By Zachary McKenzie and Lillian Hoang
Houston is home to many diverse communities, award-winning restaurants, and quality artisan shops operated by members of the LGBTQ community. From handmade bath and body products to clay jewelry, this OutSmart shopping guide introduces you to three unique queer-owned businesses you won’t want to miss this spring.
Cutleaf Farm + Flowers
Spring has sprung, and Cutleaf Farm + Flowers is bringing bucketloads of blossoms to Houstonians. Local married couple Will Gates and Casey Hereth partnered with one of their best friends, Rachel Morisson, to bring sustainability and beauty to the Greater Houston area with their unique flower farm.
The business launched after Morisson, a “plant genius,” convinced Gates to grow cut flowers for his and Hereth’s home design. There were more cut flowers than the couple had realized, which inspired them to grow as many as possible and begin a retail operation.
“We quickly realized that with our shared love of plants and Casey’s carpenter skills, a farm would be a fun project for us,” Gates explains. “We are all passionate about regenerative agriculture and climate change, so working to restore a small part of the land we live on and grow seasonal flowers seemed like a logical step to combine all of our passions.”
The store can be found at Heights Mercantile Farmer’s Markets and features unique flowers many may not have heard of or seen elsewhere. “We are always rotating our crops, so you will always find something new and beautiful when you stop by,” the couple says.
Gates adds, “We hope that our flowers help connect our community to the land we live on and restore a sense of wonder for the natural world.”
When the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo cancelled its 2021 season, Stephany Sanchez, who identifies as a Mexican and Hispanic gay/queer artist, decided to uplift Texans’ spirits with her colorful polymer clay jewlery. She is currently selling earrings shaped like funnel cakes, fried Oreos, and hot dogs through her online shop, gghoeld.
In the past, she has crafted and sold mushroom, animal, fruit, Halloween, Christmas, and LGBTQ-themed accessories. She started her business in June of last year, after her mushroom and mango earrings went viral on TikTok and Twitter and she received about 300 orders.
“It’s been really great to be able to support myself and my family through these months,” she says.
While her crafts are animated and colorful, she originally crafted the polymer clay jewelry as a way to process the sudden loss of her friend Lex Riklin. Since mushrooms were his favorite, Sanchez created mushroom earrings for herself and her loved ones in his honor. She soon fell in love with clay’s versatility, along with the welcoming community of artists who use clay.
“I can make any type of food and animal [with polymer clay]; I really like how broad it is,” she says. “The community is [also] great. We’re always sharing tips, tricks, and all kinds of techniques to better our craft. People are usually open and welcome to giving any help; just ask away!”
BLOOM Handcrafted Beauty Products
722 Telephone Road
One couple’s mission to provide healthy, locally sourced beauty products led to the creation of BLOOM Handcrafted Beauty Products. The small but mighty shop in the East End is a haven for anyone who wants to look and smell great while supporting local makers.
A passion for using cleaner, safer products prompted Joseph Berck and Jamie Gonzalez to open BLOOM. The multi-branded store works with small businesses to provide customers with a plethora of options. “[We carry] everything from skin care to artisan soaps, essential oils, candles, bath bombs, and hair care. There’s also a soap bar where folks can cut their own soap. Everything is handmade by a Houston maker,” he explains.
The shop’s products are all quality tested by the owners themselves. “We knew we wanted to stick to natural skin care and grooming products,” Gonzalez continues. “Before we bring in a new product or vendor, we meet the maker, hear their story, and sample everything.”
The duo is excited to continue offering candle-making workshops with their brand partners, hosting “meet the maker” events, and being a source of quality beauty care in their neighborhood. “We wanted to bring something new and different to the community that everyone can enjoy,” Gonzalez says.
This article appears in the April 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.