Sep. 13 2019
Jean Brownhill is the CEO and founder of Sweeten, the free service that helps people renovate their homes by giving them the tools to find, hire, and work with the best general contractors in their area. Jean started her popular platform after she tried renovating her own space: “I attempted to renovate my own fixer-upper in Brooklyn. Even though I was a trained architect (Cooper Union grad), it did not go well! I knew there had to be a better way.” Her idea earned her the Loeb Fellowship from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Since its launch, Sweeten has helped users with more than $1 billion in projects. Jean has been called one of the most innovative women in business, and is using her success to raise others up with her recently-launched initiative to promote female general contractors. Below, this trailblazing founder tells us what a typical night in her life looks like.
6:30 P.M. Most nights I have some type of event to go to–drinks with other female CEOs, an industry networking event, or dinner/board meeting with one of the non-profit organizations I’m involved with.
8:00 P.M. On my way home, I’ll check email and Slack to see if there’s anything that needs my immediate attention. Honestly, this is mostly leftover muscle memory from when we were a much smaller company. We have a fantastic team in place that handles the bulk of the tactile needs of the business day-to-day. I’m focused on longer-term planning and scaling Sweeten, not individual projects, but habits are hard to break!
8:30 P.M. The first thing I do when I get home is change into my pajamas. It feels really uncomfortable for me to be inside my home with my “outside clothing” on. I want all of the day’s stress, grime, and Spanx–if I’ve worn them–off my body. I enjoy the ceremony of marking the fact that I’m home. I wash my face and put my hair up; it’s a mini-refresh for the rest of my night.
9:00 P.M. I’m obsessed with TV right now; by nature, I’m not a big TV person, but shows like Pose, Chernobyl, and The Loudest Voice have got me running home to watch. I snuggle with my Yorkie and enjoy an hour of total immersion into these worlds that are foreign to me.
10:00 P.M. Lately, I’ve been getting a creative burst at this time. I guess seeing high-quality programming inspires me, and I’ll spend the next 30 minutes writing down ideas, researching other companies, and thinking about the people I’d like to learn from or meet.
10:30 P.M. I’m in bed reading. I’ve been pairing non-fiction and fiction books together; for example, reading An American Marriage by Tayari Jones with Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. I love the power of storytelling to communicate larger systemic and social issues. Diversity is hugely important to me, and Sweeten embodies that, from our team members to our network of general contractors to clients from all walks of life who share their renovation dreams with us. Helping people create a space they love assumes there is room for everyone, and it’s okay for that space to reflect the things that are most meaningful to them.
11:00 P.M. Goodnight!