Inside the Pride box: Daniel DuGoff of HOMOCO

What is the name of your company?

HOMOCO!

When was the company founded?

We launched for summer 2018, but very quietly. Summer 2019 was our bigger splash.

Tell us the story of how you brought your company to life.

HOMOCO was founded for queer folks and their friends. So many brands talk to a specific niche of the LGBTQIA+ community, but few brands talk to the broad spectrum of the community, let alone do that all year (versus just around Pride). HOMOCO was founded by queer people for queer people, with mission and intention behind the scenes so that our community can feel good what we’re making.

How did you feel after it launched?

Relieved! It was such a relief to see people embrace the values we stand for and love the products!

Where do you draw your design inspiration from?

The name HOMOCO comes from a Washington, D.C.-area gas station chain that my great grandparents owned. Our in-house designed prints often reference mid-century Americana in a way that references our service station roots. We are also proud of the range of collaborations we’ve done. We love working with queer artists and making their work into sustainably-sourced, affordably-priced pieces.

Why was it important to you to create an “out and proud” LGBTQ+ company?

I mean, with a name like HOMOCO, how can you not be out and proud? From the beginning of the spark of the idea behind HOMOCO, creating a brand that had intention and authenticity was crucial. The brand is meant to be grass-roots, so we have to be in- and of-the-community as much as our customers!

Was there a defining moment in your company’s history (so far) when you knew you created something special?

Whenever I get to spend twenty minutes on the phone with an artist or photographer or creator and talk about doing something together for HOMOCO could look like, I am always in awe of how great my job is! I just love hearing about how artists work and how they make their work. And every time there’s even the possibility of blending that process with something at HOMOCO - that’s exciting for me.

What has been the reaction of customers to your brand?

Honestly our customers are the BEST. From tagging us on Instagram when they’re wearing their HOMOCO gear to sending us Thank You notes, we really feel the love and that keeps me going.

Any special customer stories that you want to share?

An interior design student just (like, as I am answering this question) emailed me his final project from this semester where he designed a HOMOCO retail space. So cool!

At FRUITLOOTS, we call all the amazing products that we find our “loot”. What's a favorite piece of “loot” you have created?

The sweater we developed for the most recent Tom of Finland collab with This is Amit is a personal favorite. It was the first thing HOMOCO made that wasn’t expressly “summer.” There are some really exciting things in the works for this summer, but you’ll have to wait and see what those are.

Tell us about the FRUITLOOTS products that we have chosen.

HOMOCO runs this Rainbow Bandana every year. It gives Pride vibes without being a Pride flag. We made the bandana in a brand new color this year - a super bright and saturated pink (the Pantone color is actually “Dive Pink,” which feels right). You can never have too many bandanas, and this color feels super special.

Where do you see your company in 10 years?

On a beach! On the internet!

If you could do a special collaboration with any person in the world who would it be and why?

Working with the Tom of Finland Foundation for the last year celebrating Tom’s 100th Birthday has been incredible. I love that we were able to work with the Foundation but also bring in a young gay artist working today - This is Amit. That model of working feels very HOMOCO: celebrating the past but putting it into the hands of a creator now. Any artist foundations out there? Hit me up!

Any advice to queer entrepreneurs?

Build a network. Even when HOMOCO has an exciting win, it’s always the same day that five other things go super wrong. Being able to chat with other entrepreneurs (especially queer founders and queer artists) is always helpful. Joining groups like the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) has been a great way for me to meet other queer business owners across industries.

I find networking painful, but the relationships are worth it. I usually force myself to talk to two new people before letting myself leave an event. I’ve done pop-ups and give-aways with brands I’ve met at happy hours. And being able to call on these friends in tough times is very helpful.

If you could throw a party, with an unlimited budget and you could invite anyone, tell us about the party and who would be there!

Imagine an endless summer party that is half hype house and half artist residency. I look at programs like BOFFO in Fire Island and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown as models for what HOMOCO could do to engage and support creatives, but also celebrate the community.

Last question- If you could be any fruit, what would it be and why?

Personally, I’m a blackberry (maybe a little quiet but very flavorful). HOMOCO is probably a watermelon - a generous crowdpleaser.

For more information on Daniel and to check out the rest of the HOMOCO Collection, click here

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HOMOCO collection photos by Shawn Binder / Daniel DuGoff photo by Richie Talboy / This Is Amit photo by Jordan Goli 

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