Proud Business Project--Ampersand

Business Name: Ampersand

Website and Social Media (if you have one): www.ampersandsf.com // insta: @ampersand_sf

Location: 80 Albion Street, San Francisco, CA 

Tell me about your business: We are a flower shop and design studio specializing in all aspects of flowers; selling stems by the stem and along with full wedding/event florals. People are welcome to come build a bouquet on their own, or we can always design on the fly as well

How does your queer identity play a role in your work?  Benjamin and I built the pop-and-pop shop with an understanding that our relationship would be a major role in the culture of what the shop was and we always wanted it to be a place that welcomed all members of the local community in the Mission, especially that of the LGTBQ community. We are often reminded of how lucky we are to be gay business owners in a city that loves and celebrates our efforts as a couple. 

What makes you most proud as a business owner? Some of our proudest moments have to be seeing the growth of our own little flower family that we have in the shop; there are a total of 7 of us now and we are a diverse group of people that are creative, generous, hard working folks to be around every day. I’m also so proud of the amount of quality and heart that everyone brings to everything that we touch. 

What makes you most proud as a member of the LGBTQ community?  I am very proud to represent the small-business hustle in our community and live an authentic way of life every day with all of our clients and colleagues. There are so many talented artists in our community and I’m especially enjoy queering up the flower world in SF. 

What does community mean to you? Community truly is backbone of our company; we originally set out to be nothing more than just the local flower shop, where people could buy affordable blooms to treat themselves or just to hang out with us. We’re blessed to be in a community that loves to shop locally with small business and we like to think that we’re a neighborhood staple now :) 

What has been one of your biggest challenges getting to where you are? Honestly, opening up a retail business was one of the hardest tasks we ever took on because the work never stops. There’s always something to improve upon, there’s always growing pains, there’s  always your own personal fears of failure that will haunt your sleep in the beginning. It took us a while, working seven days a week, 14 hour days, but we eventually hired help and now with a full staff, the work feels more manageable for sure. It’s actually amazing that we’ve never had the luxury of slowing down or not having growing pains!

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur? Self. Care. You must learn self care, as soon as you can. Get enough sleep, do that yoga class even if you’re tired, and have that glass of wine. The sooner you take time to really care for yourself, your business will thrive even more. Entrepreneurship is not an easy journey, but it sure is satisfying. 

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".

Proud Business Project--Prism Integrative Acupuncture

Business Name: Prism Integrative Acupuncture

Website and Social Media: www.prismintegrativeacupuncture.com www.facebook.com/prismintegrativeacupuncture instagram: @prismclinic                             twitter: prismacupunctur

Location: currently subcontracting at The Wellness Principle on Saturday mornings, 330 41st St, Oakland, will be renting my own space hopefully in the next few months

Tell me about your business: Prism Integrative Acupuncture offers holistic hormone support for all of life's transitions: teens and puberty, fertility and reproduction (especially for queer and non-traditional families), transgender transition, menopause and mid-life transitions, as well as PCOS, endometriosis, and other hormonal conditions. I work with acupuncture, herbs, and nutrition to balance hormones, prepare for and recover after surgery, soothe anxiety and depression, and create a sense of balance and ease during times that can otherwise be very stressful and difficult. I developed this focus during the four year clinical internship of my acupuncture masters program and now am continuing it into my private practice.

How does your queer identity play a role in your work? As a lesbian with transgender and gender non-conforming loved ones, LGBTQ health and wellness feels especially pertinent. Even in the bay area, I see a deficit of options for holistic support during transition, especially for trans women. My personal connection to queer and lesbian communities has, and continues, to guide the focus of my practice.

What makes you most proud as a member of the LGBTQ community? Fighting to be who we are despite opposition, hatred, and violence. The amazing courage of our queer elders, coming out and supporting each other at a time when it was unsafe to be gay. The tenacity of visibly gender non-conforming people everywhere, the grit of queer folks who lost the support of their families by coming out, the fierceness of femmes who have to deal with not only homophobia and sexual harrassment, but also have to fight for their queer identities to be recognized. Our strength and bravery, even -and maybe especially- when we don't feel very brave, makes me so proud to be queer.

What does community mean to you? Community, to me, means a group of people who support each other, who depend upon each other, and who have some sort of commonality that connects them. For queers, this is especially wonderful and important: we don't have to know each other to see each other, to call each other 'family'. When I travel to small towns and run into queers there, we recognize and affirm each other. Simply by being out, being visibly queer, we are supporting each other. We don't have to know each other to fight to protect one another. When one of us takes on homophobia at work. or asks our conservative relatives to accept our queer relationships, or intentionally comes out when we're assumed straight, we are fighting for all of us to be accepted and safe.

What has been one of your biggest challenges getting to where you are? So far, the biggest challenge for my practice has been maintaining my focus on hormone regulation and transgender health while going through school, studying for boards, and learning how to start a business. This is already a lot to handle, and the addition of a speciality has been a lot of extra work. The importance of this work, though, has kept me motivated and focused on my goals.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur? I think that all of us start out thinking that we know what the queer community needs because we're a part of it. However, you can fall into a trap of only serving queers like you with this thinking. Do some research, talk to people, start broader intentions and see what works for the people you serve. This has been especially important for me as a cisgender person focusing on working with trans folks. I can't know from personal experience how best to serve that community, so I have to remain open to suggestions and criticism in order to be an effective provider. I started out thinking that I would be serving mainly other 20- or 30-something queer folks that I would be referred through community connections. In fact, I've ended up mostly reaching those who have not yet found queer community, especially trans teens and elders coming out later in life. By remaining open and flexible I've been able to serve people who need my services the most.

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".

Proud Business Project--Restore Midwifery

Business Name: Restore Midwifery

Website and Social Media: www.restoremidwifery.com // Facebook: Restore Midwifery or Marea Goodman Midwife

Location: East Bay

Tell me about your business: I am a midwife providing queer and trans competent care in the East Bay. I provide complete prenatal care, homebirth services, and postpartum care, as well as general gynecological care, STI testing, and in-home inseminations. I believe in our ability to reclaim our humanity through birth.

How does your queer identity play a role in your work? I love working with and supporting queer families. More than that, I think my queer identity sets me up to fight for opportunities for people to be fully themselves outside of oppressive institutions. For me, midwifery is all about self-determination. I work hard to offer my clients an opportunity to experience their births and bodies outside of the Western medical system. I want to create a space for my clients to feel completely themselves, and to help them have an experience of birth and their bodies where they feel empowered, safe, and connected.

What makes you most proud as a business owner? The fact that I get to earn my living doing the work I love to do.

What makes you most proud as a member of the LGBTQ community? I love that we are all connected in one way or another, by no more than 5 degrees of separation. I think our community's collective capacity for connection and intimacy is amazing!

What does community mean to you? Community, to me, is an inter-dependent web of people fighting for our own and each other's wellbeing and liberation.

What has been one of your biggest challenges getting to where you are? Fighting to be myself. Unlearning the pretense of professionalism and getting to show my full self to my clients and the community.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur? Be your full, queer, authentic self! Know that your community is here to support you.

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".

Proud Business Project--The Money Witch

Business Name: $MONEY WITCH$

Website and Social Media :  www.healyourfinances.com // Instagram @money.witch // You Tube channel: search Money Witch

Location: San Francisco, CA

Tell me about your business: I catalyze change for clients in their financial lives by offering practical and spiritual tools to shift their relationship with money. My premise is that what truly shifts behavior and habit is simultaneously addressing the root of it from a standpoint of healing while building practical skills and resources. I engage the tools of my intuition, astrology, magic, emotional intelligence, tax and bookkeeping knowledge, and business sense to craft creative and individualized solutions in order for people to achieve their financial and business goals.

I do this through Intuitive Financial Coaching sessions for individuals, couples, and business partners. I also offer tax preparation services and teach workshops. My goal for this year is to get my workshop offerings online so that more people can access them.

How does your queer identity play a role in your work? Mostly my Femme Business Lady Swag is off the charts. 

What makes you most proud as a business owner? Connecting with clients in a space of healing and truth really feeds me. When people I've never met reach out via social media and say they identify with my work, that it resonates with them, and that it brought impact and healing to their life. I had a client write me a card that said "my quality of life has increased a lot since I met you". I am proud when I can feel the impact of my work through my communities' response to my business.

What makes you most proud as a member of the LGBTQ community? When we work hard to do better as we know better. When we make space for those most oppressed to come to the center of our movements and our priorities. When we use our style and our complexities to create language that helps navigate human incarnation on this earth more successfully. When we transcend and evolve.  

What has been one of your biggest challenges getting to where you are? It has been, and continues to be, internally hard for me to come back from mistakes. When I make a mistake or a client is unhappy, I go immediately to questioning my own value, and questioning the value of my business. So I work really hard to try to respond to mistakes with curiosity and gentleness. What really happened? How can I do better next time? What can I learn more about so that I don't make a similar mistake next time? And, always relevant, did I set my self up for the situation by allowing my client to have expectations that were not ones I would be able to or interested in meeting? The longer I am in business, the more I learn the value of working with clients who truly want exactly what I want to offer. That being said, I think it takes a few years to reach that level, and as baby businesses we often need to open up to a wider range of clients in order to learn more about what our business is truly going to become. And to just get that cash flow! No shame in the hustle. But reaching the discernment stage is a beautiful thing. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur? When running a small business or growing a soloprenuer type situation, it's easy to get consumed by the admin and the actual providing of product or services. There's always a million things on the to-do list and it seems absurd to build blank space and time into your business. It seems anti hustle. But it's so essential to non-negotiably make space to space out, read about, think about, and be creative in and about your business. A business needs to be a responsive organism, one that listens and changes and doesn't become stagnant. That is what can give small businesses an edge- they are dynamic and exciting and niche.

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".

Proud Business Project--Artist Ariel Dunitz-Johnson

Business Name: ARIELDRAWS! I’m a freelance illustrator and artist. I’m also an art curator at Blackbird barin San Francisco.

Website and Social Media: www.arieldraws.com     IG: @arieldraws

Location: I recently relocated after to downtown Vallejo after living in SF for over 13 years. My studio is in my house.

Tell me about your business: I do a variety of things and I like the mix of projects I get to work on. Constantly changing it up keeps me interested and excited about everything I’m doing. I focus on realistic pen and ink illustrations, with a focus on portraiture. I’ve worked on everything from specialty cocktail articles for clients like Liquor.com, food issues for magazines, commissioned pieces for local icons like Juanita MORE!, commissioned portraits for private clients and personal projects for solo and group shows.

How does your queer identity play a role in your work? I try to highlight and give back to the queer community as much as possible in my professional and personal work. For the past decade I’ve been working on a queer portrait series, SWAY, which I was honored to have displayed on buses across SF as the winner of the city’s first Muni Art in 2015. This ongoing series highlights a variety of people from the Bay Area queer community and has been an amazing way for me to stay engaged. As often as I can, I try to participate in queer events, like presenting at the Radar Productions reading series at the SF Public Library or donating and creating works for events and non profits. Recently, I had the honor of creating a portrait for the 1-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre. Projects like these both hit on a personal level within the queer community and act as reminders of why I love doing what I do.

What makes you most proud as a business owner? Feeling like I’m doing something that makes a difference makes me proud to be a queer business owner. Connection. Whenever I can create pieces that connect the viewer with the subject – when the work creates an emotional response – I am reminded of the true purpose of my work. I feel proud to be creating work that speaks to people, that highlights the queer community and that incites a conversation about queers.

What makes you most proud as a member of the LGBTQ community? I am so proud to be part of such an amazingly diverse community of people. The LGBTQ community is ever changing and evolving – we are at the frontline of major issues and we fight for change. There is a bond in the queer community that is unlike any other group I’ve been part of. There is so much respect, unity, desire for growth & education, and a sense of family that many have never experienced. More than any other group I know, the LGBTQ community fights for social and political justice, equality, self-expression and individuality.

What does community mean to you? Community means people have your back and you have theirs. Community means we’re in this together. Community means no one suffers in silence or alone. Community means if you reach out, someone will be there for you. Community means you have a place to see and be seen.

What has been one of your biggest challenges getting to where you are? Being a disabled, queer woman, I have gone through a lot to be where I am today. I struggle through daily chronic pain since an accident when I was 19 and have battled Lyme disease for the past 5 years. I’ve often wanted to give up and have struggled to keep my chin up and have a good attitude. Ultimately, these challenges have made me stronger and they’ve enriched my work. I believe you can see my experience through my illustrations -my ability to anthropomorphize objects and to portray people with honesty and affirmation. My experience and the challenges I’ve faced have forced me to stop drawing for a year or more at a time. When I stop drawing for such long stretches, I feel afraid I won’t get it back. It also teaches me to observe, to have compassion and ultimately be more sympathetic and empathetic with others and myself. If we are gentle with ourselves, our biggest challenges can become our greatest assets.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur? If you have a passion, run with it. There will be people to guide and help you along the way, but no one will make your business or dreams happen for you. Reach out to people you admire for advice and guidance and educate yourself as much as you can. Take opportunities that are presented to you and seek out opportunities that will help you grow. Creating a business is a constant learning curve and you have to be pro-active and find ways to keep building and getting better.

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".

Proud Business Project--The Queer Gym

Business Name: The Queer Gym

Website and Social Media: http://thequeergym.com instagram: @thequeergym fb.com/thequeergym

Location: 2706 Park blvd Oakland, CA

Tell me about your business: We're the first queer gym ever. Our mission is to make happy, healthy homos by providing a safe space with a community that gives a damn about you.

How does your queer identity play a role in your work? It's the bread and butter of our business. i started this as just a really good lesbian and pretty ignorant about the rest of the queer community. As the gym has grown, so has my understanding of how to best serve the entire spectrum of the queer community. 

What makes you most proud as a business owner? That im still here. anyone can open a business, few can keep it going. 

What makes you most proud as a member of the LGBTQ community? I'm proud of how far we have come and how we are no longer taking any shit from anyone. 

What does community mean to you? community means giving a fuck! 

What has been one of your biggest challenges getting to where you are? As the business grows as I grow as a person. Self work can be a scary mother fucker, but it will plateau not only your business but who you are if you do it. If you don't, you won't go anywhere.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur?  If u wanna help the broke, u cant be one. 

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".

Proud Business Project--Queer LifeSpace

Business Name: Queer LifeSpace

Website and Social Media: https://www.queerlifespace.org/   https://www.facebook.com/madeofusforus/

Location: 2275 Market St. @ Noe, SF, 94114

Tell me about your business: Our mission is to create a safe space for the LGBTQAI community and our allies. Our client centered integrated mental health and substance abuse treatment is designed to empower, inform and provide a platform for healing and growth. QLS also trains queer-identified mental health professionals to provide compassionate support to members of our own community.

How does your queer identity play a role in your work? It's a bit tricky as a queer high femme - people assume I'm straight, so I have taken to wearing pins on my lapel so I get visibility and I don't have to keep coming out of the closet ALL DAY LONG. haha. I also have a tremendous amount of privilege as a white, middle class woman and I have devoted my life to serving others and using my privilege to advance the issues that face women and folks of color.

What makes you most proud as a business owner? I am less proud and more humbled to lead and serve my staff and community. I am incredibly moved by the staff and board members of QLS, all of whom are volunteers. Their generosity and work ethic is beyond measure.

What makes you most proud as a member of the LGBTQ community? Our ability to expand and grow, the tenacity with which we've clung to life throughout the ages.

What does community mean to you? Personally and professionally, community is everything - they are my family, my support, my inspiration, the reason I get up in the morning...

What has been one of your biggest challenges getting to where you are? Juggling single motherhood, harassment due to my identity

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur? Always lead with a service heart, ask yourself how you can serve others and show up and do it. Incredible opportunities will follow.

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".

Proud Business Project-- Qulture Collective

Business Name: Qulture Collective

Website and Social Media: qulturecollective.com instagram: @qulturecollective

Location: 1714 Franklin St suite 102, Oakland, CA.

Tell me about your business: Founded in 2015, Qulture Collective is a multi-use space and queer community platform in downtown Oakland featuring a retail shop, cafe, and gallery. We are dedicated to serving the LGBTQIA+ and allied community with a focus on building QTPOC visibility.

How does your queer identity play a role in your work? Every facet of our business is designed to serve Queer, Trans, and GNC folks first and foremost. Allies are also welcome. 

What makes you most proud as a business owner? We are proud to hold down a safe and visible space that is explicitly for Queer, Trans, and gender non conforming folks in downtown Oakland. We are also proud that many amazing community members and organizations choose Qulture Collective to host their events, workshops, fundraisers and other gatherings. Our goal is to build this space with and for the people of Oakland. 

What makes you most proud as a member of the LGBTQ community? There are so many reasons to be proud of the LGBTQ community but one thing that we find really inspiring is that members of our community are and have always been at the forefront of civil rights and social justice movements.

What does community mean to you? For us community means a group of folks with which to build a better, brighter, more just and inclusive future.

What has been one of your biggest challenges getting to where you are? Like many small businesses having the resources to support the work that needs to be done is one of the biggest challenges. Not just financial resources, although those are VERY important, but also the people power and emotional and mental resources to keep things going in the face of adversity. Luckily we are a pretty resourceful and resilient group and the community has shown so much love and support to help us keep growing and moving forward. 

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur? Dream Big! We need your ideas, your voice, your creativity, and your presence to help shape the future. You Matter! 

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".

Proud Business Project--Kipper Clothiers

Business Name: Kipper Clothiers

Website and Social Media:  www.kipperclothiers.biz  Instagram: @kipperclothiers @stylishtransition

Location:  78 Gough St. San Francisco, CA 94102

Tell me about your business: Kipper Clothiers is an LGBTQ suiting company that specializes in menswear for women and trans folks. We have been working since 2013 to make high-end custom suiting that fits impeccably and shows off clients personal styles.

How does your queer identity play a role in your work? Through co-founding Kipper Clothiers, I have had the privilege of centering my own queerness in my work. My identity as a trans man is essential to the work that I do and making clients feel at home with me.

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What makes you most proud as a business owner? That I offer a unique service to queer folks that you can’t find anywhere else. My work focuses on providing clients with a safe, supportive environment where their true style can shine through.

What makes you most proud as a member of the LGBTQ community? Our resilience and active resistance through these tough moments in history.

What does community mean to you? Growing up in San Francisco, I’ve had a strong sense of being a part of the LGBTQ community since childhood. Community means knowing you are in a safe space to explore who you really are without judgment or fear.

What has been one of your biggest challenges getting to where you are? Valuing myself and the work that I do. A lot of entrepreneurship is knowing where to put your time and efforts and knowing that you won’t be able to do it all. Figuring out self-care while trying to run a business was something that takes time to learn, but is essential to the process.

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur? Reach out for help from other, more seasoned queer entrepreneurs. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when someone else can mentor you. One of the things I love the most is discussing business ideas with queer folks. Nothing is more empowering than creating your own business.

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".

Proud Business Project-- A Monique Affair

Amoniqueaffair

Business Name: A Monique Affair

Website : www.amoniqueaffair.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/amoniqueaffair

Twitterwww.twitter.com/amoniqueaffair

Facebookwww.facebook.com/amoniqueaffair

Location: 1624 Franklin Street, Suite 500 Oakland Ca

Tell me about your businessA Monique Affair is a wedding planning, design and production company, specializing in LGBTQ weddings since 1999.

What makes you most proud as a business owner? What makes me proud is that I believed in LGBTQ weddings way before it was a buzz to do them! People were telling me that I was limiting myself by defining such a niche market. But I realized how much our community wanted to support my business and the weddings that I was working on were really special. Now, when other creatives are running around trying to do photoshoots that show inclusivity, I don’t have to, I have real weddings and have been in the community for a very long time. It’s not a trend for me to jump on, I’ve believed in my community before it was the “hip” thing to do. I’m proud that I’m an industry leader in LGBTQ weddings.

 

 

What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming queer entrepreneur.
To believe your biggest fan first, and follow your passion regardless to what folks say! If you have passion for it and you are authentic and real, that’s what your ideal client will see and they WILL come.

amoniqueaffair2

 

The Proud Business Project is a photography project highlighting LGBTQ business owners and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area who honor their identity in their business to serve their community in a bigger way. Do you know a proud business owner? Email jamiethrower@gmail.com with the subject "Proud Business Project".

2016 best nine

I'm so grateful for all the growth in this last year... It's been an amazing ride and I know that 2017 is going to be incredible. Thank you for each and every one of you who support my business, especially my mission of creating a safe space for queer love stories to be told and celebrated. Cheers to the next year and remember to keep loving and keep fighting... I'll be with you every step of the way.