In honor of Pride Month, we’re placing a spotlight on some of the exceptional artists, makers, and small business owners from the LGBTQ+ community on Faire.
This week, we’re featuring The Little Gay Shop—a retail store in Austin, Texas offering artwork and products exclusively made by members of the LGBTQ+ community. We spoke with Co-Founder Justin Galicz about the beginnings of the business, showcasing diverse artists, and building an inclusive and safe space for the LGBTQ+ community.
Big growth for a little shop
When Justin Galicz and Kirt Reynolds moved to Austin, Texas, they found themselves searching for the same vibrant LGBTQ+ community full of art, culture, and representation that they’d left behind in New York City. This prompted them to launch the first iteration of The Little Gay Shop in 2019—a small pop-up table at local markets where they sold original art, books, magazines, and other merchandise in collaboration with independent artists from the LGBTQ+ community.
The pair continued working full-time during the day while getting the business off the ground in their free time. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, they had more of that free time on their hands. Kirt began browsing real estate in the area for a future brick-and-mortar location and stumbled upon a converted shipping container that fit the couple’s budget. They took the leap and opened a physical store in 2021. “Since then, it’s just grown and grown,” Justin said.
Connecting with artists and makers
Justin and Kirt first sourced products for their store by reaching out to LGBTQ+ artists they admired and respected on social media. Eventually, as their business became more established, the artists and makers started reaching out directly to the couple. Justin said they look for a diverse range of perspectives and representation when it comes to the artists that make up the shop. “There’s still a disparity in representation in the queer community, and it’s important to us that we be a place that is representative of everyone. Our hope is that no matter how people identify, when they come into the shop they’re able to see themselves reflected.”
The pair particularly enjoys sourcing hard-to-find and unique items through platforms like Faire. Some of their favorite artists and makers to feature in their shop include Black Zodiac Prints, Bianca’s Design Shop, Hills & Holler, The Peach Fuzz, and Pride Flag SD.
The Little Gay Shop also makes and carries its own line of products inspired by the historic roots of the LGTBQ+ community, like posters, pins, and greeting cards with phrases like “support queer artists” and “hope will never be silent.”
Fostering a strong LGBTQ+ community in Austin
In January 2022, Justin and Kirt expanded their operation by taking over the larger space next door and partnering with a queer-owned coffee business that perfectly complemented their burgeoning community space. Their hope is to create a space for queer events that don’t center on alcohol or nightlife so people of all ages and stages in life feel welcome. They’ve also started using their space’s large parking lot to hold seasonal markets where artists and makers from the community can sell their goods. “Seeing the response of people that come and want to support the queer artists and seeing the enthusiasm of the makers pushes and inspires us to constantly want to do more,” Justin said.
In addition to seasonal markets, the shop has begun hosting events for the LGBTQ+ community in Austin. “There was a huge need after the pandemic, especially in the queer community, to connect in person,” Justin said. Their many events include the Clays with Gays workshops for learning pottery, The Little Gay Book Club, Queer Trivia, and the Black and Queer AF show that features Black and queer-identifying performers.
These events and seasonal markets mean more to Justin and Kirt than just the success of their growing business. “It’s been incredible to be a facilitator of these gatherings,” Justin said. “Becoming a pillar within the queer community here in Austin is really rewarding. It’s also been so inspiring to see 12 to 16-year-olds being unapologetically themselves, having such confidence in their identities, and using their allowance money to buy things like pronoun pins.”
Advising fellow entrepreneurs
When it comes to fellow LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs hoping to start their own business, Justin advised to not shy away from asking for support. “There’s such a scary barrier to asking other people for help, but none of us are able to succeed without each other,” Justin said. He explained that the nature of the LGBTQ+ community is to be welcoming and supportive, so reaching out to fellow artists or makers in the community via email or social media can often help on your journey.
Honoring and celebrating Pride
Justin and Kirt celebrate Pride by remembering its origins as a protest. “While Pride is a moment to celebrate, it’s important that we continue pushing and fighting. It’s been a particularly challenging few years for a lot of people in a lot of different capacities, and we want to use Pride as a reminder that we’re part of a larger community worth fighting for and striving for the world that we want to see.”
The pair also hopes to use this month as another way to use their platform to bring marginalized voices to the forefront and to continue establishing The Little Gay Shop as an inclusive and diverse space.
Finally, Justin said it’s important for the LGBTQ+ community to give themselves a moment this month to experience the joy of Pride. “Take a bit of time to bask in the fact that we as queer people are allowed to have joy—take a deep breath and realize that we’re here for each other.”