As corporate pride marketing proliferates, LGBTQ entrepreneurs are carving out a niche
Entrepreneurship is a critical facet of LGBTQ economic success, said Curtis Lipscomb, executive director of the LGBT nonprofit Detroit.
LGBTQ Americans, and especially those who are black, trans, or other people of color, are particularly vulnerable to economic instability. The pandemic, unsurprisingly, has not helped. More LGBT Americans say they or someone in their home has lost a job during the pandemic than non-LGBT people: 56% vs. 44%, in March Kaiser Family Foundation Report find. Employment can be difficult, between discrimination in hiring practices and difficulties encountered in the workplace.
“So it’s important for me to highlight people who are talented and can do things, so we’re very interested in making sure these people have an economic opportunity to thrive,” Lipscomb said.
A question for many when it comes to pride trading is: where do the dollars go?
A local example is the Detroit-based Shinola company, which last week announced a special pride watch for $ 450, and the company sells 1,969 of them (that number corresponds to the year of the Stonewall uprising). Thus, the luxury goods maker will make $ 886,050 from these sales and plans to donate the equivalent of about 13% of these profits, or $ 120,000, to the non-profit organizations SAGE Metro Detroit and Ruth Ellis Center, according to a press release.
“The Detrola Pride watch and the partnership with Shinola will not only have an incredible impact on the hundreds of young people served by Ruth Ellis Center each year, but it honors the legacy of (namesake and lesbian activist) Ruth Ellis, who has lived through each year day with pride, ”said Mark Erwin, director of development and advancement for the Ruth Ellis Center.
Kate Spade, a designer brand with three retail outlets in the Detroit subway, released a limited-edition selection and donates 20% of the proceeds to the suicide prevention nonprofit The Trevor Project. Other brands launch products on the theme of pride and then join forces separately with avocados.
“If these big box retailers are going to have a pride line, which I completely buy into, where does the profit go? The visual aspect is excellent, but where is the humanitarian aspect? Where’s the fairness? Heard asked. “Are they going to an LGBT nonprofit organization to fill in the gaps where government policy ends? Are you going to donate it to an LGBT homeless shelter?”
Retailers can also redirect dollars to the community by using LGBTQ-owned businesses as suppliers, Heard said.
Corporate pride activists and critics, such as those in a Washington Post opinion piece in 2019 “Pride for sale“, also underline other considerations such as the way companies treat their LGBTQ employees.
While some companies make substantial contributions, Richter pointed out, the entrepreneur also sees sole proprietorships giving back. They described it as frustrating to see praise for a large company giving what Richter considers a smaller ratio of their profits to how that company benefits.
Richter’s store has grown through word of mouth, events and social media. They sell online through a website and Etsy, and at fairs. They are best known for their hats, including snapbacks with colored edges displaying various identities: blue, pink, and white for transgender pride, for example.
Richter doesn’t think shopping at a big box store is “automatically bad.” They heard from kids whose parents won’t let them shop online, for example, or they don’t have a credit card, or the mall is more convenient.
“It’s very complicated and I don’t think (companies selling pride merchandise) can or should be stopped… but I just think I am aware of and consume little queer designers when and where we can,” they said. declared. “If possible, hold big companies accountable and push them a bit.”