Relive the inspiring moments from the WBENC Women & Pride National Conference session, “Elevating the LGBTQ+ Women’s Business Community.” Read on for highlights on LGBTQ+ women entrepreneurs and the profound impact they have on the business landscape.

In line with the National Conference theme of “Momentum,” we kicked off the session by exploring how small, diverse businesses can innovate in a shifting economy featuring a panel of prominent LGBTQ+ leaders and allies. We were joined by LGTBQ+ business owners, corporate executives and thought leaders from the local community including Adrianna Flax, Founder of AM Flax Consulting and Board Member of the TN Pride Chamber, as well as a local culinary celebrity, Chef Star Maye, Founder of Ellen Hospitality Group.

Following the panel discussion, attendees gathered for an interactive WBE Showcase & Community Celebration in which WBENC-Certified WBEs who identify as LGBTQ+ were invited to highlight their products and services.

The community celebration featured a pop-up bookstore from Novelette Booksellers, a queer-owned and women-owned bookstore in East Nashville highlighting LGBTQ+ authors. We also teamed up Pineworks Creative, Founder of Nashville’s Queerfest, an organization creating safe spaces for the queer community while providing opportunities for LGBTQ+ identifying artists.

A dose of inspiration from participants of the 2023 Women & Pride WBE Showcase

Why did you start your business?

“I started Publish Your Purpose because I saw that there were not enough book publishers with a focus on underrepresented voices. There are a lot of folks focused on storytelling, but beyond that, how will the book impact the author’s life and the community they are serving? Recognizing that need, I knew I had to do something about it.” – Publish Your Purpose | Jenn T. Grace, Founder & CEO

“HRT Solutions started because I wanted to change the way that organizations recruit and work with recruiters. We are launching a new segment of our company,, which is an LGBTQIA+ job board. Equality Careers is important to the community because it will be a safe space for people to find careers where they know they can bring their whole self to work and can thrive starting with their job application.” – HRT Solutions | Jessica Eberley, CEO

What advice do you have for other LGBTQ Business Owners?

“The advice I offer other LGBTQ+ business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs is simple – show up. We are each uniquely gifted and have talents that the world around us needs. But ask yourself, are you using those gifts and talents to better the world? Have confidence in your purpose, work, and the positive impact you bring – because the world needs that, the world needs you.” – The Leadership Hospital | Dr. Sarah Skidmore, CEO & Leadership Doctor

“I don’t look or act like what many people think a queer person should – so I am here to claim that space and bust some barriers in terms of perception and hopefully create a path for others to feel comfort in coming forward with intention as well. We all need to be able to step into our space as our full selves and be seen and valued and welcomed.” – Firefly Partners | Jen Frazier, Founder & CEO

“Get good at your business, take advantage of your local free business resources, learn as much as you can, hire good people, ask for help, have a plan, and work the plan. Business is about developing relationships. Show up, be friendly, get to know people.” – Snappy Solutions, Inc | Maureen Fairlie, President & Owner

Share your business philosophy and its influence on your success!

“The world is sludging through constrained resources, revolving employees, inflation, and demands to hit higher ESG marks – collaborate and partner with other diverse companies! Teaming up with other WBEs and LGBTBEs has afforded us the opportunity to expand into other states and sectors, as well as harden our operations in areas we outsource. We, and our partners, have grown sustainably while focusing each in the areas of our strengths to do more with less for our clients.” – Bocci Engineering, LLC. | Lianne Lami, CEO

“We do the right thing for our clients, partners and vendors, and our employees. Sometimes we may walk away from business because we are not the best solution for them at the time. We know having this philosophy allows current clients and business opportunities we have guided elsewhere to feel great about referring us to others. We believe in community and collaboration; if we help one another, it comes back in great ways.” – Merritt Business Solutions | Denise Merritt, CEO



The "Elevating the LGBTQ+ Women’s Business Community” Experience

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