Pride @ Tide – Introducing members empowering and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community (Post 1)

Pride @ Tide – Introducing members empowering and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community (Post 1)

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Photo from Gemma Priestley, Founder of Rain Bar

As part of Pride Month 2021, we’re proud to introduce some of our members whose businesses are doing great things in the LGBTQIA+ community.

In this post, we’ll introduce 5 of our members so you can learn more about their fantastic businesses. We’ll also hear how they support their communities, as well as what they think both big business and the wider public can do to be better allies.

Whether you identify as LGBTQIA+, or you’re an ally, we’re amplifying our members’ voices to start conversations on inclusivity among small businesses. We want to highlight the diversity of our members and the steps we can all take (Tide included!) to be LGBTQIA+ business champions.

Tell us about your business and when you started?

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Photo from Daley North, Founder of Got No Idea TBH

Daley North, Founder of Got No Idea TBH

Tattooing is something I have had an interest in since I got my first which was in 2011. For years I used my illustrative skills to design ideas and take them into shops to get tattooed. I’ve built myself up to 2 half sleeves. Christmas 2019 my wife who has always been incredibly supportive of all my hopes and dreams (whether they have been a success or not) got me a kit to start practising some DIY tattoos from Single Needle Tattoo. During the pandemic, I gained more confidence tattooing both myself and others and am now just starting to develop a business module to continue to practice hand-poked tattoos with a more holistic approach. All really exciting stuff at the moment!

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Photo from Gemma Priestley, Founder of Rain Bar

Gemma Priestley, Founder of Rain Bar

We are Rain Bar, Huddersfield’s only LGBTQ+ venue and we opened last year

Photo from Jack Holden, Founder of Watersmeet Productions (Photo by Harry Livingstone)

Jack Holden, Founder of Watersmeet Productions

I set up Watersmeet Productions in 2017 to start producing film and theatre with an LGBTQIA+ angle. We’ve since produced a wide range of things – Queer and not Queer – but we always return to our LGBTQIA+ roots. You can find out about our work at watersmeetproductions.com and follow us on Instagram @watersmeetproductions

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Photo from Nick Roberts, Founder of Manchester Camper Hire

Nick Roberts, Founder of Manchester Camper Hire

I started Manchester Camper Hire back in 2013 when I converted a former sandwich van into a cool campervan. The plan was always to rent it out when I wasn’t using it myself, but there was so much demand it made sense to get another van. Then things kind of snowballed until I was able to leave my job and take Manchester Camper Hire full time.

Photo from Jim Gordon, Founder of Arboreal Club

Jim Gordon, Founder of Arboreal Club

Our business began in February of this year and is about bringing a variety of ethically and sustainably sourced house plants whilst giving back to the planet. We are conscious of the carbon footprint running an online retail business can carry and we strive to offset this as much as possible. For every online order made, our customers have the opportunity to plant a tree. We only use sustainable packaging materials and do not use any single-use plastic.

How does your business support the LGBTQIA+ community?

Daley North, Founder of Got No Idea TBH

Most importantly by creating a safe space and being respectful of those who come into it. I just want to be able to give back to the community as much as I am able to. I recently created a low income scheme which makes my tattooing a lot more accessible for those who would like to get tattooed by me. It’s generally the lil things though like showcasing our businesses when you can.

Gemma Priestley, Founder of Rain Bar

Providing a safe space and a place to call home and be themselves.

Jack Holden, Founder of Watersmeet Productions

We tell LGBTQIA+ stories in bold, imaginative and entertaining ways. We work with LGBTQIA+ creatives, craftspeople, producers and distributors. Our films and plays entertain LGBTQIA+ all across the world. Our latest play helped raise awareness of the work of Switchboard, the LGBTQIA+ listening service.

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Photo from Jack Holden, Founder of Watersmeet Productions (Photo by Ines Hachou)

Nick Roberts, Founder of Manchester Camper Hire

One of the benefits of a seasonal business is that I have lots of free time during the winter. It’s great that I’m able to use my free time to support other members of the community with practical help such as lifts to hospital appointments with a local charity. As someone who’s ‘been there and done it’, I’ve also been able to support other LGBTQIA+ friends in setting up their own businesses, and letting them know all of the things I wish someone had told me!

Jim Gordon, Founder of Arboreal Club

As LGBTQIA+ members, we are delighted to be representing our community in the business world. We are fortunate enough to have the support and possibility to create our own business. We encourage diversity and inclusivity within our club (customer base). We are running a month-long promotion to celebrate Pride all the while using our platform to educate and inspire.

What’s one thing you wish people knew about being an LGBTQIA+ business owner? Is there anything you find to be different for you from other people in business?

Daley North, Founder of Got No Idea TBH

Mostly that being a resource is tiring and can take up a lot of energy. It’s incredible that questions about gender and sexuality are being discussed more at the ‘dinner table’ but when you are asking these questions consider the time and the trauma that can be brought up for the person you are asking. Be respectful of their boundaries and pay them for their time if you can. It’s not the job of LGTBQIA+ people to solely educate others. Showing support and solidarity and wanting to be the change you see in the world is incredible though to massively contradict what I have just said but just be mindful.

Gemma Priestley, Founder of Rain Bar

We have to sometimes explain to people that ANY one can use our services, we have had people walk out of the bar when they realise what venue it is, which is upsetting. Although this doesn’t happen often and we feel times are changing. This is why venues like ours are needed.

Jack Holden, Founder of Watersmeet Productions

Being an LGBTQIA+ business owner is really empowering. There is a huge market for LGBTQIA+ produced material, and finding your like-minded Queer audiences is so rewarding. When a Queer person tells you they feel ’seen’ by the work you’ve created, it makes it all worth it.

Nick Roberts, Founder of Manchester Camper Hire

My business is very ‘customer facing’, which means that every day I’m meeting new people. It’s one of the most fun and rewarding parts of the job, as my customers are always lovely, and they’re just about to go on holiday so I only have to deal with happy people! However, one thing people might not realise is that coming out isn’t something you just do once when you’re ready, and then crack on with your life. It’s something you potentially have to do every day, (every time you meet a new customer, every time you go on holiday, every time you apply for a mortgage….) and for me, there’s always a nervousness around that. Of course, there’s usually no need to worry, but if someone asks about my wife or girlfriend, that can create an awkward situation for everyone.

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Photo from Nick Roberts, Founder of Manchester Camper Hire

Jim Gordon, Founder of Arboreal Club

We would love people to know that no matter your colour, creed, gender or sexual orientation that you have a place in the business world. We want other LGBTQIA+ members to see our company, our values and know that there is a place for them, should they choose to pursue a career in the business world. It can be extremely fun and exciting!

How can people who don’t identify as LGBTQIA+ be better allies?

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Photo from Daley North, Founder of Got No Idea TBH

Daley North, Founder of Got No Idea TBH

Do your own research. There are simple ways you can be an ally by asking what someone’s pronouns are when you’re introduced to them. Not using derogatory terms towards LGBTQIA+ people. You can also intervene when you see someone being attacked whether physically or verbally (as long as it is safe to do so). There are also avenues where you can volunteer to help charities and also by attending rallies in support of your kin. These are just some to name a few but the biggest allies are those who allow people to truly be their true selves!

Gemma Priestley, Founder of Rain Bar

For us, we have some amazing customers who identify as allies just by coming in and supporting us, telling their friends about us and sharing all the amazing events we have on social media.

Straight people can be great allies just by supporting our work – buy from our businesses, watch our films – you might be surprised at how much you can relate!

Jack Holden, Founder of Watersmeet Productions

Straight people can be great allies just by supporting our work – buy from our businesses, watch our films – you might be surprised at how much you can relate!

Nick Roberts, Founder of Manchester Camper Hire

Just being aware that everyone you meet might not be straight! Just by asking about someone’s partner/other half instead of their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife until you know, will make things easier for everyone.

Jim Gordon, Founder of Arboreal Club

By listening and learning. In gaining knowledge about the LGBTQIA+ community and what each colour of our flag represents, you learn how to show up and show support. The most important message is to be open and to be kind. Do not be afraid to ask questions and do not be afraid to support our journey, there is great power in unity.

Photo from Jim Gordon, Founder of Arboreal Club

What do you think Tide can do to amplify the voices of our LGBTQIA+ members? Why do you think it’s important?

Daley North, Founder of Got No Idea TBH

Have a directory? Regularly spotlight your members via a blog so that people can see what businesses are on offer which Tide supports. It’s really important to amplify the voices of LGBTQIA+ people as this is the start of us being able to encourage change in any derogatory treatment of anybody in the community. Ignorance towards us comes from lack of education so being able to showcase us will pave the way for future generations. We are always fighting to make things better through tiny steps which end up making huge differences!

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Photo from Gemma Priestley, Founder of Rain Bar

Gemma Priestley, Founder of Rain Bar

It is always important to educate people. More and more people have recently come out as trans which is amazing, they feel they can now do this including one of our staff members and we couldn’t be more proud of her.
Any big company (like Tide) helping support and back LGBTQIA+ services. It shows we are like anyone else and sexual preferences do not make us any better or worse than anyone else.

Jack Holden, Founder of Watersmeet Productions

Tide can amplify our voices by boosting our businesses on the socials. We’ve all got to eat! And there’s a lot of empowerment in running your own business, and staking your claim in the world – especially as a LGBTQIA+ person.

Nick Roberts, Founder of Manchester Camper Hire

The financial sector has come on leaps and bounds over the years – I remember having to question the wording of an account which meant that my partner would only be covered if they were my wife, but not if they were my same-sex partner. Hopefully that’s not an issue anymore, but making sure forms and applications don’t inadvertently exclude anyone is an easy but important step. Adding a couple of other options in a drop down list for example doesn’t take anything away from anyone else, but might just make someone’s day a little easier.

Jim Gordon, Founder of Arboreal Club

Tide is doing a great job of sharing stories of LGBTQIA+ businesses and using their network to promote inclusivity. Tide can continue this and continue to strive for real change. Tide can not only share the stories of us business owners but also the opinions of Tide owners and employees. What does pride mean to them? Why do they support our community? What makes them an active participant in supporting our rights?

What’s your favourite Pride memory?

Daley North, Founder of Got No Idea TBH

A really impromptu trip to Nandos in Soho – it was packed full of people wearing their best gladrags, there were feathers and glitter all over the floor and it was just incredible to be honest. I found a lot of friends there that I didn’t know were going to Pride that year and also made friends with new ones. Just felt like home.

Gemma Priestley, Founder of Rain Bar

That’s a hard one as I loved my first Pride event where I felt like I could be myself and no one was looking or judging. Also our first pride event which took place last month. In these difficult times it was an amazing day to see so much amazing talent. The reaction from the customers was amazing and we cannot wait for our winter pride.

Jack Holden, Founder of Watersmeet Productions

Your first Pride is always special. My first Pride in London I was walking as part of the Switchboard volunteers group. People lining the streets, cheering and clapping, applauding you for just being yourself… it felt life-changing.

Nick Roberts, Founder of Manchester Camper Hire

Every Pride event I’ve ever been to has been full of great memories with friends and family all over the country. However, the thing that gives me the biggest buzz at Manchester Pride parade each year is the HUGE support from the crowds when the NHS walk past. They get the biggest cheer without fail, and it’s great to see and hear the love for them. Hopefully, over the next year or two, the NHS will get more than just applause ;).

Why is it important for corporations to amplify LGTBQIA+ voices and why is it important to celebrate pride?

Daley North, Founder of Got No Idea TBH

For me personally when I was growing up it was still incredibly controversial to see LGBTQIA+ relationships openly which made it difficult for me to come out to my family. It’s important for corporations to amplify us so the next generation knows it’s okay to feel the way that they do and that there is a support network out there. It’s just so important to allow everyone to be uniquely themselves so this makes it great to celebrate pride and continue to do so. Who we are should not be seen as criminal, invalid or as something that’s wrong.

Gemma Priestley, Founder of Rain Bar

We recently had a member of staff assaulted in a large city for simply being with his boyfriend, in a well known gay village. While things like this are still happening Prides are needed, as well as venues like ours. One day, hopefully, we can all live without fear of been attacked, killed or jailed in countries where it is still illegal to be yourself.

Jack Holden, Founder of Watersmeet Productions

Corporations rightly get a bit of stick for putting the pride flag on their logo and thinking that makes them an ally. Being an ally means amplifying, supporting, listening and championing. In this country trans rights are under attack; in countries across the world LGBTQIA+ communities are being scapegoated for wider sociopolitical problems. As long as LGBTQIA+ rights are still in question, we need our voices to be heard and our faces to be seen. We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!

Nick Roberts, Founder of Manchester Camper Hire

It will be important to celebrate Pride for as long as people still feel that inequality exists. There’s nothing worse than hearing the words ‘we don’t need Pride anymore’ when there are still people experiencing violence, abuse, and discrimination here and abroad. When corporations take steps to amplify the voices of any minority, they can have a much wider reach than individuals. Corporations are like celebrities – they can use their profile to be positive role models, which can help to bring about societal change that makes things better for everyone.

Jim Gordon, Founder of Arboreal Club

Large businesses and corporations have a much larger platform and reach which can carry a real impact. In sharing stories of LGBTQIA+ business owners and other members alike who have real stories to tell. They can use their platform to help the wider audience gain an understanding of what it means to be an LGBTQIA+ member and the journeys we have gone through to find our authentic selves. It is important to celebrate pride now and forever. To remember and to honour those who so bravely fought for our rights and spearheaded the change that we see around us today.


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We at Tide celebrate diversity in business and, during Pride month, particularly, the LGBTQIA+ community. We are Proud to have a diverse member base and want to encourage greater diversity in entrepreneurship every day! This is the first blog from our pride series, stay tuned for more amazing members!

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon, published on Unsplash

Valentine Hutchings

Head of Community and small business enthusiast

Tide Team