The First LGBTQ+ Social Parlor: Exclusive Interview

Think about a space where you are able to work, relax and even get your hair done without the stress of being yourself. LGBTQ+ people still have struggles in public spaces like spas, salons and even workplace attire. Kim Goulbourne, the founder and space director for You & Sundry, will be the first of it’s kind and much needed for the LGBTQ+ community. Check out the exclusive interview from our Head of Community, Shana, with Kim to discuss what is missing from co-working spaces, events that will be hosted and how you can bring your whole self to this space.

Shana: Tell us about yourself, what is your background and how did you get to where you are now?
Kim: Well surprising to some (and not others), my background has nothing to do with hospitality. I’m a Webby-award winning web designer and developer from Kingston, Jamaica. My shtick has always been scratching my own itch. Whenever I find a problem in my own life, I’m driven to solve that problem, no matter the medium. Because of that I’ve built products and experiences both online and offline, and learned what I needed to in order to make them happen. You could say that I love a challenge haha.

You & Sundry was no different. I’ve had short hair for a few years now and I’ve just never felt comfortable in a barbershop. Eventually I found a queer, female barber who made me feel more comfortable. But then she left and moved to Denver…and I just didn’t want to go through the process of trying to find another barber who wouldn’t judge me for who I am. So that’s when I started doing barbershop pop-ups and You & Sundry was born. 

After doing five barbershop pop-ups of varying sizes over the course of 2018, partnering with The Wing, The Phluid Project and New Women Space, it became clear that we needed a permanent space. But I felt there was an opportunity to do more. Our community wasn’t lacking just a space to get a haircut, we lacked spaces for self-care, unwinding and community. And that’s how the idea for the first social parlor for the LGBTQ+ community came to be. 

Kim Goulbourne, Founder (left), Shot from a previous pop-up at New Women Space (right)

Shana: What is You & Sundry? We’ve heard of The Wing and The Riveter – how is this different and why now?
Kim: Well first off, The Wing and The Riveter are both spaces focused on creating community amongst professional women (though they both have expanded to include men). You & Sundry is focused on creating community amongst the LGBTQ+GNC community. More specifically, it’s a hybrid, inclusive and affirming space that aims to solve the pain points for this community around work, wellness and social experiences – without the bulls**t.

Why now? Over half of the LGBTQ+ community has experienced some form of discrimination. I’ve heard the stories firsthand through the pop-ups we’ve done. Though the world is becoming more accepting of some of us, a lot of us still struggle to find a decent place to get a haircut without worrying about the environment around us, get a couples massage without unsolicited comments or assumptions about our relationship, or grab a drink (or a tea) without being surrounded by a raging party in a dingy bar. 

Why now? Because traditional barbershops and salons are outdated. Queer social spaces are either dedicated to gay men, very few are dedicated to queer women and none cater to the rest of the community. Because we deserve to be in a space where it doesn’t matter who we are and who we love, we are welcomed, accepted, respected, and safe to be ourselves. 

Shana: What is missing from current LGBTQ+ spaces? And how are you going to change that?
Kim: One main thing I mentioned earlier, is that most queer social spaces are either dedicated to gay men, very few are dedicated to queer women and none cater to the rest of the community. And there aren’t many queer spaces where the entire community can just, be.

When it comes to nightlife, it’s completely understandable why these spaces are segmented the way they are but for anyone who just wants to hang out with their friend or a partner, grab a coffee and maybe do a little work, or do anything not related to partying and hooking up, there are no queer spaces that cater to that audience.

Secondly, and this might be a personal preference, but why can’t we have anything nice? Most of the bars are pretty dingy, which some people love and some people tolerate. The experience can be pretty shitty from the drinks to the decor. Our coffee shops and bookstores are cute and quaint, but basic. And most of these spaces are struggling. 
My unwavering mission when deciding how to go about our permanent space was to create an inclusive space for all, ensure it was a premium experience, and have a strong business model so we can survive on our own. I don’t want this space to be just another statistic. 

Digital renderings of The Living Room (left) and The Parlor (right)

Shana: What events do you plan on hosting? Do I have to be a member or will it just be a queer free for all?
Kim: Soooo many. I’m super excited about all the events we’ll be able host. Since our space will not be focused on a particular profession or industry, the possibilities are endless. We want to host anywhere from fashion shows and brand showcases to book clubs and brunches to clinics and conversations to open mic events and DJ spin nights. We hope to do it all.

The majority of our events will be open to non-members with the only difference being that members will have free, priority admission. As we grow, a select number of events will be members only.

Shana: Will the space be inclusive to all LGBTQ+ identifying people? How will you show that inclusivity, especially in more intimate spaces (restrooms, salons, etc.)
Kim: Yes! Our goal is to be inclusive of our entire community plus their friends. There’s a few touch points we aim to focus on to make our space feel inclusive – from inside the space to our digital presence. 

In the space, our goal is to take a gender-neutral approach to how we design the space and the experience around it. Restrooms (and eventually locker rooms) won’t be separated, they’ll just have stalls. The parlor won’t be characterized as a barbershop or salon nor will the services be labeled based on gender – it’s simply a parlor where one will progressively be able to receive a spa-like menu of services for hair, face, nails and body. Our events will be designed for both everyone and specific groups so every individual feels like there is always something for them. Our staff will be trained and equipped with the knowledge and language surrounding this community, to ensure every person that enters has a great experience. Our digital presence will celebrate the community as we aim to have individuals across the spectrum represented  across all our marketing efforts.
These are just a few of the ways we aim to show our inclusivity.

Shana: And finally, what is needed to help make this a success?
Kim: Firstly we need the capital to move forward in creating this space. We’re currently raising funding via an investment-crowdfunding platform called Wefunder and we’re looking for support! Wefunder is like Kickstarter, but for investing. Unlike a donation, investors have the opportunity to make their money back, plus some.

Secondly, if we don’t pay close attention to the tiny details that will make our space truly inclusive of our entire community, we’ll miss the mark. While we know that it’s impossible to please everyone, we hope to at least attain and maintain a standard for creating a truly inclusive space and experience.