Pansy is Kansas City’s first and only marketplace focusing on the LGBTQIA+ community. Pansy officially launched its online store, which offers Pansy-branded and select merchandise designed by LGBTQIA+ artists from around the world.
The primary goal of Pansy’s online store is to raise funds for a permanent location. The eventual brick-and-mortar store will offer a variety of goods created by LGBTQIA+ makers and artists.
Kansas City, as well as many other cities in America have a great focus on small business and local makers, however, there is currently not many efforts to highlight the LGBTQIA+ community or the work of LGBTQIA+ artists and makers. Pansy will give these artists a safe and affordable space to make and sell their work.
In addition to a marketplace and art studios, Pansy will offer a community center where there will be events focused on LGBTQIA+ topics. Events will include lectures, classes, and mindfulness exercises, among other things.
Below is a Q&A with founder of PansyKC, Elliot Wiersgalla.
What inspired you to start Pansy?
My very first jobs were working in corporate retail. I started from the bottom and moved my way up to managing a big box store. This experience, along with being an out and proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community, gave me the idea for Pansy.
Kansas City is in the middle of a renaissance for makers and artists, but there is no exposure for the LGBTQIA+ community. There are so many great queer creators who either don’t have the means, ability, or chance to show their work and I find that heartbreaking. My original idea was just for a retail store that sold goods and art. However, after doing research and talking to community members around town I realized that there is a much deeper need for the LGBTQIA+ community.
That is where the idea of a community center comes from. I want a place where we can have speakers, classes, mindfulness workshops, and just a place where people feel welcomed and safe. Pansy will always be a safe and judgment-free space for anyone to be able to express themselves creatively. Lastly, we are lacking in Kansas City for affordable art studios that can be rented out. Several closed in 2019 – and I would love to give some of these artists a place to create!
Why is it important to you to have a physical space rather than just sell online?
Pansy is much more than a retail store. It is a center for creativity, openness, and a place where you can be accepted. I remember growing up in a small, small, small town in Western Wisconsin and being the weirdo.
“I always felt out of place and that there was not a place where I belonged.”
The one space I had was the art classroom in my High School. Even there, myself and the work I was creating was not always understood. Pansy will be the place where all members of the community can come and feel safe, be creative, learn, ask questions, and not be judged.
In addition, I want to be able to connect with everyone who comes into my space and make them feel safe. There are a million online stores – and we are much more than that.
How have others in the local LGBTQIA+ community responded to the idea of Pansy?
The feedback I have gotten is incredible! I have met with several prominent and well-known members of the Kansas City queer community and each one has been fully supportive and helped me gain some traction with the opening. The only people who probably don’t like the idea are bigots and I don’t really care what they have to say.
What is your grand vision of Pansy?
My dream would be to be able to afford to purchase a building and be able to make a center for the LGBTQIA+ community. I would love to have a help center, store, coffee shop, a counseling center, maybe even a free clinic. The sky is the limit and I will go as far as I need to help the LGBTQIA+ community around the world.
Pansy is encouraging artists from around the world to reach out if they are interested in collaborating on a featured collection. Interested artists and makers should visit www.pansykc.com to get in contact. For more information on Pansy, contact Elliot Wiersgalla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to selling merchandise online, Pansy is currently crowdfunding to secure a location through a fiscal sponsorship with Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. To contribute, please go to fundraising.fracturedatlas.org/pansy.
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