31st Annual Nightclub & Bar Convention And Trade Show - Day 2

LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 08: A view of the 1821 Bitters booth during the 31st annual Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show on March 8, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for Nightclub & Bar Media Group)

ATLANTA (CBS46) — Businesses across the world have been severely impacted by they COVID-19 pandemic. A large part of that burden is being felt by the LGBTQ community.

According to a study by the Human Rights Campaign, LGBTQ workers are 30% more likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic. For LGBTQ people of color, that number jumps to nearly 80%.

In Atlanta, many queer-owned businesses are doing what they can to stay afloat. But they're not going through this hardship alone, as many people in Atlanta are rallying around them.

"My wife is black, we’re gay, we’re females, and that’s pretty rare in business and especially in the liquor business, said Missy Koefod, co-founder of 18.21 Bitters. "So having the support of the community is incredible."

Koefod and her wife co-founded the handcrafted premium cocktail bitters company from their kitchen. Their company is now in 15 states and six countries.

"Most of our business is bars and restaurants, so when the pandemic hit, and all the bars and restaurants shut down, that really dried up our business," Koefod said.

There was a silver lining, however. Direct-to-consumer business increased 10-fold as people started drinking at home instead of going out. So, Koefod and her wife decided to make a change.

"We realized people were buying more at grocery and liquor stores, so we pivoted our business model to focus more on grocery liquor and convenience stores," Koefod added.

And they're not the only ones getting creative. William Duffe-Braun and Cory Klose recently created valiant marketing, a digital marketing firm.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, we noticed the need for things like website design and social media were going up," Duffe-Braun said.

Valiant Marketing is LGBTQ certified, meaning it keeps a certain percentage of business in the LGBTQ community. 

"People were at a loss for what to do, how to make ends meet, and how to make it work," Klose told CBS46. "So we felt that we were in a really special place to be able to offer these services."

And these two know a thing or two about starting over. Valiant Marketing was created after they were both laid off from their jobs amid the pandemic.

So while the cancellation of the 2021 Pride Parade will have a huge one-day impact on local businesses, the LGBTQ community, and community at-large, are finding ways to move forward.

"It amazes me how much we can continue to do when we all come together as a community," Klose said.

Copyright 2021 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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