Interview with Dominick Stuto (he/him/his)
CEO and Founder at Queen Anthony Cosmetics
Visalia, CA – Most people head to the beach for a vacation, but for Queen Anthony Cosmetics’ CEO and Founder, Anthony Stuto, it’s one of many places he loves to go in hopes of catching a new wave of inspiration. “I will literally spend time, hours and hours, just thinking of different ideas. What can we do that no one is doing right now? I’m so inspired by all the colors around me. My brain never stops working! I’m constantly thinking of new things.” Inspired by his and his husband Jeremy’s travels, everyday life and things he finds fun, Dominick set out to create a brand that would make his customers “feel special, beautiful and like they can conquer the world with just a lipstick! I want them to know that they’re a part of our community and that we care. We strive to create inclusive products for everyone.”
It’s makeup that tells a story.
“Laguna Beach inspired one of my first palettes. It started with beautiful blue colors inspired by the beach, the greenery and the ocean: the turquoise blue of the Laguna waters; a palm tree green, a sand shade, and there’s even a restaurant there that we love that’s this sort of navy color and I included that in there, too.” When an additional color, lavender, kept getting delayed due to Covid, he ultimately used the delay as an opportunity to expand the palette to 9 shades.
“We also had a New York City palette but that one sold out so fast! It was concrete colors and the green of The Statue of Liberty.”
My personal favorite that I did was inspired by Schitt’s Creek. During the proposal scene, the character says, “Are these 24 karat?” And that’s what he called it: ‘Are these 24K? Pressed Glitter Eyeshadow Palette.’ “It’s comprised of sparkly golds and metallic shades and it’s so cool.”
“As members of the LGBTQ community, we promise to be amazing representatives of the community and include all shades and colors. Our products are for anyone. We’re all about love and the love of cosmetics.”
“My inspiration also comes from people that I meet. When I lived in New York and now in California, I’m surrounded by people from various backgrounds and ethnicities, which has helped me to take into consideration an array of skin tones when developing my products. For example, my husband is hispanic, and I test the products on him and he gives me feedback. And when I’m really excited about a new product, I’ll bring some of the stuff to my day job and have the ladies at work test it out. I make them,” he says with a laugh. “They’ve actually become some of my best customers. On their birthdays I’ll usually bring them something from the collection. I have an all female staff right now, because I love empowering women.
“I want everyone to be represented in my brand. We made this website for men, women, transgender, everybody. All the colors, all the shades, all the discounts were created with everybody in mind. That is super important to me. We’re not doing foundations yet, but when we do, every skin color is going to be there. Nobody will be left out.”
“For the longest time I did everything for everyone else. I don’t want people to think I’m selfish, but I really did learn that people-pleasing was not going to make me any better. That was my obstacle and once I overcame that, I’ve never looked back and I’ve been better for it.”
One of the most difficult periods of Dominick’s life was when his grandmother passed away. “It really broke me, and has taken a good fifteen years to truly come to terms with that whole situation. But it also motivated me to become a stronger, more independent person.” After her passing, he describes being surrounded by a lot of “darkness and negativity,” which he worked at eliminating from his life, bit by bit. “That was truly the turning point in my life where I started to focus on myself and not try to please others who had different expectations of me than I had of myself.
“Back in 2017, I struggled with depression and anxiety. It got to the point that I didn’t want to leave my house or go to work. I felt like I was not good enough and that made me scared. I really put the time and effort into getting myself better, and am a huge advocate for mental health. Take care of yourself and your well-being, center yourself, and most importantly, remove yourself from situations that do not make you happy.”
In March of 2020, Dominick was eager for a change of scenery: after growing up amidst the city’s busy hustle and bustle, it had begun to wear on his nerves. After working his way through anxiety and depression, he and Jeremy packed up and moved across the country to Visalia, California. He describes it as feeling more like a small town – compared to where he grew up. “It’s definitely been more calming.”
He started out on this journey determined to build a future for himself and his husband.
“I went to school for business. When I set out to create my company this past December, I’d planned to start small with a handful of lip glosses. Now I have seven palettes, like thirteen lip glosses and lipsticks. My husband said to me I can’t even keep track of them anymore – there are so many!” Recently Shopify informed him that his company is in the top percentile of the stores that launched the same week as he did. Along with the number of hits his website gets each day, it’s been overwhelming to see how quickly his vision has taken off. At one point, the response was so great, he had to send out mass emails informing patrons that they are just a two-man operation, and that there might be some delays! He remains in awe of the outpouring of support from makeup fans. It’s a clear testament to the quality of his products.
“Even though our brand isn’t expensive, my goal has always been to provide high quality products, but not at the high quality price tag.”
“I price-compare with other brands on the market, test all my products personally against other brands to see if my products hold up the same way. I’ll have my makeup on one eye and theirs on the other and I’d compare throughout the day. I’ve discovered that mine are holding up as well as theirs, yet the other brands are nearly 3x the price of mine. I’m like, if we can afford to make this cheaper, then I’m going to do it. So that’s how we did it.
“Queen Anthony is a way for me to do something that I wanted to do and to be happy. I love my business because it brings me joy and happiness and I get to be creative. It’s so fulfilling. I love the creative aspect of cosmetics! I love that we can transform ourselves into anything we want to be. I love the colors, the different techniques to change appearance. It’s really like painting a picture – just on a person. It’s so awesome!”
Pictured: Queen Anthony Cosmetics founder Dominick Stuto
Where did that regal name come from?
Anthony is my middle name. The Queen moniker just always felt so powerful to me. I feel like a queen is always the strongest person in the room.
Who inspires you?
My mom and grandmother both gave me such great strength. I’m also inspired by Kelly Clarkson, Lizzo, Marilyn Monroe – and I’m a huge Pikachu fan. That little Pokémon has gotten me through some rough times. The LGBTQ community as a whole, has made it easier for me as a Gay man. Without the generations before me opening doors for us, I don’t believe I would be able to do all the things that I am able to do.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
Learn to F.L.Y.: First Love Yourself! You really have to love yourself and believe in yourself to be able to get anything done in the world. Whether it’s mental health, or just respecting yourself in general. I am a walking example that self love and self empowerment can change your life.
What is your favorite advice?
Be so good that they can’t ignore you and do what they say you can’t. I always want to be the best version of myself and I try to be the best at everything I do. I don’t take it well when people say that I can’t do something. I always try to prove them wrong and try to instill that to my team so they can be the best versions of themselves.
Any products that you’d like to share?
To celebrate Pride Month, I created the rainbow-hued Equality Palette. Something unique to this palette, is that on three of the shades there are stars built in! I’m currently working on our fall collection, which will be our largest eyeshadow palette to date with 39 shades, in addition to some beautiful fall liquid lipsticks and a lip scrub. I can’t even tell you how excited I am for our holiday products!
What does “Pride” mean to you?
Pride means celebrating our past, how far we’ve come, and reminds us that we must keep pushing forward to make a better future for everyone. Some of my proudest moments were launching my business, getting married, overcoming the adversity that I’ve been through, and most importantly, being able to achieve my dream of moving to California and starting to live my life the way that I wanted to. It’s been a really special time in my life.