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What Lies Behind Justina Blakeney’s Success?

Design entrepreneur Justina Blakeney is in the news again with the forthcoming launch of Jungalow: Decorate Wild, due out on April 6 from Abrams. The new book follows the success of Blakeney’s best-selling The New Bohemians with an extended celebration of her own joyful, color-drenched, pattern-saturated, plant-dotted interiors.

In the years since her first short blog post appeared in September 2009 promising to “share things that inspire me, projects and pensieri,” the Justina Blakeney and Jungalow brands have unfurled like quick-spreading tropical vines, much to the delight of legions of enthusiasts—1.5 million of them on Instagram alone, as of this writing. What accounts for the rapid flowering of her presence on the design scene? AD PRO caught up with Blakeney at the end of a typically hectic day, to ask about her journey and the attitudes that underpin her burgeoning enterprise.

At the start, “I was using my home as a creative laboratory,” she says, “always moving furniture around, finding projects to do, making art and displaying it, learning about plants and inviting them in. I loved how you could change your whole life by changing the way your space made you feel.”

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Justina Blakeney’s new book debuts next week. 

The blog naturally took on an increasing design focus. Blakeney’s openness to experimentation along with plenty of daily work began building a community of like-minded followers. The hands-on approach suited her: “I don’t learn as quickly through observation. I learn by jumping in and trying something, and sticking to it. The more I paint, the more I design a room, the more I make books, the better I get at them.”

Two words in particular come to mind when listening to Blakeney’s tale: energy and intentionality. Faced with a task or an opportunity, she finds that her impulse is to get busy. And she does so with an eye toward where she wants things to go and what it will take to do them right. Jungalow’s move into online commerce is a case in point. “We were looking for a strong retail partner to launch one of my licensed collections with,” she recalls, “and I couldn’t think of a retailer that I felt was the perfect fit. For one thing, I had a larger audience than a lot of the retailers did. So it was staring me in the face: ‘Oh, I need to do this myself.’ I never set out to start a shop and to do it this way, but….”

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