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5 LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs promoting inclusivity all year round

lgbtq-owned businesses on Wix

For 30 days in June, Pride Month shines a spotlight on the LGBTQ+ community. The rainbow flag can be seen everywhere: on company logos, on PRIDE-themed goods, and on store windows. Displays like these are a quick and easy way for brands to show solidarity—but they also stoke a reasonable level of cynicism. Visible support is welcome, but it's action that matters.

Beyond symbolic gestures, corporations and individuals should look towards becoming an LGBTQ+ ally all year round. What does that look like?

For brands, it means taking steps like donating to LGBTQ+ causes, creating inclusive workspaces, and including LGBTQ+ models in ads and communications (among other meaningful efforts). For individuals, it includes being selective of the restaurants we patronize, the stores we shop in, and the brands we buy.

For our part, we want to highlight the LGBTQ+ businesses who use Wix to provide a safe and inclusive space for customers—no matter their sexual orientation or pronouns—to browse, shop, and interact online 365 days a year.

Here are five inspiring LGBTQ-owned eCommerce businesses that you can support today and their stories.

01. Bowtie Behavior

Robin Williams [she/her] @bowtie_behavior

bowtie behavior's wix site

Bronx-born entrepreneur Robin Williams isn’t one to let tradition stand in her way. In 2014, she turned the formal world of bow ties on its head when she founded Bowtie Behavior.

After searching (unsuccessfully) for a fashionable piece to wear to a friend’s bow tie-themed engagement party, Robin decided to make her own (if you have you're own idea like this, check out our guide on how to become an entrepreneur).

“[My bow tie] won ‘best bow tie,’” she reminisces. “It was then that Bowtie Behavior was born.”

Robin taught herself to design a range of bold and colorful bow ties, then set up a store with Wix’s eCommerce website builder. It was an instant success.

“The support I’ve received from the LGBTQ community has been amazing! I get so many reposts, write-ups, and shares,” says Robin. “The community has always been a backbone for me.”

Today, Robin aims to create an inclusive and affordable brand that helps people feel at home within themselves. Whether it be bow ties or blazers (which are launching soon), her products are created to embrace individuality and self-expression.

“As someone who had a rough coming-out process and who has worked hard to navigate my personal style, I love to help people in the community feel confident, comfortable, and fly when they walk out the door,” she says. “It impacts how I run my business because I am hyper aware of the representation in my models, the inclusive vibe I bring when at my popup shops, or when doing marketing. I want to make everyone feel like my product is accessible and within the scope of their style.”

When asked how we can best uplift her brand, Robin recommends buying products for yourself and loved ones, purchasing corporate gifts from the site, or simply spreading the word (“just support!”).

02. Nimya

Nikkie de Jager [she/her] @Nimya

Nimya's Wix website

Dutch YouTuber Nikkie de Jager, better known as NikkieTutorials, probably doesn’t need much of an introduction.

Her online journey started back in 2008, when she first started recreating celebrity-inspired makeup looks for a newly minted YouTube channel. Fast forward to 2022 and you can catch her painting the faces of the celebrities she once emulated.

Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, and Adele have all graced her makeup chair, and her channel has amassed nearly 14 million subscribers.

In 2020, Nikkie came out as a transgender woman.

“With this message, I want to inspire little Nikkies around the world, who feel insecure, who feel out of place, who feel misunderstood,” she said in a YouTube video. “I hope by me standing up and being free, that it inspires others to do the same.”

She has since been using her platform to serve as an outspoken ally and representative of the trans community, advocating for every person’s right to come out on their own terms.

This mission extends to her makeup line, Nimya. Having played with “literally every single product in the market,” founding a cosmetics brand was a natural step for Nikkie, but it wasn’t something that she took lightly. In fact, it took over three years for Nimya to come to fruition. Nikkie and her co-founder, Wes van Os, strove for perfection rather than overproduction.

“Instead of coming out with an entire collection…we really took our own pace and looked up products that we wanted to perfect for as long as they needed …to be perfected,” explains Nikkie in Nimya’s 2021 launch video.

The result was a streamlined collection of five iconic products: Where It All Starts Cream, Brrr Brrr Cooling Eye Stick, Set It & Forget It Setting Spray, License to Glow Serum, and the Blow Before You Go Fan.

Besides catchy names and carefully crafted formulas, Nimya has a much deeper purpose. The brand is dedicated to making people feel safe, confident, and sexy—no matter how they look or identify. Its motto: “We help to strengthen the one label in your life that matters the most…YOU.”

03. A Tribe Called Queer

Sabine Maxine Lopez [she/they] @atribecalledqueer

A Tribe Called Queer's Wix website

It all started with an Instagram account. In 2016, Los Angeles-based creative and founder of A Tribe Called Queer, Sabine Maxine Lopez, fired up Instagram to highlight LGBTQ+ individuals and businesses.

That initiative evolved into something much greater and more powerful.

A Tribe Called Queer now exists as a multifaceted community organization. Its purpose: to empower BIPOC and LGBTQIA2S+ communities, create conversations about mental health, and provide a safe space for all identities.

“Every aspect of my intersecting identity is deeply embedded in the foundation of A Tribe Called Queer, and also in everything we do,” says Sabine. “As a black, non-binary, queer person, it's imperative that I do my best to represent and serve my community in the best way possible.”

A Tribe Called Queer takes a truly multimedia approach to empowering others by hosting community programs, virtual events, a wellness zine, and biweekly podcasts. There’s also a fashion line—designed by Sabine.

“The inspiration was to create gender neutral, size inclusive, clothing, and accessories that allowed you to make a statement without having to say a word,” says Sabine.

In the online store, you'll find candles, tote bags, bucket hats, and t-shirts (ranging from sizes small to 5XL) with slogans meant to spark thought and conversations.

“It's important to support LGBTQ+ owned and operated businesses, organizations, and people during Pride Month and every day after,” reminds Sabine. “Whether that's shopping their stores, attending their events and programs, donating to their causes, marching and protesting as an ally, or reposting their social media activity—there are so many ways you can be of support.”

This June marks a particularly special milestone for A Tribe Called Queer. The brand recently shifted its status from “small business” to a community organization, and Sabine is hopeful for the year ahead: “[On] June 1st we launch[ed] our first Fundraiser Campaign with the goal of being able to expand our team, as well as our programs and projects. We're so excited about what’s coming up in 2022 and beyond.”

04. Gay’s The Word

Jim MacSweeney @gaysthewordbookshop

Gay's The Word's Wix website

Gay’s The Word is an iconic London bookshop and the oldest LGBTQ+ bookshop in the UK. It was founded in 1979 by Peter Dorey and Ernest Hole, two gay socialist trailblazers who funneled all profits back into the business.

Gay’s The Word soon became a touchstone for the LGBTQ+ community, providing a vital hub of information and a safe space for LGBTQ groups to gather. This ethos remains strong under the helm of its current owner and manager, Jim MacSweeney.

“I joined Gay's The Word in 1989 [and have seen] lots of change over the decades,” says Jim. “In the 70s and 80s, following the rise of the Gay Rights movement, we saw the emergence of small independent lesbian and gay publishers and bookshops in the US and the UK. In the 90s, major bookshop chains [that were] looking for new markets opened lesbian and gay sections in their shops.”

“The rise of Amazon—growth of online shopping and massive discounting—made it much more difficult for independents to survive, and an enormous number of bookshops closed,” he adds. “We managed to hang in there, and for the next 20 years, were the only LGBT bookshop in the country.”

Today, Gay’s The Word sells a diverse collection of LGBTQ+ books, ranging from fiction to nonfiction, young adult to children’s books, and more. It also hosts community events like weekly Lesbian Discussion Groups.

“People visit us from all over the world often from countries where it's not easy to be lesbian or gay. It's important for us that they find a welcoming atmosphere and maybe some inspiration,” says Jim.

Though considered a “true destination” store, Gay’s The Word went online in 2020, making their treasure trove of LGBTQ+ literature accessible worldwide.

“Gay's The Word didn't have a website until we came out of the first lockdown in 2020,” says Jim. “We did some research and one of my colleagues started to build one using Wix. We were taken aback by how quickly it took off and soon were processing orders and sending them all over the country and to mainland Europe. This, coupled with our very active presence on social media, has made a huge difference. In very difficult circumstances, we've been able to flourish.”

05. Love With Pride

Alexis Cariddi [she/her] @alexis.cariddi

Love With Pride's Wix website

Student, illustrator, designer, and photographer Alexis Cariddi says it was a life goal to print her art on clothing. But rather than waiting to get hired by a clothing brand, the proactive 22-year-old launched her own brand: Love With Pride.

Love With Pride is a clothing line that offers gender-neutral baseball caps, beanies, t-shirts, and sweaters. The minimalist designs and illustrations are Alexis’s own, intended to promote love, equality, and acceptance.

In an Instagram video, Alexis says her designs are about “being proud of who you are, loving who you love, and not being afraid to show it.”

In addition to spreading love and positivity in the LGBT community, Love With Pride focuses on comfort, sustainability, and affordability.

“A big issue with fast fashion is just the mass amount of waste that is created from overproduction,” Alexis says in another Instagram video. “I use a sustainable method called print on demand, which basically means clothing is created as ordered, which is a much more environmentally friendly way of doing it.”

Another great reason to buy from Love With Pride: the brand donates 10% of all profits to LGBTQ organizations like OutRight Action International.

“I was just tired of all of these corporations making PRIDE clothing for the month of June and then right after the month ends, turning around and donating to these homophobic organizations,” says Alexis. “It’s so obvious that they’re just exploiting the queer community for money. That’s kind of why I started Love With Pride, honestly, as someone whose queer, who loves making art. If I can help literally just one or two people feel more comfortable and accepted, in their identity and who they are, by releasing these clothes and having a queer brand…I will be happy.”

Show your support

From books to bowties, these six businesses are each dedicated to promoting equality and inclusivity for the LGBTQ+ community all year round. As consumers and allies we need to show support, this month and every month. Shop with them, recommend them, make a donation, or simply follow them on social media.

And if you’re in the business of selling online too, learn how to build an LGBTQ+ friendly website on Wix eCommerce today.

Geraldine Feehily Marketing Writer, Wix eCommerce

Geraldine is a marketing writer for Wix eCommerce. She uses her broad experience in journalism, publishing, public relations and marketing to create compelling content and loves hearing user success stories.

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