Justina Blakeney is a beautiful designer with a bohemian heart. She mixes hand crafted items from all over the world with the sleek lines of mid-century modern design, adds lush plants and make the whole thing looks so right you can’t imagine it any other way! As one of the world’s leading curators on Pinterest she’s been celebrated in Domino Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Marie Claire Magazine and Refinery29.
When did you first find your passion for interiors and design?
Ever since I was a child I was very art and design oriented. I loved to paint, sew and collage. After studying art in college I moved to Italy and began to think about design as a way to make a living using my creative talents. I opened a small boutique for vintage and new-designer clothing and I found that after a few years, I was most excited about finding vintage objects and furniture for the shop. It was then that I realized my passion for decor and began working on home decor projects.
Where do you find a lot of inspiration for your designs?
Vintage books-I’m obsessed with one right now that’s called “Textiles and Ornaments of India” from the Museum of Modern Art (1956). Nature and travel inspire immensely. When I’m stuck at home and need a little inspiration, I turn to some of my favorite blogs–including Old Brand New, Moon to Moon and Happy Mundane. And of course–there’s Pinterest–some of my favorite pinners for decor are Nicole Valentine Don and Victoria Vu. Also, the Rose Bowl Flea market is a spot that really exercises my imagination.
Where do you feel the most creative?
There’s no one place. Where I feel creative changes all the time–but traveling in general always brings it out in me.
Tell us a little about your background and how all your past experiences came together to take you where you are now.
You can read more about my professional journey here.
Do you think everyone is born creative, and some of us just tap into more than others?
Yes! I think we are all born with incredible creativity! I think anyone who has children can attest to just how creative young people are–it’s truly amazing. As we grow older, I believe it’s those people who are able to hold onto that imaginative play that are the most creative.
Tell us about your blog, and your brand. How do you describe what you do to others?
I like to call myself a creative because I do so much different stuff in the creative field. Sometimes I just go with ‘designer.’ When people keep digging I tell people that I run a multidisciplinary design studio and design blog. 🙂
You’ve built up a huge social media following, with more than 1 million Pinterest followers and 100k+ on Instagram, what are the 5 tips you give to brands/bloggers?
1.) Create original content (don’t just ‘curate’)
2.) Know yourself and your style and your brand. You should be able to answer questions like –what does your brand smell like? (mine smells like plumeria) 🙂
3.) Be consistent–post everyday.
4.) Engage with others on those platforms you’re trying to grow
5.) Partner with brands and likeminded folks that are at similar ‘level’ and grow together
Do you feel judged for working? How does that make you feel?
At times I do. I think that I’m probably my harshest critic though. I think it helps with both my self-judgement and the judgement of others that my husband is a stay-at-home dad–I would certainly feel more guilty if Ida were at a daycare all day–but since she’s with her dad it’s like I get a pass 🙂
Your husband is a stay at home dad, and that works for your family. Can you tell us more about how this dynamic functions? What advice do you have for mamas managing their business and family life?
The stay-at-home dad thing has been a real blessing for us. We have been doing this basically since I stopped breast feeding at 16 months. Jason and I were both freelancers before and it wasn’t like one day we made a decision to split our roles like this–it was a natural progression. As my work picked up and I got my book deal and the blog was gaining momentum he just started doing more of the ‘parenting’ stuff I starting bringing home more bacon. The more this went on, the more we both felt like it made sense and then we just kinda made it official. But it doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. Living in Los Angeles on one income is very challenging. The money stuff is real. Sometimes we’re broke and putting everything on credit cards. Luckily, Jason’s very cool about it all–we’re super go-with-the-flow– I think you have to be that way in order to make this type of thing work out.
How do you balance your time between work and your daughter?
I work pretty much 9-5 five days a week. The rest of the time is family time–especially weekends. Ida and I also have special ‘mommy and me dates twice a week. Usually it’s a spa day and a flea market date!
What has been the best career advice you’ve received?
Ask for double.
How do you engage with your followers/social media friends?
For the most part it’s very clear when you are engaging with Justina or when it’s one of my employees. On The Jungalow Instagram account that’s not me personally, but someone on the team. On my blog, and my Instagram, that’s me! I try really hard to look at the site and comment back to people there, to really engage.
What’s the most challenging project you’ve ever worked on and why?
Anytime I’ve taken a ‘real’ 9-5 job in the past it’s been super hard for me. I’m a VERY hard worker and give a lot and then, all of the sudden, I find when I’m working towards someone else’s dream I find I get burnt out.
You’ve got some exciting things in the works for this year, can you tell us about what’s next for you?
I’m thrilled to share that I’m launching Justina Blakeney Home next year!! Everyone will be able to quickly and easily turn a home into a jungalow very soon.
What are the words you live by and/or your favorite quotes?
If you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing. ~Nigerian Proverb.
What are your favorite places to shop for bargains for the home?
Flea Markets, World Market, Ross, eBay, Etsy,
What’s the quickest way to transform a room?
Cover all of the surfaces in rad textiles and then garnish with plants 🙂