Homegrown Business: Jimmy Cheang, Marketing Manager of Proud Zebra

Proud Zebra creates unique embellishments and accessories designed to empower the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. We spoke with Marketing Manager Jimmy Cheang to find out more about them.

Proud Zebra

What is your business called and what does it do?

Proud Zebra is an e-commerce business dedicated to empowering the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. We create unique embellishments and accessories designed to inspire individuals to embrace and celebrate their true selves with pride.

What made you want to do this work?

In 2020, Delwin, my life and business partner, found himself feeling unfulfilled in his architecture job. After months of consideration, he decided to seize the opportunity to change his career path and break away from the 9-to-5 grind. He was eager to start something of his own. Meanwhile, I was also working in a marketing 9-to-5 role but was fully supportive of Delwin’s aspirations. Together, we brainstormed, sought advice from friends and family, and explored various business ideas. Ultimately, we were driven by a shared passion to establish a business that would cater to and uplift the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

What problem did you want to solve with the business?

While the 2SLGBTQIA+ community has come a long way in terms of support, we recognize that it hasn’t always been this way, and many individuals still face considerable challenges. Every day, members of our community experience discrimination and biases from family, friends, co-workers, strangers, and society at large. Although strides have been made in promoting diversity and inclusion, there remains much room for improvement for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

With our business, we aimed to establish a brand that empowers our community members and raises awareness of the issues they encounter. Our ultimate goal is to help every 2SLGBTQIA+ individual take pride in their authentic selves.

Who are your clientele/demographics?

Our main clientele are members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community as well as allies who are supportive of the community.

How does your business make money? How does it work?

Our business generates revenue by offering a diverse selection of products designed to cater to the 37+ different pride flags/identities within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. We strive to be as inclusive as possible and are deeply gratified to know that our products have a positive impact on the lives of others. When customers shop with us, they are supporting a queer-owned brand that is truly committed to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community.

Our product line includes enamel pins, drawstring bags, twilly scarves, bag charms, shoelaces, lanyards, stickers, and lace locks, ensuring that there is something for everyone in our offerings.

Proud Zebra

Where in the city can we find your profession?

You can find our full product offerings on our website. We ship worldwide and for purchases above CAD$35, we even offer free shipping! If you prefer shopping in-store, you can also find a selection of our products on display at Makers in North Vancouver and Metropolis in Metrotown.

What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services? Give the answer as well.

Q: What’s so special about the pins you design?

A: Our pins are thoughtfully designed to be subtle yet meaningful, both to the individual wearer and the broader 2SLGBTQIA+ community. We firmly believe that good design involves more than simply incorporating a rainbow flag and are committed to elevating our creations beyond that.

We have crafted 9 unique pin designs, each inspired by a value that resonates strongly within the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, such as Community, Freedom, and Identity. In our pursuit of inclusivity, we offer designs representing 37+ different pride flags to ensure all members of the community feel acknowledged and celebrated. Additionally, we donate a portion of our sales profits to local 2SLGBTQIA+ charities every month, further supporting those in need within our community.

What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?

The most rewarding aspect of our work is the genuine connections and heartfelt feedback we receive from our customers. Whether it’s through face-to-face interactions at artisan/pride markets or messages on Instagram and emails, hearing how much our products mean to our customers and their loved ones is truly gratifying. We’ve witnessed grandparents purchasing our products as a gesture of support and love for their grandchildren, and we’ve seen teenagers find the courage to come out to their parents because of our creations. These inspiring and touching interactions fuel our passion and commitment to continue making a difference through our products.

The most challenging aspect of our work is dealing with individuals who exhibit insensitivity or hostility toward the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. We have encountered uncomfortable conversations with people who disagree with the very existence of queer individuals and have directed unkind words toward us. Despite these difficulties, we remain steadfast in our conviction that our work is important and valuable, and we are committed to continuing our efforts to support and uplift the community.

What is your favourite joke about your own profession?

The 2SLGBTQIA+ community is the past, the present and the future. We will always be around, whether you like it or not.

Where can we follow you?

Website | Instagram | TikTok | Facebook | LinkedIn

PAY IT FORWARD: What is another local business that you love?

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About Demian Vernieri 507 Articles
Demian is an Argentinian retired musician, avid gamer and editor for the Montréal Guardian, Toronto Guardian, Calgary Guardian and Vancouver Guardian websites.