5 Minutes with Lex Evan of Alt Pronouns

We recently sat down to chat with Lex Evan, who is pulling double-duty working in the building at Johnson & Johnson, and leading a new startup championing queer identity. Lex recently launched Alt Pronouns, a human identity brand celebrating queer history and empowering queer identity to rewrite social norms and advance equality and acceptance.

Alt Pronouns currently offers a gender-free fashion line in a judgment-free e-commerce environment ataltpronouns.com. To celebrate Pride month, Alt Pronouns is offering the Starrett-Lehigh community 20% Off their purchases at altpronouns.com, now through 7/31 with promo code “SLPRIDE”.

Let’s meet Lex:

Describe your role at J&J
I am a brand experience design manager at Johnson & Johnson. I’m part of a team that manages design for over 100 J&J brands around the world; my focus is on beauty, health and wellness. I recently led the redesign of Aveeno body, face, and sun products which hit shelves earlier this year.

Describe your background—where you’re from, what you studied, past jobs, etc.—how did you get to where you are now?
I was born in Athens, Greece; grew up in northern New Jersey; and moved to NYC about 6 years ago when I began working with J&J.

I graduated from Montclair State University with a B.F.A. in graphic design. Before J&J, I managed the creative department at Nice-Pak Products.

What do you like to do for fun?
I play kickball and dodgeball in a gay sports league – it’s one of the most wonderful communities in the city that I have been a part of. I spend a lot of time with the friends I made there; game nights, brunches, and supporting each other’s projects and community events.

I’m slightly obsessed with baking. Two years ago, I began teaching myself how to make all the desserts I love to eat. So far, I have mastered macarons, eclairs, profiteroles, brownies, cakes and cupcakes. The thing I love most about baking is creating new flavor experiences, that and the bakes make for some pretty nice pictures (see lexingtonbakes.com). For a while, I thought dessert would be my second career, but I have found a higher calling in Alt Pronouns.

What inspired you to start Alt Pronouns?
I discovered queer history in my mid-20’s—it is not something I learned about when I was growing up; and the last thing that was on my mind when I was struggling to accept my identity. I started Alt Pronouns to honor the legacy, and continue the work of all the brave people who fought for the rights we have today; to support today’s liberation movements in creating a safer, more accepting and inclusive future for every identity.

What is Alt Pronouns’ Mission?
Alt Pronouns illuminates the untold stories of human identity to break down social barriers to allow people to discover and explore self-identity and self-expression. We celebrate queer history and empower queer identity to rewrite social norms and advance equality and acceptance.

We champion PRIDE (progress, respect, inclusion, diversity, equality) throughout the world and create safe spaces, both digital and physical, where people can discover and explore their true identity free from judgement.

Why is representation important?
Much of the internal struggle and conflict I faced in accepting my identity as a child was propagated by a lack of representation. It left me feeling isolated and ashamed of my differences and forced me to hide them, and myself, for a long time.

That suppression of who you are makes you question your existence.

Seeing ourselves in others gives us permission to live as our true selves, and living authentically opens up our potential to do great things.

Representation is important because it gives those struggling with identity a future to look forward to and it tells us that we belong in the world.
What does gender mean to you?
Gender can mean so much and at the same time be such a limited view of identity because it is defined with reference to social and cultural differences and expectations, not just biological ones.

Gender is an antiquated system of identity, from a time when humanity did not understand human identity in the ways with which we do today. As our knowledge and understanding of identity expands, we need our systems and terminology of identity to evolve as well. In order to do this, we need to deconstruct gender.

To me, gender is a blank canvas; it’s up to us to redefine it.

How does Alt Pronouns give back to/support the LGBTQIA+ community?
We exist to empower the queer community, advance equality, enhance visibility, and improve the accessibility of safe spaces. We amplify our mission by partnering with individuals and organizations who are committed to these goals, and we support our community by contributing a portion of all proceeds to LGBTQIA+ non-profit organizations.

What is your design process?
Our design process is purposeful – we look at every decision as another way to reinforce the message we are communicating through our designs.

For example, when we designed our #illuminatePride Collection – honoring the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising – we set out to deliver the history of the movement in a way that emphasized the significance of the Uprising that sparked a revolution. Not only do our designs bring forth the people, places, and messages of the movement, but they do so with reference to graphic design of the era and to hand-lettered signs of subsequent demonstrations and marches, to evoke the emotion behind the message.
Are you and Alt Pronouns planning any special activations for Pride Month/World Pride?
World Pride was a bit too ambitious of a timeframe for an activation for Alt Pronouns. We are, however, planning a monthly event series to start by the end of the summer as part of our mission to create safe spaces for the community.

What is your vision for the future of Alt Pronouns?
Alt Pronouns is a human identity brand, and while apparel is our first platform, the future for Alt Pronouns goes beyond the label.

Brands have a powerful and important role in shaping our future, and while many brands today support our community and incorporate Pride collections in June, we don’t have a queer brand with the same level of social influence held by big market lifestyle brands. We need a brand at this level, queer at its core, to champion queer identity in everything it does, not just at times when it is convenient or in popular fashion. This is the vision for Alt Pronouns.

What is your favorite part about working at Starrett-Lehigh?
I love that Starrett-Lehigh takes an active role in cultivating our building’s culture. Even though we all work for different companies here, it still feels like one big community where I can say hi to anybody. I hope to share Alt Pronouns with the building community by offering 20% off online purchases with promo code: SLPRIDE! They can also learn more and join our mission by checking out altpronouns.com or following us on social @altpronouns.