Justina Blakeney

POWER IS owning my colors

A Q&A with Justina Blakeney

designer, artist, author and founder of Jungalow

What does “power” mean to you?

Authenticity and freedom. Owning my colors—refusing to be ‘washed out’ both as a woman of color and with my colorful design work in a very monochromatic industry. It’s feeling free to support movements, causes and people I believe in, and positively affect their lives both publicly and privately.

Is living authentically, or owning your colors, something you’ve always embraced, or did it take some learning?

This is certainly something that took some learning. I think I got a bit of a head start, both because of the family and the city that I grew up in. I was raised in Berkeley, where ‘marching to the beat of your own drum’ is part of the culture.

“Being true to myself is my guiding light. I like to keep it real.”

My parents were heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement. The very first time we went out on a protest was after the Rodney King beatings. I grew up in an environment where we were taught to stand up and to speak out if we were witnessing something that we thought was unjust.

My name, Justina, comes from the word justice—my parents really instilled that in all of us, I feel like I should credit them with being able to own my colors in that way and speaking out and not being afraid to show who I really am and what I really believe.

How has being true to yourself influenced your work?

I can’t take myself out of my work. I think that’s a big reason I’m my own boss. I put all of myself into everything I do. Everything I design, write, or share comes with a piece of me. My gut guides most of my business decisions. Being true to myself is my guiding light. I like to keep it real.

How do you encourage your team at Jungalow to own their colors?

I try to lead by example. My team knows that they can be themselves here. I strongly believe that the more they can feel free to be themselves and own their colors, the happier they will be and the more our work culture and the work we do here will benefit as well. As creatives, it’s so important to be able to be comfortable, on the inside as well as on the outside.

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