SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— The small business administration reports that approximately 50% of businesses will fail within five years.
“The Crafters Library” owner Andrew Rawls says that being a queer business owner presents its own set of challenges.
“As part of the LGBTQ community you have to face things in your life that those not in the community don’t have to deal with. We’ve had to come out. We’ve had to potentially lose friends and family over living our authentic lives,” said Rawls.
Rawls says that being an openly queer business owner can make you a target.
He recounts the backlash he received as a result of a monthly event called “Drag Queen Story Time.”
“The criticisms that I was receiving for hosting the storytime is what actually sort of made me realize that I needed to have a stronger network of LGBT business owners in town that I could rely on for support,” said Rawls.
That’s when the idea for the “Queer Business Roundtable” was born.
“Growing up as a queer kid and a conservative town, I would have felt a lot less alone if I knew that there was a place that I could go and see someone doing what I wanted to do with my life,” said Rawls.
This monthly networking event allows entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate with each other.
“It’s not easy being a business and it’s not easy being a minority in business. So support of any sort is helpful and important,” said Lighting Designer and Owner of “Light and Home” William George.
Friday’s event featured a variety of entrepreneurs including a lighting designer, a non-binary-friendly hair salon owner, and a magazine founder.
A guest speaker from Women’s Economic Ventures presented the advisory services and financial opportunities that entrepreneurs could benefit from.
“There’s stuff I struggle with that only other women business owners understand. And so bringing the queer community together as business owners is critically important because there’s an understanding that doesn’t doesn’t happen outside of that community,” said WEV Advisory Program Officer Erin Samaniego.
The Crafter’s Library will be hosting their next queer business roundtable on Friday May 19th at 12 pm.
This event is free to the public.