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Nicki Sebastian Mother Essentials
Mother Essentials

Mother Essentials: Nicki Sebastian

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

It’s simply a fact: everyone who meets Nicki Sebastian adores her. This includes us—and every single mom whom Nicki has photographed for MOTHER over the past several years. It’s no surprise then that so many folks poured heaps of love and support onto Nicki—and her family—when she was suddenly diagnosed with leukemia in 2020. Thankfully, her cancer is now in remission and her unbreakable spirit is shining brighter than ever. Below, the Los Angeles-based photographer, witty pun-lover, and mother of two (Cami, 10, and Cece, 6) shares her current Mother Essentials of the moment.

My Favorite T-Shirt. “I love this cheeky tee and everything illustrator Emily Miller creates—but the shirt now has special significance given the turn my life took after my cancer diagnosis. I wear it with pride (and with a colorful midi-skirt and sneakers) often!” Rodeo Tee, $22, Emily Elizabeth Miller.

Tower 28 MakeWaves Mascara. “I’ve been wearing eye makeup on a daily basis since 8th grade (I never leave the house without a solid cat-eye). So, trust me when I tell you I’ve wear-tested every mascara on the market over the past 25+ years—and this one checks every box and then some: clean, lengthening, curling, thickening, buildable and miraculously non-clumping no matter how many coats you apply!” Tower 28 Beauty MakeWaves Lengthening + Volumizing Mascara, $20, Sephora.

Everyday Humans Sunscreen Glow Oil. “I purchased this on a whim before a sun-soaked vacation, and now I wear it daily and religiously all over my body, regardless of outdoor exposure. It’s a dry oil that’s somehow not one bit greasy, yet incredibly hydrating—and the bergamot notes and trademarked glowy blend make me look and feel like I’ve spent a day peeling oranges in Capri and not sitting hunched over my laptop in a two-cat household.” Everyday Humans Sun Glazed SPF 30 Sheer Body Glow Oil Sunscreen, $20, Amazon.

7 Virtues Orange Blossom Perfume. “Humble brag alert: I’ve been told that I smell good when hugged, and beyond a basic shower (which happens less frequently than I’d like to admit), I credit those compliments to this fragrance and this fragrance alone. The ingredients are super clean and sustainable, and the company’s founder is an activist at heart who is working to raise funds and awareness to rebuild war-torn nations and empower young women across the globe.” The 7 Virtues Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum, $55, Sephora.

STATE Bags Suitcases for Kids. “We recently traveled for almost a month as a family with only one carry-on each—and not-so-secretly, I wish mine was as cute as the luggage that STATE makes. Yes, they’re an investment, but nothing brings me more joy than seeing my girls pack their own bags, fold and re-fold the contents with zero complaints, and willingly carry their own luggage around the world—and STATE makes it all possible. Plus, the company was founded by dear friends with the biggest hearts and a give-back mission that makes each purchase a real do-good-feel-good buy.” Logan Suitcase, $225, STATE Bags.

LOOP Canvas Needlepoint Kits. “When I was in the hospital in treatment for a month at a time, and I finished Netflix entirely, LOOP needlepointing became my therapy in more ways than one. The patterns are fit for any design-savvy aesthete, the whole process is at once calming and gratifying, and the end result is always frameable (I made one for each of my girls, and they hang in their rooms as a reminder of the strength we find within ourselves in the most adverse of situations). Also, for those doubting their skills, these kits are perfect for beginners and experienced crafters alike!” LoopCanvas.com.

Normal Family by Chrysta Bilton. “I love a gripping memoir as much as the next person, but my goodness, this book had me completely entranced from start to finish—so much so that I’m still thinking about it months and months later, and I recommend it to anyone who will listen. I feel so lucky to know the author on a personal level, and I can attest that she is an extraordinary human with an astounding story that will leave you in awe of all that she has endured.” Normal Family: On Truth, Love, and How I Met My 35 Siblings, $17.66, Bookshop and Amazon.

CaraKits. “Now that I’m a lifetime member of the Worst Club Ever (the Cancer Club), I’m often asked for advice on how to help or what to give someone who is newly diagnosed and/or undergoing treatment—and one of my go-to responses is CaraKit boxes. The founder is a survivor herself, and the kits include products that are comforting, practical, and treatment-safe—and everything offered has been vetted by doctors, nurses, and patients themselves. In a sea of adult coloring books and pink ribbon mugs, these boxes are a genuine way to offer some meaningful support to those who have been affected by the unthinkable.” CaraKit.com.

Midland Shop Smokehouse Candle. “My dear friends Paige and Kelly are the owners of my favorite LA boutique, Midland, and their brick and mortar stores embody this impossible-to-classify signature scent that is so memorable and delicious that I often wait as long as possible to wash any clothes that I’ve purchased from them because I never want it to wear off. But, as of recently, they’ve managed to capture said scent, delight our olfactory receptors, and give us the chance to bring it into our homes with a line of eponymous candles—and Smokehouse is my personal favorite.” Smokehouse Candle, $44, Midland Shop.

Heather Taylor Home Tissue Box Covers. “It’s no surprise I’m wholly obsessed with anything and everything HTH (she’s been a client and pal for years), but never have I ever imagined myself ogling a tissue box cozy! Fast forward to now, where I have one in every room of our home—and now I don’t have to subject myself to Kleenex’s stock designs that haven’t been updated since I blew my nose in middle school.” Tissue Box Cover, $38, Heather Taylor Home.

Meduse Sun Jelly Sandals. “I picked these up at Clare V a few weeks ago, and I can’t put into words how nostalgically happy they make me! The kelly green hue provides a perfect pop when paired with a navy striped shirt and cut-offs (my daily uniform), and putting them on my feet immediately transports me to humid and bored east coast summers in the 90s.” Meduse Sun Jelly Sandals, $35, Clare V.

Here and Now Framed Print. “I suppose I’ll plug my best-selling print that hangs front-and-center in the entry of our home. I shot this on film between rounds of chemo during a walk on the beach with family, and the message couldn’t have been more significant to me at that time (and every day henceforth, quite frankly).” Here & Now Print, $150, Nicki Sebastian.

Koala Eco Kitchen Spray. “Nothing brings me a sense of calm like wiping a surface, and I swear by this Koala Eco spray—it’s plant-based, eco-friendly and smells like an Ojai orange grove! My only qualm is that it’s so addictively good that I spend the majority of my days cleaning counters instead of tackling more pressing needs!” Lemon Myrtle & Mandarin Essential Oil Multi-Purpose Kitchen Cleaner, $13, Amazon and Koala Eco.

Lucy Michel Ceramics. “Our house is peppered with Lucy’s masterpieces, as they’re the ideal mix of form and function. Sign up for her periodic site drops to snag her iconic snack plates or bowl/mugs—each and every piece is thoughtfully created by a mom of two who can throw like no other and who also could moonlight as a professional comedienne; she does it all, folks!” Green Gingham Vase, $68, Lucy Michel.

DyeKween Floral Printed Bandanas, Socks, Scrunchies. “Flowers are my love language (and a symbol of strength and grace and beauty in a world full of so much of the opposite)—and DyeKween founder Amanda de Beaufort is truly masterful with the ways in which she uses them. Her unique and toxin-free dye techniques in effect create mini botanical paintings on everything from socks to eye masks to scrunchies!” Floral Printed Organic Cotton Bandana, $50, DyeKween.

For more MOTHER ESSENTIALS, peep our recent features on Duster co-founder MELISSA MAGSAYSAY, Herman Miller creative director KELSEY KEITH, chef VALERIE GORDON, artist ERIN JANG, Chicago party mom KRISTEN KAZA, Hedley & Bennett founder ELLEN MARIE BENNETT, Mochi Kids founder AMANDA STEWART, chef CRISTINA KISNER, chef CAMILLA MARCUS, artist CAROLINE Z HURLEY, Just Date founder SYLVIE CHARLES, food icon AMANDA HESSER, Prickly Pear founder MONA BAHRAINI, Solace Summer founder MEGAN BRE CAMP, Wonder Valley co-founder ALISON CARROLL, OZMA designer HEIDI BAKER, author TIFFANY ROSE SMITHHEIDI BAKER of OZMA, and PHOEBE SUNG of Cold Picnic.

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