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LGBTQ Fundraiser Finds Success with Apparel Business

Walker Evans Walker Evans LGBTQ Fundraiser Finds Success with Apparel BusinessLocal Liberation at the Moonlight Market — Photo by Shelby Lum.
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Valerie Mailman never intended to launch a hand-printed t-shirt business. But sometimes business ventures pop up where you least expect them to.

“Designing, printing, and selling shirts was a fortunate accident,” she says. “Had it not been for an extremely unfortunate situation, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Mailman found herself in need of a fundraising effort to help raise money to cover legal feels in a fight for justice for her two young daughters. The idea of printing and selling t-shirts came to mind, and after printing several using a custom printing website, she hit the streets of Columbus to see if anyone would buy a shirt to help the cause.

“I was terrified the shirts wouldn’t sell,” recalls Mailman. “We stopped total strangers on High Street to tell our story, and bar and restaurant owners let us come inside and try to sell to the patrons within. Before we knew it, we had sold out of all the shirts we had.”

Mailman didn’t have enough time to order more shirts, so she decided to teach herself how to screen print at home using YouTube videos and online tutorials. After a few failed attempts she got the hang of it and Homohio was officially born.

“The reception has been incredible — more people than we ever could have imagined reached out to help us,” explains Mailman. “We have also been extremely surprised by how well-received our designs have been — especially our gay designs.”

More recently, Homohio went through a name change and rebrand to become Local Liberation. With a growing range of products and designs, Mailman felt that a name change would best suit the future of the business.

“We changed our name to be more inclusive,” says Mailman. “Yes, we are gay and proud of it; however, there is much more to us and we want the world to know that. We have so many designs that are not gay designs and we wanted to make sure people are aware of that.”

The Homohio name lives on through a specific collection of gay designs that can be found at festivals, markets and events all throughout the year. Upcoming events include The 400 West Rich Market, The Pearl Market and The Moonlight Market on Gay Street.

Through this adventure we have tried to give back in as many ways as possible,” adds Mailman. “While proceeds are still currently going toward legal fees, we would soon like to set up a fund for which the proceeds from certain shirts can be donated to individuals in the LGBTQ community who are fighting legal battles for their children. We would like to give some hope to what we know unfortunately all too well is an unbelievably awful situation.”

Mailman credits some of the success of the business to the smart and open culture that can be found throughout the city of Columbus.

“We could not have asked for a better place to live and do all of this — there really is something truly special about Columbus and the people within,” she says. “We purchase our supplies and materials only from other businesses within Ohio and, whenever possible, only from other small businesses. We truly believe in the power of supporting local and giving back to our community and want others — especially our kids — to know that.”

For more information, visit www.locallib.com.

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