15 Queer-Owned Brands and Businesses to Support All Year Long
Pride Month is nice and all, but these places don't stop being awesome come July
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The commercialization and commodification of Pride becomes all the more apparent each June, as behemoth retailers roll out rainbow-hued collections and, a seemingly more recent phenomenon, corporations change their logos to multi-colored iterations. Ultimately, these attempts to show support of and celebrate the LGBTQ community can come across as alarmingly tone-deaf: consider that many of the same companies that purport to be allies also donate exorbitant sums to lawmakers who voted against the expansion of LGBTQ protections, harming the very individuals and communities they claim to stand behind.
So this Pride month, the best thing you can do is ignore the half-hearted attempts on the part of retail giants and multi-billion dollar companies to show their “support” (which is quick to disappear as soon as July arrives) and instead demonstrate your own allyship by shopping queer-owned brands, stores and businesses, where your direct support will prove far more impactful and effective than a rainbow logo ever will.
Below are 15 queer-owned businesses, from quirky ceramics to genderless fragrances and sustainable jewelry, all made by and often catering to those who count themselves among the LGBTQ community. And while support of these brands for Pride is certainly admirable, remember that real support extends far beyond June.
Founded by Paris-born designer, ceramicist and graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, Ninon (aka Neen) Choplin in 2017, Neeninen is your one stop shop for “wiggly ceramic things for your home.” Each piece is made by hand in Los Angeles, including mugs adorned with rainbow handles to tubular pipes that make for fun pieces of decor when not in use. In an effort to make their ceramics more accessible, the brand’s Pal Club allows members to receive two surprise pieces that are entirely unique.
Boy Smells candles are seemingly inescapable these days, and for good reason, offering both unusual yet enticing scents and aesthetically pleasing vessels. Founded by real-life partners Matthew Herman and David Kien, the brand was founded out of a desire for something that was both masculine and feminine, never leaning too far in either direction. Since 2016, the brand has expanded to include genderless fragrances and Unmentionables, a collection of intimate apparel made for all genders and sizes while still producing their iconic pink packaged candles that work to upset the gender binary.
Suay Sew Shop
With upcycling a priority, all of Suay Sew Shop’s products are created from a combination of post-consumer waste, deadstock and domestically, organically grown fibers, operating out of a 5,000 sq. ft sew shop in L.A. with a team of thirty that have worked to divert over 250,000 pounds of garments from landfills. The result is linen, corduroy, tie-dye and patchwork pillows, cushions, duvet covers and more, each piece is imbued with a sense of warmth and heartfelt-ness that’s largely attributed to the handmade quality of each piece.
If the name Telfar at all sounds familiar then chances are you’ve heard of the brand in relation to their Shopping Bag (dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin”), which continues to sell out within seconds come every drop. But since the brand’s establishment by Telfar Clemens in 2005, it has come to sell more than just highly enviable bags, counting collaborations with Converse, UGG and even White Castle under its belt, with Clemens now set to design the Olympic uniforms for Liberia. Each piece produced continues to abide by the brand’s motto of, “It’s not for you — it’s for everyone,” evident in the the relatively affordable prices that make it more accessible.
Based in Hudson, NY, MINNA’s queer-led business model informs much of the work they do, with its team of artists, creators and thinkers seeking out and collaborating with master artisans from Central and South America, ensuring craft preservation and job creation in the regions. Responsibly and ethically made, much of the home goods sold by MINNA employ the use of traditional crafting techniques, helping to keep them alive.
Equator Coffees was founded with the belief that coffee could improve lives, specifically in the way it’s sourced. Founded in a Marin County garage in 1995, Equator Coffees has worked tirelessly to produce high-impact coffee focused not only on quality but sustainability and social responsibility, working closely with the cooperatives in Guatemala and Nicaragua that produce their coffee, becoming the first LGBTQ-owned business to win National Small Business of the Year by Small Business Administration in 2016.
A queer-identified and woman-owned store, design studio and event space in Los Angeles, Otherwild was founded with the intent so showcase the goods of multidisciplinary artists and designers, selling housewares, apparel and beauty products in addition to offering their own line of refillable bulk cleaning and personal care products under the name Otherwild General. On their site you’ll find everything from shell-shaped candles to hot sauce, but if you’re really looking to make an impact this Pride month, shop their Anotherwild Collection, 100% of the proceeds from which fund the Anotherwild grant for QTPOC makers annually.
Coco and Breezy
If you’re in the market for cool, unique shades and eyeglasses unlike any you’ve seen before, look no further than Coco and Breezy. Frequently featuring strong geometric shapes and bold colors, the eyewear (which comes from the minds of twin sisters Corianna and Brianna Dotson) is not for the faint of heart, but that’s what makes it so enticing and favored by the likes of Vogue and the late Prince.
Beauty industry expert Gloria Noto founded NOTO Botanics with the intent to address and cater to diverse needs and genderless multi-use function at the forefront, the unisex plant-based products which, range from skin serums to multi-purpose cleansers, all designed to help one find and promote their self-identity in a way that’s sustainable and protective of queer and BIPOC communities. Hand made in small batches, bottles are made of glass and any plastic used is made of PCR material, with boxes made from biodegradable material.
Fragrance is often heavily gendered, with most brands offering a clear distinction between what they perceive to be “masculine” and “feminine” scents. Yet Patrick Kelly sees fragrance for what it really is, a universal experience that doesn’t abide by gender, and thus founded Sigil, a line of long-wearing, complex and 100% natural fine fragrances, many of which that are inspired by ancient traditions and then reinterpreted through a modern lens. In addition to shopping the perfumes, you can also shop Sigil’s quarterly print publication, with 100% of profits donated to the Jim Collins Foundation, an organization that helps to fund gender-confirming surgeries for trans individuals.
For anyone who found themselves deeply entrenched in “fashion” Tumblr within the past few years, you might already be familiar with James Flemons of Phlemuns, or at the very least seen his designs floating around the platform. Founded in 2013, the brand shuns convention in favor of recycling and reconstructing already existing pieces, the result is a simultaneous blend of menswear and womenswear whose final result produces pieces that never adhere to the clothing binary, their origins never entirely clear — and that’s entirely the point.
Chances are you’re probably already more than familiar with Malin+Goetz’s uncomplicated yet luxurious range of skincare and fragrances, founded in New York in 2004 by partners Matthew Malin and Andrew Goetz. If you have yet to try the brand’s natural ingredient products, then consider this the perfect month to officially become a Malin+Goetz convert — we recommend starting with the brand’s subtly scented cannabis candle.
Nicole Zizi Studio
You might have noticed that in addition to being queer-owned and led, many of the brands listed also prioritize a commitment to sustainability, Nicole Zizi Studio included. This is because it’s often queer communities, particularly queer communities of color, that are among the first and most impacted by the environmental effects non-sustainable practices. Keeping this in mind, each piece of gender-free streetwear and accessories Nicole Zizi produces is informed by a commitment to sustainability, evident in crossbody bags made from cactus leather and cotton that adheres to the Better Cotton Initiative.
Good personal care and confidence knows no gender, as evidenced by Equal Love’s line of genderless, natural products. Founded by Ana Maria Hernandez in an effort not only to express herself but show that love and beauty aren’t confined to a singular gender, Equal Love is perfect for those tired and sick of the overtly gendered beauty and grooming products that tend to permeate the market. All the brand’s products are vegan and cruelty-free, sourced locally from sustainable sources and eco-friendly companies.
A jewelry-brand for all genders and sizes, Automic Gold’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity is felt in all aspects of their business practice, from their decision not to photoshop models to hiring size-inclusive, non-cis and non-white models all year round. As an entirely self-funded brand, the decision to not take money from investors means that Automic Gold never has to sacrifice who they are or their ethics, continuing to offer sustainable jewelry made from reclaimed gold at reasonable and accessible prices, all modeled by the very individuals they seek to support and represent.
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