In honor of spotlighting PRIDE Month and the LGBTQIA+ community, Pangea.app is sharing stories of the most inspirational companies within our network. Pangeans looking for work are cause-driven and are eager to find meaning in the work they do.
Founder: Angelic Williams
Founder: Julia Loni Turner
What inspired the launch of your company / organization?
It was a series of unfortunate events: I was disenchanted with my job, a loss in the family, realizing my queer circle of friends wasn't as vibrant as it was during my college years and Mike Pence becoming the Vice Presidential nominee. I wanted a space where I could hear from every day queer people that were trying to navigate their way though life just like me. There was no space for queer voices that weren't about teen suicide, human rights or celebrity gossip.
The idea for my company first stemmed from the problem I faced carrying personal cannabis with me, as a medical marijuana patient. After months of being frustrated with the inadequate solutions for cannabis storage, I was with a friend and her dad and he complained about the same thing; he was frustrated with the lack of secure and presentable storage solutions for cannabis and in that moment, I was inspired to follow my instinct to build cannabis storage solutions and accessories that elevate everyday living -- for everyone.
What is your team most proud of?
We're most proud of our reach. We have readers in all 50 states and a few additional countries. We love when we receive notes from small towns about how one of our articles made an impact.
I believe that our team is most proud of our authenticity. When I first founded this company, as a solo entrepreneur, I always made decisions based on what matter for me and what worked for me. While this might sound selfish, I built a product that I wanted to carry, that worked for the cannabis products that I was carrying, and built branding that resonated with me. I was true to myself for what I wanted for this company but quickly found that others resonated and felt inspired by the choices I made.
So when I hired my team members, I always re-enforced that they needed to bring their ideas to the table and pursue ideas and campaigns that aligned with them and their values, as well our companies. We do not pursue business deals that don't support the initiatives that we are involved with, even if that means losing a sale because we would be losing our authenticity.
What does allyship mean to your team?
Allyship to us mean walking the walk and talking the talk. It means focusing on who's not in the room and what's not being said. Recognizing voices that are being excluded and speaking up for them or better yet, making space, is the best type of allyship.
Allyship means being an ally to the whole community, and all individuals. People in the LGBTQIA+ community still need to work on being allies to whole community; just because you are in the LGBTQIA+ community does not mean you support the whole community and we all need to actively work on being an ally to the whole community.
So for our Pride campaign this year, we built a campaign, chose to support TransTech Social Enterprises, and reached out to influencers and the LGBTQIA+ community to work with. In our conversations with the individuals we are working with, we were introduced to more incredible organizations that meant something to them. We chose to support both GLITS and Impulse Los Angeles because we listened to the people we are working with and understood why it is important to them to support and be an ally to these certain organizations.
True allyship is listening to the people in our community, learning about the experiences that we have not gone through but have affected our community, and reaching our hand out and saying, "We hear you, we see you, and we want to be here for you however we can be."
What does it mean for you to be a company / organization that centers LGBTQIA+ voices?
I never thought I'd be heard. I rarely felt like I belonged/accepted in the queer community growing up so it means a lot to be the black female lead of an LGBTQIA+ organization when a lot of orgs are white cis-gay men led. We have the advantage of really focusing on storytelling and helping people see themselves through the articles on our site. Some the obstacles are similar to any small business: visibility, brand loyalty, making it clear that we are not a company that focuses on pinkwashing. Rather, we hear for the community year round.
It means being ourselves. It would be more disingenuous if our company was not centered our LGBTQIA+ voices because it would mean we were leaving our own voices out. I think we have the advantage of just being ourselves; we mean what we do.
What is your advice for young LGBTQIA+ professionals concerned about being discriminated against in professional environments?
Find a safe space with a coworker you can confide in. Find other LGBTQIA+ professional groups and connect with folks there. The communities are great and offer a lot of support. If the situation is unbearable: get out. There are plenty of orgs that are open and accepting of your authentic self.
That is a great question because it is really difficult and scary for young LGBTQIA+ professionals entering into professional environments and not knowing if they will be accepted or if it will be comfortable. And it's a great question because I started my own company so that I could avoid that, so that I did not have to fear my identities being questioned or rejected.
So my piece of advice is easier said than done but prioritize finding a professional environment that not only accepts you, but supports and uplifts you. There are so many professional environments to enter into and do not settle for one that does not completely align with who you are and what you value.
What roles are you hiring for / have hired for? What makes an ideal candidate for you all?
We've hired a Chief Content Officer and and Editing Intern. Ideal candidates are people who aren't afraid to wear multiple hats, can lean in and critically think and care about the mission of our company.
I am currently looking for a Co-Founder for NEKKTAR. After 4 years as a solo entrepreneur, I am very excited to bring in another individual who has as much passion, drive, and vision for our company.
When vetting talent for NEKKTAR, I always look for the things that candidates do that weren't specifically asked of them. I am looking for the candidates who are so excited to apply for our job, and believe it is so right and true for them that they went above and beyond to show you their ideas, their work ethic, and their passion.