Intentionalist, a Seattle-based startup that promotes small companies, has partnered with Apple to connect users with LGBTQ-owned businesses via its Guides feature on the Maps app.
With the “Spend With Pride” guide, available on iPhone, iPad and Mac, users in Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and London can find LGBTQ-owned shops, restaurants and more in their city.
Intentionalist was founded by CEO Laura Clise on the idea that “where we spend our money matters.” It allows users to find small businesses owned by members of a specific community, including Black, Asian, Latinx businesses and more.
The company’s partnership with Apple involves LGBTQ businesses in recognition of Pride Month. Clise said Intentionalist may put other Guides on the Maps app in the future.
She said the partnership shows a collective push to a more community-driven economy.
“The Apple Maps team came to us because they valued the approach that we are taking — not just to respond to growing consumer desire to align our values with the money that we spend, but because … what we’re building is different,” Clise said.
Guides launched in Apple Maps in iOS 14. It provides recommendations for nearby places to eat, drink and shop in the Maps app. Intentionalist doesn’t make money from the partnership with Apple.
Osbaldo Hernandez, co-owner of Frelard Tamales in Seattle, which is featured in the Spend with Pride in Seattle Guide, said in a press release he was thankful for the increased visibility the guide gave to his “hole-in-the-wall” location. It helped customers discover his restaurant’s food, he said.
The “Spend With Pride” campaign also included partnerships with regional sports teams including Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Storm, Seattle Seahawks, OL Reign, Seattle Kraken and the Seattle Mariners. The goal was to spend $25,000 at LGBTQ-owned businesses in June. The campaign surpassed its goal at $31,964.
Clise formed Intentionalist in 2017 after she worked in various leadership roles in sustainability and corporate responsibility at the timber companies Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek, and at Orano, an oil and energy company.
Intentionalist’s catalog includes more than 3,500 small businesses, a majority of which are in Seattle.
Pandemic puts spotlight on small biz
Clise said small businesses being hurt by the pandemic was a “powerful reminder” of a community’s investment in local and inclusive shopping.
“It’s hard to capture the debt accrued, savings decimated, and other financial impacts on families who have owned and operated their businesses through ups and downs for decades,” she said.
Intentionalist increased traffic and sales over the past year, which Clise attributes to temporary COVID closures, which highlighted the importance of small business. Racial justice movements that sparked last summer also contributed to growth.
“As people have been thinking more about how they spend their money in alignment with social and racial justice values, we have, in many instances, been the solution that they find,” she said.
Intentionalist, which has 16,250 monthly users, drives revenue with Intentionalist gift cards which can be used at in-person participating small business.
The company has been able to use some of the increased cash flow to support the small businesses in its network. It launched a Gift Certificate Marketplace on its site, where it sells small businesses’ gift cards.
Clise said some businesses were able to pay rent because of the Gift Certificate Marketplace, which also allows customers to leave tips when purchasing gift cards.
While there has been more interest in supporting small businesses during the pandemic, large e-commerce retailers like Amazon still saw tremendous growth.
Clise said the contrast of financial windfall from large tech companies compared to the financial strain of small businesses mirrors the gap the “haves” and “have nots” experienced in the pandemic.
“[I]f we truly want to contribute to a Seattle, regional, U.S., and global economy that is more equitable and inclusive, we need to reexamine the costs and unintended consequences of the solutions we create,” Clise said.
Intentionalist has two full-time employees and regular part-time contributors for design, engineering and operations.