Since Rachael Newby and Sarah Couvillon first started dating in 2020, the London, Ont., couple made it a tradition to rock rainbow gear at Pride events every year.
But they noticed that finding apparel outside of June — the official Pride month — was really hard. That inspired the pair to start their company Rainbow Certified, which sells LGBTQ apparel and accessories all year round.
“Businesses and communities like to come together in June to recognize it but then it’s kind of forgotten, which is really sad because within the community there’s always so much support that’s needed,” Newby said.
“Especially with all the hate that’s been in the news lately, the LGBTQ community should be celebrated everyday and that’s why we do this,” she added.
The shops runs out of a spare bedroom in the couple’s home, and sells everything from Christmas tree ornaments, stickers, clothing, and pins, which they ship to 35 different countries. They promote the brand through social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok.
This year, they made the Loved by TikTok category, along with four other Canadian businesses. They have 42,000 followers and their videos have more than 525,000 likes.
Couvillon admitted the couple was caught off guard with all the love they got on TikTok.
“I was in disbelief. I’m like ‘Is this real? Is this a typo?’ To be within the community and have what people give us in their likes and shares, really helps us grow and pushes us further,” she said.
Inspiring others in the community
A strong motivator for Newby and Couvillon is seeing the ways Rainbow Certified creates a representative space for everyone within the LGBTQ community, especially queer youth who may be struggling to find themselves.
“We’ve had messages come from people who say we gave them the confidence to come out and that’s like the biggest compliment I could ever imagine,” Couvillon said. “I love being a part of those special moments, and knowing that the tiny differences we’re making is helping people.”
But with the love also comes negative comments, and the couple say they’re no exception to that. But they don’t let the animosity get to them, and instead continue pushing forward, Newby said.
“A lot of the hatred is just against the community, how of course LGBTQ people are not seen as accepted by unfortunately a lot of the world, but that inspires us more,” Couvillon said.
“For us it means touching more people’s lives and maybe even helping those who look at us differently and not in such a positive light, to maybe change their minds,” Newby added.
The couple hopes their work helps give the next generation confidence to be themselves. They plan to eventually expand their business and focus on its retail aspect.
But along with that, they’ve got lots to celebrate: The two recently got engaged and plan to tie the knot next year.