On Thursday, June 22, Yelp invited two dozen local LGBTQ+ owned businesses to our first Rainbow Bazaar to celebrate Pride. Our employee community came together for a night of mingling and fun: featuring various food items, such as juicy pulled pork sliders, drinks – who can say no to mimosas? – and an array of activities such as hair braiding, massages, drag performances and a prop-filled photobooth.
We had the chance to speak with several entrepreneurs from the event and asked them about their experiences as LGBTQ+ business owners and their advice for others who want to be supportive allies to this community.
What is your advice to other LGBTQ business owners?
“Stay around. We need businesses that are owned by diverse groups of folks. That are serving diverse groups of folks, helping to shift people’s perception of what it means to be in a marginalized community.”- Alya Baker, Owner of Show and Tell + Qulture Collective in Oakland
What have you done to make your business LGBTQ friendly?
“I think it starts from the top. So, we are really inclusive in our hiring and as a result have a super diverse team. And I think our energy, our flavor, and our fabric is pretty inclusive.” – Lowell Caulder, Operations at the mobile dental practice, Studio Dental
What’s your favorite part about owning a business?
“The creativity that I get to invest in the business. Prior to this I was a teacher in the public school system. As a business owner, my favorite aspect is really the creative component to it and really that I get to engage in the LGBT community in ways I couldn’t have never dreamed otherwise. Besides being able to go to the events and whatnot, I get to see first hand some of the amazing work that certain groups in the LGBT community are doing, whether it be research for aids, homeless shelters totally catering to 18-24 year old kids who are completely homeless, or were kicked out of their homes for being gay and safe zones and things. I get to be involved in all of that stuff.” – Paul Perretta, Co-owner of Hot Cookie in the Castro
How can businesses be more LGBTQ friendly?
“I think just treating everyone with respect and compassion is the first way. There are a lot of educational tools people can get educated on: What the issues are, how to use correct pronouns, how to even talk to people about pronouns, what issues the community is facing, and learn more to not make people tokens. To make them feel included and part of the community” – Baker
“I think it’s about having diverse perspectives in leadership positions.”- Caulder
“Be intentional. I learned a long time ago growing up that if I wasn’t intentional with what I was doing, I would not do it well. So, if you want to be in the LGBTQ community, be intentional with it. It’s no different than making a friend and then being like, ‘you are the weekend friend.’ Be intentional with the things you care about. So if you care about the LGBTQ community, be intentional with it. We are intentional. We’re engaged…we do all our donations for [LGBTQ support]. We say no to a lot of people. We invest our time and energy in the LGBTQ community because that is not just our audience, that’s who we are. That’s Hot Cookie.”- Perretta
The complete list of vendors featured at the successful event are as follows:
- Acme Floral
- Ascend Group
- Atelier Emmanuel
- Branching Out Wood
- Equator Coffees & Teas
- Fabula Tea
- Michael’s Chocolates
- Mik Moi
- Olive This Olive That
- Out of the Gray
- Qulture Collective
- S&M Letterpress
- San Francisco Spine Pain Relief Center
- Sparky’s Fun & Joy
- Studio Dental
- The Bitter Queens
- Thrive Natural Care
Food & Drinks
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