Paul McEnaney-Rodriguez is sporting his pride
Running a business

Paul McEnaney-Rodriguez is sporting his pride

In honor of Pride Month, QuickBooks is spotlighting the LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who play a vital role in creating an inclusive and vibrant small business community.

Name: Paul McEnaney-Rodriguez

Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota

Pronouns: He/Him

Business: Prideletics


Tell us about your business.

Prideletics is an LGBTQ+ athletic clothing company that celebrates diversity and inclusion year-round.

Why did you decide to start your own business? 

I started my business after I got let go from a job that wasn’t a good fit. Instead of sitting around watching movies or playing video games while working a part-time job, I decided to create something that really hit on my passions: Sports, fitness, retail, and marketing. 

How did you get started? 

I went to college and earned a degree in Strategic Communication, which is essentially advertising and marketing. I am also a self-taught graphic designer, web designer, and video producer, so using my skill set and zeroing in on my passions, I found an audience that wasn’t represented year-round. Many times, companies will create products for Pride month, but LGBTQ+ individuals don’t just exist in June. Combining all of those things with my active lifestyle, Prideletics was born.

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year? 

The biggest lesson was all of the legal, financial, and other logistical things I needed to do before actually launching the business. I was 23 when I started the business and knew nothing about law, trademarks, accounting, or even taxes, so I had to do a lot of learning fast to get the business off the ground. 

Another thing I learned early on was how important it truly is to stand out as a business. Find the gaps and problems that consumers have and truly find a way to solve it. If you are just recreating a business that already exists, you likely won’t find success.

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner? 

The most surprising thing for me was learning that once you find your core audience and that community starts building, you’ve found success. It’s not about becoming rich. It’s not about the potential “fame” as a business owner. For a mission-driven company like ours, when we hear back or see photos of consumers in our gear, wearing it proudly, we know we’re doing an amazing thing. That’s what’s satisfying for me.

What is an aspect of running a business that you needed to learn more about when you started? How did you learn about it?

As I continued to grow the business, something I needed was guidance. I knew how to tactically build a website, tactically build a design, tactically put it on a shirt, distribute, and post about it on social—but I never made a business plan. I never took the time to think ahead on my long-term goals for the business, since it was just a fun idea that took off. I then found a mentor who I’ve chatted with every other week for almost two years now. She’s been an incredible leader who asks tough questions, but the right questions to help me think of all the angles to make my business successful.

How does running your own business make you feel? 

I feel unbelievably proud to run my own business. I always knew I wanted to do something I was passionate about, but being able to have my business that uses skills that I’m proud of while driving a mission I’m even more proud of is rewarding.

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome as a business owner? 

A challenge I’ve overcome is being more confident in my business and how I talk about it. I’m not the best public speaker and I was shy about my business, but over time I’ve learned how to speak about it confidently.

What are your proudest moments? 

One of my proudest moments in my business was partnering with the world’s largest video game’s (League of Legends) producer (Riot Games). I was a few years into the business, and I got a DM on Instagram from a random person I’ve never met. He told me his husband had a couple shirts of mine and he introduced himself as someone who worked at Riot Games. From there, we brainstormed and created an ESPORTS pride tee that was seen by thousands and thousands of people in real-time during an international League of Legends tournament. As someone who plays video games as well, seeing my brand and my product in a place I enjoy outside of work felt surreal. We were able to raise money for The Trevor Project as part of this partnership.

What are the next big plans you have for your business?

I just launched our latest product collection at the end of May, the Vibrance collection, that’s focused on shining bright. I hope to have a couple in-person pop-ups in the future as well. My business has mainly been online but as we depart the peak of the pandemic, I’m excited to meet people face-to-face and show them my business.

What are three things that you feel have contributed to your success as a business owner? 

The three things that have made me successful were taking the time to find my passions, being self-taught as needs arise, and being authentically myself throughout the entire process.

What challenges do you feel are unique to small business owners in the LGBTQIA+ community? Have you come up against any bias? 

I think one of the hardest things as an LGBTQIA+ business is that you will always be afraid of people that don’t think as openly. I started posting on TikTok recently, and while it has an amazing way to reach new people, it can sometimes reach the wrong people. Being able to be mentally strong when you see hateful comments can be hard, but just remember that there are even more people who support you for what you’ve created.

quote image
Nobody is perfect, and how you approach messing up is what makes a true leader.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in the community?

Don’t be afraid to fail. When you fail, you learn. With those learnings, you can teach yourself to do better the next time, which will only make you more successful. Nobody is perfect, and how you approach messing up is what makes a true leader. 

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going? 

My lovely husband is my biggest support in life and in my business. 

What’s your “power song” and why? 

I’m a big musical person so I like to listen to upbeat songs from musicals that I can sing along to. If you haven’t listened to or seen Six, you are missing out on a showcase of powerful women singing their hearts out.

To learn more about Prideletics and support the business, visit their website or them out on Instagram.

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