Comunidad

Pride Month: Small Business Spotlight

  

Pride Month: Small Business Spotlight

Pride Month honors the work that goes into achieving equal justice and opportunity for all LGBTQIA+ Americans. At Suddenlink Business, we celebrate the beauty, diversity, and humanity of LGBTQIA+ individuals and recognize the impact their businesses have on our communities. Read on for stories and advice from three LGBTQIA+ small businesses.

This Pride Month, we support small businesses with stories and advice from three LGBTQIA+ companies and provide tools for future success with digital business resources through the Suddenlink Business Digital Toolkit. Explore the toolkit for more expert advice and solutions to meet your growing business needs.

Joseph D founded Hitch, a handmade market that sources goods from over 70 vendors to offer unique handmade goods, in 2016. The small business first operated out of a camper, traveling to festivals, events, and pop-ups until they opened a brick-and-mortar store in Babylon Village, Long Island, New York in 2019.

On starting their business

Having always been a crafter myself, I have always been inspired and excited by my fellow artisans. The community of makers here in Babylon and the surrounding areas is so talented. I needed extra money to cover adoption costs when my husband and I started our family. Opening a shop to spotlight the variety of creations was an opportunity we wanted to commit to. As a crafter myself, I wanted to celebrate everyone's individuality and creativity. Using our retail space to collect and display the wide variety of locally made items would make for a beautiful and collaborative space.

On the LGBTQIA+ community

The community is always excited to get out and support us; they come in for items for themselves and come in to support and celebrate their LGBTQ family and friends. When allies come in for gifts, they trust us to guide them to appropriate and exciting products that they can gift as tokens of support and love. We have merchandise that's loud and proud. My husband and kids stop by the store to say hi. LGBTQ teens and young adults come in without worrying about judgment, so we bring visibility and Pride to Babylon Village for community members.

On celebrating Pride

We celebrate Pride year-round, displaying a sticker on our front door that emphasizes that this is a safe space for all. We're active on Instagram and go beyond sharing photos of products and actually share pictures and videos of our children. Sharing bits and pieces of our lives as gay dads makes our experience seen and our voices heard. Our window display is even more outwardly expressive of our support for the gay community during Pride month. Pride flags and accessories are spotlighted in our front windows to say, "This is a place you are accepted." We are part of the community, and anyone who may be questioning their identity can know just by passing by that we love and support them wholeheartedly.

On helpful entrepreneurial tools, tips, and tricks

Just go for it and be true to yourself throughout.

On technology during the Covid-19 pandemic

With technology, Hitch has been able to connect with people we've never expected. I was invited to be a guest on Margaret Joseph's podcast, Caviar Dreamers on a Tuna Fish Budget. This opportunity and the resulting conversation was broadcast through digital media. Additionally, we love the connection it builds with our customers. They know our voice, they can see our collection of products, and they can have any questions answered in an instant! We love the connections we've made this way, and we continue to engage with online communities that support our journey.

Terron Chandel Richardson, who founded Chandel Atelier, a New York-based luxury fragrance home brand, launched the small business after being laid off due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The small business is founded on a commitment to clean, high-quality ingredients with a modern approach.

On starting their business

I've always had a love for fragrances and candles. So, after being laid off due to Covid-19, I used my Product Development skills to launch Chandel Atelier. Each product is designed to merge fragrance with good taste and aesthetic sense.

On the LGBTQIA+ community

The LGBTQ community plays a role in my business in terms of support. As a gay man, my fellow LGBTQ friends of friends, and community have supported my business since its launch date.

On celebrating Pride

This year we will run a Pride special on products sold. We will be donating 50% of our sales to the Callen Lorde organization in NYC, along with sending out information to our customers on how they can help the LGBTQ + community by being allies, and educational information on the meaning of Pride!

On helpful entrepreneurial tools, tips, and tricks

Find your Niche!! Adapting and trying something new is always going to be part of the process of success. It will allow you to know what's really working and what's not. Also, investing in social media ads and marketing as the business grows and expands is crucial.

On technology during the Covid-19 pandemic

Since our business is 100% online rather than Wholesale outlets, technology has helped my business reach more customers with engaging social media ads, social media posts and seeding up our development and production process.

Clare Mottola, Theatre Company Director of Cherry Picking, founded Cherry Picking to help create a space for new works of theater and leaps of courage. The small business' cornerstone event is a Summer festival of new plays-an annual opportunity for writers, both established and burgeoning, to create new material to be performed in a night of staged readings.

On starting their business

As a young theatre-maker living in New York City in the late 1990s, I had the audacity to think that I could wrap a few lives in the arms of this little event. I wanted to create a democratic, collaborative environment focused on shared thriving. I never imagined that two decades later, we would still find ourselves co-creating an event that has become a thread in the fabric of so many lives. We are in our 21st year, serving hundreds of artists and audience members annually. We are small but mighty and getting bigger and better with every passing minute.

On the LGBTQIA+ community

We are an artistic space that celebrates the intersectional identifiers of our community members and our stories, both on and off stage. We bring to the page, stage, studio, and now screen, our many varied identifiers, origin stories, bodies, religions, and so forth. How all of these interplay, inform, and inspire are a critical part of what we make and how we make it. Many of our artists identify as LGBTQIA+ and are deeply committed to the ways in which representation, authorship, language, narrative, and action are all a part of what we must hold central in our path to shared liberation. This is a space where queer artists feel a sense of home and agency. It is a space where all artists and audiences are committed to collective liberation and interrogation of many systems that oppress marginalized communities.

On celebrating Pride

This Spring, we launched a new event, CP PROLOGUE, a monthly play reading series that seeks to centralize marginalized voices in its content and its process of curation and presentation. The event is a space for playwrights to develop work and have a piece workshopped by a diverse audience of theater artists and lovers. Writers are given an opportunity to see their works-in-progress performed and be the topic of a guided discussion that seeks to serve in the development of their work. Audience members have an exciting opportunity to witness the performance of brand-new work and support the writer's process by participating in the discussion following. The entire enterprise dismantles traditional power systems that hold so many artists down, thus queering the system. Our first featured piece, Edith, by Noah T. Parnes, is "a reimagining of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah" that explores "voyeurism, queerness, hospitality, and the murky distinction between disobedience and obedience." That feels like a solid way to kick off Pride Month!

On helpful entrepreneurial tools, tips, and tricks

Cherry Picking is the embodiment of three core values: do what scares you most, make as much space as you can for other people, and love the love-so that at the end of the day, it's collective, shared wisdom that is your NorthStar. Resist getting caught up in individual accomplishment and achievement and centralize the power of the whole. In this shared risk and in our shared growth is where joy sits. There's nothing more powerful than that! So, my advice to leaders is always to consider collaboration first and foremost. Get rid of any organizational power structure that has a singular person sitting at the top. For me, I regularly feel humbled and inspired by my co-producers, Lily Bellow and JJ Loonam, who, along with all of our collaborators, teach me something new and help me grow every day.

On technology during the Covid-19 pandemic

The public health crisis at best disrupted and at worst devastated the lives of countless artists. Everyone from small theatre companies to individual artists saw their landscape changed overnight. In addition, the pandemic of racial discrimination in this country had its underbelly exposed to some in new ways, with powerful calls for necessary change. For many, technology was a key factor in creating this historic moment. As theatre artists utilized online platforms to share live performances, online activism allowed for necessary calls to action and conversation about how we can and must dismantle the power structures of white, American theatre. At Cherry Picking, we are proud to be able to bring our performances online and remain a part of a contemporary theatrical landscape, as well as use that same platform to share our commitment to centralizing the people, the pieces, and the processes that matter more than prestige, profit or power.