Proof Bakery Makes Employees the Owners - Los Angeles Gem Preserves Local Legacy with Transition to Employee Ownership

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Proof Bakery, a beloved Los Angeles community institution, is proud to announce that it is now 100% employee owned. Every worker-owner will now have a stake in the operation and profit of the bakery. This transition to a cooperative model will not affect day-to-day operations: The bakery will continue to make the high-quality cakes, croissants, cookies, and other baked goods for which it is nationally known.

Na Young Ma opened Proof Bakery in 2010 in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles. The bakery quickly became a popular destination across the city and has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, New York Times, Food and Wine, The Counter, and the LA Times. From day one, Na Young envisioned her business as a co-op, but as a busy small business owner, she never found the time or proper partner to guide her through the transition.

“For the last 10 years, both collaboration and cooperation have been a driving force behind daily operations at Proof,” says Na Young. “Converting to a model where the labor force owns the business only furthers these values by creating shared responsibility and equity. Worker-owners now have a stake in the business.”

This vision for the future of Proof Bakery extends to every individual involved in the business. “Proof has taught me to move through the food world with intentionality and accountability, not just in the kitchen but in the areas of service and our local community,” says Jen Salgado, an employee owner who helps to manage the front of house. “It is a joy to participate in this next phase of Proof. We have the opportunity to do something different and my hope is that our endeavor inspires other businesses to follow suit. Our worker owners come from a variety of backgrounds and I look forward to the collaboration that will elevate our voices, both individually and collectively.”

While Na Young is no longer the sole proprietor of Proof, she will still be involved as a member of Proof’s new advisory board.
Proof was guided through the transition process by Project Equity, a California-based nonprofit that provides hands-on consulting to business owners who want to transition to employee ownership. The partnership supports the new worker-owners post-transition to ensure that both the employees and business continue to thrive by staying rooted in the local community.

Employee ownership fosters a shared mindset that the long-term success of a company can be impacted by each individual employee, and that worker-owners will benefit from their efforts individually and as a group.

Proof Bakery
Proof Bakery was opened in 2010 by chef/owner Na Young Ma in the Atwater Village neighborhood of Los Angeles. Proof is known for their seasonal foods and pastries, using the highest quality of raw ingredients, and where handmade methods are an integral part of the finished product.

Project Equity
Project Equity is a national leader in the movement to harness employee ownership to maintain thriving local business communities, honor selling owners’ legacies, and address income and wealth inequality. Project Equity works with partners around the country to raise awareness about employee ownership as an exit strategy for business owners, and provides hands-on consulting and support to companies that want to transition to employee ownership.

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Sarah Brown
Proof Bakery
1 (323)205-6644
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