Built with Pride

Built With Pride: Andrew Sotomayor, Oracle Jayne Station

Name: Andrew Sotomayor

Location: New York City

Describe yourself in three words: Ambitious. Creative. Empowered.

What is the name of your business and what do you do/offer? 

Oracle Jayne Station is my line of handmade luxury perfumes and body products made from scratch with organic, wild, Fair Trade, and only plant-based ingredients. The brand is named after the street my grandparents’ ranch was on in Arizona, and it’s inspired by the desert.

Why did you decide to start your own business? How did you get started?

I’ve loved fragrances even longer than I’ve been a makeup artist. I’ve always wanted to bring people scents they probably haven’t tried before, and body products they can feel good about using.

In just a few words, how does running your own business make you feel?

I feel proud to own this business. It’s reflective of my love of nature and it’s my chance to prove that a successful business can and should put their values front and center.

What are some of the hurdles or roadblocks you’ve faced as an LGBTQ+ small business owner, specifically? How do you overcome them?

I’m lucky because I discovered musical theater and the beauty industry at an early age These spaces are generally welcoming to queer people, and they gave me a lot of opportunity to build allies with artists, women, and people of all backgrounds. Not everyone has had the same opportunities. Queer people are more likely to be bullied to the point that they don’t finish high school or college, and this can mean real challenges to making money as an adult. Finding safe spaces for ourselves and supporting the next generation is what it’s all about. LGBTQ+ people need to be bold. We need to be brave.

As an LGBTQ+ small business owner, do you feel you’ve been granted the same access and opportunities that other small business owners in your community have been given? How did you push past that?

I imagine there are a lot of straight guys I went to school with, who didn’t do the same creative activities I did in school, like theater, art, and music—and a lot of them went to business school. The one advantage they have over me now is perhaps a few more years thinking about how to build businesses that fit into established models. For me, what makes me powerful and my business special is that I can see beauty in nature and unexpected places, and I can see how perfume or the act of putting on makeup changes how a person feels. Those emotional experiences are how you build a business that breaks the mold and affects people on a deeper level.

What unique perspectives do you feel you bring to the small business economy as an LGBTQ+ business owner?

LGBTQ+ people can’t afford to do anything part-way. We have to fight harder to get an education, to be safe at home, and to be employed. The commitment to ourselves means that when we take on a project, it’s personal. Part of our success as an LGBTQ+ community is dependent on us finding ways to earn a living we can be proud of.

What are some of your major wins or accomplishments since starting your business? What are your proudest moments?

My first business is as a freelance makeup artist. My crowning achievement was winning an Emmy award in 2017, and getting nominated again in 2018 and 2019. My major wins for my second business, Oracle Jayne Station, include getting my shea butter featured in Harper’s Bazaar magazine. I used to bring cutouts from that magazine to my first makeup job as inspiration. I had a whole binder. It meant the world to see it come full circle and be embraced by a magazine that inspired me in the beginning.

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

More artist collaborations. Getting my products into boutiques! I’ve got my very first orders and it will be exciting for people to buy them from me online or from some really special local shops.

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

My agent is British and says that it’s considered lucky to receive a gift of soap. I love that idea. My soaps, scrubs, and shea butter are really beautiful and make great gifts. Whenever I pack an order for someone, I think about how my job is basically to send people presents. Who doesn’t like giving gifts!?

How can LGBTQ+ business owners give back to their community?

It’s been said that success is the best revenge. So is love. Building financial stability is important for us as individuals, and it’s important because we need to have the funds and resources to support important LGBTQ+ charities. We live in a capitalist society. Empowering ourselves so we can empower others is our responsibility, and it is the only way we move forward together. Something I discovered early on is that, being a business, I’m able to purchase things wholesale or in bulk that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to. I was able to purchase a thousand face masks for a fraction of the price, and shipped them to my friend Cece Meadows of PradosBeauty.com who brought them to the Native American reservation in New Mexico. For pride, I was able to order backpacks, prefilled with school supplies and toiletries for the young people at the Ali Forney Center. Anyone can order them through BagsInBulk.com, and as a business owner there’s additional savings on taxes that help the donation go even farther.

What advice would you give to other LGBTQ+ small business owners just starting out?

Don’t start a business because someone else says you’ll make a lot of money. You’ll be too exhausted to care. Start a business related to something you can nerd out about. Something you never want to stop learning about. You’ll never know all there is to know about making cupcakes, or music, or web design. Start a business that will take you on a path full of surprises.

What’s your “power song” and why? 

There are two songs that get me motivated. My father grew up in Arizona, which is why my brand Oracle Jayne Station is inspired by the desert. The desert is dry and challenging—but it’s also full of life, especially when the rains come. Wherever I am, I love the rain. In Rupaul’s song, “Hey Doll” she sings, “Hey Doll, don’t despair when the sky’s turning grey. Rain falls upon you but it washes away all the pain and the heartache. Teardrops on your face, hey Doll, hey Doll, it’s gonna be okay.”

Ever since college, I’ve listened to Heather Small’s song “Proud” where she sings, “I step out of the ordinary. I can feel my soul ascending. What have you done today to make you feel proud?”

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