By Melissa Lowery
In 2011, when Dina Proto founded Teazled LLC to create greeting cards and became certified as a LGBT business enterprise through the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce that same year, she was surprised to learn that only three other businesses in Nevada were certified. After realizing the direct impact certification had on the ability to grow Teazled, she sought to provide education and outreach to other LGBT business enterprises, allies and corporate partners as founder and president of the Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Nevada.
Formerly known as QVegas Business Alliance, GLCCNV re-launched in January 2014 with a statewide focus and revitalized opportunities for member businesses. In addition to monthly interactive networking meetings, the organization hosts a monthly breakfast and business meeting with a more intimate group that meets for specific business growth education. The rebranded organization is welcoming new certified businesses and continually expanding outreach.
“As we begin to work together as a united front,” Proto said, “we increase awareness about the number of LGBT-owned businesses and, ultimately, our intellectual and financial impact on society at local, national and global levels. That intellectual and financial impact creates empowerment. If we continue to stay in the closet as LGBT business owners, society will never recognize all that we have to offer and have been for hundreds of years. As we create that sense of unity, we increase our individual bottom line. But, we also make a powerful statement about our community that will, ultimately, assist in diminishing discrimination.”
Proto is a dynamic advocate for completing NGLCC’s certification and becoming an active participant in a local chamber. She has seen the benefits firsthand through her business, Teazled, and is enthusiastic in her desire to bring similar results to other LGBT business owners locally and nationally.
Teazled provides traditional greeting cards for nontraditional families. The idea grew out of conversations that Proto and her wife, Dom, had with their four children when occasions such as Mother’s Day presented a challenge for them to express their feelings. Proto set out to create cards that allowed families, friends and co-workers
to celebrate all of the everyday occasions that heterosexual society has had the ability to purchase for more than 100 years.
“We are the first LGBT greeting card company to be available in mainstream grocery stores,” Proto said. “We wanted the cards to be available in mainstream stores, so that people could buy them at a point of purchase rather than planning in advance and shopping online. Because of our participation with the NGLCC and GLCCNV, we’ve obtained significant brand awareness, as well as the opportunity to meet and network with key decision makers that we never would have met otherwise.”
GLCCNV is the host chamber for NGLCC’s 2014 National Business & Leadership Conference, and the GLCCNV board of directors worked closely with NGLCC to plan and execute the event. Board members were able to advise the conference planning team on venues, increasing member awareness and sharing all that Las Vegas has to offer. Proto is especially pleased to have the opportunity to make recommendations regarding potential vendors from GLCCNV members.
“I love that the NGLCC is so focused on increasing awareness and giving back to its local chambers,” Proto said. “I really hope that Nevada has record attendance numbers, so that after the conference, we can all work together to grow our community!”