Since the advent of adult boutiques, queer people have been bombarded with heteronormative exclusionary practices from the moment they walk through the door. The adult boutique business has heavily focused on products have been made and marketed with solely heterosexual people in mind. As of June 2018, two queer women entrepreneurs have sought to bring inclusivity to the modern adult boutique in Peterborough-Nogojiwanong.
You’re Welcome, an LGBTQ+ inclusive adult boutique, is now open at 410 George St N. and it truly has something for everyone. Its co-owners and founders, Diana and Justina Stephens, had this inclusive sentiment in mind when the idea first came to light in January of 2018. Prior to this venture the pair had been employed in many different sectors, ranging from: hospital housekeeping at PRHC, to technical theatre production, to hairstyling, and retail. The couple sought a new career path and began considering a multitude of business ventures noting that they “have both always been incredibly entrepreneurial independently and in [their] relationship.”
This entrepreneurial spirit was demonstrated when Diana and Justina opened their shop just five months after they settled on opening an adult boutique. A recent Fleming College graduate, Diana used her education in Human Resource Management to start market research and business planning in winter of this year. The lease was signed in March; renovations began in May and the store had its grand opening in June.
You’re Welcome recently celebrated its two month anniversary and what a successful two months it has been—not only in economic terms, but also in regards to community response. They’ve been welcomed by various community groups and organizations such as the Downtown Business Association and their neighbours on George street, while fostering meaningful working relationships with the Trent Queer Collective, Peterborough AIDS Research Network, Gender Journeys and even the TCSA.
There is so much that sets this boutique apart from other shops of its kind that it’s no wonder they’ve been successful. Diana and Justina take a bottom-up approach to retail: “Everything we have brought in has been based on a recommendation, not from the distributor or wholesaler, but from a trusted source.” The pair have been working closely with Gender Journeys to ensure their products adequately represent and cater to marginalized groups that they do not personally identify with.
“We want folks to be having the best time they can doing whatever they would like to be doing in a safe, sane, consensual way so finding products that people wanted and were safe for people was really important to us.”
However, it is not only their unique approach to retail that takes You’re Welcome above and beyond. Their dedication to inclusivity is made tangible the moment you walk in through the door with all sorts of flags, buttons, pins, and patches. Diana and Justina have gone out of their way to ensure that everyone feels welcome and represented in their products: “We’ve gone out of our way to choose products that don’t give off a super heteronormative vibe.”
When questioned further on their desire to be progressive and inclusive, Diana said, “Justina and I are at a point in our lives, and in the LGBTQ+ community, where we have a ton of privilege so we are able to bring up a lot of conversations and provide a unique environment for other folks in the queer community who might be more marginalized than we are. So, it’s really easy for us to say ‘Hey! We’re here, we’re queer! Come to our store; you’re welcome here.’”
This mission is reflected further in all the events and community involvement You’re Welcome is set to host and participate in. In September, the boutique will start holding educational classes on a variety of topics ranging from safe kink play to discussing sexual health and education with your children. You’re Welcome is also partnering with Retro’s E-sports bar to hold a day-time event during Peterborough Pride Week that will resemble a ‘gay scouts camp for adults.’ The event, called ‘Rainbow Rangers’, will take place on September 16th and will be led by drag queen camp counsellors. The main focus of the event is inclusion and community building. Everyone is welcome.
You’re Welcome will also be selling the official Peterborough Pride Week t-shirts in their store with 100% of the proceeds going to Peterborough Pride. You can also catch You’re Welcome in the parade itself as they have a truck and a trailer ready to go. They’re looking to partner with other community groups to use their resources to amplify their message.
These are just some of the unique components of You’re Welcome that make this boutique a very welcome addition to not only the downtown core, but also to the Peterborough-Nogojiwanong queer community. Drop by their store, take a look around, and talk to the kind and friendly owners.