Luciana Cousins - Acrobaleno

Luciana Cousin – Arcobaleno

Name: Luciana Cousin

Occupation: Founder and Director of Arcobaleno and Across Rainbows C.I.C.

Please can you share a whistle-stop tour of your career?

I grew up on the small (but mighty!) island of Malta. I spent 20 years in America, (mainly New York and South Carolina), and Australia. I came to the UK in 2008 and lived in Tunbridge Wells, London then moved to Brighton in 2013.

I previously worked as a business and marketing strategist and business coach. In 2016, my son Nick and I started Across Rainbows C.I.C. Across Rainbows shines a light on the invisible, unacknowledged spaces where the Queer community’s voices have been silenced. We fill the gaps and reveal what has been missing, empowering our community to be seen and heard.

While opening a venue is a new venture for me, I wanted to create a space where individuals can feel completely comfortable being themselves. Arcobaleno, a family-owned LGBTQ+ destination bar/café/restaurant, is the physical embodiment of Across Rainbows. It has been an amazing, terrifying, incredible, and magical journey so far.

Describe your job in three words

Pivoting, fire fighting and magical.

What has been your philosophy that has seen the successful development of your career?

I realised that finding a balance between pleasing others and prioritising my own needs was key. It took me a long time to understand this, but once I did, it helped me succeed in my career.

Words of encouragement for women who aspire to reach a senior position in hospitality?
Hospitality is a 24/7 business and very different from anything I’ve ever done before. Every day is different and the only thing you can do is – ‘keep on keeping on’. I think it requires passion and purpose to succeed in anything. It doesn’t make the long days shorter or the problems less urgent but knowing why I am doing this makes the tiredness, the challenges and the showing up every day, worth it.

Favourite aspect of the job?

Running a venue that prioritises intersectionality, openness, and nonconformity.
I also enjoy seeing the dreams and the vision for Arcobaleno come to life. One of those dreams was to create a venue that reminds people of the Southern European culture, where food is more than just sustenance – it’s a medium that brings people together. We believe that conversations ignite discussions and connections, and food is a great way to foster that. We want our guests to experience the warmth and hospitality of the Maltese way of life.

What are you most proud of?

At Arcobaleno, we have a unique approach to talent acquisition. While we value skills and experience, it’s the personal stories, empathy, and kindness of our staff that truly sets them apart. We work hard to promote a culture of warmth and inclusivity, where everyone feels welcome and valued.

We encourage our employees to embrace their differences and to take pride in what makes them unique. We believe that diversity is what makes us all beautiful, and we support our staff in being bold, tenacious, and resilient. We challenge them to push themselves beyond their limits, to seek out new knowledge and perspectives, and to ask the tough questions.

Through it all, we provide a safe and supportive environment in which our employees can grow, learn, and thrive. We believe that by empowering our staff to be their best selves, we can achieve great things together.

What has been your biggest challenge?

One of the biggest challenges is striking a balance between profitability and maintaining the venue’s commitment to fostering diversity and providing a platform for up-and-coming performers. Although the daytime food service generates the most revenue, the events and performances hosted at Arcobaleno may not always showcase the most recognisable performers. However, by amplifying the voices of emerging performers, Arcobaleno remains true to its mission of celebrating diversity and empowering the LGBTQ+ community.

Who has inspired you along the way?

Oprah and Beyonce.

Do you have a go to or failsafe plate of comfort food?

Mac and Cheese

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