RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Yelp has launched a new feature, allowing businesses to be designated as "LGBTQ-owned", an announcement timed with Pride Month in June.
Qualia Holder-Cozart, who launched Vibe Artist Studio in Raleigh in May, has labeled her business as both "LGBTQ-owned" and "Open to All."
"I want people to feel like when they come into my studio, when they're performing, when they're talking, that they have my full-on support. Not just for what they're physically there for, but just for their general life," said Holder-Cozart.
She's hopeful her studio will allow performers to thrive and be comfortable with themselves, a struggle Holder-Cozart faced with her sexuality.
"It took me years to be comfortable with that. Not even just talking about it out loud with people and just being open about it in general, but just being interpersonally comfortable with that, that was something that I really struggled with," said Holder-Cozart, who is bisexual.
Offering vocal lessons and training, Vibe Artist Studio is offering 25% off services during Pride Month. The business's motto, "Embrace Your Inner Vibe", a reflective message of both her journey and goals.
"This is who I am. I am finally in a position to do the thing that I want to do, The thing that I'm most passionate about. The thing that I love the most. And I want to be doing that fully, openly, uncovered, uncloseted, as myself," said Holder-Cozart.
A 2015 report from the National LGBT Chamber and Commerce estimated there were 1.4 million LGBT business owners in the US -
Yelp reports that searches for LGBTQ+ businesses were up more than 150% in April 2021 compared to the same month last year, a sign of growing interest.
Holder-Cozart is hopeful other business owners take advantage of the designations, especially during Pride Month, adding she'd like to see more collaboration.
"We have to network because we have to work together, we have to stick together, we have to move together, and we have to support each other. Drop off cards, and flyers and things on each other's business windows and doors, and just really support one another," said Holder-Cozart.
The Yelp designation is opt-in, and during the month of June, businesses will have rainbow-colored map pins in the app.
Yelp launches feature to make it easy to find LGBTQ-owned businesses