12 Local queer-owned businesses to support beyond Pride Month
There’s no shortage of pride when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community as members and allies go above and beyond to bring visibility to their queer brothers, sisters, and non-binary folk. In celebration of your efforts, we’re bringing you another list of queer-owned businesses that also deserve recognition.
After promoting ‘16 Queer entrepreneurs and artists’ in an article a few weeks ago, many of you showed up to support everyone on the list— even recommending a few more to check out.
Although June may be coming to an end, our support and camaraderie for the community shouldn’t operate on a calendar. Let’s continue to regularly show up and seek out ways to offer a helping hand to everyone under the rainbow.
We’ve assembled another list of local LGBTQ+ businesses and artists that are absolutely worthy of your time and money, ranging from delectable meals, to one-of-a-kind pieces, and eye-catching designs.
1. Rainbow Kitchen Manila
Being an entrepreneur at heart, Arvin of Rainbow Kitchen Manila revealed how he and his friends started the business during the pandemic— offering elevated comfort food to their loyal following of over 1,700 patrons.
“We started in May 31, 2020 and it’s now more than a year. It has been very challenging. Restaurants are opening up and food delivery is just probably a quarantine thing, so now we aim to streamline our menu and we are cooking up something new as well,” he said.
With the LGBTQ+ community in mind, Arvin also said that “its okay to be gay” despite how “hard it is to be gay in the Philippines.”
“Even if we are gender neutral compared to our asian neighbors, there is this stigma around left by a very toxic masculine culture. Never let anybody bring you down just because of their religion and ignorance. Be true to yourself and to the people around you. Surround yourself with authentic people who will be there through good and bad times. Never get tired of doing good things for others. Lastly, be the best version of yourself in any situation.”
2. Bey’s Bubble
When Bea Siongco posted a picture of her food creation on Instagram and captioned it with “available now for pre-order” as a joke, people took it seriously and started placing orders— ultimately kickstarting her business.
“Since there really wasn’t much to do at the time and our avocado trees in the backyard were fruitful, we accepted. This went on for a few months, just us winging & clutching it,” said Bea.
Bey’s Bubble began as a page for Bea to share her food discoveries and reviews. It is now home to the “Lemocado,” a lemon zest-based dessert with avocado ice cream on top, as well as “Meaty Kimchi Rice” and “Fusion-Flavored Pasta” cups.
As she was starting out, she had the opportunity to become familiar with Queerspace PH, which motivated her to use her platform to support the community by donating half of her profit to youth and non-profit organizations in order to help them financially.
Today’s pride celebration has become more colorful and inclusive than the first pride riot. Bea said that continuous learning, teaching, guiding and even leading can improve how we celebrate pride month.
3. Sebastian’s Ice Cream
Despite the waves of trending desserts that would come and go, Sebastian’s Ice Cream has stood by their products through the test of time— eventually becoming a crowd favorite in the metro.
“It started 17 years ago with me being unsatisfied with the flavors we had available,” shares Ian Carandang of the local sweet shop. He recalls a lack of variety and experimentation with generic brands. “The most adventurous flavor you got was crinkles in ice cream.”
Sebastian’s Ice Cream has gone through all the ups and downs in the industry, “from the frozen yogurt boom, to milk tea, to liquid nitrogen, to rolled ice cream, to milk tea again, and now the pandemic.” Ian says that the secret to their success is the ability to adapt and rethink their strategies to survive.
While it meant closing down two branches, Ian is confident that his brand will still continue to grow. “If I sound nonplussed about it, it’s because I’ve been in this position before so it’s just a matter of keeping calm and keri-ing on.”
As firm as he stands for his business, Ian hopes to likewise lead by example for the ones who are unable to come out yet. “Demand acceptance, not tolerance, and know the difference between the two.”
4. Basis Coffee
Daddy Cold Brew, the man behind Basis Coffee, has always been an avid coffee drinker with an appreciation for the craft. Back then, he would only dream about being able to call it work. “Now, I get to breathe and live coffee,” he shares.
He aims to experiment and develop with different techniques in order to serve the best cup of joe to his customers— which he believes is why he’s been able to succeed as a barista. “[These principles] along with skills acquired are what my coffee is based [on], thus our hashtag WhatsYourBasis,” he cites the tagline of the business.
Despite only just starting out, with three months in, Basis Coffee is steadily making progress as an up-and-coming coffee brand. Recently, they launched their own merchandise which consists of a sticker set, a coaster, and tees for their customers to rep. Daddy Cold Brew encourages his community to live out their best life just as he’s done by pursuing a long-time goal.
“We got this! You—along with everyone else that’s breathing and living and fighting to survive every single day—deserve the same love, respect and genuine kindness that you give (not just during Pride month but day in day out for as long as you live).”
5. Baker on East
Head baker Chino Cruz had been baking casually for over ten years as he pursued film, advertising, and eventually publishing where he worked as an editor for food and lifestyle magazines. He shares how he would often bring his homemade goodies to his workplace— garnering loyal patrons who looked forward to his creations.
“When [people behind such magazines] tell you to maybe consider selling what you make you kinda have to take it seriously to some degree,” says Chino.
Based in Quezon City, this small donut business has been active for around four years now. However, Baker on East didn’t always specialize in donuts. “When I started developing donuts in 2019 for my donut-obsessed brother—who is also my business partner—and people on twitter started FIGHTING over them, I realized we had something unique and we never really turned back.”
Chino hopes for everyone to remember the roots of Pride, and those who came before who paved the way for people like him to succeed. “We stand on the shoulders of giants—many of whom were femme, trans or non-binary—who fought for our right to even exist.”
“Over at Baker on East we wanted our Pride campaign to really focus on that so we decided to tell people to “let your joy be a riot” because there is truly something radical, magical and joyous about queer people choosing to just exist in the midst of everything.”
6. Ambivert Coffee
“I started Ambivert Coffee in 2017 straight out of college with the help of business partners that I consider mentors today. I’ve always seen coffee shops as a place for introverts and extroverts to coexist,” shares Buffy Villaluna of Ambivert Coffee.
As someone who majored in Psychology back in college, she was inspired by the concept of ambiverts which inspired the name behind her brand.
Naina Lauang, Buffy’s girlfriend, joined Ambivert Coffee as Pastry Chef and Managing Partner when they relaunched their brand last year. According to Buffy, Naina is the reason why Ambivert Coffee’s pastries are “so good.”
With Buffy and Naina meeting and falling in love in 2018, they shared that love always wins. They said “do what you love, with the people you love, and the rest will follow.”
7. Studio Hibang
Inspired by the Filipino word hibang, this LGBTQ+ creatives agency aims to produce content for their clients that will leave customers “madly or crazy in love.” It was born out of a vision of marrying three key principles— family, relationships, and giving back to a community they call home.
Studio Hibang is a Filipino LGBTQ+ creatives and marketing agency designing, crafting, and managing glowing and growing brands, products, talents or experiences.
“I’ve always wanted to foray into the creative spaces in corporate environments, and it made so much sense that I’m building a business around the innate talent of the LGBTQ+ community,” says Paul Sumayao of Studio Hibang.
While he does his part in championing his fellow members, Paul also urges everyone to keep in mind the very statement of Pride. “From the first brick thrown at the Stonewall rebellion in 1969 until today, Pride has always been about fighting for what is rightfully ours: love, friendship, [and] equality.”
8. Schezca Design
Speaking their truths through meaningful art, this Manila-based design studio provides graphic design and branding services to everyone. Erika Isidro, co-owner of Schezca Design, explained that it all began as an art account accepting branding and graphic design commissions, but soon realized “it’s much more than that.”
“It was our platform for being lesbian feminist and fighting a good fight to be visible in society,” said Erika.
Schezca Pagarigan, the creator of Schezca Design, founded the design business while she was out of job during the onset of the pandemic, according to Erika.
Erika and Schezca, both members of the LGBTQ+ community, expressed gratitude to the Filipino LGBTQIA+ community for being “loud and proud of expressing their identities.” They even encourage people to continue to engage in dialogues and empower one another by standing in solidarity.
Kacha, spearheaded by JC and Pat, said that it was their ‘inner tita’ and ‘outer millennial’ which gave birth to their brand. This queer sibling duo stated that they wanted to create a business that screams celebration of gender identities and empowerment.
“Statement totes is not the newest concept, that is true. However, Kacha is deeply personal for us. As a brother-sister duo, we have seen how each other struggled with and eventually learned to embrace our truths. And this kind of safe and accepting environment is what we seek to give everyone else,” JC and Pat said.
JC even added “now is the time to show them all of our colors and make them realize that we, just like everyone else, are very much part of society.”
Pat reminds everyone of the true purpose of pride, to remember what and who we are fighting for. “I hope we can extend the same fire and rage and also fight for those who, like us, still live in the margins of society, like our farmers, fisherfolks, and indigenous peoples. There are queer people living among them, too. And for as long as they are still oppressed, we are not truly free.”
10. 3DY Apparel
With its goal of “transcending gender boundaries,” 3DY Apparel is a start-up clothing brand that offers unique made-to-order pieces for everyone and anyone. Designer Ed3ck Dy shares how they use fashion as an outlet of creativity. However, they also found it to be restricting as the concept of gendered clothing hindered their self-expression.
“I’m quite aware that there is little to none of queer representation in the media and that may further the feelings of estrangement from society,” Ed3ck shares as they explain the sentiments behind the brand.
“I take pride in saying that my brand is both conscious and political. As of now, I make clothes out of upcycled and deadstock fabric and every piece of clothing I make serves as an armor of justice, a fight for equality.”
As a fellow member and an advocate for equality, Ed3ck wishes to reassure those in the LGBTQ+ community that their existence is valid. “Leave no room for others’ opinions of whether they accept you or not, because other people have no power over you. Now, go on and strut with pride.”
When creating art, “intergenerational collaboration especially among queer cultural workers is very important,” said Ginoe, the artist behind hubineer.
Ginoe grew up watching both of his parents “make and grow stuff out of virtually not a lot of material resources.” Now, the artist shares that he makes merch, tapestries, textile collages, sculptures, silkscreen and linocut prints, stenciled works, etc.
“I make work that has multiples. A lot of valuation in art comes from an art object’s ‘rarity’ that’s why I try my best to make multiples and engage with printing, casting, and other modes that can be done to replicate a piece of work. I’m queering the original source material by replicating it over and over again — making replicas that are slightly different but are ultimately the same,” said Ginoe.
His advice for aspiring queer artists? “Seek out elders, mentors and also make yourself available for younger practitioners. It’s one of the only ways we can learn from each other and continue the struggle for liberation.”
12. Color Zine PH
With 34 contributing artists, Color Z PH said that the pandemic brought “many opportunities for collective creation” as every single one of them found “common ground” in creating the zine.
“There aren’t many queer-owned or queer-led independent publications around so we thought of this material as an avenue where we can collaborate [remotely] with as much young queers as we can get together,” the Color Z PH core team shared.
The team also mentioned that it was quite difficult to gather everyone as some from their age group are still navigating through their gender identities. “It was hard organizing at first because we are all Gen Zs, and the majority in our age group are either closeted or still finding out our gender identities,”
This year, Color Z’s theme is an homage to their individual “queerspirations” that aims to be “a testament to the diversity in how queer people shape, strengthen, and live out their identities.
“We know the value of telling queer stories. Most of us would’ve wanted to see a reflection of how we felt or a model of what was possible for us. In most situations, society only goes as far as tolerating LGBTQIA+ people, and the burden to “come out” has always been placed on us,” the team said.
It’s important to keep in mind that Pride is more than just a month-long celebration; it’s also a protest. Championing for their rights, showing compassion, and being willing to learn more about LGBTQ+ issues may all contribute to making us better allies.
Purchasing from these queer-owned businesses and artists is only one out of many ways to support their existence. Remember to keep working towards making progress and seek out your own ways to help the community.
In case you haven’t yet, check out our previous list of queer businesses and artists here.
Other POP! stories you might like: