“In spite of circumstances, things that might have occurred in your background – don’t stop – always look up and never give up. My vision for the world is one where showing pride without prejudice is the norm, not the exception. Anyone can be the best person they can be.”
Helen “Skip” Skipper, the founder and CEO of PRIDIZM, is a natural salesperson who has overcome over 20 years of homelessness, addiction and incarceration. She specializes in authentic, high quality and affordable LGBTQ+-branded merchandise, which according to her astute, primary market research, is not readily available on the streets or in New York stores.
She noticed the limited variety and poor quality of Pride-branded merchandise and is focused on growing her business and capitalizing on the opportunity to supply the demand of this growing market.
Skip began her entrepreneurial journey at a young age in the illegal drug trade. The young entrepreneur shares that was in and out of prison since the age of 18, and at 40 she decided to turn her life around. Skip volunteered her time as a peer supervisor at NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and decided to start participating in the LGBTQ+ community.
The lack of LGBTQ+ merchandise at major events and festivals set Skip on a new, legitimate path of entrepreneurship. Skip consequently began working on a simple way to navigate the logistical and legal obstacles, so she could begin selling merchandise.
In 2012, she became very ill and was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease. During recovery, Skip continued research and investigated how to secure booths and become a legally registered vendor.
Through Defy Ventures, an employment, entrepreneurship, and personal development training program that supports the returning citizens and justice-involved residents, Skip secured $4,000, rebuilt credit and established business accounts. Through Defy Ventures, Skip and others were introduced to the NYC eBay StartUp Cup Challenge 2018.
Since the Extreme Build-A-Business Weekend, “we have expanded our mission to include Educate. Not only are we colouring the world with pride we are also educating the world about pride! We have also been connected to a web developer who will help re-vamp and add e-commerce to the website taking us off of the seasonality model”, shares Skip.
Among her accomplishments Skip also shares PRIDIZM has developed shirts and hats which began selling in June.