How many LGBTQ+-owned businesses can you think of in your area? How many of them are LGBTQ+ femme-owned?
For those you can think of, consider this a sign to support them today – even if it’s an Instagram like or a product review. Looking for somewhere new to build community? Here are eight places to start.
Carolina Meurkens is a bisexual femme creative and co-owner of boutique cafe Cafe Cino. A joint enterprise with her husband, Ron Collins, they share a “mutual love of coffee” and value its ability to “bring people together.” They offer barista catering services, brews from across the globe, and host community events in the metro D.C. area like tastings, pastry pairings, live music, and more.
On which date do you compare birth charts? Developed by Canadian astrologer Chani Nicholas, CHANI is an astrology app co-developed by AnnieCannons, Inc., a “queer-led software development agency whose engineers are predominantly survivors of human trafficking and/or gender-based violence.”
Need ideas for a vegan dish at the next queer brunch potluck? Spouses Caroline Morrison and Siobhan Southern opened their Raleigh-based vegan restaurant in 2013. Largely funded by the community, The Fiction Kitchen prides itself on sourcing local ingredients and being a welcoming space for all. Vegan North Carolinians will be especially delighted to know that they offer a take on Eastern NC barbecue pulled pork.
Zoe Frost founded her craft and cross-stitch company, Junebug and Darlin, with the idea that “art should be useful and crafting should be for everyone.” Founded in 2016 and based in Portland, Oregon, Frost offers patterns, cross-stitch kits, and supplies for novices and expert crafters alike. Nature queers will especially love the natural elements Frost incorporates into every design, many of which frame inclusive statements and political messages.
Look no further for your queer theory shelf staples. Hannah Oliver-Depp, a nonbinary/femme Black and queer bookseller, founded Loyalty Bookstores in 2018 as a community-oriented space to celebrate diverse literature in the DMV. Co-owner Christine Bollow, a queer femme, disabled, and biracial Filipina bookseller, joined Oliver-Depp in 2023. Together, they promote accessibility and inclusivity through book events geared towards social justice and drag queen story hours.
Pastry chef Surrae Shield began experimenting with home-dying sprinkles in her kitchen in 2020. Along with her spouse and business partner, Rachel Madden, Shield creates sprinkles in a variety of colors for all kinds of baked treats. Based out of Philadelphia, the duo focus on sustainable packaging and incorporating natural food coloring into their goodies. Keep an eye out for the Pride sprinkles in June!
Alyssa, a queer femme, began home-pouring candles with her partner in 2018. The duo attests that each hand-poured candle is queer. How so? Each candle is an original scent and uniquely decorated, the creators are queer themselves, and 10 percent of profits are generously donated to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Also demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, this home business based out of Philadelphia also offers refill kits and thrifted candle containers.
You might recognize Angelica Ross as the Pose actress whose portrayal of Candy brought us to laughter and tears. In 2014, she founded TransTech Social, a community space designed to educate transgender and gender-non-conforming individuals in digital technology. Through a variety of programs, TransTech works to keep humanity at the center of digital development.
Proudly advertised as the first woman-owned microbrewery in Minnesota, Urban Growler is run by Deb Loch and Jill Pavlak in 2014. Their mission is to “bring people together through beer,” offering an event space, a brew series produced with locally farmed ingredients, and participation in partnerships across their community. You can find their brews on tap or sold in stores across the greater St. Paul area.
Queer culture is bringing nature indoors, no matter what floor your apartment is on. Owner Hailey designs vintage flower frames and pressed flower arrangements in addition to other plant-themed goods. She offers workshops in her community and collaborates with other makers to upcycle goods and incorporate natural elements.
Support your local queer innovators. Become their friends. Women own about 42 percent of small businesses (over 12 million) in the United States, but statistics for queer femmes are difficult to find. Visibility for queer femme entrepreneurs comes from patronage, and from that comes empowerment. Our community is stronger when we spend time – and money – together.