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17 June 2019

FSB Pride - celebrating the LGBT+ small business community

June marks Pride month, and for the third year in a row, Federation of Small Businesses is showing its support through our FSB Pride campaign, showcasing the diversity of the small business community.

The campaign has received backing from Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan as well as Justine Greening MP, Peter Kyle MP, among others. We have also appointed an LGBT+ member Lead, Robert Lucas, a composer and business owner, to oversee our work with the LGBT+ community.

This year we are highlighting some of the fantastic stories from entrepreneurs across the UK’s LGBT+ community.

Emma Heathcote-James - Little Soap Company and Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE - Twycross Zoo

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We are happily married - two type A, driven, crazily busy business leaders with a 14 year old son all under one roof, there’s certainly never a dull day in our house! We’re all delighted that FSB are celebrating pride month.

In a country where we can get married, yet we still see women beaten up for being gay and schools being picketed for mentioning LGBT+ parenting, we clearly need to be visible and keep positive for the sake of those others! #loveislove

Rich Allsop - Spinder

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After a successful career in the advertising industry, I felt that I wanted to match my career with my passion. Originally I started as a PT and spin instructor. I had a huge passion for creating camp and fun themed playlists. I also keenly felt the need for simple, healthy, fun ways for our community to connect - away from bars and clubs and apps. I started Spinder because I recognised there was nothing quite like it: great playlists (think Kylie v Britney, Divas) and friendly socials (think Tacos, G&T or a cheeky Nando’s).

Spinder started as a hobby but has now become my mission: to have a positive impact on the gay community, improving fitness levels and make more friends. I’ve been focusing on the bottom line, analysing data and customer behaviour to grow the business and in turn that’s enabled me to add classes and cities.

Since part of Spinder’s DNA is to support the gay community. I’m proud that during our first annual World Aids Day Red Ribbon Ride we raised over £400 for 56 Dean Street.

Lucy Auchincloss - Succeed

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I decided to start Succeed when I was made redundant in 2016. Throughout my career, I’ve helped, as an employee, small businesses grow into leading players in their industry both in terms of growth and standards of customer care.

When I was first asked to be part of FSB Pride in 2017, it gave me a chance to support a cause which is so central to my life. As someone who is both transgender and lesbian, I have seen first-hand how people can discriminate and make life uncomfortable in the workplace. I’ve also seen the difference between how I was treated as a male and as a woman. It’s sadly staggering. I’ve also worked with some amazingly supportive and warm people so it’s not all bad. FSB’s support for diversity and the people in the team made a great difference to me running my own business.

For a number of reasons, I’ve put a hold on Succeed, mainly while I work on a project I hope will be a game changer for people of all walks of life. Watch this space!

Darren Winter – Duco Digital

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Having regained my confidence, following being diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease in my lower spine, I wanted to put my knowledge and expertise to good use and started my own ethical digital marketing business Duco Digital as I had learned shocking stories of business owners paying exorbitant costs to website companies who never returned calls, did very little and even disappearing. I wanted my business to change this and focus on empowering business owners with skills and knowledge to help them grow their company.

My life partner Matt is a Co-Founder of the business and supports the business through meeting clients and business planning. As a gay couple, we have always felt welcome and included within the business community. We have all read media reports about people’s discriminatory beliefs and opinions and my position is always professional and neutral.

I don’t believe you should ever find yourself in a position of having to justify your sexuality or beliefs, and if you do you should quickly move on, as you will discover a warm, welcoming and positive business community ready to help make your business successful.

Paul and Steve Smith – Yogasmiths Limited

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We are Paul and Steve Smith, husbands and owners of Yogasmiths Limited. We teach regular weekly Yoga classes in our local West Kirby and Hoylake on the Wirral, as well as running workshops and retreats.

Paul worked in the Civil Service for 15 1/2 years. His job entailed a lot of travel and overnight stays and he began to feel that his work life balance was not how he wanted it to be. Steve had worked full time in the NHS since starting in 2005. Paul & Steve met in 2006 and married in 2014 when the Equal Marriage act came into force. Paul was active in lobbying his local MP regarding the Equal Marriage Act.

“I wanted to be able to say I was married, rather than in a partnership which sounded so business like! My Mum and Dad have been happily married for nearly 50 years and I wanted this for Steve and I.”

Ian Ross – Whitehead Ross Education and Consulting

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Whitehead Ross Education and Consulting provides funded vocational training courses and social services programmes across offices in Dorset, Brighton, Swansea, Neath, Portsmouth and Swindon. The business has been built on the ethos that everyone should have access to opportunities develop their skills and achieve their potential, be that through traditional or non-traditional routes.

We believe that celebrating diversity, both in the services we provide, and as an employer, are key. We have proudly supported pride events in Bournemouth and Brighton, will continue to do so in the coming years and welcome further opportunities to be involved in LGBT+ events, issues and policies.