NFL Films has long been known for innovation, from its beginning in 1962 to the present. The creative company, whose films and memorable music helped build the National Football League into the most powerful league in American sports, has always pushed for new ways to tell a story.

That energy rubbed off on its LGBTQ employee resource group last week, as it partnered with area LGBTQ-owned businesses near its headquarters in Mount Laurel, N.J. An in-house holiday market brought seven of those local vendors in, just in time for the holiday rush.

The market was the first in-house project for NFL Films’ budding Pride Employee Resource Group. The planning began just before the league’s training camps were opening up during the summer with a goal of putting together an event on their own.

“In the past we’ve been a part of events alongside the Pride ERG at the league offices in New York,” ERG co-chair Molly Stayman said. “We decided this year that Films needed to get in the scrum and put together an event of our own and support our local community here.”

From that goal, the idea of a holiday market took wing with outreach to local businesses. Their hopes throughout the planning in the summer and fall rivaled those of an expansion team awaiting their first kickoff.

“We are extremely nervous about this first one,” Stayman said. “We want it go well for ourselves and for the vendors we reached out to.”

Both the ERG and the small businesses who set up last week had a winning opener. For Isabella Boucher, owner of Succubus Designs and recently out, this market was a fierce start both personally and professionally.

“I have always been passionate about art and music, but I lost touch with it over the years,” she said. “I’ve recently been easing back into the art world that I love so much, with help from my partner who has been encouraging me to pursue my passion.

“The market was an amazing experience. A woman purchased my largest piece I currently have, and one that meant a lot to me. It made my heart warm and reminded me why I wanted to create beautiful things.”

The Pride ERG doesn’t plan to sit on this first project. Stayman says they already have their eyes on 2024, building on the contacts made at this market and seeking to bring more in the fold.