WhatiLearned.com - What I Learned

New Justina Blakeney Stationery, Calendars and Gift items are here!

When I was 28 I moved to New York City after living for seven years in Italy. The rhythms in New York were very intense, and basically a total 180 from what I had been used to in Italy (2 hour daily siesta anyone?). I learned very quickly that in order to make ends meet, I would have to hustle up in a big way. So I basically took to Craigslist and applied for all kinds of gigs. Within six months I was a DIY editor for a little indie magazine, I was tutoring in Italian, I thrifted clothing and resold them to the Buffalo Exchanges of the world, I was working on a craft book series for Random House, and I was teaching myself how to use the Adobe programs. Six months later I had a small handful of clients that had hired me for various graphic design projects. I was designing business cards and websites mostly, and eventually I worked my way up to designing logos and brand identities.

I stayed in New York for two years working these gigs before moving back to Los Angeles to be with my then boyfriend (now hubby) Jason. When I moved back to L.A. I started this blog. It was 2009. I was still doing graphic design stuff as my main gig, but I started to get more and more interested in home decor and slowly began getting hired for small interior design projects as well. After a few years of working as a freelance design consultant doing both graphic design and interiors I started to realize that my favorite part of the gig was designing products for home and life. It combined my love and passion for graphic design and interior design in a perfect way, and allowed me to be super creative. I really loved the process of making an idea turn into a real-life product — it brought me SO MUCH joy. But I had NO CLUE how I’d begin to create my own products if that’s the direction I wanted to take my business in.

I spent a lot of time browsing the home and lifestyle sections at Urban and Anthro, small Silverlake boutiques and museum gift shops. I’d always look at the calendars, date books, and journals and dream about the day that I’d have my own product lines featuring my print designs. It didn’t seem like a huge leap from what I was already doing, especially since I was designing a lot of packaging and other printed matter for clients — but I couldn’t really wrap my brain around how to get something like that going for myself–finding printers, have some kind of warehouse situation, setting up wholesale accounts — getting stuff into stores. It seemed like a lot and I didn’t really know where to start.

And well, it took about eight years from when I first had this dream, but now I have product lines in a  lot of different categories and I’m living that dream. And still,  this latest collection of calendars, date books and planners somehow feels like an exclamation point in my career…a graduation of sorts, because for so many years I dreamed this dream and creating paper goods felt simultaneously within reach, but somehow totally out of reach as well.

The way that I was finally able to make it happen was by working with Studio Oh! who got in touch after having seen my prints on my Instagram.  They handle production and distribution which allows me to focus on what I love (design and marketing) and now, sometimes when I walk into the Urbans and Anthros and Silverlake boutiques of the world, I get to run into my own designs. I imagine it’s similar to a feeling a musician has when they hear their songs on the radio for the first time–and I NEVER gets old.

I think this serves as a good reminder that manifesting dreams is possible — but that it takes time, hustle, learning curves, set backs and finding the right folks to fill in your gaps (and vice versa). Also, it’s so important to just keep on creating, even when the end-goal (or how your end-goal will be reached) is opaque. I have more than 300 prints in my library from the last 10 years of just creating — if you do this, when you do find the right people to help turn your vision into reality, you are ready to dive in. Also, all of this has become a reality because of the support over the years from you all, my audience, who helped me to built a brand and an audience and so that I could demonstrate to potential partners that there is, indeed an audience for WILD designs for of color, life and personality. So thank you for that.

You can shop our new collection here, and if you have a shop and want to carry the new Justina Blakeney in your shop, you can get in touch with Studio Oh! right here.

Justina Blakeney Justina Blakeney

Designer, artist, stylist & mama. Founder and CCO at The Jungalow. Crazy for color, pattern and plants!

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