12 LGBTQ-Owned Businesses To Support at The Center’s Rainbow Festival of Lights

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This year’s holiday season, Denver’s LGBTQ organization – The Center on Colfax – is celebrating virtually with a Rainbow Festival of Lights. The festival is scheduled to run between November 15 and December 31, 2020, and will showcase up to 12 LGBTQ-owned businesses.

Photo Courtesy of The Center on Colfax

Opening in 1976 – The Center on Colfax is now the largest LGBTQ organization in the Rocky Mountain Region. Known for the annual Coors Light Denver Pride Parade – The Center’s mission is to, “Engage, empower, enrich and advance the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer community of Colorado.”

On July 6, 2010 – The Center on Colfax opened its location on Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood where it still proudly stands today. Since the Civil Rights Movement in the 1970s – the organization has continuously fought for the rights of LGBTQ in Colorado.

Photo Courtesy of The Center on Colfax on Facebook

For the first time in The Center’s history — the non-profit organization is highlighting Colorado’s LGBTQ-owned businesses through diversity, art and culture.  Ultimately, it is The Center’s mission to bring the community together while supporting Colorado’s underserved, colorful community. From Colorado honey to handcrafted jewelry – there’s a little holiday cheer for everyone at this rainbow celebration.

Africa Direct

When owners Elizabeth Bennett and Sara Luther realized their love for African goods was larger than their storage space – they decided to open shop. Africa Direct offers a large variety of handmade goods such as jewelry, carvings, baskets and more. The eclectic lesbian-owned shop brings authentic, home-made African goods to one of the largest collections of its sorts. To support South African communities – the LGBTQ company donated $150,000 to eBay and also supports SHOFCO.

Björn’s Colorado Honey*

Family-owned and operated – Björn’s Colorado Honey offers more than just honey. With flavors ranging from cinnamon to whiskey barrel – the local shop also features CBD honey products, CBD skincare essentials and European-made goods.

*Björn’s is not LGBTQ owned but is participating in the event. A previous version of this article stated it was but we have since corrected the information.

Dirt squirrel

When founders Wade Hopwo and Daniel Lypchuk decided to embark on a new journey during college – oddly enough, underwear is exactly what they had in mind. The cheeky duo boasts, “comfortably, form-fitting [underwear] made from premium fabrics such as bamboo fiber.” The eco-friendly, anti-bacterial and sweat absorbing invention was also featured on OutTV in a modeling competition called The Whole Package.

Gina Klawitter

Photo Courtesy of Gina Klawitter on Facebook

Artist, sculptor and Colorado State alumna, Gina Klawitter, creates stunning 2D and 3D sculptures – combining textiles and motion. Her figurative sculptural art form can be found at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Visitor Center in Colorado Springs, and Colorado History Center. “I relish the act of sculpting and painting, and my signature art-making process lets me do both. As I create, I am able to get a tangible sense of the live model that allows me to intuitively mold fabric over and around their posed body as I form the sculpture. Later, I add energy and motion to the sculpture by painting the quick-hardened structure.”

Gold Petal Apparel

Photo courtesy of Gold Petal.

Local artist and Iowa-native – Gold Petal Apparel brings creative designs and screen printing to Etsy. “My mission is to empower people and spread love by creating bold, inspirational and unique t-shirt designs.” From Colorado-themed tees and hoodies to masks, hats and accessories – Gold Petal Apparel is your holiday virtual party go-to.

Hearten Creations

Since 2016, Hearten Creations has been crafting hand-made jewelry using minerals, crystals and rocks. Its collection features a variety of bracelets and malas – a traditional strand of beads used for mediation. The Colorado-based shop hopes to connect the community in positive ways. “For some, that’s to fulfill their crave for adventure, for others that’s to spread creativity through their imaginations, but for everyone it’s to have a positive spirit and to follow your dreams,” explains their about section.

LittleJohn Produce Box Project

LittleJohn Produce Box Project developed after restaurants in Boulder and Denver began to shut their doors due to COVID-19. Alexandra LittleJohn dreamt up the idea to purchase produce directly from restaurant suppliers. This not only supports local farmers and suppliers – but also keeps LittleJohn from having to enter grocery stores. To spread her success – LittleJohn Produce Box Project now offers weekly pick-ups and deliveries through their partnership with Fresh Guys Produce. Go here to order your first box of produce and avoid long, crowded lines this holiday season.

MKizior Art

Unlike some artists, Mel Kizior lets her surroundings do the inspiring. “When creating a work of art, I wait for an image in my mind that inspires me and sticks with me. It can be something I have seen in real life, a dream, or an image that just came to me,” she states. Among the local artist’s collections are paintings portraying close-up portraits and abstract landscapes. For more on her collection – visit her online gallery here.

Mindful Makings CO

Mindful Makings CO is couple-owned and features a variety of curated goods varying from printmaking and wood-working to crocheted designs by Sarah B. Check out Mindful Makings CO on Etsy to shop local, re-purposed art this holiday season.

Queer America Clothing

Photo Courtesy of Queer America Clothing on Facebook

This Colorado-based queer clothing brand aims to, “help cultivate and empower the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.” The clothing company leaves discrimination at the door – welcoming all shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities and cultures alike to shop their collections. From stickers and hats to tees and accessories – Queer America Clothing is definitely making the yuletide gay.

Pride Treasures

This lesbian-owned shop has spent nearly two decades traveling to Pride events around the country. With reasonable prices and all things rainbow – Pride Treasures sells anything from fanny-packs to pride flags and suspenders. Check out their collection in this year’s virtual holiday market here.

Second Star to the Right

Photo Courtesy of Second Star to the Right Books on Facebook

This children’s and YA book and toy store calls South Pearl Street home. Geared towards the avid readers of the world – the featured brand caters to Denver’s young bookworms and creatives. “Our bookstore seeks to embrace the entire Colorado community of readers, dreamers and believers and will hopefully become a part of your everyday life,” explains the company. Its colorful collection of sustainable toys also accompanies a range of good reads that can be purchased online – encouraging Second Star to the Right enthusiasts to stay home. For those with little ones who are interested in reading with Santa – this little blue bookshop is also hosting a Virtual Storytime with Santa on Saturday, December 12. 2020.

50 States of Gay

Last but certainly not least is 50 States of Gay – a gay-owned, life-inspired brand. With the mentality that Pride is every day – this rainbow-filled shop is adding color to the U.S.A. with its bright designs. “We give you a strong visual and memorable statement that conveys who you are and where you live, and can be worn any day of the year,” the company states. All products are made to order – utilizing Direct to Garment Printing (DTG). Find your Colorado and LGBTQ pride gear here.

In addition to the Rainbow Festival of Lights, The Center is also hosting Rainbow Alley’s Virtual HOLIGAY in support of Colorado’s LGBTQ youth. This event will be online and via drive-thru on Saturday, December 5. from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (MTD).