Written by Standard Issue


Getting to know you… Justine Brooks

If you’re a regular visitor to Standard Issue, you won’t need telling that we’re lucky enough to have a cracking team of contributors who we love dearly. We thought it was about time we let them introduce themselves properly. Say hello to Justine Brooks.

Justine-Brooks-bio-pic portraitName: Justine Brooks

Age: 45

Location: Leeds

Official job title: Writer and PR & marketing person

What was the first thing you wanted to be? A writer (and princess).

When did you know you wanted to be what you are now? When I was seven. I remember making an illustrated story book. It felt kind of magical doing it and gave me a great deal of satisfaction.

What’s your strongest memory from school/education? My first day at school was amazing. It was so different to everything I’d ever experienced before and I thought my teacher was the most wonderful person I’d ever seen.

She had long dark lank hair with a centre parting and she took out her guitar and taught us to sing Puff the Magic Dragon. I’d wager that particular song no longer has a place on the school curriculum. The rest of school paled into insignificance after that.

When you’re not working, what else do you like to do? I like to spend time with my favourite people. My daughter, my boyfriend, my family and friends. Or read, listen to music, practise yoga or watch stuff that makes me laugh. I also love daydreaming.

What has been your proudest creative moment to date? The day I decided to set up my own company. It was a moment when I brought every skill and resource I possessed together to create something that would help me survive financially and help me remove myself from an unhappy marriage.

What was your favourite day at work? I have lots of them and they’re all different. While I love a solitary day spent writing, I also love meeting with my clients and coming up with creative plans for them to showcase their businesses.

“Decide what you want and what you need and then make those things happen. Be flexible, adaptive, and strive for integrity at all times.”

What would you like to erase from your past? Everything that has happened in my life, has made me the person I am today. There are lessons that I wish I’d learned more quickly, people I wish I’d avoided, but ultimately if those experiences were erased I wouldn’t know what I know now. On second thoughts, perhaps some of the 80s hairstyles…

What brings you the most joy? Love.

What makes you angry? When people hurt those I love. Injustice and bullying make me livid.

Professionally, who has been your biggest inspiration? I’m constantly inspired by people! Most notably though, my counsellor, David Redhouse, a retired engineer (and now retired counsellor) who worked both with individuals and organisations.

He helped me to figure out what I wanted from my life and how to have the confidence to go about it. I would always recommend counselling to anyone. It absolutely changed my life for the better.

I was really inspired by a two day improv workshop with Deborah Frances White that I attended in 2014. After four years of counselling with David she really helped me learn how to manifest my newfound confidence. I also find Deborah’s career very inspiring.

Have you ever met someone who made you go weak at the knees? Yes.

Justine and her daughterWhat advice would you give a woman who wants a career like yours? Sit down and work out what your priorities are. Then prioritise them. Decide what you want and what you need and then make those things happen. Be flexible, adaptive, and strive for integrity at all times.

How do you define success? Success is having the freedom to be yourself.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever had? Be gentle on yourself.

What’s your favourite photograph of yourself? All my favourite photos of myself have my daughter in them so here’s one (right).

Where did you go on your favourite holiday? When I was a teenager, my parents lived in Nigeria for five years and I’d go and visit them in the school holidays. My holidays in Nigeria were some of the most fantastic of my whole life.

Nigeria is beautiful and terrifying in equal measure. It’s vibrant and exciting and extraordinary in every way.

Who can’t you live without? There are a few people in my life I love to be with. I’ve also learned to live life without them. Sometimes for long stretches of time. So no one really, but I certainly savour each moment with those people when it happens.

What can’t you live without? Mascara and tweezers.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Sometimes I marvel at the fact that I’m still alive.

Who is your favourite person? My dad is my absolute hero. He is a living manifestation of unconditional love and the bravest person I’ve ever met.

Lionel the dogWho’s your favourite animal? Lionel (right).

Which song could be used to soundtrack your life so far? Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll.

What are your favourite three articles at Standard Issue?

I love Claire Handrick’s column Living with a teenage stranger and Hazel Davis’s column on home-educating her kids. Deborah Frances White’s recent article #Make Room For Women was a belter.

Which question would you have liked to have answered in this questionnaire, but weren’t asked? What’s the best insult anyone’s ever given you? Someone once called me a Hippy Bigot. I thought that was pretty good.


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Written by Standard Issue