LGBTQ Owned Business Feature - Sterling Photography and Bloom + Thistle

Hey friends!  Your editor-in-chief here and as part of our LGBTQ+ month, I wanted to introduce you to some of the incredible LGBTQ+ owned business we have met on our journey!  Every week we will be introducing you to a few of them.  If you are looking for more LGBTQ+ owned businesses, head to our Vendors Tab and look for (LGBTQ+!) next to their name! 

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Your name: Helen

Partner's name: Lindi

Pronouns for each of you: She/She

How long have you been together/married: We've been together for nearly ten years and married for seven!

Tell us a little about your wedding: Our wedding was in Oklahoma on the Illinois River in 2010. It was all very handmade and perfect: my sister and mother helped us make a thousand cookies, brownies and cupcakes for the reception and we made our own decorations and flower arrangements. This was far before same-sex marriage was legal in Oklahoma. We later drove to Iowa to be legally married, but it so wonderful to have a wedding where we were surrounded by so much love.

What is your business/es: We own two businesses: our photography company, Sterling Photography, and a handmade goods company, Bloom + Thistle, for which we make jewelry, art prints and printed photo goods.

Where can we follow you online:

Sterling Photography: https://www.thesterlingcreative.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/thesterlingcreative/

Bloom + Thistle: https://www.facebook.com/bloomandthistle/

@bloom_and_thistle
https://www.bloomandthistleco.com/

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How long have you been open: We have had our photography business for eight years, and our handmade goods business for six.

Tell us all about it!!!: Lindi and I met in the theatre department at our University, and so although we'd both loved photography all our lives, the first sessions we did professionally were headshots! From there we branched out to doing weddings, portraits, family photography, and more. I love our community and all the beautiful people here. It's a gorgeous part of the country in which to live and work. For Bloom +Thistle, I make jewelry from gemstones, druzies, various metals, and vintage materials. I love art-deco style pieces and sparkly stones. Lindi and I collaborate on art prints with watercolor, hand-lettering and graphic elements as well as fine art printed photo goods. We do craft shows and have pieces in shops in five states! In both realms, I feel so lucky to be doing work I love with the best partner I could ever wish for.

As an LGBTQ owned business, what is your biggest struggle: We live in the South, albeit in a really wonderful, relatively liberal city. It's been hard at times to decide how open we should be about our own relationship to still be safe and secure, and there are places even here in the US where it is dangerous to be openly queer. It's so incredibly important to me to be authentic, and we have never been willing to hide it, but there have been some difficult moments. Ultimately, we know that we do not want clients that do not support human rights for all.

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What's your biggest joy: With photography, I love capturing the love and joy of our clients and their families. I am also so happy that we can provide services to LGBTQ couples and make them feel supported and accepted, especially since we are a couple ourselves. With Bloom + Thistle, I am so happy when someone finds a piece I've made and falls in love with it, especially when I see them again later and they are wearing it!

What has been your favorite product, session, wedding, etc.: I love working with raw gemstones and lately have been experimenting with crystal points and faceted gemstones with raw brass. With photography, I love almost everything we do but am especially happy when we do a creative session that makes me feel inspired!

If you could give advice to someone who wants to start their own business, what would you say: I would tell them to find something they love and stick with it. It is so rewarding to make or do things that feed your artistic spirit and important to follow that where it leads.

Favorite guilty pleasure: I don't feel guilty about it but I love dark mint chocolate, whipped cream and sci-fi novels!

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What words or phrase do you live by: Be kind and honest, and remember that you are enough.


Tell us one other business owner that you love and why: My sister, Emily, is an incredibly talented artist. She makes beautiful fine art but also makes quirky jewelry and art prints with her company Inkstand Studio. I feel lucky to come from such an artistic family!