Photo Source: Adam Perez
The revamp of BatMe! Cosmetics is coming, building upon past success – so don’t mistake this as the beginning for JAYLA ROXX.
It’s 9 am on a Friday morning when Jayla Roxx’s voice comes through on Zoom.
Her camera is off, and I’m almost grateful, sure I’ll freeze up if her face shows. But then she apologizes, explaining that she’s on the way to set and it’s her car’s safety feature, “not me not wanting to show my face.”
I begin to tell her it’s fine, not to worry, we can simply do an audio interview. But she interjects: “Once I park, I’ll definitely show you my face. I look really gorgeous, so you have to see it.”
This is very unsurprising to me.
I reached out to Jayla Roxx when searching for trans beauty owners.
I was looking to spotlight beauty brands founded by the trans community, because – shockingly – there was (and still is, at time of publication) no article solely on trans beauty brand owners.
Then Forbes caught my eye with a spotlight on Los-Angeles-based Roxx, the first trans woman of color to own a beauty brand.
(“I happen to be the first blah, blah, blah. That doesn’t matter to me,” she said to me in our conversation; however, I must note this historical and monumental fact.)
Reading the Forbes article led me to BatMe! Cosmetics on Instagram, where they currently have only one post: that they’re revamping.
I felt disappointed, but inspired. I located Roxx’s Instagram profile and reached out, with little hope of a reply.
“Hi love!” was her enthusiastic and personal message to my extremely formal inquiry. We exchanged emails, and two days later, I’m here, waiting for Roxx to show her gorgeous face.
I immediately call her a trailblazer, gushingly expressing how inspirational she is to me and how I simply had to reach out. I’m waiting for ego, perhaps a hair flip. There is none. Instead, she thanks me for “having this safe space for [her] to have a voice.” She wonders if being a trailblazer makes her a capitalist, if she’s doing the right thing. But ultimately, she accepts that this is what the universe wants of her – this is her purpose.
I tell her that there is no other word for her. Trailblazer is the only appropriate term.
And Jayla Roxx is.
She is a badass business owner, having started BatMe! Cosmetics after growing tired of spending $50 each week on lashes. She began making her own so she would never have to shell out again, then selling them here and there as a side hustle. “It ended up becoming this accidental brand,” she says. Soon, people across the country were reaching out, asking how they could purchase her product.
“I thought, ‘girl, they’re just lashes.’ Then the mature side of me started to kick in as a brand and go, ‘Oh my God, I’m doing what I’ve always wanted in life – crowd appreciation and personal satisfaction.’”
Crowd appreciation has always been a source of joy for Roxx. In fact, her earliest memory of joy came when she starred in a play as Rudolph at the tender age of four. “It’s one of those things that therapists ask you, ‘When was your first moment of joy?’” She laughs, but then quickly grows serious again. “That was that one moment, because not only was I the lead, but the play was named after me. It wasn’t called ‘The Reindeers.’ It was called ‘Rudolph.’ And I was Rudolph.”
She held onto this feeling throughout childhood, then adolescence, then adulthood. It’s driven her to be a performer – a free spirit, as she called herself in our first emails – but she’s never once felt anything but authentically herself. “I make sure that it’s genuine,” she states. “I make sure that it’s something that is quality and of standard.”
She was a theater kid growing up, but it was her first drag show that captured her attention. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can do this. This is just theater. I can go in and just do what I need to do to excel.’” She found it to be a place she could be herself and “hav[e] more answers for the things that I was feeling, hav[e] more language for the things that I was going through.”
These drag shows were monumental because they gave her a space to transition after college – what she calls her “development years.” She began small, grew to headlining, and then became a show host. Following an accidental stint on a show we’ll keep on the DL (she had no idea what she was filming; “I was very young and naïve,” she explains) in which “I cried on national TV,” she was brought back to her roots. “That was my first ever appreciation that tapped back into that four-year-old Rudolph moment, that crowd appreciation and that personal satisfaction.”
She took this feeling and ran with it.
Using the money she received from the show, she invested in BatMe!, and the rest is history.
Since then, she’s built a community, one based on personal communication, genuine listening, and quality products. And that’s why she’s not worried about disappearing for a few months to revamp.
“[T]he people are waiting. They’re not going to drop off on the brand. They understand the message and the story. So, they’re like, ‘Whenever you’re open, we’ll be ready.’”
I note that it’s the connection, this ability to build loyalty by being loyal to her customers. She emphasizes that she’s not doing it for the money; she’s doing it because she cares. It’s also why Roxx gave up on influencer marketing; she disagreed with the concept of taking a snapshot and throwing her product into a box of free things.
“People who really want to support it, will do so in support of black trans women, black trans entrepreneurs, trans entrepreneurs in general and small brands,” she says. “People will do that just because. I think that if I do everything genuine, everything else that will follow will be genuine as well.”
Recognizing my privilege as a cis white woman (meaning I identify as my birth sex) – the exact person the beauty industry caters toward – I ask how society can create a safe space for trans beauty founders to say “I’m here, and I’m a badass.”
Roxx is quick to answer: “I think if we take out the whole us versus them, the cisgender versus the trans, I think we all can thrive in this growing beauty industry. … I hope people aren’t just buying it because it’s just the trans brand.”
It’s a giant “duh” moment for me, two sentences that hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s my own ignorance, and I momentarily feel embarrassed. But Roxx doesn’t sneer. She doesn’t mock. She doesn’t glare. Instead, she builds me up, acknowledging that moment of growth and “the fact that [I’m] willing to take [her] voice and immortalize [her].”
She finishes her explanation off strong, exuding confidence: “That’s why BatMe! is such quality – because I’m fucking quality. I’m just a bad ass bitch who just happens to be trans.”
I have to pause here before carrying on, double checking that I can include her swearing. I connect even more with her when she responds, “No, please. I curse like a sailor. For people who know me, I want it to still be authentic. If I say ‘shit,’ put ‘shit.’”
Jayla Roxx is waving at people on set.
Even though she has given no indicator that she wants to leave, I know that (unfortunately) I have to wrap up.
I ask what she’s most excited about regarding the revamp.
“I’m looking forward to providing more quality for the people,” she says. But it’s more than that for Roxx. It comes back to community. “I want everybody to take [BatMe!] and go, ‘I feel seen in this whole process, and I have a hand in this brand’ because it’s our brand.”
It’s just another reason why she’s taking her sweet time revamping. She wants to build something worth building. She wants to create something worthy of releasing. She wants to make people wait because she wants to put her authenticity into it.
“Hell, when you make lasagna, you don’t just put all the shit in there and just start eating it. You have to put it in the oven, let it get all creamy and cheesy and crispy at the top before I take it out and go, ‘Children, eat.’”
I tell her it’s the perfect ending to my article. She laughs.
“Yeah, me and my BatMe! lasagna. There you have it, I hope you enjoy.”