by Jax Kiel
LGBTQIA+ small business owners have a lot to be proud of, from overcoming the barriers of being queer and out in the professional world, to navigating the year of pandemic shutdown that shocked the world. Despite it all, they keep going.
Historically, LGBTQIA+-owned businesses and spaces have been places of refuge, of rebellion, and the only places queer people could find other people like them. To this day, our communities gain so much from LGBTQIA+-owned small businesses. Queer business owners create safe, welcoming community spaces, donate profits to LGBTQ+ nonprofit organizations, and queer children have role models to look up to.
LGBTQIA+-owned businesses contribute over $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy, creating good jobs and innovating industries, and building wealth in the LGBTQIA+ community, according to The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Take this opportunity to spend with pride and be intentional about giving money back to LGBTQIA+-owned small businesses.
This month, Intentionalist is teaming up with Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Storm, Seattle Seahawks, OL Reign, Seattle Mariners, and Seattle Kraken to encourage everyone to Spend With Pride. Upload your receipt from a local LGBTQIA+-owned business to Intentionalist’s website for a chance to win a Pride prize pack from your favorite sports team. If we hit our goal of $25,000, each team will make a donation to support local nonprofit Gender Diversity.
Here are three Seattle-area businesses where we encourage you to Spend With Pride!
Hana Yohannes has put a lot of energy into making sure guests can walk into her business and feel at ease. When the doors open to Shikorina Pastries, it’s obvious her efforts have paid off. Customers can walk into the shop, feel at home, and sink their teeth into pastries made with love. Hana is an alumna of the Pastry Project, a program that provides free pastry training to people who face barriers getting into the industry. She has always been passionate about baking, and she loves to see the way sweet things bring people together. She said chatting with the customers and seeing their smiles brings her joy. The customers’ support is essential to Hana as a Black, queer business owner and a second generation immigrant. She said it was hard for her to find role models with similar experiences when trying to open Shikorina Pastries. Now, she wants to support other people who want to start a small business but are struggling to find the right resources and community.
Hana focuses on using organic ingredients and other local ingredients. She prioritizes working with other small businesses to make the best use of the delicious and fresh ingredients grown locally. Without a second thought, Hana said her favorite pastry at Shikorina is her classic organic chocolate chunk cookie. As a kid, Hana made chocolate chip cookies with her siblings. At the time it was Betty Crocker mix rather than Hana’s mouth-watering recipe, but it was something they bonded over. Then, when Hana did the Pastry Project, chocolate chip cookies were the first thing they learned to cook from scratch. Since then, the cookie has had a special place in her heart, and baking them helps her to destress. And, of course, they’re delicious.
“Central District is historically a Black-owned neighborhood … So, it really means a lot to me to be a Black-owned business in this area and be able to support the people and really cultivate the community that’s left here. I’m trying to get community together, but also kind of be a vessel for the people that are here and trying to make an impact in their own ways. And I’m trying to figure out how I can support all the work that’s already happening here.”—Hana Yohannes
The Lumber Yard Bar
Nathan Adams and Michale Farrar noticed there wasn’t an LGBTQIA+ bar in White Center. In fact, they noticed it was hard to find a safe bar for queer people off of Capitol Hill. So, in 2017, they opened White Center’s very first LGBTQIA+ bar, The Lumber Yard Bar. Nathan said it’s very important to him that The Lumber Yard Bar is truly an LGBTQIA+ bar, not just a gay bar, and is all-encompassing. He said many people see the “bear” (an affectionate term used in the LGBTQIA+ community to refer to larger and typically hairier gay men) bartenders and assume the bar caters specifically to gay men. But Nathan assures customers that the staff at The Lumber Yard Bar ranges the full gender and sexuality spectrums, and everyone is welcome. Nathan and Michale are purposeful about creating a vibe in the bar that makes it a good, safe space for everyone.
There’s another level of significance for the LGBTQIA+ community in supporting LGBTQIA+-owned small businesses for Nathan, especially bars. Gay bars have historically been a place for the community to learn about their history and connect about current events affecting queer people. LGBTQIA+ bars today continue to be places queer people can come together and come up with ideas on how to support their rights and their community members, Nathan said. Ever since he opened the bar, customers have been meeting, having conversations, and, in many cases, opening their minds. For example, Nathan said some gay men who came in didn’t want The Lumber Yard to do drag shows. Dolly, a drag queen, ended up winning them over when she sat down and chatted with them, and the men have been regulars ever since. Nathan is hoping The Lumber Yard Bar is a place that can help the whole LGBTQIA+ community come together.
“[Customers] meet other people, and they have great conversations. It’s also a safe space where you don’t have to worry if you’re flirting with someone, whether or not they’re going to go ‘uh no.’ Well, they still may do that. But not because you’re gay or lesbian or trans or bi. That’s one of the biggest things. It’s wonderful to see how many conversations happen here.”—Nathan Adams
When the demand at Nat Stratton-Clarke’s pastry shops Cafe Flora and Floret kept growing faster than the kitchens at Cafe Flora could bake, he decided to expand to Beacon Hill. At first, the new space was supposed to be a commissary kitchen. However, excited neighbors kept visiting and asking when they should start buying pastries and if there would be coffee as soon as Nat and his team started construction, and especially after the kitchen started baking. The enthusiastic response from the community encouraged Nat to open Flora Bakehouse in 2021. He created a beautiful, open bakehouse with huge windows into the kitchen where customers can peer in and watch the magic happen. Opening during the COVID-19 pandemic was a long and stressful journey, he said, but the community showed up. Nat said the communities’ support also allows small businesses to lend a hand to one another.
Nat tries to work with other small businesses as much as possible at Flora Bakehouse. He uses produce from local farms, the cafe is decorated with a mural from Carolina Silva of Dorotea Ceramics, and the flowers on the counter are from Fortunate Orchard. The partnerships work in favor of Flora Bakehouse customers, who are treated with farm-fresh produce in their favorite pastries. Personally, Nat loves rhubarb and recommends their seasonal ginger rhubarb danish. He will also always recommend the Flora family’s signature vegan cinnamon roll. The giant rolls are so delicious it’s almost impossible not to finish every bite.
“Opening during COVID is nerve-wracking. I was so worried whether anyone would want to come out at all, but on opening day, the neighborhood just turned out in full force to support us with a line that went around the block. It was just an incredible thing to witness. The guests at Flora Bakehouse are some of the nicest people I have ever met.”—Nat Stratton-Clarke
Jax Kiel is a student journalist at Western Washington University and an intern at Intentionalist.
📸 Featured Image: Hana Yohannes frosting one of her cakes. (Photo: Shikorina Pastries)
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