Something wicked this way comes but we solemnly swear they aren’t up to no good. Witch House Public Relations may sound like they dabble it toil and trouble but for founder Robert Soares, their intentions are pure.
For Soares, the idea to create a PR company that puts independent queer artists and brands in the spotlight was a natural progression from a long history of working for other PR agencies. The change, of course, was focusing solely on building a space for LGBTQ and gender nonconforming professionals to feel safe in the workplace—and their dedications shows.
Since launching last summer, Witch House PR has counted among its client base the queer body positivity campaign The EveryMAN Project; ‘New Male Beauty’ magazine and platform Riot Bear; Haitian artist and New York City stylist DJ Soda Pop; Immaculate Wardrobe CEO Sophia Hyacinthe; and alt-R&B and pop singer Ehlie Luna.
It’s a bit of everything tied up into an empowering, queer package, which is exactly what Soares wants. While they took a break from meeting with clients and changing the world one PR connection at a time, we caught up with Soares to talk challenges they’ve faced, queer body positivity, and magic.
Witch House PR isn’t even a year old yet. How has the company grown since it began this past summer?
I feel like the Witch House PR mission is much more solidified now and the results helped shape that. We aren’t just promoting projects, we’re sparking conversations and seeing projects take off these past six months, especially discussions of queer body positivity, has been incredible.
Witch House has also become a safe space and community. I jokingly tell clients they are “part of the coven” but that’s really what Witch House is now. Everyone has their own skills, talents and gifts that have been making beautiful contributions to the culture. A lot of what I do is not only promote their work but also help some clients develop as artists. We all feed off each other. We have some new writers and musicians joining the Witch House this year and I’m beyond thrilled.
What have been some of the biggest or most surprising challenges you’ve faced since beginning Witch House?
Trusting myself. I’ve always felt I was good at what I do but would look to bosses or mentors for validation, especially when I’d second guess myself. I want to encourage anyone starting their own businesses or projects to trust themselves when the thoughts of self-doubt come into play. Ask for advice of course but do it from a place of seeking guidance rather than a place of fear that you’re not worthy. Trust that when you follow your gut or inner guide, it will always lead you to the next right move. And if something doesn’t pan out the way you think it will, trust in knowing you will get through it.
Why focus on queer body positivity, rather than opting to go for more general clients?
I always go where the passion is. When I first saw what The EveryMan Project was doing, right away I felt the passion and intention behind what its founder Tarik Carroll was creating. I knew that if I was going to bring queer body positivity into mainstream media, it would have to be with creatives whose intention came from a pure place, whose passion fueled their work. The truth is, I can do all that I can as a publicist but if the artist I’m working with doesn’t have a vision for something greater than themselves, or isn’t truly passionate about what they’re creating, it doesn’t work. People who are just looking to be famous and get likes won’t always resonate with an audience. So the movement took off as we came together, everyone involved was in alignment with the purpose of the work. This was the same thing with James Anthony of Riot Bear. I could see his vision was greater than himself, and his story really lit the fire to pursue it. People strike a chord when they share their truth. It’s always the truth of who you are and what your intention is that resonates.
The projects Witch House is taking on this year deal with healing queer trauma, mental health for people of color, gender non-conformity, sex positivity and political activism.
What spiritual and holistic practices do you use in your work?
Before I sign with a client, the most important thing I ask is “What is your intention?” Understanding someone’s true intention helps guide the process of where we are going. To take a line from Oprah, your intention informs the result. It’s not just the action, but the intention behind the action. Knowing the intention or the goal also allows me to focus on honing in on my client’s talents, strengths and light. It’s my job to help them bring that out. It’s part PR, part life coaching. It’s terrifying promoting your work! As an artist and publicist, I want to empower everyone to feel connected to their life purpose and the work they’re doing so they can go out there and share it with the world.
For my personal practice, I start every morning with some form of meditation and ask the universe, “Where would you have me go, what would you have me do?” It’s something Gabby Bernstein taught me. This way I always feel guided throughout the day.
When did you move to New York? How have you changed since coming here?
I moved here in March 2016. I always knew I would end up here. My grandmother even told me that when I was in second grade. I’ll probably live here for the rest of my life. Since being in New York, I’ve become tougher, for sure. More direct. I used to be too afraid to speak up or take up space, but this city leaves you no choice but to rely on yourself. It’s empowering. I’ve become more of myself and aligned with the universe. Living here has also made me a more compassionate person. The kindness of New York strangers always reminds me to keep bringing kindness and light to others.
How do you incorporate your own identity into your work?
I’m definitely the mom friend. I’m naturally a very maternal person, so I take on a bit of a mom role working with clients. Encouraging them to be the best they can be, providing comfort before on-camera interviews, being there to vent their frustrations. Also, I’m queer and come from a mixed race family. I really want to keep handing the mic to people who aren't reflected in the media. Seeing people’s stories shared in the media and the responses from people who feel connected to their work—that’s the true magic.
Beyond working with clients, I hope to also create a safe space for people of all backgrounds to feel valued in the workplace. I've been blessed to have found jobs where I can show up to work in heels and have that support from my boss. But of course, even in those places, there are often clients who aren't as open-minded and prefer to have you look a certain way, or treat you differently based on your background. The more we're aware of these issues, the more we can call it out and build spaces that go against that.
Photography: Orlando Pelagio