Get these small businesses on your radar and support the LGBTQI community through lockdown!
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS
Lockdown has been a massive catalyst for small businesses starting up and thanks to this, we now have more small independent queer businesses than we could ever dream of.
So many are nursing their creative passions to become their own boss and pouring that passion into unique home decor, art and clever new companies.
If you love finding under-the-radar brands with carefully made gems then you need to shop our list of the best new businesses founded by queer women and non-binary people since the pandemic.
Spending your money at a small business could go further than ever before, so we heard from the business owners themselves to tell us about their brands. This is the place to get your hands on unique pieces and support queer individuals at the beginning of their business journey. You can thank us later.
In lockdown, we’ve been relying on candles to make our homes feel like inviting and warm spaces to get cosy in. Stumbling upon these uniquely shaped, sustainable candles from LIMBO that are also handmade and cruelty free, we knew straight away these are a must-have item.
Founder, Winnie Matthews told us: “LIMBO candles was created whilst being in a period of “limbo” last year. I initially started making candles to keep me busy and found it very therapeutic. My friends then convinced me to start selling via Instagram and here we are!
We launched in November 2020, and since then we have sold over 60 candles! I’m now back at work and have less time to create, however my dream is to one day give it a shot full time.”
Poppy Lepora, the bisexual babe behind this self pleasure palace told DIVA: “In 2019 I launched Self & More, an online sex toy boutique, alongside my full-time job. A year later and in the middle of a pandemic I was finally able to quit my day job and go full time with my business.
I don’t think I’d be in the position I am now, working on the business full time, if the whole nation hadn’t been locked down and in search of new ways to find pleasure during what has been an incredibly difficult time for so many people.
Lockdown forced a lot of people to become their own sole source of pleasure. Even just over the course of the year, there’s been a visible shift in the public’s attitude towards discussing masturbation and in particular, female pleasure – from jokey posts on social media through to serious news coverage about masturbation as a form of self-care. Self & More was in the fortunate position that we’d been building an online community of self-professed wankers and our sales increased exponentially during the lockdown. The sex toy industry as a whole saw an uplift in sales, but for us as a small, independent company it was a really pivotal moment in our business growth and incredibly exciting.”
Ella Deregowska is a university student with a mission to create art that will make meaningful change. “My tagline is “Art for charity”. I started it in the first lockdown as a way to get on board with all the fundraising that was going on for the NHS, as well as to keep me going during the harder months. I have a passion for charity and a love for art, and so continuing on this formula of producing commissions in return for donations to charities that are worthwhile to me, seemed intuitive. I have been overwhelmed with all of the positive support both from individuals and organisations. My latest project with Just Like Us saw my portraits reach new and exciting places, I only hope to continue on this trajectory!
(A little secret is that I got my first ever tattoo before being shipped home from my year studying abroad in Australia, due to coronavirus, which scribbles Big Yikes in my own handwriting on my ankle. So, I’m called Big Yikes Art, as the phrase quite effectively symbolises me as a person, but also the times within which I started my business).”
Maryann Wright had the genius idea to keep the LGBTQI community connected during lockdown. “At Sappho Events, we want to provide a welcoming space for questioning women and non-binary people to connect, as well as those who are confident in their sexuality. Our events will help build community, offer LGBTQI women and non-binary people the opportunity to make new friends, and maybe even love for those who are single. It has been particularly tough for many during lockdown as people are increasingly isolated, and cut off from their usual social networks. I’m hopeful that Sappho Events will help ease the discomfort of lockdown by offering a fun and sociable outlet, and build a lovely community of LGBTQI women and non-binary community that can enjoy meeting together in person as soon as we can. PS. Our events are now live so head over to our website to see if there’s something there for you!”
Illustrator Dandy Doodlez is here to change the game with her inclusive and powerful work. “A formally busy and active person, I became disabled by Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) in the summer of 2018. I lost the ability to walk, speak, read, count, and generally function in my day to day life. Having spent the best part of a year and a half bed-bound in a darkened room, it was at the beginning of 2020 that I first picked up an iPad. I found digital drawing to be an incredible outlet not only for my feelings around my illness, but also as a queer person unable to express their sexuality. Around the time the first lockdown hit, I began offering to draw the portraits of fellow disabled and LGBTQI people, and to sell postcards of my work. From there things took off. I was asked to be part of Warner Music’s 2020 Pride campaign, and illustrated The Handi Book of Love, Lust and Disability.
What’s been a really unique experience is watching other people set up their own business or take up artistic expression during the pandemic. My life has been in lockdown since becoming ill. It forced me to slow down, reassess what brings me joy and where my passions lie. I’ve now watched it happen on a societal scale, and in a way, it makes me feel a lot more connected to society as a whole. Now people have had a glimpse of what my life is like. They have seen that you can still find purpose and success in a restricted world. My hope is that the resources and accessibility measures put in place do not disappear after the pandemic. Without the shift to Zoom meetings, online content and a renewed appreciation for art in an emotionally difficult time, my business might not have thrived the way it has.”
An idea born during the first wave of the pandemic, PR for the People is run by Toya Satnarine and Lucy Sambrook, a couple from South London. Lucy is a freelance journalist and PR with 10 years experience. The couple said: “We noticed a gap in the market during the pandemic – loads of people were hustling starting amazing businesses and approaching Lucy about doing PR. However, they couldn’t afford her average day rate, let alone over 2k a month that PR agencies charge. We realised that something needs to change – PR is often only done by people that can afford these big PR agency fees, so the idea for an inclusive and accessible PR platform was born.” Launching 1 February, we can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store for this PR power couple.
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