Featured Interview: Justina Blakeney


Interview by Angel Quintana
Photo Credit: David Tsay
Magazine: Issue #45

Photo by: David Tsay

Photo by: David Tsay

We caught up with Justina Blakeney, Founder and CCO of The Jungalow to learn more about her expertise with plants and to hear what it really takes to build a successful holistic brand utilizing all the Internet has to offer: collaborations, social media, blogging, and more!

We notice a lot of your inspiration comes from the color combination: blue algae and teal, what is it about blues and greens that really draws the eye into a space? 

Nature is a constant source of inspiration for me, so bringing colors from the outdoors, inside, is the best way to keep that flow going and try to capture the good vibes the natural world offers. Blues and greens can have calming or invigorating effects, so they're great choices for rooms where you're looking to recharge or chill out. 

The Jungalow is your brand, can you tell us how and when you got started in the interiors business?

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 the 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. I began my career simply by doing the things that love. The more I designed--the better I got at it. I volunteered, interned, worked for trade and got involved with anything that sounded fun and/or interesting to learn as much as possible about art and design. Ultimately I feel that travel, and collaborations with people that I admire have provided the best education.

What plants advice would you give to a newbie (aka: someone who really can't keep a plant alive)?

Learn a little about plants first, then pick plants that are best for the conditions in your home. Easy to care for plants like Sansevierias or ZZ's are a good place to start- they don't need perfect light, and will put up with inconsistent watering so if you forget for a few weeks, they'll pull through. 

Photo by: Loloi

Photo by: Loloi

When designing a space, what are your go to plants?

Something tall and dramatic- depending on the light in the space that could be a Euphorbia ammak (like the big one in my living room), a Dracena, or a Ficus of some kind. Others I always like to have are plants that spill down like fish hook or string of pearls succulents. 

What are your favorite designers and resources for investing in boho-inspired pots?

Etsy and Ebay are always my first place to look- search with terms like terra cotta, bent wood planter, mid-century, or ikebana to find interesting pieces. Etsy is also a great source for handmade planters- often from artisans you may not already know of. 

Do you pot the plants yourself, and if so, what tools and ingredients do you need to do it right?

I do- sometimes my daughter Ida helps me with the potting too. I'm not a gardener, but the right soil for the plants you're potting is helpful (cacti don't like the same soil as leafy plants do), a pair of gloves, and a scoop or trowel helps make the job easier.  

Your best selling book, The New Bohemians is the perfect coffee table book, what other books would you recommend to accompany yours for a stellar coffee table ensemble?

Thank you! A few I love right now are In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney, Inside Africa by Frederic Couderc and Laurence Dougier, and Terrance Conrad's The Ultimate House Book

Photo by: David Tsay

Photo by: David Tsay

We're obsessed with your rugs, are they available for sale on your website?

We don't currently sell them directly, but the shop link on our site directs you to retailers that do sell them.  

Where do you recommend buying plants? Is a faux pas to buy from Osh or Home Depot?

I love to support the local nurseries and plant shops, but I also have plants from Ikea that have lasted for a decade. I basically buy plants anywhere that I find a plant that makes me happy (and seems healthy- it's always good to check for bugs, or other pests before bringing a new plant home). 

We've seen your work at World Market, can you tell us a little bit more about your collaboration?

I work with brands like WM to create original content for their social channels and catalogs. I bring my point of view and personality to these brands to help people find the best products out there. 

What's next for you and The Jungalow brand?

We just launched our new bedding collection with Schoolhouse Electric, and our upholstered furniture launches to wholesale this month. We'll have new home goods collections coming in 2017, along with fun collaborations, and we'll continue to share everything that inspires us!

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