Less Gender, Less Money, More Rights: The Oh, Heart! Ethos and the LGBTQIA Community
When I decided to expand my little-managed Etsy store into a larger operation on Shopify, I had business ethics on the mind. I am currently finishing up a degree in Digital Audiences, and I had also been considering the way all my past jobs failed to prove that they truly cared about the customers we should theoretically be working for. That is why I think it's incredibly important to start this expanded Oh, Heart! Shop off in what I consider to be the "right" way: with a set of guiding principles to always center on.
Though the guiding principles apply to all people, there are specific ways I want to make sure they are applied to my fellow queer people. Here are the principles that I am putting in action, and why they're important to be personally and the way I am operating Oh, Heart! Shop.
I am one of a rapidly-expanding group of people (more than is likely being counted, even) who have realized in the last 10 years that the concept of gender either doesn't apply to them, or is far less cut-and-dry than the messages we've been given. My first experiences shopping outside of the women's department felt exhilarating and freeing; the realization that most of my jewelry and other accessories wouldn't be quite so neutral was not.
It's not just a problem for non-binary people like me. Jewelry and accessories marketed at cis men have been severely lacking, if they exist at all. Men seem to be relegated to watches and wedding bands alone, though maybe they can be convinced to purchase the occasional leather cuff or Puka shell necklace. Though cis women are marketed a much wider array of products, they are often still trying to sell a specific image of what a woman should be, instead of celebrating who the person buying it is. We're all denied the healthy practice of self-expression by these limitations.
For Oh, Heart! I want to create pieces that people of all genders, with all varying gender expressions can enjoy. When you wake up in the morning and decide what to wear and how to wear it, I want you to be able to pick what matches whatever mood you have about your own gender that morning.
My pricing structure has been designed for the customer. Most of my pieces are made with my fellow LGBTQIA people in mind. While we exist on the widest array of classes possible (yes, even the gays can perpetuate neoliberal hyper-capitalism) I also know that systemic discrimination leads to less resources–including housing, employment and capital–in our community overall.
Because of this, I will be keeping my prices comparable to what you could find at costume jewelry chains. I want us all to have access to pieces that could be used with many different gender presentations, which is only possible when you can afford more than one piece at a time.
Additionally, I am working on a collection of pieces specifically for the queer community that will showcase a wide variety of identities, presentations, and even some fun political slogans. For this collection and any in the future that are for a specific protected group of people, I will be donating 20% of proceeds to a non-profit organization relevant to the group of people. For the queer collection, I will pick foundations that help queer, unhoused youth.
Nobody reads Privacy Policies or Terms of Service agreements. They're written in confusing legalese, and often we just want to click until we are no longer annoyed by whatever is standing in the way of us playing just one more terrible mobile game.
The problem with this is how much data has been harvested about us by large corporations. For many consumers this doesn't seem to affect their daily life very much; maybe they get more personalized coupons than they would like, or their e-mail inbox is stuffed with promotions, but that's largely it.
But maybe there is an issue that these algorithms were largely built by cisgender, heterosexual white men, who have not had to worry about privacy as much as the rest of us.
I probably don't need to tell you about why "privacy" as a concept is so important to the queer community. But I might need to tell you that digital privacy and data collection are also not on our side. There are genuine risks with queer people accidentally giving away too much identifying information about themselves on the internet.
Because of that, I am making purposeful choices to limit what data I collect from customers, and how that is being used. I will always ask for permission and ask for users to opt-in knowingly to any program that would include more information than can be gleamed from your IP. Oh, Heart! Shop is supposed to be a place to celebrate our identities, not put them at risk.
I hope that it is obvious by this ethos how strongly I feel about both protecting and celebrating ourselves. I pledge to stick to these principles as I continue to operate and expand this shop, and put our happiness and safety first.