Pride month is a time to celebrate, educate and support the 2SLGBTQ+ community—what better way to do that than by supporting your favourite local queer-owned businesses.
First of all, let me introduce myself. I am Tyler (he/him), a gay male, born and raised in Saskatoon. I'm the proud owner of two local businesses and an advocate for inclusion. But, at the core of what I do, I'm a content creator, a storyteller and a community builder.
T Squared Social is a Saskatoon-based social media agency with a focus on creative strategy, original content and full management. You can visit us at tsquaredsocial.ca | Instagram @tsquaredsocial
The value queer businesses bring to the community is immeasurable. We add a unique perspective, solve consumer problems in new ways and provide much-needed visibility. When we are creating content for clients, I believe we bring special insights into the cultural pulse of this city and the world. Diversity creates innovation, period.
Social Made Local is apparel for creators, positivity for everyone. You can visit us at our online store socialmadelocal.ca | Instagram @socialmadelocal
Our City of Rainbows Tee was designed in our first year of business and has raised funds every Pride for queer organizations. This year proceeds are being donated to Moose Jaw Pride. One of our brand's core values is to create an environment where people feel comfortable and safe to express themselves freely. I feel strongly motivated by my experience as a youth growing up in Saskatoon in the '90s when being gay was much less accepted to build experiences of beauty for the queer creative community.
Alt Haus provides full-service interior design and murals. With a storefront and online shop, they have a great selection of modern furniture, home goods and accessories.
"Starting a queer-owned company was important to us because we never felt we fit into our workplace environments. Opening our own space helped us create a safe space for not only ourselves and our staff but for our clients. It gave us room to focus on who we were, and grow in that, rather than being what other people wanted us to be." -Miranda (she/her) and Jo Van (they/ them)
Alt Haus recently moved from Riversdale to 617A Main Street, just off Broadway Ave. They are also online at Althaus.ca and ship worldwide. Instagram @althausyxe
"As part of our client onboarding for design and murals, we make sure to ask about pronouns, ensuring they are respected every step of the way. With our shop, we ensure we use gender-neutral language to make sure everyone feels safe in our space. We do not tolerate discrimination or hate speech of any kind in our shop, in the circles we inhabit or on our social media. We also make sure to do our part to educate the people around us, to create more inclusive spaces. As an interior design firm, this also is important in the spaces we design, ensuring accessibility and inclusivity is at the forefront of what we do." -Miranda (she/her) and Jo Van (they/ them)
Nefelibata Arts and Crafts is an eco-alternative for arts and crafts supplies and decor located at A-226 Ave C South. Visit them online at nefelibataartsandcrafts.ca | Instagram @nefelibata.artscrafts
"We are continually learning especially with intersectional areas, sharing voices and projects from those intersectional communities, we proudly express who we are and who we stand with online, in-store and in our personal lives, we look for opportunities to support 2SLGBTQIA+ makers and make sure we have all-inclusive pricing, access and language." -Shala (she/her)
The Creative Queers is a weekly group for all within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community to come together in a safe inclusive environment to dedicate an hour and a half to the creative outlet of their choice. Just one of the programs you can find at Nefelibata
"Supporting queer lives means for them to financially thrive, which impacts multiple parts of their living, combats inequality, systems of oppression and the bigotry this community often faces. This is also a way to go beyond performative activism, put some momentum behind your heart for allyship and allows you to be reassured your dollars spent are being put into a business that has their community's best in mind." -Shala (she/her)
These are just a few of the fantastic queer-owned businesses here in the City of Bridges. You can support queer companies with your dollars and also by engaging with them online. Follow them on social media, like and share their content. Tell your friends and let them know that you want to see them around not just for June but all year. Year after year.
I wish everyone a wonderful, healthy and happy Pride month.
Originally written for Tourism Saskatoon for Pride 2021.
Brainsport is one of the clients we have the most history working together. Brian and I had worked together running his stores for years before I opened T Squared and began focusing on their social media exclusively.
It's been an incredible journey watching the culture grow and being a part of the success team. Like every client, the more we know about the business the better the content is, and Brainsport is no exception.
Building a series.
One of the tactics that have worked incredibly well and is something I suggest to many of our clients are creating a series. This can be done very literally, like making a weekly/monthly show. Or it can be done just in the planning stage and never be explicitly communicated to your audience.
When establishing a series for your content, it must satisfy your goals without being so specific that it restricts you. One of the series we created was a video shoe review. We invited people into the back stockroom with a shoe expert to hear about the latest updates and new shoe releases from their favourite brands. This behind-the-scenes format helped to make the audience feel more connected to the team.
Running virtual events.
This past year many events went online, and that was the same story for the super popular Gingerbread run. The big challenge with online events is making them feel alive. We created a bunch of pre-event videos to help build the hype. We made sure to be very clear and straightforward with how we wanted people to engage during the event without overcomplicating it. By sharing participant's posts, baking gingerbread cookies together and hosting IG live interviews during the event, we could capture the spirit of the run.
Selling local online.
By far, one of the biggest challenges we faced with Brainsport was during the lockdowns last March that required many businesses to close their doors
The move to online stores was swift and urgent. We collaborated with the team to secure their new e-commerce website by creating campaigns that drove traffic to the website through their established social channels. These campaigns included original product photography in recognizable environments to develop familiarity.
This new way of doing business required a lot of education and awareness. Now a year later, the pickup and delivery process seems second nature to most of us.
Moving towards the future, we are working closely with the team to stay flexible as things change and to create goal-focused plans for success. As someone super passionate about retail, working with Brainsport on their social media continues to be a joy. We are looking forward to a great summer of content and sweet running shoes.
Some of our favourite ladies in craft beer from Shelter Brewing Company, High Key Brewing Co. and Black Bridge Brewing.
In 2020 we were approached by the Saskatchewan Craft Brewers Association to document the incredible things happening in our province within the craft beer industry. We could not have been more excited to dig into this delicious industry as avid craft beer lovers. So this is the story of some of our year in beer.
Behind the scenes at the annual Collaboration Brew in Regina, SK at Pile O' Bones Brewing Company.
A Saskatchewan Story
When we sat down with SCBA to talk about their goals, a few key messages kept floating to the top. The biggest one was the superfan culture built around the industry and how to tell that story. The second was the way their narrative so deeply meshed with that of the local agricultural scene. We wanted to create compelling photos and videos that would inspire people to try different kinds of locally crafted beers because there truly is something for everyone.
Filming an interview just outside North Battleford in a local producer's field.
The Night the Taps Turned Off
Only a few months into our work with the SCBA, the world as we knew it was about to come crashing down with some severe restrictions and new ways of doing business. The perseverance of the brewers we worked with through the association was truly inspiring. From shifts to delivery and pick up to other incredible pivots, it was amazing to watch the community come together, especially to support the smaller businesses within the group.
Filming with the entire SCBA at their 2020 Annual General Meeting in Regina, SK.
Blood, Sweat and Beers
As things began to thaw, we went back on the road to visit one of our favourite breweries in North Battleford, Armoury Brewing Co. We talked about the building's history and the brewmaster's approach to beer recipes that incorporated many local ingredients. It once again reminded us how deeply connected to the province the craft beer industry truly is.
Chatting with Brennan from Armoury Brewing Co. in North Battleford, SK.
Craft beer is an art. It finds its voice in the community that it serves, allowing that dialogue to help guide its unique flavour profiles. Seeing the return of the taprooms and capturing the connection people share over this beverage was the best part of our year. It was an immense delight for us to be able to tell the story of this fantastic community, if only for a year!
Interviewing the 2020 Board President of the SCBA and the owner of Rebellion Brewing Company, Mark Heise.
For more stories about the SCBA, follow them on social media or any of their members. Support local and drink local craft beer!
Created by T Squared Social. We are a Saskatoon based social media agency with a focus on education, content creation and management. We love making great content and helping people with their social media.