Home' LOTL : April 2004 Contents Started in April 2000 by Liz James of Adelaide, it has now
flourished into a thriving online community, connecting
lesbians around the world. "Last week we received an email
from two women in Belfast; then there were the two women
from Southern Louisiana who lived just around the corner from
each other and didn't know," says Liz.
It began with an idea Liz had while living overseas when
she read an article about people connecting online. "I just
thought what a great idea! I've moved cities a few times and
when you don't know anyone it can be pretty hard to meet
others. I've stood in bars on my own and even joined a soccer
club to meet other women, but this is much, much easier!"
Armed with a NEIS small business grant and loads of
enthusiasm, Liz set about creating The Pink Sofa. "For
anyone out there thinking of starting a small business, I can
highly recommend the NIES scheme through CentreLink.
After a six week course you finish up with a business plan and
a year's allowance." The name Pink Sofa came about because
Liz "wanted it to represent something comfortable and I like
retro furniture and hot pink so the pink sofa just popped into
Along the way there have been some major hurdles. Liz
ended up in court with the first web designer she hired,
explaining, "I had the launch date set for two weeks time and
after four months the designer had barely started. I had to sack
this person and get someone else to finish the job. We got the
site up with 10 minutes to spare on the night."
According to Liz it was a good test and prepared her for
what was yet to come; situations almost surreal and worthy of
a book. "The CEO of one hosting company we used
committed fraud and fled to Russia, pulling the plug on The
Pink Sofa and other websites. (He gave himself up and is now
in gaol). And then there was another hosting company that
THERE'S AN INTERNET PHENOMENON
SPREADING AROUND THE WORLD AND IT'S
NOT A VIRUS. IT'S AUSTRALIA'S OWN PINK
SOFA LESBIAN WEBSITE. BY JULIE PURCELL.
PHOTO LIZ AND URSZULA
sold the ser ver The Pink Sofa resided on, and sent it across the
Nullarbor Plains on a truck bound for Perth taking us offline
for four days. I guess you could say we haven't had a lot of luck
with hosting companies," mused Liz.
Perth is also where Liz's partner Urszula lived when they
met on the Pink Sofa more than two years ago. Liz grins,
"I broke my first rule not to go out with anyone on the site."
Urszula, a social worker, moved to Adelaide after a year of
going back and forth and now plays a major role in the
business as the community manager. "It's great being able to
share the experience with someone," says Liz.
In 2002 unable to pay the bills, Liz took on another job as
a project manager at a web firm where she gained invaluable
experience. After six months with Urszula now in Adelaide
wanting to help out, Liz left the job to give The Pink Sofa one
last shot. Since then it has flourished and become one of the
top three lesbian sites in the world. "I'm really proud that it's
Australian and run by women for women," she said.
Not only is it flourishing online but offline too with regular
Pink Sofa gatherings all around Australia. There was even a Pink
Sofa group marching in the recent Midsumma Pride Parade.
As for the future, Liz wants to encourage women to
support each other. "No-one's really saying much, but there's
a real inequity in the support ser vices and funding for lesbians
and bi women. There are a number of groups within our
community who need vital support and if we use our skills and
pool our resources, we can help each other and make the
journey a little bit easier."
If you are interested in contributing in some way, for
example writing articles, moderating a particular forum or
anything else, please contact Liz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Links Archive May 2004 Navigation Previous Page Next Page