Friday, October 18, 2013

Ruchettes, meet Justina Blakeney, talented designer, creative consultant, and stylist who is known for her impeccable sense of design and lovely aesthetic. In addition to her freelance work, she writes a popular lifestyle blog and curates prettiness on her popular Pinterest page. Having co-authored four design books, collaborated with brands like Etsy, One Kings Lane, and Martha Stewart Weddings, and been featured in Glamour Magazine, Apartment Therapy, and Refinery 29, she recently added another title to her impressive resume: mom! Justina is one of those incredible, creative, hard-working women who inspire us to no end, so read on for our interview with her!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you began your multifaceted career. Have you always loved 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 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 originally began blogging as a way to do something creative everyday. I loved blogging right away as it was a natural way to combine so many of the things that I love including writing, photography, graphic design, crafting, styling, collaging, curating and decorating. Now, my blog is truly an extension of myself. I blog about all the things that I love--my family, my jungalow, my closet, my obsession will plants and global textiles, wild patterns, thrifted finds and bohemian dwellings. And yes, I've always loved design, although for a while there, I imagined I'd grow up to be a singer, not a designer.

What have been some of your favorite projects/experiences as a creative consultant, curator, and stylist?
The project that I completed last month, designing a pre-fab pod made by Kithouse that was used as a pop-up hotel room for four nights for Air BnB--and that project was pretty amazing, also being a guest curator for brands like Martha Stewart and 1st Dibs is a feather in my cap, for sure.

You’ve become “one of the world’s most followed pinners on Pinterest.” So, that must mean you’re an addict like us too, right? :) Is Pinterest your main source of inspiration?
Guilty as charged. I'm a total Pinterest addict. I love that it's just a bottomless pit of beauty. I wouldn't say that Pinterest is my MAIN source of inspiration though. I get more inspired when I'm away from the computer, while I'm traveling (even locally) visiting museums or out in nature.

What’s a typical day like for you? (If there’s such a thing!)
Each day is drastically different. This can mean one day I'm doing home decor and interior styling and the next day I'm art-directing a photoshoot. My 'gigs' are kinda all over the map and I like it that way. But, as an example--yesterday morning I woke up at 5:30 AM because I've started a new exercise regimen where I work out 3X per week with a personal trainer. We have a barter and I'm decorating her house in exchange for her helping me get healthy. After working out for an hour I came home and wrote my blog post. By 9AM I was out sourcing vintage items for a client. I got home at 1:00PM and worked on a DIY project for a blog post and then I had a 3:30PM brainstorming session with a company that I'm partnering with for a holiday campaign. One thing that is constant day to day is that at least one hour a day dedicated to the blog. Since most of the posts on the blog are original content--I need time to make things, to photograph things, and to lay them out and then to write the posts, too. I also dedicate 20 minutes a day to reading and connecting with other people's blogs and I'm also very active on twitter, instagram and pinterest--these tools help to catalog and share my inspirations throughout the day. And then, there's my daughter. Since my husband and I both work from home (and don't have childcare yet) we hand her off back and forth all day long!

How does fashion and your personal style play a role in your career?
I think my crazy boho vibe helps me stand out. The designer/blogger landscape is pretty crowded and having a distinguishable style from the other bloggers out there is important. I have had many people tell me that they can tell when one of my pins enters their feed on Pinterest, before they see my name on it--and that's huge. I think if a brand is looking to partner with a blogger with a boho vibe, I automatically come up as a contender--similarly, if someone is looking for a stylist or a designer that knows how how to pull of mixing color and pattern.

Is there anything on Ruche you currently adore?
The Twin Cities Scarf -- a scarf with pockets?? That's just smart. And cute. I want it! And the Welcome to the Sixties Coat -- this is such a fun piece-when it's on, it's like a living piece of art--and the color combo is unusual and appealing, too.

Just to get to know you a little more, here's a round of quick fire questions!
-- Heels or ankle boots? Boots!
-- Polka dots or plaid? Plaid--like an entire outfit of plaid in all different colors!
-- Chocolate cookies or apple pie? Right now, how 'bout a yam? My trainer would kill me if I ate either of those options right now.
-- Saturday morning flea market or mimosa brunch? Can I bring a mimosa to the flea market? 'Cause that sounds like heaven.

Last but not least, we just have to say that your experience and success is truly inspirational. What advice do you have for women looking to pursue creative careers?
Thank you! First and foremost I'd say find your voice, find your vibe, and discover what sets you apart. Next I'd say do more listening than talking--the answers are all there if you're listening for them. Be open to new and different opportunities, take risks and do not fear rejection. If people say 'no' than take a deep breath and move on to the next thing. It's their loss. Ask for what you're worth, do your homework, be honest, be raw, be real, and be nice to people--and remember, what goes around comes around.

Justina, thank you SO much for chatting with us! We can't wait to see what you do next. To all of you who adore Justina as much as we do, find out more about her here:
her site, her blog, pinterest, twitter, instagram.