, and using those values as your True North as you navigate the choices you make for your future.
If you're already doing that, or if you're willing to try, then we'd love to have you on board.
Why is everyone on the team making the same compensation, when some of us are doing higher value work?
I'm going to challenge you to consider whether the work in question is really "higher value" or "lesser value" – or if the truth is that your mindset has been colonized by systemic bias.
Just a few points to ponder:
Why is a person who creates art on a canvas, or installation art, or street art, compensated so much less than a graphic designer who makes art for the packaging or marketing of a product? Is it because the art is inherently "better" or more valuable, or is it because the art is helping a company to sell something?
Why is a person who provides administrative services (such as office management) compensated so much less than a person who provides technical services (such as website or app development)? Is it because one role requires less labor, training, professional skills and intelligence than the other? If you answered "yes" with a straight face, then I challenge you to spend a week managing an office and then get back to me.
More likely, it's because people of one gender (females) have historically been pipelined into administrative roles, and people of another gender (males) have been pipelined into technical roles. The world is just more comfortable with men earning more money and garnering more respect – which in turn reinforces the pipelines feeding these roles. And that's just crazy, because a person's administrative or technical capacity is in no way shaped by their gender.
We're very familiar with, and therefore comfortable with, a workplace pyramid in which administrative roles comprise the bottom (in both compensation and respect), the middle is filled with various levels of creative and technical roles which produce "work product" – and at the top of the pyramid sits the executive, who takes home the most income and gleans the most respect.
But another way to structure your company is to flatten hierarchies and recognize that every position performs a vital service within the company. Without any one role, the company would function poorly or not at all.
As far as hierarchically valuing different service providers within the "middle of the pyramid" – it's true, the market rate for some services continues to be higher than for other services. That's because most of the world is still plugged into the value systems imposed by capitalism. But even as we forge a pathway to shift that mentality, we can accept that some services will in the meantime earn the company more profit than other services, and still equally value their contribution to the company.
Consider the concept of a "loss leader" – for example, if you go to IKEA you'll notice there are a few items of furniture that are priced substantially lower than other, like items. They are priced so low, in fact, that you wonder how IKEA is making a profit by selling them.
By selling the lower priced but equally valuable item, they are drawing customers into the store – customers who will inevitably see what else IKEA has to offer while they are there. The customer might leave the store with more items than the "loss leader" item they initially came in for, or they might return for more products at a later date.
Either way, the lower priced item is the cause of additional sales with a more favorable profit margin – sales which IKEA might not have otherwise made.
Likewise, Bijou Collective may offer a client a single service, and after the client has had a positive experience working with our team, they may come back for an additional service. Alternately, they may choose to work with Bijou Collective because we can offer an "all in one" solution rather than choosing to take a piecemeal approach with several separate vendors, in which case the value of any one service is not higher or lower than the others – they were all an essential component to earning our clients' business.
Why is everyone on the team making the same compensation, when some people on the team live in places where the cost of living is so much lower than in other places?
The answer to this question is closely linked to the answers given above.
In short, the entire point of Bijou Collective is to create a fair and equitable business model that avoids reinforcing structures of injustice and exploitation.
As such, we are not bending our business model to compensate certain people more, just so they can be the winners in a system of gentrification. Likewise, we are not building a business that skims profit off the top of other people's work product, by taking advantage of the fact that they live in an economically repressed location.
We hold ourselves to the highest standards in terms of the work we deliver to our clients. We are never going to pass off second-rate work in order to save a buck on outsourcing a project.
But if we've brought a team member on board who delivers top-flight work, regardless of their national origin, then that work has the same value to our clients and to our company regardless of where it was performed.
Correspondingly, we don't care whether you live in Albania or Zimbabwe or anywhere in between, we're also going to value YOU the same, and you'll receive equal compensation as an equal member of our team.
The process of minimizing labor costs so a company owner can maximize the profits they keep has an escalating effect, as wealth rapidly accrues to a small number of people "at the top" and the people who are actually doing the work to create value are left with less and less to divide amongst themselves.
The depravity in the capitalist system lies not with engaging in trade, the problem is not in making a profit, it's in failing to fairly distribute that profit among the people who earned it. That's the specific feature of capitalism Bijou Collective is working to move beyond.
I often hear the argument that it's acceptable to pay some people less "because the money goes so much further in their country" – but think about what that really means.
It's the same thing as saying, you're happy to pay someone enough to meet their basic expenses, but they don't deserve to have access to the same privileges as you do – international travel, world-class medical care, higher education, the same luxury commodities you enjoy without blinking – because none of these things come at a different price tag for people living in Ukraine or the Philippines than they do for people in Western Europe and North America.
Not to mention, there's a nearly linear correlation between the average level of income in a country, and the likelihood that the same country will experience corruption in government, human rights abuses and ecological destruction. The lower a country's average income, the less stability and power their population has to stand up to these forms of oppression.
You can't have global peace without global justice, and you can't have global justice without stabilizing the global economy. One major step towards achieving that is compensating people equally for the same quality of labor, regardless of where that labor is performed.
There are several answers to this question.
Let's start with a basic, direct response. Everyone at Bijou Collective meets the US Federal definition of a contractor: they make their own schedules and perform their work using their own equipment in their own space, according to their own methodology and expertise. As such, they are paid as contractors, not employees, meaning Bijou Collective does not withhold payroll taxes, pay for office expenses or equipment, or offer benefits.
It's also worth noting that Bijou Collective is an international team. Some of our team members live in well-developed countries with socialized medicine and retirement systems. Others of us live in countries – such as the United States – which lack a developed social safety net. Remedying this is beyond the scope of what Bijou Collective can achieve, much as we may wish to do so. However, we encourage each individual team member to comply with local laws in terms of paying taxes on their earnings from Bijou Collective, as well as investing in their health and saving for their future security.
One of my intentions – as steward of this company and as someone who dearly wishes to see each team member thriving and succeeding – is to engage the services of a financial planner, someone who can help our team members to navigate the process of budgeting, saving and investing in their wellbeing, for today and for tomorrow.
On a philosophical note –
It's my personal conviction that medical care should be free at the point of service to every member of society. This is not only a moral imperative, it also makes basic economic sense. If you want to find the best overall health outcomes at the lowest possible cost, look to the countries practicing socialized medicine.
Furthermore, tying medical coverage to employment makes no sense for workers.
Why should anyone lose access to medical coverage just because they lost their job? That's the very definition of kicking someone when they're down.
Why should someone be pressured into staying in a workplace they want to leave, simply because they're afraid of changing or losing their medical coverage? That sounds like coercion to me.
It's also bad for entrepreneurs who are trying to bring their products and services to the global marketplace, to have to bear the cost of their employees' private health insurance while competing against other entrepreneurs from developed countries with nationalized health care systems.
Regardless of which direction you look at it, the corporate practice of medicine is problematic. We encourage all of our team members to exercise their voice and their votes to achieve universal health coverage if their country does not offer it already.
Have another question that wasn't answered in this section? Contact us.
OPEN POSITIONS WITH BIJOU COLLECTIVE
We are currently looking for additional team members with the following skill sets:
Organizational Growth Strategy
Translation & Localization
Social Media Managers
Paid Media (PPC & Social)
Virtual Personal Assistance
Audio & Video Editing
Account Management (Client Facing)
Production Management (Internal Resourcing)
APPLY TO JOIN THE TEAM
If you are interested in joining Bijou Collective, and you have an excellent professional background in any of these fields, please prepare your portfolio and apply using the form below. If you have another related skill set that we did not include in this list, and you think we should consider adding you to the team, please also contact us using this form and explain your expertise and how we can best work together.