The Cosmic Connections of Stephanie Whaley

When Stephanie Whaley was three years old, she’d often serenade the moon. There is evidence of this behavior, which Whaley found out about in her adulthood. Now, as the founder and CEO of soon-to-be-released dating app Oro Moon, Whaley is sure she was destined to be close to the astros. 

“I think that was the earliest moment that I fell in love with the cosmos,” she says, laughing. 

It’s a cold, snowy day in New York City, where Whaley resides with her husband, as we speak over Zoom. She’s dressed in an outfit that fully manifests her birth chart, she tells me. The pointy arrows on her dress, she says, exemplify her Capricorn moon, while her Sagittarius sun is responsible for the vivacious, colorful pieces she gravitates toward. Today, her dress has red, blue, green, ivory, and teal. Style, she says, is objectively controlled by the placements in our birth charts. 

Born in Perú, Stephanie Whaley moved to the United States with her family when she was three years old. She grew up with Spanish as her first language, but quickly learned English at school, noting that Peruvian culture “never left us.” At home, she remembered getting ready was an important ritual, one that signaled “sustainable happiness.” She remembers often grabbing her mother’s lipstick and wearing her heels around the room. She later spent her career in finance, working for startups and hedge funds that, she says, taught her how to do everything “from the ground up.” 

“I went in and it was one of those culture defining moments for me in the workplace where I just wanted to learn as much as possible,” says Whaley. “You have these incredible people, these brilliant people from different backgrounds, different perspectives.”

As she built a career in New York City, she also came face to face with spirituality, one she nurtured through astrology. There was no big “Aha!” moment that made her gravitate to spirituality, but rather a longing for the nature and quiet of the Pacific Northwest region, where she went to school. At first, she taught herself astrology, exploring and reflecting themes in her own life. Later, she met her teacher Rebecca Gordon, a student of famed astrologer Susan Miller

Whaley was no stranger to astrology, of course. Throughout her life, she received good vibes and predictions from Puerto Rican astrologer Walter Mercado, who reached millions of people through his show and subsequent Primer Impacto segment. Whaley says Mercado was a “transcending” figure. “He was this fantastical being who I likened to magical realism,” she says, referring to the literary movement and style coined by Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez that explains the real world as having magical or fantastic characteristics. 

But astrology is not magic. It’s real to millions who follow daily horoscopes, subscribe to apps like Co-Star, and continuously refer to their birth chart for guidance. Astrology has secured a place in modern pop culture, offering a space to millennials and Gen Z, who have shifted away from traditional religions to cope with the crises and realities of the millenium. To Whaley, astrology is a “language, a tool that we can utilize to better understand ourselves.”

Ten years ago, prior to the boom of Tinder and Bumble, Whaley had an idea for a dating app that would use astrology to match individuals. She had done it in real life for friends and strangers alike, so why not create and curate an algorithm that would channel astrology to connect people? Since then, she’s spent her time and money building Oro Moon, a dating and friendship app that functions as “the love resume you didn’t know you needed.” How exactly does it work? Whaley says the app’s algorithm is based on her own knowledge, as well as other teachers and practitioners. She says it’s important for potential users to understand that “astrologers are the backbone of what we are building.”

Astrology-based matchmaking isn’t necessarily about finding a perfect partner, Whaley emphasizes. Throughout her years studying astrology, she’s found that this practice can help us identify good characteristics and values that can work together well, not form a perfect match. “If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay, because you learn beautiful lessons, but also these characteristics that you wouldn’t have discovered right before,” she says. “And so you can bring it to your next relationship.”

Right now, Oro Moon is in beta mode, but will soon launch the full app. 

As Whaley focuses on the launch of Oro Moon, much of her time has also been spent at home, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage in the United States. Beauty rituals hold a special place for Whaley during this time. She continuously reaches for serums and face sprays that hydrate her skin, such as Avène’s Thermal Spring Water and Fresh’s Kombucha Facial Treatment Essence

This is her way of holding on to what makes her feel most emperifollá, as she’s separated from her family during the pandemic. If it were not for the pandemic, though, she’d say getting emperifollá is a time when she’s with her family, all going room to room asking each other, “¿Esto se ve bien?”

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Frances Solá-Santiago

Born in Puerto Rico, based in New York City. She is the editor-in-chief on Emperifollá. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, Glamour Magazine, Numéro, Refinery29, Remezcla, and Bustle.

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