Designer, artist, author and influencer Justina Blakeney, spent her youth teaching art to abused/neglected teenage girls at a residential treatment program run by her parents, where she witnessed the healing power of art and kindness. After formative years in Switzerland and Italy, she settled in Los Angeles and harnessed the Internet to build Jungalow, an immensely popular lifestyle brand inspired by her travels and her multicultural background, fueled by a deep belief in the empowering magic of art and kindness. Listen:
What is your earliest memory?
It’s always difficult for me to decipher what’s a real memory vs. a photo or a story, but what feels like my earliest memory is one in my childhood home in Oakland Ca, I remember jumping down what felt like an entire flight of stairs, and thinking that I could fly. I must have been about three years old, because we moved from that home when I was four.
How do you feel about democratic design?
I feel great about it! Ha! No but really, I’m SO tired of design being something that’s only for the elite. I love what the internet has done to democratize design and empower people to create spaces that feel good and function well.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever gotten?
My dad always says “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I live by that.
How do you record your ideas?
Pen and paper mostly. I take a crazy amount of pix on my iphone. I think I’m up to 70,000.
What’s your current favorite tool or material to work with?
Watercolors on rag paper. I love the way the paper holds the colors. It thick, and matte, and yummy.
What book is on your nightstand?
I read moslty magazines, but this year I have been digging into business books and I’m reading The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate by Fran Hauser and Build an A-Team: Play to Their Strengths and Lead Them Up the Learning Curve by Whitney Johnson.
Why is authenticity in design important?
Because when something or someone is fake, you can feel it, see it, smell it, taste it, and it’s WHACK.
Favorite restaurant in your city?
Currently Ostrich Farm in Echo Park
What might we find on your desk right now?
A big mess of papers, paints, computer, samples, sage, granola bars, pics of my kiddo, candles, bills, spreadsheets and books.
Who do you look up to and why?
So many people have informed my aesthetic, my business model and my overall vibe/way I try and live my life. Some of those people include Alexander Girard, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'keeffe, Oprah, Beyonce and recently, Donald Glover.
What’s your favorite project that you’ve done and why?
Too hard. I love everything I do for different reasons. My favorite projects are the ones where I get to be really creative, see an idea materialize into a product, and help people along the way.
What are the last five songs you listened to?
Anything by Sade, Stevie Wonder, Solange, Childish Gambino, Prince and Erykah Badu.