All About Kristine—Meet the founder of JUNIPER and YU
Posted on March 28 2019
We sat down with JUNIPER and YU’s founder and curator, Kristine Sarmiento, to get inside details of her clean beauty and wellness concept e-shop. We spoke with the beauty connoisseur herself to learn more about her on a personal level and find out what inspired her to start her business in the first place.
We’re so excited to know more about JUNIPER and YU and what it has to offer for conscious beauty consumers like ourselves. Can you tell us more about your brand and what ultimately led you to start your very own company?
Of course, I’d love to share more! JUNIPER and YU has been a very special project of mine for some time and now that we’ve launched, it’s been an amazing journey so far looking back. JUNIPER and YU is a thoughtfully curated clean beauty and wellness e-shop that’s inspired by the age-old wisdom, traditional rituals and healing practices of Asia. Growing up in a Korean-American home, getting acupuncture, taking traditional herbal medicine and having a more integrative approach to health and wellness was a big part of life for me. My cultural background and the wisdom of my mom and grandma had a huge influence on the way I care for myself both inside and out. I wanted to take what I’ve learned to help inspire and make positive changes in the way people take care of themselves in mind, body, and soul.
We love that your mom and grandma passed down that knowledge over to you. Can you share a bit of that wisdom that could teach something to beauty enthusiasts like us as well?
They both taught me so many things but the one thing that my grandma always told me was to remember that our external beauty is a direct reflection of our inner health and wellbeing. This might sound pretty cliche to some but there’s such a profound truth to this saying. How can we possibly look our very best on the outside if we’re not feeding our inner bodies, hearts, and minds with good things? The foods we eat, the things we harbour in our hearts, and the thoughts we think can have such an impact on our overall health both inside and out.
We’re dying to know the meaning of your shop name JUNIPER and YU. What’s the meaning and inspiration behind it?
Traditional Medicine played a huge role in my beauty and wellness journey. In particular, Korean and Chinese medicine. It just really made sense for me to create a name that paid homage to that. “Juniper” is a powerful, medicinal plant that has been used for thousands of years across many ancient civilizations and “yu” means “jade” in Chinese which is a gemstone that has been treasured in Asia for centuries for its healing properties.
Have you always worked in the beauty industry?
Nope, not at all! I actually have a background in public relations and basically ended up working at corporate jobs that were deeply unfulfilling. During that time, I was figuring out where my place was in the world and found myself really struggling to find my true purpose was in life. Ever since I was a kid, I always knew that I wasn’t meant to take the conventional route in terms of my career. So after finishing grad school and ending up living that corporate life, I was really wrestling with myself. I knew that I wasn’t supposed to do what everyone else did. There was such a long period where I felt completely lost, out of place, anxious, depressed and defeated. I was really struggling with what I wanted for myself versus what was expected of me. The daily stress and pressure I put on myself to conform to society’s standards were suffocating and it took a serious toll on me. I began to get ill and it got to the point where my body just completely gave up. I was constantly going in and out of the hospital. My stress also triggered painful episodes of the shingle virus and was diagnosed seven times at my age. It was a huge wake-up call and I had to hit the ground hard to realize I had to change.
What would you say would be the most memorable aspect of creating your business?
It definitely would have to be when I traveled across Asia--Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, and India to learn. Even though I’ve traveled to Asia many many times before, this trip was very different. It was probably one of the most memorable learning experiences because I got to really dive deep and experience the rich traditional beauty and wellness cultures of the places I visited. I got to really reconnect with my roots and learn about things that I didn’t know before. Age-old wisdom and tradition can teach us a lot of things and I’ve grown to appreciate them even more than I had before.
Can you share what your beauty or wellness rituals at home look like?
I’m all about natural foods and medicinal herbs that help heal the body. I drink a lot of tea. Tons of it. I drink about 8 to 12 cups of tea, either hot or cold every single day. Chinese pu-erh tea is one of my favorite teas to sip on. It really helps detoxify my body and clear out my skin. I also eat Korean red ginseng every day to help fight off stress, enhance my brain function, fight fatigue and boost my energy levels. I like to take turmeric, ashwagandha supplements, and probiotics to strengthen my insides as well. If you haven’t noticed already, I love taking care of my skin [laughs] and I frequently treat myself to nice hot, relaxing baths. My goal each day is to make sure I journal, pray and hit the gym as well. I think all of the things I do really work together to help keep me fulfilled, balanced and healthy.
When you’re not busy grinding away at creating your beauty brand, what do you like to do in your down time?
Oh, I have way too many to name! But to just list a few, I love being outdoors, going on hikes with my dog and lately, I’ve been taking a lot of trips up to the mountains to snowboard with my husband. It’s such a therapeutic and stress-relieving activity for me. The fresh mountain air is just so healing to my mind and I’ve really been enjoying that time for myself this season. Living in Vegas, there are so many outdoorsy things to do here and I love that. I also really enjoy getting a good sweat at the gym, playing the guitar, and more recently, I’ve been binge-watching “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix. I’m obsessed with it!
What makes JUNIPER and YU so unique and different from other beauty marketplaces out there?
I built JUNIPER and YU not only to celebrate a woman’s outer beauty but to really help elevate her as an organic whole from the inside out. Our thoughtful product curations and everything else in between is what helps us achieve that goal of ours. Also, 90% of the independent brands we carry in our shop are owned and operated by minority women. As a minority businesswoman myself, I think it’s incredibly vital to support and lift up other women as well as encourage cultural diversity in our community of creatives.
Who would you say is the biggest inspiration in your life?
My mom is my biggest supporter and friend. She's the reason I am who I am. She's the most incredible, diligent, and genuine person I know. Her badassery business skills, immense knowledge and the integrity that she has are what makes me strive to become more like her every single day. Her immense positivity, fearlessness, and go-getter attitude are what inspires me to reach higher and higher. It’s because of her that I’m able to do what I do. And for that, I owe her everything. Thank you and love you, mom!
Lastly, in your own personal journey of wellness and holistic self-care, what is one valuable insight that you can share with all of us?
Beauty is about being balanced inside and out. It’s about taking care of every aspect of who you are and being in tune with your mental, physical, and spiritual state. To me, a balanced life is about being more mindful of what you give your time and attention to. It’s about slowing down, paying more attention to our needs, and learning to elevate our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Learning to balance your life is an ongoing process. The mind, body, and soul are all deeply interconnected so it’s important that we equally pay attention to these things.