Pride In A Box founder Elise Lindborg tells us how.
Elise Lindborg and Kelli Henderson are a wife/wife team based in Seattle and Las Vegas. This month they celebrate 21 years in business with BrandPride and this past March they celebrated their 30th anniversary together.
“We have been married three times!” reveals Lindborg. “The first time in Portland, Oregon in the ’90s, the second time in Johannesburg South Africa in 2007 (our first legal marriage) and finally in Seattle, Washington.”
If anyone understands the meaning of Pride season it’s these two! But we asked them to put it into words anyway.
“Pride is a magical time of the year when our chosen family gets together to celebrate who we are. It’s our day to celebrate the beauty and diversity of our LGBTQ community.”
What will they be doing to celebrate this month after this long lockdown?
“We have a group of friends that gather to watch the parade, celebrate and be together. Our group is called the Cacklers and we sit and cackle every Sunday throughout the year. It’s an eclectic collection of gay men, lesbians, old, young, professionals, retired and straight allies. On Pride weekend our group leader, Mark Strickland – AKA Mother -gets up early, and sets up three big tents along the parade route. Our little compound protects us from the heat, crowds and has its own portable toilet! We join Mother later in the morning and bring our chairs, drinks, snacks and watch the parade. My face hurts from smiling so much at the joy this day brings.”
If you can’t be at a parade such as the one enjoyed by Lindborg and Henderson, you can order it – in a box.
HOW PRIDE IN A BOX CAME TO BE
“There are two reasons why this box came about. Reason #1: In 2018 our company Brand|Pride exhibited for the first time at the Out & Equal Summit. This is a summit where most of the Fortune 500 LGBTQ Employee Resource Groups gather to share strategies and best practices that help create workplaces which are inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions – workplaces where everyone belongs, and where LGBTQ employees can be out and thrive. Our goal was to introduce our company to these Fortune 500 companies and encourage them to use a LGBTQ vendor for their Pride tees, banners, balloons, giveaways, etc. During this conference we surveyed every individual that visited our booth. The survey had 3 questions: Your name, email address and a question. The question was: Does your company use a LGBTQ vendor for your Pride swag? When we tallied up the answers we were horrified to learn that less than 6% of Fortune 500 companies use LGBTQ vendors for Pride. Our question was “Why is the profit from Pride going to non-LGBTQ vendors”.
With this knowledge we started actively targeting Fortune 500 companies and requesting that they “walk the talk” when it comes to diversity and inclusion and use a LGBTQ vendor for their Pride needs. We expect better from these large companies and are saying to them – “you can no longer slap a rainbow on something and call it good – you need to spend intentionally and use LGBTQ vendors for Pride”. While we truly appreciate large companies making a stand by participating in Pride – but it’s not enough. Economic inclusion is what really lifts our company up and every dollar a company spends with a LGBTQ vendor helps us all celebrate Pride. Our focus on Fortune 500 companies is paying off. In 2019 we assisted 36 Fortune 500 companies with Pride and in 2020 had 45 Fortune 500 companies lined up to use our Pride services and then…pandemic. Within 6 weeks we saw millions of dollars in potential revenue dry up. What did we do? We got creative and came up with two new Pride products: Pride Delivered ™ and Pride in a Box ™.
Reason #2 We wanted to bring Pride to the people! We knew how important and joyful Pride is to us and we knew others felt that same way too. Pride Delivered™ was our focus for Fortune 500 LGBTQ Employee Resource Groups. We curated custom Pride Boxes for several Fortune 500 companies and sent fun boxes filled with tees, socks and other comfort goods to individual residences all over the US and the world! Response was tremendous and really let employees know that they were loved and that their company was thinking about them during the pandemic.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
Early on in the creation of the box we gathered a small focus group that included young, old, Latino, trans, straight, lesbians and gays to get a pulse on what they would want to see in a Pride Box. We wanted to be as inclusive as possible when selecting contents for the box, but in addition, items that people wanted and would use during a pandemic. From the focus group we learned that products needed to be useful and they wanted something that they could hang in their windows or use as a backdrop for the hundreds of Zoom calls we were all on throughout the pandemic.
For the months of April, May and June we donate $2 from the sale of every Pride Box to Black & Pink. Black & Pink is a prison abolitionist organization dedicated to abolishing the criminal punishment system and liberating LGBTQIA2S+ people and people living with HIV/AIDS who are affected by that system through advocacy, support, and organizing. We are looking for a new non-profit when we re-launch Pride in a Box this fall. Ideally we are looking for lesser known LGBTQ organizations that are smaller and need funding for their missions.
WHY YOUNG ONES SHOULD TRY THE BOX
I do believe that the younger generation has lost sight as to why we celebrate Pride every year. I may create a “retro” Pride Box that has products from the past that include where they rainbow flag came from, what each color of the rainbow signifies, where the pink triangle originated from and other historical facts. But the question is – will this Box even sell to the younger generation? Pride originally was a riot. We want to know what we can do to remind everyone where and when we started fighting for equal rights?
Starting in July we will be looking for LGBTQ vendors that have a small product that we can feature in future Pride Boxes. Small meaning a candle, or candy or something unique that would fit in a 6” x 6” x 5” box. If you are a LGBTQ business owner and are interested in presenting your product to us for consideration please email us at email@example.com.