Come June, a global celebration that is hard to miss is ‘Pride Month’. The idea behind this cause is to raise awareness on an important issue and to promote the qualities of acceptance, equality, and a celebration of the work of people who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community. Another reason is to spread awareness on how traumatic and damaging the concept of homophobia can be for those who face it. Pride is all about being proud of who you are no matter who you love or what your affiliations are.
Fortunately, things have become much better in this regard over the last few decades – around the world and on our own home turf. In fact, a number of forward-thinking homegrown brands are holding up the mantle for celebrating pride throughout the year. The month of June being Pride Month, is an apt time to shine a light on them. BeUnic, an e-commerce platform specifically geared to showcasing brands that are focussed on inclusivity of the LGBTQIA+ community, is a great example of this.
Ashish Chopra, co-founder of BeUnic says, “We started off in 2019 as a footwear brand. Initially, we just wanted to make footwear more colourful and inclusive. As and when we met other queer entrepreneurs, we realised they were facing similar challenges as us. We evolved into becoming a platform for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and designers to showcase their talent to the entire world, not just limited to their cities or their social media reach.”
Chopra’s sound plan seems to have worked well as the company has witnessed growth at a very fast pace since inception. They have had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest organisations of the world like Walmart, S&P Global, Microsoft and more, which has further encouraged them.
When asked why he felt the need for such a platform, Chopra shares, “We saw that most queer entrepreneurs were selling their products in their own cities and reaching out to their limited circles. Developing and maintaining their own website was very expensive for many folks. We wanted to make a platform where anyone who wants to support queer entrepreneurs can choose from a wide variety of products and categories, and the community can list their products free of cost. We only charge our creators a commission on sales made through us. We also noticed that a lot of LGBTQ+ NGOs were struggling to raise funds. That’s why we decided to donate a part of the money we make to these NGOs. Our customers feel proud for supporting queer entrepreneurs and indirectly donating to a cause which is saving lives.”
On the occasion of Pride Month, the e-commerce platform is offering a range of pride-themed products. They have also partnered with a few organisations to host events and showcase queer talent and will be sharing a lot of content on their social media around the subjects of pride and the LGBTQIA+ community in India. Their most popular products include their rainbow shoes as they are very unique. Their t-shirts also do well because they can be worn by anyone (queer or ally) and are designed by queer artists. Their products are available pan-India and around the world.
“A huge challenge that we face is when people think our products are only for people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community. We want to send out a message that wearing our clothes will not make you queer but will definitely make you an ally with a good fashion sense! This is evident from the fact that our shoes were featured in a Ritviz video (Raahi) and our products have been worn by various celebrities like Konkona Sen Sharma, Sushant Divgikar, Ankush Bahuguna and many more! Seeing them support a small brand like ours gives us a lot of hope,” smiles Chopra.
BeUnic has been a profitable venture since last year and is in the process of raising its first investment from friends and family to scale up. They also hope to attract investors from the queer community to participate in future rounds of funding and become stakeholders in their journey. Let’s hope the vision of BeUnic to support LGBTQIA+ friendly homegrown brands continues to grow and thrive, this Pride Month and always.