In an Upstate Sanctuary with Justine Sweetman
At Home is a series observing personal journeys, through origins and current spaces. With each feature, we hope to inspire duality of relaxation and effort in the every day.
We first met makeup artist Justine Sweetman at a Par en Par photoshoot and instantly fell in love with her passion for clean beauty, minimalism, and intentional living. We caught up with Justine in her home, where she took us for a walk with her cat, Miles, and introduced us to the beautiful Rockefeller State Park Preserve.
Where are you from? What was a defining memory from your origin?
I’m from the city of Bridgeport, CT, and spent some of my formative years in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. One of my earliest memories is learning to swim in the Caribbean Sea.
What was your favorite travel memory and why was it your favorite? What did you take away from it?
My favorite travel experiences are the rough ones. The ones you really have to earn. I’ll never forget riding up the Mekong River to Lao in a packed speedboat. It was romantic at first, everyone taking photos, talking. Six hours in and we barely spoke from the pain of sitting in the same cramped position, freezing, but the river was so breathtaking you forgot how much it hurt. It’s the bittersweet balance that I always yearn for.
How do you reconcile the duality of relaxation and effort in your life?
Early on in my career I learned the importance of saying “no”. Time is invaluable because it’s finite, and I try to make my effort intentional by working on projects that have meaning to me. This also allows me space to be alone and think. Some of my best ideas come when I’m not doing much of anything at all.
What is the one idea or concept that you stand for and why?
Mindfulness is everything. To me, it’s being aware of myself without ego. It’s accepting that my actions have consequences and aligning them with my moral compass. I want my life to make the lives of others better.
How do you build a sense of calm in your personal space?
I practice minimalism. My space is simple, clean, and void of clutter. The things I’ve retained all serve a purpose. Maybe it’s a response to moving so often as a New Yorker, but it’s seriously helped me make my home a sanctuary.
Describe your personal style. How does it reflect back to your way of life?
My style is uncomplicated. Everything works together. I’ve edited my wardrobe to about 50 pieces at this point, made up of half vintage and half independent designers. Never fast fashion. I buy for the long term and have learned to do basic repairs on a sewing machine (really satisfying!). I’m a firm believer in practicing mindful consumerism and voting with your dollar.
Where is your personal journey leading you to -- what’s next?
My future ambition is to be a helper. "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." – Fred Rogers
Follow along Justine's journey here.
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