• Advocacy

A freelancer makes fashion week beautiful, one face at a time

Imagine being a line cook, but instead of plating the next course, you’re painting yet another beautiful face to the specifications of a famous fashion designer. That’s pretty much what Fashion Week is like for the average makeup artist. It’s a whirlwind of mascara wands, lip liners, and of-the-moment colors.

The pace may be fast, but if you have a chance to step back and catch your breath, you’ll see that New York Fashion Week is a living, breathing machine of people working towards a collective goal. The vast majority of people working backstage and on the runway are freelancers. Fashion Week is an opportunity for independent workers to come together and work as a team.

The collaborative aspect of Fashion Week is what keeps me coming back every year – I’ve met some of my best friends backstage. I wish I could speak as positively about the standards of payment. All too often artists are paid well after the event ends – or not at all. In fact, one of the first fashion shows I ever did wound up not paying its artists. It was an eye-opening experience that seriously impacted how I navigate the industry.

80% of freelancers in the fashion industry face nonpayment at some point in our careers. Considering the amount of money that flows through Fashion Week, that percentage is simply unacceptable. That’s why I support the Freelance Isn’t Free Act. Mandating contracts and 30-day payment terms is a necessary step towards making the fashion industry beautiful, inside and out.

It’s time to put some standards in place to ensure workers in the fashion industry – from the loom to the runway are paid on-time and in-full. Please join me in support of needed legislation that will protect freelancers in fashion and in all industries against client nonpayment.

Justine Sweetman Justine Sweetman is a makeup artist and clean beauty advocate. New York based.

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