Pride @ Tide – Introducing members empowering and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community (Post 2)

Pride @ Tide – Introducing members empowering and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community (Post 2)

Photo from Amy and Kirsten, Founders of Midnight Lettering Co

As part of Pride Month 2021, this is the second in our series of blog articles about Tide members whose businesses are doing great things in the LGBTQIA+ community.

You’ll meet 5 more of our members and hear about their brilliant and innovative businesses. They’ll also share how they support their communities and what they believe the wider public and big business can do to be better allies to their community.

Tell us about your business and when you started?

Vicki and Lucy, Founders of Two Girls Co

Vicki and Lucy, Founders of Two Girls Co

We’re Lucy and Vicki, a wife and wife design team and we’ve been together 10+ years. We both come from design backgrounds in different areas like digital design and furniture design so we always knew we had similar interests and wanted to work together on something in some way, at some point. We began Two Girls Co after we got married in 2017 and we used the wedding as a ‘test’ to see if we could work together on creating something without killing each other! We created invites, signage, tote bags – all colour coded and meticulously planned. After we survived the trial, we sat down one day and decided to sketch some ideas for a low investment product – some enamel pins. One of these sketches was a little yellow ruler with a silly pun ‘Designers Rule’ emblazoned on it. Vicki took the plunge and ordered 100 of them without telling Lucy and when they showed up on the door with no branding or selling tools, we’d unintentionally started a business. Our hashtag at the wedding was #TwoGirlsOneTipi – so we ran with this and started Two Girls Co – unaware that this would be still going strong 4 years later as our ‘side hustle’.

Krishan Parmar, Fashion Stylist

Krishan Parmar, Fashion Stylist

I work as a fashion stylist in the commercial, fashion and celebrity industry. I started working around 18 years ago and have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing global brands and talent.

Bonny Rose, Founder of The Jungle Boat

I’m a professional dancer that graduated in the middle of the pandemic last year, universal credit wasn’t enough to support the renovations on my home – my beautiful ex-cargo boat. When November lockdown was announced there were no job prospects for dancing, hospitality wasn’t hiring and I really was lost. I didn’t know how I was going to afford to simply live during the next month. As an avid plant lover I had quite a vast collection and took pride in rescuing the reduced ones in supermarkets or big garden centres. So the first Sunday of November lockdown I used some old scaffolding boards I was going to use for fire wood and created a ‘stall’ put my plants out and gave it a go! To my surprise people loved it! And then I didn’t stop, I closed during January and February because of lockdown and the cold, but opened again in March. We now have multiple restaurants/cafes that sell our plants in them and have workshops, plant hire and much more going on! The future is exciting and we are interested to see where it goes.

Bonny Rose, Founder of The Jungle Boat and her team

Luke Hannam, Founder of Rise‘N’Design

Luke Hannam, Founder of Rise‘N’Design

My business is called Rise ‘N’ Design Ltd, a graphic design company that provides businesses with new imagery and marketing content. I design logos, social media content, adverts and content for websites and posters. I also produce flyers, menus, keyrings, magnets and more. 

What inspired me to start up my company was the passion I had for graphic design. 

After watching an interview between Ellen and Oprah where they discussed the two biggest issues facing us post COVID will be mental health awareness and climate change, I instantly thought of the idea of holding a concert/ festival. This would raise money for charities supporting these causes and, as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community myself, I see first hand the struggles many still go through so I wanted to support LGBTQIA+ charities as well. I came up  with the name MindAid.Live after watching the film Bohemian Rhapsody. It inspired me to create a similar event to help unite everyone after a long time apart by the love of music. After creating the media content for MindAidLive I realised my ability and set up Rise’N’Design. 

Amy and Kirsten, Founders of Midnight Lettering Co

Amy and Kirsten, Founders of Midnight Lettering Co

2020 literally stopped us in our tracks. Since meeting in 2014 we have constantly been on the move. In that time we have lived and travelled to over 20 countries together.

Border closures meant we were officially grounded. But there’s always a silver lining and ours was that we quickly realised what we valued the most, our time together.

We are both incredibly creative and love entertaining so without any hesitation we launched Midnight Lettering Co – creating inclusive gifts and home decor.

Now we have our little side hustle keeping us very busy. We hope to grow big enough one day to quit our jobs and work for ourselves. And achieve our goal of spending more time together.

How does your business support the LGBTQIA+ community?

Vicki and Lucy, Founders of Two Girls Co

We have a range of products that have been developed over the years. Ones which celebrate a little of who we are, which started off as a celebration of being creative, but it soon became more irreverent and celebrated all different aspects of our lives – the LGBTQIA+ element and diversity being something we feel strongly and passionately about. We have a selection of small giftware products which are complimentary to this community and we have built a strong LGBTQIA+ following through making silly videos on TikTok. What’s nice is that our little celebration of ourselves is mirrored in so many others in the community too, so it’s nice to buy into products and businesses that feel like they represent a part of you.

Krishan Parmar, Fashion Stylist

I have supported the community at every chance – Think it is super important to come together and support each other. This year I was fortunate enough to work on an incredible campaign by Stonewall and through that got to meet some of top my LGBTQ+ icons including Stuart Feather (founding Member of the Gay Liberation Front) and Lady Phyll (UK Black Pride). It was an honour to style these people and hear their stories.

Bonny Rose, Founder of The Jungle Boat

There are 3 people at The Jungle boat, 2 of us are within the community. We proudly hang the flag from the boat to show our alliance and that everyone is welcome at the stall.
As a new business, we are currently discussing ways we can make a difference and would love to hear any suggestions! Sending profits to a charity sounds great but we’d much rather find something that is closer to home and really supports the local community.

Luke Hannam, Founder of Rise‘N’Design

My business supports the LGBTQIA+ community in many ways, one being that MindAidLive itself would be supporting such charities.

I also want to have organisations and volunteers involved to reach out to schools and LGBTQIA+ support groups, as well as a wide range of diverse groups. I think it’s important to have our next generation participate in the event as it will mean so much more to them on the day, as well as help them gain skills and confidence in tasks they wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to do.

I have also created many LGBTQIA+ designs and posts on social media to raise awareness of Pride month, with profits either going towards the event and some towards LGBTQIA+ charities.

As well as this I have been supporting a local Drag Queen, Mileena Wyntr also known as the Glitch Queen in creating content for her social platforms to help her stand out and hopefully increase bookings now that lockdown is coming to an end.

Having been bullied for being gay myself and experiencing discrimination, as well as feeling unsafe to be myself in places before, I do know how it feels and this is why I am passionate to change this for the next generation.

Amy and Kirsten, Founders of Midnight Lettering Co

Have you ever felt out of place shopping online or scrolling on social media because you couldn’t relate to the people on the screen? If so, you are not alone.

One of the problems we constantly run into being in a same sex relationship is that we struggle to find inclusive products.

When getting married we noticed 99.9% of wedding decor and gifts are marketed towards the new Mr & Mrs Surname. But what about us? We were two brides keeping our own last names. We felt totally out of place. This experience inspired Midnight Lettering Co’s Pride collection. Our aim as a small business is to create fun and inclusive products for everyone to enjoy.

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?

Vicki and Lucy, Founders of Two Girls Co

We would probably say the opposite – we are just normal people running a small business like everyone else. We hope followers of our business can respect where we’ve got to, irrespective of our sexuality, gender or age etc. What we would say is that we like to use our platform to inspire others and offer mentorship if those persons do so need it – whether it’s offering feedback and sharing knowledge or just being visible as a female or LGBTQIA+ led business. You never know who you’re going to help along the way and we’re absolutely open to being part helping someone up the ladder.

Luke Hannam, Founder of Rise‘N’Design

One of the major differences I find as being LGBTQIA+ business owner is that the majority of my clientele are people who are also part of the community or allies of the community. I think people outside of this find it awkward, or are slightly on edge about how to communicate with us. I believe this stems from a lack of education and some people being worried they might say something out of line or wrong. However, I’m a true believer in educating people first rather than just being defensive. The only way we can truly help make a difference is to educate and allow time for people and communities to adapt as long as they’re open to learning.

Amy and Kirsten, Founders of Midnight Lettering Co

During Pride month you may have seen the big stores have filled their shelves with ALL the rainbow things while others have added rainbows to their logos. But please remember these companies are profiting from queer people. The selling of rainbow merchandise is not the same as LGBTQIA+ allyship unless the money is raised to benefit the queer community. So instead of buying heaps of rainbows, we would love you to shop queer.

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

Design from Vicki and Lucy, Founders of Two Girls Co

Vicki and Lucy, Founders of Two Girls Co

Our generation is getting better on the whole at supporting LGBTQIA+ groups over recent years. Celebrating and understanding Pride and why it still needs to happen, is a big part of that. Unfortunately recently, we’ve noticed comment sections on social media posts becoming an outlet for those who clearly don’t support it and like to sit behind their keyboards making often silly, rude and vicious comments. It’s upsetting to read and some of the comments are why we still need to continue the conversation surrounding Pride and why it was started all those years ago. This probably goes without saying for most subject matter online but the thought process of “Is this comment necessary or helping anyone?” is a good place to start for being a stronger ally.

Krishan Parmar, Fashion Stylist

Listening and learning is a huge part of creating an inclusive society – be informed. For years people have been told to treat others as you wish to be treated yourself. However, I think a big thing for the LGBTQ+ community is to treat us how we want to be treated. A great way to start is using the correct pronouns. It is also important to speak up for people – as allies, you can amplify our voices and help us fight ignorance and stigma. Finally, I really think it’s ok to not fully understand – of course you aren’t going to relate or understand everyone’s personal gender or sexual identity – The important thing is to be supportive and non judgemental.

Bonny Rose, Founder of The Jungle Boat

Don’t assume anything. Don’t assume someone is straight or gay or queer etc…, if they haven’t mentioned it they might not be at peace with identifying as something yet. Everyone is at a different part of their journey and some may have been met with love and acceptance and pride but others may not have.

I think the key is matching the energy of the person talking, firstly if they’re talking to you about it that is opening up and trusting which should be respected. Secondly, some people might not want it to be a big thing and others may feel it makes up a large part of their identity, I think it’s really important to read their energy when talking about it and respond in a way that is similar.

Luke Hannam, Founder of Rise‘N’Design

I think the most important thing is not to assume we are all the same and fit the stereotype that everyone seems to picture as a “gay guy”. In my case, in many situations, I’m instantly categorised as an extrovert who wants to go shopping with everyone. While there isn’t anything wrong with anyone who is like that, not everyone fits the stereotypical label that society has given the community.

I also think that we need to normalise the word gay in the sense that it doesn’t need to be added before the word marriage or best friend or friend. I think sometimes it’s like an accessory to a lot of people. For instance, I wouldn’t ever go to a straight person and say, “Oh my gosh, I have a straight friend who is single, let me set you up”. I’d like to think that compatibility isn’t just based on sexuality.

In addition to this, I do think that as a part of the LGBTQIA+ Community we also need to work on normalising friendships and communications with other people. This includes accepting anyone who is willing to be or wanting to learn about being an ally. Sometimes, I think there can be a bit of a guard up that may then push away someone who is willing to be an ally and put them off wanting to come to events such as Pride or a gay club venue. In some ways, I think occasionally we have become a bit too sensitive about certain things. If an ally says something wrong or offensive, without meaning to be hurtful, I think we should educate them and help them learn. I’m sure that, if they were told nicely, they would apologise and make sure they didn’t use the word or phrase again.

Amy and Kirsten, Founders of Midnight Lettering Co

Start with diversifying your social media. Follow and support queer content creators and small businesses. There are so many amazing queer food bloggers, jewellery makers, photographers, the list goes on!

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

Krishan Parmar, Fashion Stylist

It has never been more important to amplify LGBTQ+ voices. A good place to start is to ensure that you are not lumping the whole community into 1 box – this is something I see routinely – but we are so diverse with different needs – you wouldn’t lump all 18 – 50 year olds in 1 target market. Tide could also partner with charitable organisations that support and campaign for LGBTQ+ people. Finally, and probably the most important thing to recognise is that the issues our community face shouldn’t just be highlighted during Pride Month. Pride activity should form part of a wider outreach and support strategy. Be sure to have a plan for after pride.

Photo from Bonny Rose, Founder of The Jungle Boat

Bonny Rose, Founder of The Jungle Boat

I think this is such a difficult question, it’s mostly a case by case basis. But I think that the fact you have reached out to people in the community to gain first hand information has been great. Maybe collaborating with social enterprises that work specifically with the LGBTQIA+ community would be somewhere to start. The smaller the company, the bigger the challenges. Start small, change big.

Luke Hannam, Founder of Rise‘N’Design

I think Tide can definitely help raise awareness of this with the network and platform that you have to amplify voices from the community such as myself.

You don’t have the platform and social network to be able to get hurt. Therefore, if you can share this information and article, I think it’s vital that we do. Before we go back to normality again after lockdown we need to start realising what we were doing wrong before. Then we can make a difference to many social situations and issues we’re going to face post Covid including within the LGBTQIA+ community, mental health and climate change. If we don’t act now and make these changes before lockdown lifts then we will just repeat the same cycle and will be back in another lockdown with a new pandemic. It’s very important that we start raising awareness of these issues now.

Amy and Kirsten, Founders of Midnight Lettering Co

Showing representation and including diversity shouldn’t be ground breaking. Seriously, we’re in 2021! It should be the norm!

However, if you’re new to diverse and inclusive marketing here’s why it’s important. When your business includes people from different backgrounds and stories you can reach a wider audience who relate to you. The most powerful ads and social media posts mirror consumers positively and authentically.

Your business can help – by sharing your story, becoming an ally and emphasising marginalised voices.

What’s your favourite Pride memory?

Vicki and Lucy, Founders of Two Girls Co

There have been many memories made at Pride over the years. Some of our favourite ones have been in Bristol, celebrating with our LGBTQIA+ and non-LGBTQIA+ friends in a free spirited and fun way. It’s always a great day out and you can feel the love and warmth from everyone in the crowd. If there’s anyone reading this who has never been – we’d suggest you experience it at least once in your life!

Krishan Parmar, Fashion Stylist

I remember my first London Pride. I was lucky enough to be invited to join the parade alongside Macmillan Cancer Support and I had no idea what to expect. The day was filled with so much love and celebration – It was great to see the whole community come out and celebrate our diversity.

Bonny Rose, Founder of The Jungle Boat

Believe it or not, I’ve not been to an actual Pride parade yet! But when the next one takes place, you bet I’ll be there!

Luke Hannam, Founder of Rise‘N’Design

I think my favourite Pride memory would be when I happened to be in New York for Pride and it was my first ever Pride event. I will never forget being at 5th Avenue watching all of the parade and feeling for the first time like I was not alone and genuinely part of a very big community. It was amazing to actually feel proud  about my sexuality for the first time after feeling the opposite for so long.

Amy and Kirsten, Founders of Midnight Lettering Co

In 2017, we were living in Australia during the vote to legalise same sex marriage. We were confronted with billboards, ads on TV and even friends on Facebook sharing why everyone should vote no and deny us equal rights. It was a time when Married at First Sight first aired on tv – strangers were allowed to be married in the name of reality TV. But, we weren’t. The day Australia voted yes was extremely special. We have a long way to go. Homosexuality is still illegal in over 70+ countries. While same sex marriage is only legal in 29 countries.

If you’re after a fun memory – then it has to be Manchester Pride. We are there every year and there’s nothing quite like it!

Photo from Amy and Kirsten, Founders of Midnight Lettering Co

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

Vicki and Lucy, Founders of Two Girls Co

It’s always a tricky balance for corporations to not just look like they’re jumping on the bandwagon each year, with ‘rainbow washing’ being an increased point of conversation. At the same time, if a business doesn’t support celebrations like this then does this say to their LGBTQIA+ staff and customers that they aren’t on board with it? A well intentioned business should continue to support the LGBTQIA+ community, not just by changing their logo to a rainbow but by supporting community groups, sharing the experiences of their staff and members and backing them up in the face of adversity. Visibility and awareness is key in the whole celebration of Pride – giving voices to minority groups and showing that you can be successful regardless of who you are. It allows people to feel comfortable and supported by the public and corporations, whilst continuing the wider conversation of equality into the future.

Photo from Krishan Parmar, Fashion Stylist

Krishan Parmar, Fashion Stylist

Although we have come a long way as a society, there are still so many obstacles LGBTQ+ people face in everyday life. Sometimes even the nicest of sentiments can become tokenistic and it is important for everyone to understand. Pride is not only a celebration – it is a protest for global equality for our community.

Bonny Rose, Founder of The Jungle Boat

Because it normalises being anything but heterosexual, which somehow doesn’t seem normal still?? In 2021! Representation is key for individuals, for families to understand and accept, for safely walking home at night, for trans people having a life expectancy age that isn’t in their 30’s. It’s better understanding from health professionals, it’s freedom, it’s acceptance, it’s happiness.
It’s crucial.

Luke Hannam, Founder of Rise‘N’Design

It’s important for corporations such as yourself and others to amplify the LGBTQIA+ movement because a lot of these corporations are global. While improvements are still needed within the UK and Northern Ireland, there are still many countries that are miles behind where we are. Just because we have gay marriage now and it’s not illegal to be gay, it doesn’t mean everything is equal, as we are far from having equality. There are many countries still where it’s a death sentence to be gay, where conversion therapy is still happening and where people are being stoned to death for being gay. I cannot say that, because I live in a country where it’s legal to be gay, that I’m going to sit back and not do anything because I know that if I was living in one of those countries I’d be looking for people like myself who are questioning and voicing the importance of equality.

Photo from Luke Hannam, Founder of Rise‘N’Design

I think, as a society, we now just seem to think it’s acceptable to turn a blind eye to something we don’t see and that’s actually quite scary. There are so many issues going on around the world for communities, but just because it’s not happening where we live, we act as if it’s not happening.

I live in a very small town where the majority of the residents have lived there for generations. There isn’t much modern culture and I wouldn’t feel safe holding hands with another guy in the village I live in because people tend to have traditional views. They would be likely to stare and make comments which would make me feel uncomfortable.

I shouldn’t have to feel that way when walking around where I live. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness to educate people and help them understand and learn about the movement.

I also think it’s important that these issues are raised because I think even as a community we have become very divided. The gay man in general tends to be more accepted and especially in global cities such as London and New York.

As a gay white man, I feel I am way more accepted within the community than goups such as transgender, drag queens and non-binary who still facie a lot more hate, judgement and criticism even from people within the community itself.

Amy and Kirsten, Founders of Midnight Lettering Co

You never know who is consuming your content and who you could be inspiring. Children’s early experiences shape what they imagine to be possible. This is why representation is so important in films, ads and even your business.

However, no matter your age there is psychology backing the statement – if you see it, you can achieve it. Seeing someone like you achieve great things is extremely powerful.

Sadly, not everyone feels safe to be their authentic selves. The LGBTQIA+ charity Stonewall estimates that more than a third of LGBTQIA+ staff hide that they are a part of the community while at work for fear of discrimination.

While working in retail together we were bullied and threatened to be ‘outed’ by a colleague and work was no longer a safe space for us. We still have a long way to go and this is why it is so important to celebrate Pride.

So, if you’re in a place where you’re not ready or don’t feel safe to openly express your sexual orientation or gender identity, it doesn’t make it any less valid.


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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 second blog from our Pride series, you can read the first post here.  

Photo by Just Jack, published on Unsplash

Caroline Wire

Small Business Copywriter

Tide Team