As the city of Philadelphia comes alive with rainbow flags and celebrations, June offers a special opportunity to honor and recognize entrepreneurs within the LGBTQIA+ community. With Pride month coming to a close, we turn our focus to the contributions of Black-owned LGBTQIA+ businesses that have fostered inclusivity and played a role in shaping the city’s entrepreneurial landscape.
Here are four Black-Owned LGBTQIA+ businesses to support in Philadelphia during, and beyond pride month.
1. Darnel’s Cakes
Located in Fishtown, Darnel’s Cakes stand as a testament to the passion and culinary expertise of Chef/Owner, Kyle Cuffie-Scott. Specializing in fresh cakes, cookies, bara, and savory snacks, this Black-owned LGBTQIA+ bakery has garnered a loyal following for its sweet treats.
However, Darnel’s Cakes represents much more than a bakery. Inspired by a deeply personal mission, Kyle Cuffie-Scott established the bakery in memory of his late cousin, Darnel Scott, who passed away tragically in 2013. Furthermore, Darnel’s Cakes actively supports local and national organizations at the forefront of combating the HIV virus, AIDS, and persisting stigmas.
The bakery is located at 444 North Third Street and is currently open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can keep up with Darnel’s cakes on Instagram @darnelscakes.
2. Two Minds Press
Run by Felicia Bow, Two Minds Press is a Queer, Black-owned creative enterprise specializing in screen printing, design, and illustration. Established in 2018, the brand combines elements of emotionality, wordplay, social justice, and radical joy, with a focus on hand-printed apparel, accessories, and prints.
“I love to think of apparel as a form of public art and a fun way of expressing what you feel and how you want to show up in the world,” Bow told InClub. Living in West Philly, Bow credits a lot of their work as being inspired by their identity within the queer community. “A lot of the sentiments that I express through my work are rooted in the love and support I see and have received from other queer folks,” they explained. “I really want the things I create to feel like a love letter to my own queerness and other queer people.”
Today, the designer centers her art around positive messaging. “A lot of that has come from identifying things I personally needed to hear at one time or another,” they added. You can find Two Minds Press online or on Instagram @twomindspress.
3. South Street Art Mart
Nestled in the heart of Philadelphia’s South Street shopping district, the South Street Art Mart is a haven for art enthusiasts and independent creators. As an artist-run retail shop, South Street Art Mart embraces the DIY community. Additionally, the shop strives to create a unique and welcoming space for artists and patrons to shop and mingle.
Moreover, the shop showcases products exclusively created by independent artists. In fact, co-owners and married couple, Nicole Wiegand (@NightOwlDesigns) and Nicole Krecicki (@TapedOffTV) carefully handpicked each item. From jewelry to prints to zines, South Street Art Mart is home to one-of-a-kind treasures from over 100+ artists.
4. Level Up Bar & Lounge
Located at the corner of 13th & Walnut, Level Up Bar & Lounge is a vibrant addition to Philly’s gayborhood. Proudly Queer and Black-owned by Ken Lowe., Level Up found its home within the former Boxers space. Moreover, Level Up offers an extensive list of eclectic events and performances, bringing new life and energy to the neighborhood. Despite launching ahead of the pandemic, Level Up has captured the attention of locals and tourists, earning it’s well-deserved reputation.
With an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusivity, this venue has become a beacon of vibrant entertainment. Visit the Level Up Bar & Lounge website or Instagram page @LevelUpbarLounge to learn more.
The Future of LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurship in Philadelphia
Queer, Black entrepreneurs are breaking barriers and carving their own paths with spirit and resilience. Embracing their identities, they are making a significant impact on the business world. With her own journey serving testament, Felicia Bow encourages her community not to hold back.
“Try to believe in what you have to offer and the uniqueness of whatever it is you want to create,” they added. “It can be very easy to doubt or compare yourself to others, but no matter what, only you can do what you do or make what you make and it will always be uniquely yours.”