A long-time and much missed co-op member reflects on her time at Unicorn…
“At the end of February, I left Unicorn after nine years of working here. It was probably the hardest decision I have ever made. It certainly took me forever. For three years I had been in a long-distance relationship, which felt like living two separate lives. While I was always aware that this way of living wasn’t sustainable in the long run, I kept putting off the decision to move to Germany, until a formidable alliance between Covid and my biological clock forced my hand.
As I wrote my goodbye email to the membership and really started to hone in on what this place has meant to me, I realised that it was here that I felt a sense of purpose for the first time. Like most members at Unicorn, I joined the business with almost no grocery experience. There’s certainly no common ground in the paths that we took to get us here, but what unites us (well, it unites us most of the time) is a commitment to a set of principles, that are not fluffy or self-righteous, but grounded, achievable and full of integrity. It was like finding my tribe and it quickly proved impossible to separate work and personal life.
After two years in the job, I trained as a veg buyer, which meant I spent a lot of time out of my comfort zone. I still remember the tears and sleepless nights that ensued. Oh, and dreams of endless stacks of vegetables, which I had either under- or overbought, were a regular occurrence. As I learned and grew in my role, my confidence and job satisfaction increased exponentially. I am still full of respect for those that had the patience and passion to teach me the ways of fruit & veg at Unicorn, the team which ended up becoming my pride and joy.
People work their socks off at Unicorn. I know I just spent three paragraphs praising it into the heavens, but it’s by no means an easy gig. It’s hard, physical graft and very monotonous at times. Navigating 70 other personalities, all with their own quirks (!), can be intense at the best of times, but combine so many voices with a flat decision-making structure and the outcome can sometimes be exasperating. Mostly though, this bunch of beings are inspiring and dedicated, and now an important part of my social circle, which I felt especially grateful for during the lonely months of lockdown. I always found the general atmosphere one of permissiveness and inviting authentic expression, and I think I made the most of that.
Now I am compiling my CV in order to find a job in Hamburg and I am amazed at the skills and experience I have gained. However, this dry format cannot ever show the level of influence Unicorn has had on my life, so I am thankful for the opportunity to write this little piece. My heart is still sore from the goodbyes, but my focus is slowly and finally turning to the possibilities in my new life in this new country.”