We caught up with the celebrity makeup artist and cruelty-free cosmetics ambassador, Justine Jenkins to talk about life, passion and being true to your values.
When did you know you wanted to be a makeup artist? Why?
From the age of 17, I absolutely knew I wanted to be a make up artist, but had no idea how to go about it. I loved being creative, and I loved people, so it absolutely felt like the perfect career for me.
Makeup is a second career for you, right? What did you do before? Did you enjoy it?
My family couldn’t see how I could turn my love of painting faces into a successful career, so when I got offered a job in the City, it was deemed the safe option, so that’s the route I took. They were only trying to protect me of course. I was successful in the City, eventually becoming a Stockbroker, until after 8 years, everything in my being said enough, follow your dream! If you’re passionate enough about something, you can make anything happen.
When did you make the decision to re-qualify and take a different path?
I distinctly remember the day everything changed. I had always feared failure. If I failed at being a make up artist, and that was my dream, what would I do? Then one day I woke up and my internal conversation had changed. It was now saying, if you don’t try then how will you ever know? I then realised I didn’t mind if I failed, it was now more important that I tried. My first attempt at getting on my desired degree course was unsuccessful, so that was a major blow. However, it gave me a year to work on my portfolio, and I was offered a part time Fashion Make Up Course, which my City bosses allowed me to do in conjunction with my day job. I eventually got on the degree course I wanted, but you know what? That part time Fashion Course taught me more than the three year degree. If you choose right, a part time course can give you everything you need to change your career.
Was your family supportive?
They were, but they were also terrified for me. I actually didn’t tell my Father until I had qualified. I felt terrible about that, but I also knew I had to be like an arrow with my intentions, and didn’t want or need any distraction.
What about the economic reality of leaving your first career to start over? Was that scary? How did you balance the risk with the reward of embarking on a path towards what you really wanted?
I was lucky in many ways. Terrifying, but I knew what I needed to do, and my focus was like a laser beam. The scary part was the fear of losing my identity as a successful City career woman. I moved from a luxury pad to renting a flat with a friend in Peckham (years before Peckham became trendy). Peckham was pretty rough at the time, but my rent was so cheap, it freed up the financial burden. Here’s the thing I learned - your gut feeling never lies to you. l didn’t care that I lived in a rough area, sharing a flat, I was so electrified by being a mature student at college, learning what I loved. I’ve come to understand that mind, body and spirit communicates in the following way: when you arrive at work and you feel flat, drained and depleted, it’s time to get out. On the other hand, if you feel fizzing with excitement, zesty and alive, you’re on the right path.
You’re well known for your advocacy work and coming out against animal testing? Has this always been important to you?
Absolutely. As soon as I found out that so many brands were lying and deceiving consumers, it was like a red rag to a bull. I made it my mission to raise awareness so there was total transparency for the consumer. I wrote over 200 articles for press and online sites, appeared on endless panel discussions, constantly risking my career. However, instinctively I knew I did not have a choice morally, and I hope I’ve had some impact on the magnificent change in consumer awareness. Legally, brands can still say they are cruelty free and even organic without legal repercussion, but we can now at least call them out. With over 8 years experience as an ethical make up artist, I feel I’m at the forefront of the tidal wave of change.
Do you feel like your life is aligned with your personal values? Any complaints?
It’s really important for me to set my conscious compass high, whatever I’m doing. My complaints are that there’s not enough hours in the day to spread my message of being cruelty free to animals, and to inspire others to seek change in the world.
Do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about making a similar change?
Do it. Be bold, be courageous. Know that whilst this is still a magnificent planet, there’s still so much work to be done. Animal welfare still has a long way to go, and we need you!!! This is a call to arms, and we need vegan and cruelty free brands like CODE Beautiful as leading lights in this ethical revolution.
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