Google Philippines held its annual Pride Conversations event, and this year’s theme focused on championing LGTBQ+ MSMEs. The event centered on the stories of six different LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. Each of them celebrated their identities through their businesses and explained how they navigate their brand despite the pandemic.
The event also tackled the use of Google My Business, a tool that is specifically designed for small businesses. It helps in managing a brand’s presence on Google Search and Maps for free.
Below, the business owners shared advice on supporting their community and showing allyship during pride month and beyond. Catch the replay of the event on Google PH’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Abby Biyo | Nirvana Hostel and Restaurant Siargao
Abby Biyo is the co-owner of Nirvana Hostel and Restaurant Siargao, which is the first Kapampangan restaurant in the area. She took a leap of faith by setting up a business despite the pandemic. She is also part of SIBO (Siargao Island Business Organization), which aims to help in promoting sustainable tourism.
Together with her girlfriend, she proudly raises the LGBT flag in advocating against gender discrimination among employees and customers. She also highly encouraged the viewers to support local businesses, especially those who are bouncing back. She said, ‘If they need to recover [and] make mistakes, be nice [to them].’
Sed Aguil | The Food Episode
Sed Aguil, a former advertising practitioner turned home chef, has put up The Food Episode. Through his online food business, he celebrates his passion for making food by catering to customers on weekends.
‘Pride month is more than just being proud of who you are. It’s also about celebrating the causes that we are fighting for or the causes that our community are fighting for,’ he said. ‘And that includes respect, equality, and acceptance in our society.’
Amrei Dizon | Vitalstrats Creative Solutions
Amrei Dizon heads a creative agency called Vitalstrats Creative Solution. The practitioner takes pride in her agency being run by a member who pushes for inclusivity in the workplace. She also opens LGBTQ+ discussions with her employees.
‘If you are an LGBT entrepreneur or an aspiring LGBT entrepreneur, let’s work together towards visibility,’ she said. ‘Let’s create more LGBT role models in the business.’
Nariese Giangan | FFTG Cafe
Nariese Giangan is the brain behind the delicious pastries, coffee, and other treats of Food For The Gays. It started as an online pastry business in 2020 and eventually grew to have its physical cafe. The cafe in Quezon City is described as a safe place and a symbol of LGBT support and allyship in their neighborhood.
She echoes the previous speakers’ stances on supporting local businesses. She added, ‘Trust your products [and] your customers. Lagi natin isipin na grabe yung support na matatanngap natin, especially from the LGBT community.’
Jeoff Solas | Comercio Central, Cooltura Hub, and Fitness Army
Jeoff Solas is a seasoned PR and marketing professional. With his experience in the industry, he was able to launch three local brands such as Comercio Central in Clark city, local fitness brand Fitness Army, and Cooltura Hub in Bulacan. He handles all these businesses while managing and heading his own marketing agency.
‘You always have to encourage yourself and your immediate connections to establish safe spaces,’ he advised aspiring LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs. ‘Nobody is going to take care of us other than ourselves.’
Rui Mariano | The Fairygodbarbie House of Beauty
Rui Mariano is a transgender beauty queen behind the one-stop beauty house named The Fairygodbarbie House of Beauty. Inspired by the frequent questions regarding her transition, she decided to launch her business to help out her fellow trans sisters.
More than catering to her customers’ aesthetic needs, her motive is to end discrimination against the trans community. She said, ‘Don’t forget to serve others with purpose. Always wear your pride. Let us celebrate our colors and embrace the differences.’