UPS recently worked with Erika Nance, founder of Pride Box, to help her support the LGBTQ community during the pandemic.
Recognizing the mental and emotional impact of COVID-19 and the cancellation of Pride events on the LGBTQ community, Erika took on the daunting task of creating a solution.
Here’s her story, excerpted from a recent interview with UPS Communications, about how her desire to spread joy found her venturing into e-commerce for the first time.
How did you come up with the idea for Pride Box?
Nance: The Pride Box idea came to me after a very long week of doing the night shift at the women’s shelter. I had a lot of friends I met online this past year, and they live all over the U.S. We had plans to meet up at LA Pride. With the COVID-19 precautions, we heard that events were cancelled into June.
It was a shocker and some people may think, oh, that’s a bummer. But it was a much bigger deal than that. This is the first year since 1969 that there won’t be a Pride festival. I can’t put it lightly — a lot of people fought and died to be able to have Pride.
So my friends and I got together, and we were like: How can we make this a better situation? What can we do ourselves personally to spread a little bit of happy, a little bit of unity, make people feel they are not alone during this super difficult time?
How are the Pride Boxes addressing this need?
Nance: The whole purpose of Pride Box is to bring everyone together (virtually) and help out those organizations supporting the LGBTQ community wherever they are.
That’s why we have our City Boxes, where $5 off the top of every one of our City Boxes goes to that city’s Pride organizations. They were expecting thousands of participants for their Pride events, and they’re not getting that this year. But they’ve prepped for it all year, and we don’t want any city to just be unable to have a Pride from here on out.
Pride Box is addressing this need by giving people that little sense of something to look forward to. So Pride Box is my way to say: Listen, every shirt is different. Everything is unique — just like you.
What message does a Pride Box send to the recipient?
Nance: It’s exciting to see it, it’s very pretty. And then opening it up, you immediately see the flags and the beads and the bracelets — it really just makes you smile. I just really hope it brings so much joy to people that receive them.
How did you get connected with UPS?
Nance: When all this started, it got bigger than I imagined very quickly. I had never run an e-commerce business, I had never shipped out goods at all — and I was doing a bunch of research, racking my brain, teaching myself from the bottom up how to run an e-commerce operation.
“They know I’m young, they know I haven’t done this before and they are willing to work with me through all the little hiccups. They really have just been a lifesaver.”
Through my research, I stumbled upon the UPS website, and there was a little chat feature so I sent a message. Within an hour, I got a response back. And not just a low-level response. It was shocking they got back to me that quickly. I think we talked that weekend. We got the ball rolling. It was awesome.