6 Queer-Owned Businesses That Should Be On Your Radar


As June unfurls, so do those rather familiar pride flags. Painting logos and bylanes with a tinge of colour and calling it a day, multinational corporations and their rainbow capitalism have become a grim reality, if not an annual expectation. And while leaning in on this sentiment isn’t entirely terrible for purposes of “representation,” it often overshadows smaller businesses to whom pride is more than just a “month” — those that are truly making a dent in the industry, without the need to rely on pinkwashing to drive up the bottomline.

Here are 6 queer-owned small businesses in India that deserve your business.

1. Gagged


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Gagged is a homegrown dream. In the March of 2022, Rudraksh (he/him) picked up the pieces of a consignment thrift store and built this gender-free and inclusive fashion brand from the ground up. Having once been bullied for his “atrocious” style, he decided to dedicate himself to corporate fashion marketing, changing the narrative surrounding gender in garments. 

Today, standing on the foundation of a “for anyone and everyone” outlook, Gagged is reorienting the fashion industry through its equality, affordability and sustainability. As Rudraksh describes it, “Gagged is a dream for every little queer boy who finds solace in colours and patterns; someone who devours fashion because it feeds them better.” 

2. Crochet by Kunal

In a global pandemic, Kunal Chourasia (he/him) found solace in tying the slip knots of crochet yarns. A queer entrepreneur from Mumbai, he caught himself between a roll of yarn and crochet hooks at the young age of six, discovering beauty in the craft through his grandmother’s hands. From her, he imbibed the art of basic stitches, unknowingly planting a seed of affection that soon flourished into a life-changing passion. 

While his family was dismissive of his creative endeavours and labelled his sexuality a disease, Kunal’s “dreams continue to burn bright.” He is fuelled by a desire to make his Nani proud, his younger self assured, and his boyfriend, who supports him wholeheartedly, joyous. Today, through the lens of Crochet by Kunal, he creates “funky, customisable and slow fashion” products that bring a smile to your face. 

3. Alula Workshop

Alula Workshop is a gender-neutral, queer-owned small business that echoes a “something for everyone” principle. Founded by Lakeisha (they/them), an agender fine artist, it emphasises affordability and creative comfort in its carefully-curated selection of jewellery. 

Determined to challenge the gender binary system in their industry, Lakeisha aspired to create a safe-space where “people could feel comfortable expressing themselves through their accessories.” Spotlighting inclusivity in their vast range of products, Alula strives for affordability, ensuring their craft is accessible, while also being a channel of self-expression. With hand-painted necklaces, artistic stickers and endearing earrings, Alula is more than just a brand — it is a celebration of diversity and individuality. 

4. Sassage Stickers

Founded during the pandemic in the bustling city of Bangalore, Sassage Stickers by Laksha (she/her) and Nakul is a small, queer-owned business that advocates for mental health awareness and self-care through its array of stickers, lapel pins and keychains. Celebrating the intersectionality of mental health and queer pride, a range of vibrant and colourful products shape the heart and soul of this shop.

Starting out as a simple endeavour that hoped to “reach people and provide them with healthy reminders that could help them navigate their daily journeys,” Sassage Stickers has tailored itself from a mere idea into an all-inclusive community of art-lovers. Merging the visions of a counselling psychologist and a designer/illustrator, these stickers go beyond their face value, serving as conversation starters, symbols of allyship and a melting pot of stories.

5. Kai by Mangi

In the November of 2021, Shubhangi Pandey (she/her) laid the foundations of Kai by Mangi as an outlet to her winsome jumble of creativity and artistry. A visionary, she yearned for the freedom of imagination that came with being an entrepreneur. In this pursuit, she created an affordable lip gloss that filled the void for such a quality product in the market.

With an unwavering passion for makeup and the art of creating gripping beauty and fashion content, Kai by Mangi was the ideal tapestry that interwove her talent and desire. With over 1500 glosses sold to a diverse, pan-Indian customer base, Shubhangi’s products are “handmade with quality ingredients that are gentle on the skin.” As she looks to the coming years, her aspirations continue to be boundless, aspiring to expand her business, reach more youth and appeal to people from all walks of life. 

6. Cosmic Jalebi

Growing up, Syed and Utkarsh constantly found themselves trapped within the constraints of societal expectations. In their journeys, self-expression had taken a backseat. Trudging through miles of oppression and rejection, they were continually forced into a mould. Today, however, they are taking control of their narratives and rewriting their story.

As co-founders of a small, queer-owned tote bag business named Cosmic Jalebi, they are giving a voice to self-expression and a vent for years of repressive frustration. Through Cosmic Jalebi, they “aspire to build a community of people where everybody celebrates each other’s differences and can be their unapologetic/authentic selves without any fear of judgement.” For the years to come, they hope to build a community where differences are celebrated — a home where acceptance is the brick and love is the mortar.

Also, read This Ain’t High School: Why So Many Queer Folks Live Out Their Teenage Dreams In Their Twenties

- Digital Intern


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