Julee Wilson is a total powerhouse. She’s the beauty director at Cosmopolitan, a mother of two boys (ages 6 years and 5 months) and an Instagram fashion icon. We’ve always loved Julee for her strong voice and her killer sense of style -- her eyewear gives even Dan Levy a run for his money -- but during the pandemic, our fandom went to new heights as she got real about what it was like to be pregnant, give birth and experience postpartum during a pandemic….all while balancing a brand new job.
We were so proud to partner with Julee to show off The Future Series, a limited-edition collection featuring the designs of black artists (who are also parents!) and benefiting Embrace Race, which fights systemic racism (that’s her son Nadir in our “Peace Doves” pattern!). Julee recently spoke to us about what it’s been like raising two Black sons, how to support black-owned brands and more, as she prepped to return to her job.
First and foremost, you're the freaking beauty editor at Cosmo. That has to be such a dream. Can you share some about the best parts of the job? Make us jealous!
Yes, it’s true… I completely have a dream job! The best part? There’s obviously the copious amounts of beauty products that I get to try – often before they even launch. I also get to chat with super fascinating people – from celebrity makeup artists and hairstylists to the actual celebrities themselves. I really count myself lucky that I get to story tell on a super high level and at a super iconic brand.
Talk to us about finding out you were pregnant after starting your new super bad ass job. Was it stressful to tell your team you'd be taking maternity leave?
Finding out I was pregnant was a shock. My husband and I decided we weren’t going to try and expand our family since I just started this new job and because we were in the middle of a pandemic. But the universe had other plans! I was grateful for the ability to work from home since I had suffered miscarriages in the past. Plus, it was nice to be able to prove myself in my new role before I let my boss and my team know. I broke the news when I was 26-weeks pregnant, and everyone was thrilled!
What was it like being pregnant during the pandemic? Did you feel isolated, or were you able to find the support you needed?
I definitely felt isolated, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It allowed my body to do what it had to do. If I was running to the office and to a million appointments, then maybe I would have been too stressed out. Thankfully my sister was also pregnant at the same time. She lives in Baltimore, but we FaceTimed several times a day. Our connection during the time was a sanity saver.
You're such a great support of Black-owned brands. Tell us some of your favorite Black-owned brands for baby and postpartum.
There are some incredible Black-owned brands out there, and I love so many of them. A few of my faves that I have been using lately are Organic Bath Co., MATRESCENCE, Beneath Your Mask, and Oyin Handmade. I only use super natural and unscented butters/oil on Nadir.
In a recent interview, you said your hope was to raise your two Black children in a world where they can feel as free as possible. I'm wondering, do you have any thoughts, or words of wisdom for other Black mamas who are also fighting for that sense of joy for their children?
I’m no expert on this and it’s a daily mission to let our boys know how special they are. We are very honest (with our 6-year-old) about the world we live in, but also about how amazing his existence is as a brilliant and bold Black boy. I would just encourage other Black mamas to keep doing what they are doing – aka loving their kids with all their hearts. As the world starts to understand that Black lives matter, our children will become more and more free to shine their lights without fear.
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Hanna Nakano is a Washington, D.C. based writer and photographer, and mother of two.