Seattle-based startup Intentionalist partners with Apple to direct customers to LGBTQ businesses on the Maps app


During the Intentionalist Spend With Pride event. (Intentionalist photo)

Intentionalist, a Seattle-based startup that promotes small business, has partnered with Apple to connect users to LGBTQ-owned businesses through 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, Latin, etc.

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 towards a more community-driven economy.

“The Apple Maps team came to us because they appreciated the approach we are taking, not only to meet the growing desire of consumers to align our values ​​with the money we spend, but because… what we build is different, ”Clise mentioned.

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 any money from the partnership with Apple.

Osbaldo Hernandez, co-owner of Frelard Tamales in Seattle, which features in the Spend with Pride in Seattle guidebook, said in a press release that he was grateful 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 Seattle Mariners. The goal was to spend $ 25,000 on LGBTQ-owned businesses in June. The campaign exceeded its goal of $ 31,964.

Clise formed Intentionalist in 2017 after holding various sustainability and corporate responsibility leadership roles at forestry companies Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek, and at Orano, an oil and energy company.

Intentionalist’s catalog includes more than 3,500 small businesses, the majority of which are located in Seattle.

Pandemic shines a light on small businesses

Clise said the small businesses affected by the pandemic were a “powerful reminder” of a community’s investment in local and inclusive purchasing.

“It is difficult to capture the accumulated debt, decimated savings and other financial impacts on families who have owned and operated their businesses through ups and downs for decades,” she said.

The Intentionalist has increased traffic and sales over the past year, which Clise attributes to temporary COVID shutdowns, which have underscored the importance of small businesses. The racial justice movements that erupted last summer have also contributed to the growth.

Intentional founder and CEO Laura Clise. (Intentionalist photo)

“As people think more about how they spend their money in accordance with the values ​​of social and racial justice, we have, in many cases, been the solution they found,” she said.

Intentionalist, which has 16,250 monthly users, generates revenue through Intentionalist gift cards that can be used at participating small businesses in person.

The company was able to use some of the increased cash flow to support the small businesses in its network. She has launched a gift certificate marketplace on her site, where she sells gift cards for small businesses.

Clise said some businesses were able to pay rent through the gift certificate market, which also allows customers to tip when purchasing gift cards.

While there has been more interest in supporting small businesses during the pandemic, large e-commerce retailers like Amazon have always seen tremendous growth.

Clise said the contrast between the financial windfall of big tech companies and the financial pressure of small businesses reflects the gap that the “haves” and “have-nots” experienced during the pandemic.

“[I]If we are serious about contributing to a more equitable and inclusive Seattle, regional, US and global economy, we must re-examine the costs and unintended consequences of the solutions we create, ”said Clise.

Intentionalist has two full-time employees and regular part-time contributors for design, engineering and operations.