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PB&Qs Founders Anita Kwan + Anna Hetzel Create Space for Humxns to BE

For PB&Qs co-founders Anita Kwan and Anna Hetzel, finding a community—a place to lift others up + be lifted up by others … a place to just BE—is beyond important, it’s essential. When they couldn’t find a community for queer women, trans, and gender-nonconforming entrepreneurs and business professionals, Anita and Anna started their own. (YES!) 

PB&Qs brings humxns together (online and sometimes live!) for creative idea sharing, collaboration, + support. Community care is self-care, they say, and trust us on this, you need to accept life advice from Anita and Anna! Here are a few of our favs: Trust yourself. Slay those dragons. Ask for what you need. Stay weird. 

Read our Q&A for more!

Tell us about PB&Qs and its mission!

PB&Qs is an online (and sometimes live) community for queer women, trans, and gender-nonconforming entrepreneurs and business professionals. As queer folk, we know all too well how draining it is to be the ‘only one’ in the room, to have to explain our identity, to understand the risk we take every day being a queer in a business world built for and by white cishet men. We are tired.

PB&Qs is a community for idea sharing, energy, collaboration, and support. We’re here to be surrounded by creative people who value challenges, differences, and relationships above business. We’re here to offer a safe, intersectional, inclusive, respectful, and empowering space where members don’t have to hide, explain themselves, or fear rejection. We’re here to lift each other up.

What made you decide to create this community? 

Community has always been important to us. Pre-covid, we attended many business-related events and enjoyed networking with people. We actually first met in a coffee line at one of these events!

Then after COVID hit, the loneliness hit, and we were both craving that sense of community. 

Because of the break from the ‘normal’ networking events and routine, we had the chance to really think about what kind of community we wanted to be in, not just what was available. It didn’t take us long to figure out we wanted a community of LGBTQ+ women, trans, and gender non-conforming folk. We looked and looked and exactly what we wanted didn’t exist, so being the creative professionals we are, we decided … let’s start our own!

You both come from different creative backgrounds, tell us about what you each do for work! 

Anita: I love a good story and creating videos is really fun. That’s how the name of my video production company, Reel Hoot Productions, was born! My mission is to uplift the voices of women, POC, and LGBTQ+ businesses to get more exposure, connect with their audience, and thrive with video marketing content.

Anna: For over four years, Anna (they/them) of Strange Birds LLC has crafted human-first conversion copy designed to help growing brands strengthen relationships and retain their customers. They also are the creator of Community Camp, a 4-week masterclass on how to design, facilitate, and maintain a paid online community for your business.

How have these skills helped support your community?

Anita: There is some overlap of values when it comes to a community and my business. I think some of the core foundations of a community is built on trust and authenticity. And the videos I produce for my clients begin in that space before we hit record. The skill of building great relationships is what keeps a community alive.

Anna: I get to take the years of business-building knowledge, facilitation practice, and nerdy community-building knowledge to work in a space that I truly fully believe in. 

What advice would you give to others that are facing adversity in a business world that lacks inclusivity?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help to get out there and slay some dragons.

Anita: Social media has been a great place to start to find other people with similar interests. I’ve exchanged so many messages with people from all over the world! It really opened my eyes to not limit myself to look for connections in just one place or one group … there are more people like me than I realize. I just had to reach out and be open minded and vulnerable.

Anna: You don’t have to be the person who opens all the doors. You can choose where and when you educate, stand up, and fight back. This work is completely exhausting, and you have to make sure you are ok first and foremost. As my therapist always says: “Community care is self-care.”

What traits are important to have in a safe space?

A mutual agreement on how to treat others! In other words, some form of a Code of Conduct. Having shared agreements leads to spaces where people feel seen, supported, and challenged lovingly, respectfully, and with encouragement. And you can’t have that shared agreement without starting the conversation. So start the conversation. Don’t just assume people will show up with full compassion!

Can you explain why PB&Qs is important to both of you, personally?

Anita: Before I came out, it was difficult to always hide my true feelings and true self. There was no community, support, or resources on how to navigate the world as a lesbian. I remember going on Craigslist in college looking for a “Lesbian Mentor.” It was really frustrating not being able to find a community for support in my coming-out journey. Now, in the business world, it’s like a similar coming-out process, so it’s important to me to continue to find and build that community through PB&Qs.

Anna: I echo everything that Anita said. Finding a place where I don’t have to hide is so important. I’ll also add that PB&Qs is more than just for us folks in the business world right now. More than 25% of young folk in the upcoming generation identify somewhere in the LGTBQ+ space. One-fourth! And the business world is woefully ill-equipped to support them. So the more we can do outreach, education, and community building now means a better business world for the generation to come after us.

What is one way others can make queer humxns feel heard and included? 

Do your work! Don’t rely on the queer folk in your life to teach you how to show up as an ally. Read articles and books. Watch videos. And then be ok with imperfect action—start showing up, because you’ll learn through practice.

Other than that, using inclusive language goes a long way. Add your pronouns to your social media handles. Be mindful how much you’re using gendered language (Hey ladies!” “What up, guys!” etc.).

And if you misgendered someone or assume their sexuality, apologize and move on. The hardest part of correcting someone when we’re misgendered or misread as straight is to manage the other person’s guilt instead of being able to take care of our own needs.

How did the partnership between you both emerge?

We locked eyes during a networking event, then kept bumping into each other over the years. Eventually, we made it official and launched PB&Qs together! But in all seriousness …

Anita: We became friends after Covid hit. I was starting an IGTV series called “Convos with Queers” and interviewing Queer entrepreneurs to stay connected and visible during a shitty time. So I reached out to Anna and luckily they agreed to be interviewed and we instantly clicked! Few months later, Anna reached out to me about wanting to start a Queer anti-mastermind community and asked me if I would be down to co-create it, and I said YES. Our love for community is what brought us together.

Anna: What Anita said. Anita is the best business (and real life) friend I could have possibly asked for.

Tell us about your TOL (Thinking Out Loud) events!

We wanted to host a monthly event to engage with the community and “network”, if you will. Instead of going around exchanging business cards, we wanted to exchange stories, advice, and just real shit we deal with on a daily basis, so we don’t feel so alone. People attending are encouraged to be a part of the conversation, but they are also free to just sit and listen in as spectators. The goal is to have a brave space to connect and learn from each other. The are no presentations and no leader—Thinking Out Loud is a free-form facilitated discussion where everyone who wants to speak up can.

Where do you draw inspiration for your conversation topics? 

We ask the community! At the end of each TOL event, we tend to want to continue the conversation, so the idea for the next topic naturally flows from something we want to dig further into.

What piece of advice would you give to your younger selves?

Anita: You CAN do hard shit. Trust yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others. Ask for what you need. Stay weird.

Anna: Don’t stop fighting dragons. And don’t give two f*cks what other people think. What matters is that you KNOW you’re worth all the time in the world.

What do you enjoy most about working with queer humxns/creating community?

It’s just so nice to be surrounded by people who “get it”, you know? I love being in spaces where people can be their authentic selves. We can a breath in PB&Qs, knowing that we don’t have to explain ourselves or worry we’ll be misheard. We can take walls down and actually relax into conversations.

How can others get involved?

Sign up for our newsletter, join our Slack, follow us on IG, and come join our next Thinking Out Loud! You can get to the links for all that here: https://pbandqs.ck.page/join.

Follow along with @PBandQs and founders Anita (@reelhoot) + Anna (@hetzelah) on Instagram!

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