Shining a light on LGBTQ+ owned businesses

The LGBTQ+ community is filled with inspiring people and stories; from dreamers and go-getters to innovators and trailblazers. And although Pride gives welcomed visibility to the community, it’s important that the LGBTQ+ community is celebrated and uplifted every day. So, we’re shining a light on a few of our favourite Australian LGBTQ+ small businesses and entrepreneurs that you can shop from and support during Pride Month and beyond. You’ll hear their stories of perseverance and joy and get a sneak peek behind their unique brands. #supportqueerbusiness #lgbtqbusiness

Chris Eva (they/she) & Julz Preeo (she/her)

Two Brides Presents, Gold Coast

Wife and wife duo Chris Eva and Julz Preeo found inspiration for their business close to home. “Early on in our relationship we would make handmade greeting cards and notes with little illustrations on them for birthdays and anniversaries. Not just because we were creative, but also because cards like ours just didn’t exist back then (well before marriage equality won in Australia).” And after seeing the rest of their LGBTQIAP+ friends and family struggle to find cool gifts and ways to celebrate momentous occasions, Two Brides Presents was born.

Their collection of cards, prints, jewellery and accessories celebrate all the momentous occasions; from birthgays to new rainbow babies, engaygements, coming out, getting hitched, queermas, anniversaries and everything in between.

What’s been one of your proudest accomplishments since you started your business? Our proudest accomplishments have been connecting with our community at Pride events across the country. Fair Day at Sydney Mardi Gras was one of the biggest ones! Pride festivals are such an amazing experience, especially as lesbians with a queer business. It makes us so proud to see our community discover one of our creations in their very own pride flag colours or break into laughter at the sight of one of our raunchy queer cards. Seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces, hearing their stories and seeing them celebrate with our cards and gifts truly makes our day. 

What role does community play in your work? Community is such a huge part of what we do. When we started TBP we wanted to collaborate with all kinds of LGBTQIAP+, gender diverse and allied artists who shared our passion for creating queer art that generates positive social change. As well as creating a safe space for the out and proud, curious and allied people to celebrate who they are with pride. 

Why is it important to support & shop LGBTQ+ owned businesses during Pride and beyond? Supporting businesses like ours amplifies LGBTQIAP+, gender diverse and allied voices and artists, promoting inclusivity and diversity. You’re also supporting the independent artists who put their hearts into bringing you art that pushes boundaries to create a more accepting world for us all. As a small business owner, it means the world to us that people can use our creations to show their pride and share the love not just once a year, but everyday of the year. 

If you could give a new business owner any advice, what would it be? When we started TBP, neither of us had any experience in card making or running a business. We taught ourselves everything from using a large format printer, to hand making accessories, setting up a website, managing our socials and everything in between. We’ve had an amazing time doing it, but it hasn’t always been easy. So, when you hit a rough patch or challenge just remember to believe in yourself. Remember why you started and what you want to achieve. 

 How do you see your business evolving in the years ahead? We’re so excited about the future of TBP. It’s been a dream of ours to create a safe space for LGBTQIAP+, gender diverse and allied artists locally and globally to express themselves and share their amazing art with our community, so we’re working on expanding our platform to be able to welcome many more artists on board. 

We’ve also got a lot of new things in the pipeline, like apparel, homewares and accessories for our community to celebrate pride and queer culture 365 days of the year.

“Pride means Love! Love for our fearless authentic queer selves; love for our community who paved the way, and love towards everyone around us.”

Follow @twobridespresents on Instagram

Shop Two Brides Presents

Myles Farmer (he/they)

Queer Move, Melbourne

Queer Move provide moving services free from prejudice and ignorance and strive to make all of their customers and staff feel welcome and safe – qualities that were sadly hard to come by in the industry – until now. Their friendly, professional service and iconic pink truck can be seen all over the streets of Melbourne and regional Victoria, helping the community and allies move into their homes. And for business owner Myles Farmer, this visibility was a huge motivator for starting the business, too; “driving a big pink truck that says Queer on it is my way of showing other queer people they can start other visibly queer small businesses. If Queer Move can assert ourselves in the wider community it can make other queer people asserting themselves seem less daunting.”

 What does Pride mean to you as a member of the community and as a small business owner? Pride means visibility and safety. The freedom that can come from being visibly queer and continuing to have stable employment and genuine opportunity for advancement is invaluable. It allows the queer community to assert and represent itself on its own terms. As opposed to trying to carve out a space within existing implicitly hetero spaces – you can invite heterosexuals into explicitly Queer spaces. 

Why is it important to support & shop LGBTQ+ owned businesses during Pride and beyond? The queer community is full of amazing talented people who will provide services and produce products in unique and new ways. That’s our superpower; we already see the community differently by virtue of being othered. If you have a different understanding or viewpoint from the norm, it gives you a head start on trying to see improvements you could make to existing services and products. In our case, it was a way to make a fairly menial, difficult job something that we could be passionate about.

If you could give a new business owner any advice, what would it be? Go for it! Go get as many “no’s” as you can. If you can get someone to elaborate on why they won’t give you finance or why they don’t want to be involved, your next pitch or iteration or idea will be so much better for it.

I wanted to start a skate shop in my early 20’s and I approached a skate shop owner with my business plan (that I had written entirely from a government website template) and he basically asked if I was joking. Once he realised I wasn’t, he took 15 minutes to explain the weaknesses. That advice was amazing and the only way to get it was to work really hard just to kind of be laughed at. 

How do you see your business evolving in the years ahead? We just want to grow slowly and maybe move into storage a little down the track. In my highest of hopes, somewhere in the distant future, Queer Move has a base in every capital city running a local operation and an interstate run. The thought of a Queer Move Semi roaming around the A1 brings a tear to my eye!

“I want the business to reflect the attitudes of the community and the best way to do that is to empower workers. If you can take that seriously, you keep your business rooted in the community and create an awesome positive feedback loop, from the workers attitude to the customers experience.”

Follow @queermove on Instagram

Shop Queer Move

Olivia McAuliffe (she/her)

Musician, Sydney

Musician Olivia McAuliffe knows a thing or two about side hustles and wearing multiple hats. When she’s not writing and creating under her moniker @joanmusic, you’ll find her teaching music lessons in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire; planning new projects like merchandise and an upcoming podcast, and even giving back to the community as an aged care worker. “Aged care was never something I would’ve thought I’d end up in, but I love it so much. My day revolves around making sure the residents have an enjoyable and calm day – and I’m able to do this through music as well, which is just an added bonus.”

What inspired you to get into music? Music started when I was 10. My teacher at school at the time used to bring out his guitar in class and sing to us and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever and then I started to get lessons and learn how to sing as well. When I turned 17, my teacher asked if I’d like to start teaching there and that was nearly 10 years ago!

What’s been one of your proudest accomplishments since you started? Building rapport with my students and residents is something I’m really proud of. I really make sure that I spend time with everyone and make them feel comfortable. It’s such a beautiful feeling when they feel comfortable and respect me enough to let me in on their lives and feelings.

What does Pride mean to you as a member of the community and as an entrepreneur and entertainer? Being queer in these industries can definitely be tough at times, but those times are totally outweighed by the euphoric moments you can have as a queer human in these spaces. Especially when you work with two groups of society that have no filter. Pride is creating safe places in venues so that everyone feels welcome and feels like they belong.

Why is it important to seek out and & support LGBTQ+ owned businesses, entrepreneurs and entertainers during Pride and beyond? It’s so important that queer folk are recognised in the community because they have so much open love to give. We need to raise them up so they have just as much of a fair go as a straight cis person has. It’s so important that we make the LGBTQIA+ community feel empowered, loved and accepted.

“Pride is creating safe places in venues so that everyone feels welcome and feels like they belong. It’s so important that we make the LGBTQIA+ community feel empowered, loved and accepted.”

Follow @joanmusic on Instagram

Visit Joan Music Official