Thursday, December 8, 2022

6 LGBTQ-owned businesses to try out this Pride Month

June 22, 2022
Clothes hangers on racks at the vintage store Metro Retro in Old Town Lansing, MI on Nov. 9, 2021.
Clothes hangers on racks at the vintage store Metro Retro in Old Town Lansing, MI on Nov. 9, 2021. —
Photo by Jillian Felton | The State News

During the month of June, there are tons of fun ways to celebrate Pride, through parades, alt proms, donating to your favorite LGBTQ+ organizations or reading LGBTQ+ literature.

Another option is to shop local and support your city’s LGBTQ+ community. Lansing has a diverse array of LGBTQ-owned small businesses to choose from.

Metro Retro

Owned by Ted Stewart,  Metro Retro is a fun and funky vintage store stuffed full of New Girl-esque dresses, fun knick-knacks, vintage costume jewelry and so much more. Beyond being the go-to vintage store for hundreds in Lansing, Metro Retro holds an important space in the local LGBTQ+ community. 

“One of the main reasons I wanted to do this is just to have a spot where queer and trans people can feel welcome to try on clothes,” Stewart said.

Since opening six years ago, Stewart has seen several transgender customers come through his doors to experiment with clothing, including one of his customers purchasing their first prom dress.

“That's a nice thing, a bigger honor than any kind of reward you’d give to me,” Stewart said. “It's more important than money to me.”

Lesbian Connection 

Lesbian Connection, also known as Elsie Publishing, is a grassroots forum magazine that has been in regular circulation since 1974. The magazine originated at a lesbian center in an effort to get the word out about local events. 

Today, readers can find out about lesbian events, travel information and lesbian businesses to support. Lesbians can author letters and columns to send in as well, and about 12,000 copies are sent out every other week. Though the magazine is based in Lansing, women all over the country and the world read Lesbian Connection.

“I'd say we're a big part of the local lesbian community in that. That this is where women context to find out what's going on in the area,” Elise Harmon, one of the magazine’s staffers, said. “It's a job like no other, you know, getting the opportunity to do those sorts of things. It's been just amazing.”

Thrift Witch

Thrift Witch, owned by Tiesha King, is a “gothic pop-culture oddities thrift store” in Old Town. There are all sorts of fascinating things to shop from, from delightfully scary paintings to spooky black dresses and tees, to adorably disfigured stuffed animals.

Thrift Witch is a haven for those engrossed with the macabre, and King believed it was important to create a place where all customers felt welcome to enjoy their interest in all things spooky.

 As an LGBTQ owned business, King said that “it's important to give safe space no matter what your job is.” 

Once Thrift Witch started to evolve into an established business, King said, “it was really important for me to include other people.”

As a wonderful example of community, King notes that Ted Stuart from Metro Retro encouraged her to open Thrift Witch.

“I owe everything to Ted,” King said. “Because without him being that gay mentor that I needed at the time, I wouldn't be able to pass this on to other folks.”

Bradly Home and Garden and Birch Rak Clothier

Bradly Rakowski, a graduate of the Institute of Merchandising and Design, owns both Bradly HG and Birch Rak Clothier.

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You can shop for elevated design goods and updated classics for your home at Bradly Home and Garden, also in Old Town. Upon entering the store, customers are treated to an aesthetically pleasing array of all Bradly’s HG has to offer. Full of light and cozy neutrals and distinctive statement pieces, there’s truly something for everyone’s style. 

Rakowski also owns Birch Rak Clothiers, inside of Bradly’s HG. Birch Rak offers men’s clothing, from sturdy leather boots to lovely suits in a variety of colors and patterns and literally, feathers for your cap! Additionally, they have a selection of men’s grooming products such as beard oil, combs and lotions. On top of everything, they have fun snacks too, making this a one-stop shop for everything style and design. 

Rainbow Riot

Rainbow Riot is a part of the Dark Arts Market, selling queer art and treasures, and owned by Tiesha King and Ryan Cooke.

 “We'd always have a conversation about how just being in a store that's goth or you know, any subculture or whatever and being represented, was important to people,” King said.

Thrift Witch has a handful of pride-themed products sprinkled around the store, and King described them as top sellers, giving her the idea to open an LGBTQ+ store. 

Local artist Eden Behr, among others, creates beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces to decorate your home. Customers can find unique pride merch to represent themselves with, and rainbow candles, rainbow scarves rainbow pretty much anything!

Rainbow Riot is the perfect place to get LGBTQ-themed gifts, and a great way to celebrate and support local LGBTQ+ artists. 

Artisanal Hair Salon 

"We have an idea, that positive creative energy can change you, your life, and the World."

This is the philosophy behind The Artisan Company Hair Salon, an LGBTQ-owned, gender and age-inclusive salon and spa. 

Owner Jason Franks is a fashion icon and hair color and extension expert, and graduate of Lansing’s Douglas J. Aveda salon. Franks created the Artisan Company to give creatives in Lansing “a home that can allow them to not only create and flourish, but to be surrounded by like-minded peers who want to break boundaries.” 

From rainbow ombre to a trendy bob, the Artisan Company can do it all. Their salon uses only cruelty-free and environmentally sustainable products, and is a positively cozy and safe space to get your hair done!

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