the part of your identity that doesn’t fit into categories
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the part of your identity that doesn’t fit into categories
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Our Journey to Becoming a Community Interest Company


Lily Hannigan

Deciding to become a Community Interest Company (CIC) is a major milestone for Studio Lutalica. Our decision to convert was driven by a desire to embed our core values of equity, diversity, and social justice even more deeply into our business structure. This post outlines the key motivations behind our transition, and what to expect from us in the future.

It turns out not many people know what a CIC is, so we’re sharing more about our experience to help other mission-driven businesses and anyone else who’d like to learn more!

group of people linking arms

What is an Asset-Locked CIC in a Nutshell?

At its core, a Community Interest Company (CIC) operates with the flexibility and efficiency of a for-profit business but is dedicated to serving the community. This means our entire operation, from decision-making and project selection to the way we interact with clients, is designed to benefit women, queer people and intersecting identity groups.

Community Interest Companies can have a full or partial ‘asset-lock,’ which basically tells you whether profits are solely put back into the community or split between shareholders. Studio Lutalica is a full non-profit asset-locked CIC. Here’s what that means:

While CICs can, and do, operate commercially, as an asset-locked CIC all of our profits are reinvested back into the community or the company’s social objectives. If we close down, the value of our assets will be transferred to our nominated charity, which is currently Mermaids.

In short, the CIC framework supports the way Lutalica has always been run.

Decentralising Leadership to Empower More Voices

Another key feature of CICs is they’re often led by a team of Co-Directors with equal power.

Our shift towards a co-directorship model is a deliberate move to decentralise power within Studio Lutalica. As of March 2024, we have nine incredible Co-Directors, with experience across social justice, design and community leadership, as well a whole heap of other talents to help guide us.

More importantly, having more seats at the table allows us to diversify the lived experience that goes into our decision-making. The Co-Director model democratises decision-making, ensuring that leadership reflects a broad spectrum of perspectives. It’s a structure that fosters a culture of equality, allowing for a more inclusive and collaborative environment where every voice is valued and has the power to shape our direction. We also think it’s a more feminist way of doing things – which you can find out more about in this post on feminist leadership.

Reinforcing Our Commitment to Social Justice

Becoming a CIC solidifies Studio Lutalica’s commitment to social justice at every level of our operation. We’ve always been proudly led by the values laid out in our manifesto, but this legal structure mandates that our work and profits are directly invested back into the community, ensuring that our mission to champion social equity is more than just words—it’s embedded in the very fabric of our company.

Our transition to a CIC represents a promise to our community that every decision we make is in service of creating a more just and equitable society. It’s a commitment to not only addressing societal inequalities through our design work but also leading by example in how we operate as a business.

a pair of hands holding a ceramic heart

Expanding Opportunities for Collaboration and Funding

Our new status as a CIC enhances our credibility and opens doors to partnerships with like-minded organisations and stakeholders. This designation signals to potential collaborators and funders that we are dedicated to social impact, increasing opportunities for joint ventures and access to grants and funding aimed at supporting social enterprises.

By broadening our network and resources, we can amplify our impact, reaching more communities and making significant strides towards our mission. This expansion is not just about growing Studio Lutalica; it’s about building a stronger ecosystem of social change, where collaboration and shared goals lead to collective action and transformation.

A Financial Model That Reflects Our Values

Being a profit-driven business never resonated with us. We were always trying to explain to advisors, funders and awards bodies that our goal as a business was not financial gains for a few people. So shifting to a non-profit CIC was a pretty natural progression. It’s formalised our departure from the traditional, profit-driven business model.

This process has not only clarified our objectives for ourselves but also for our partners, grant givers, and clients. It’s a change that truly reflects who we are, intertwining our commercial endeavours with our social mission, ensuring every step we take contributes positively to the communities we aim to support.

Stick With Us to See What’s Next

As we embark on this new chapter, we’re excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. Our status as a CIC not only strengthens our commitment to serve our communities, it also expands our capacity to drive meaningful change and form new partnerships. We hope you’ll continue to be a part of our journey!

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