Sick of your space? Jungalow’s Justina Blakeney shares her decor secrets

We are all works in progress; even the successful women you see owning it on Instagram faced stumbling blocks along the way and continue to work hard to stay at the top of their game. In this series, we’re sitting down with the people that inspire us to find out: How’d they do it? And what is success really like? This is “Getting There.”

Justina Blakeney is an artist and designer known for her bright and bold interiors style, which usually includes a houseplant or two (or three … or 10). She’s also the author of the “The New Bohemians” and the creator of Jungalow, which started as a blog in 2009 and has since morphed into an online shop for colorful home goods and decor. Through Jungalow, she has collaborated with Anthropologie, Target and more.

But before launching her own brand, Blakeney worked dozens of jobs trying to find her niche — as a consultant, a magazine editor, in retail, as a boutique owner, in graphic and interior design and more.

Here’s what she’s learned along the way.

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TMRW: What was your very first job?

Justina Blakeney: I was 15 and my parents ran a school for mentally disabled teenage girls. I went to the classroom after school and taught arts and crafts. But my first job that wasn’t a familial job? I worked retail at Express, the clothing store.

Talk to me about some of the moments in your career that led you to where you are today.

I’ve always been unafraid to embrace technology and teach myself different programs and learn things like Photoshop or Illustrator or social media platforms. I know if there’s something I can’t figure out, I can find a Reddit thread or a YouTube tutorial that can teach me. So being autodidactic in that sense has been extremely helpful to me.

Justina Blakeney shopping for yarn in Italy. The designer said living abroad in her 20s was a
Justina Blakeney shopping for yarn in Italy. The designer said living abroad in her 20s was a

I went through a long period, three or four years, of just saying yes to any sort of creative oddball project. I just had the courage and the faith to say, “I’m going to figure this out, but I’m also going to be transparent with the client and say, ‘I’ve never done this before, but I can do it.'” And it worked. Learning how to bootstrap and be scrappy and see how much you can really do yourself is hugely important.

For a long time I was like, “Maybe I want to be a designer.” But there are so many different types of design — interior design, industrial design, fashion design — and until you’re actually doing it, it’s sort of hard to know. So I considered that a testing period. And through that, I was able to hone in on exactly what it is I like doing.

How did you know when it was time to branch out on your own?

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Melania Trump has no plans to leave White House while sick, official says, contrasting with the President

First lady Melania Trump has no plans to leave the White House while she convalesces at the Executive Residence after contracting Covid-19, an official confirmed to CNN on Monday.



Melania Trump, Donald Trump are posing for a picture


© Julio Cortez/AP


The decision marks a stark contrast with her husband, President Donald Trump, who also tested positive for coronavirus. On Sunday, the President left Walter Reed Medical Center for a motorcade drive-by past a few dozen supporters outside the hospital, potentially risking exposure to his Secret Service agents.

“Melania is aware of the dangers of Covid-19,” the official told CNN. “Potentially exposing others is not a risk she would take.”

NBC News first reported the first lady’s decision not to leave the White House.

In the early hours of Friday morning, the first lady tweeted she and the President had tested positive for coronavirus, adding she had mild symptoms.

On Monday, she tweeted she is “feeling good & will continue to rest at home.” She also thanked medical staff and caretakers, and said she was praying for those affected by Covid-19.

“My family is grateful for all of the prayers & support! I am feeling good & will continue to rest at home. Thank you to medical staff & caretakers everywhere, & my continued prayers for those who are ill or have a family member impacted by the virus.”

The first lady made the decision to cut back on travel and public events six months ago because she was aware of the extensive apparatus of people involved in her movement, and did not wish to chance their health, nor her own, the White House official told CNN. Last month, the first lady traveled to New Hampshire to visit a hospital program focused on treating babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

It was her first official solo trip since the pandemic began. In recent weeks, however, the first lady had begun to increase her profile.

During July visits to a Washington, DC, fire station to thank first responders and to a women’s shelter, she wore a mask and stayed socially distant. During September events at the White House, including the announcement of Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Trump did not wear a face mask.

At the first presidential debate, the first lady was the only member of the Trump family to keep her face covering on for the duration of the debate, removing it, however, at the end of the program to go onstage and join her husband. She also did not wear a mask at a White House ceremony for Gold Star families on September 25, according to pictures she posted on her social media accounts, which show the first lady and the President with guests in the East Room and posing with them for photos.

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Power Up: Just how sick is Trump? Washington eager for details amid conflicting messages from White House

Many questions about the president’s condition — and the administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak within its own orbit — remain unanswered as the White House offers contradictory information about the status of his health. 

The White House has thus far painted an incomplete picture of the situation that required Trump to be admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday. They gave notice that Trump has begun a steroid treatment usually reserved for patients with severe illness and that he’s suffered twice from bouts of low oxygen. Yet Trump and his medical team contend that he is doing well and could be discharged from Walter Reed as soon as Monday. 

Piling onto the confusion: Trump defied public health guidelines and briefly left the hospital to wave at his supporters from a motorcade parade to visit his supporters. Trump’s impromptu breach of quarantine, derided as cavalier by doctors and Secret Service, underscored open questions about the current health of the moderately obese 74 year-old who is being treated with a range of experimental therapeutics. 

An admission by White House doctor Sean Conley is fueling criticism of a lack of transparency: “Trump’s medical team tried to clear up the muddled picture it had created the previous day when White House doctor Sean Conley falsely suggested that Trump had not been given supplemental oxygen Conley openly admitted to withholding truthful information about Trump’s plummeting blood-oxygen levels Friday, indicating he did so to put a positive spin on the president’s improving condition,” Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Amy Goldstein report. 

  • The reasoning: “I was trying to reflect the upbeat attitude that the team, the president, that his course of illness, has had,” Conley said Sunday. “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. And in doing so, you know, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.”
  • Zooming out: “The episode continued what has been a days-long torrent of falsehoods, obfuscation, evasion, misdirection and imprecision from those surrounding Trump as he faces the greatest threat to a president’s health in decades.”

The confusion has penetrated the halls of the White House, too: Not even Trump administration staffers trust what they’re hearing about the state of Trump’s health, despite being potentially exposed to the virus as well. 

THE NEXT CLUE: Whether Trump is actually released today. 

  • “For a coronavirus patient admitted Friday to be sent home Monday ‘would be remarkably atypical,” Robert Wachter, chairman of the University of California at San Francisco’s department of medicine, told Toluse, Josh and Amy. “For someone sick enough to have required remdesivir and dexamethasone, I can’t think of a situation in which a patient would be okay to leave on day three, even with the White House’s medical capacity.” 
  • Many infectious-disease experts say the medical details release suggest a more severe case of covid-19 than his physicians acknowledged, per the New York Times’s Katie Thomas and Roni Caryn Rabin:
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White House Said to Keep Sick Kids on Campus. Emails Reveal the Messy Reality.

Last Monday, top officials on the White House coronavirus task force issued an urgent warning to governors across the country: Stop sending your COVID-infected college students home to their parents or risk another nationwide surge, just like the one that overwhelmed the South this summer.



a group of people walking on the court: Sean Rayford/Getty


© Provided by The Daily Beast
Sean Rayford/Getty

So far, the task force’s request for governors to talk to their college presidents appears to have made little difference. By the end of the week, some colleges in the country’s biggest coronavirus hot spots not only were still allowing students to go home after they’d been exposed or infected—they were ordering them to.

“You need to relocate, as soon as possible, to your home or other off-campus location for the duration of your self-isolation period,” said a form letter sent Wednesday from the Office of the Dean at Georgia Southern University to on-campus students who reported being exposed to or infected with the coronavirus. The university even tried to run students in off-campus housing out of town, telling them to “return home to self-isolate as soon as possible,” according to the email, obtained by The Daily Beast.

That lack of containment has had severe consequences. Statesboro, the small town where Georgia Southern is located, registered more than 700 positive coronavirus cases during the last two weeks in August. It was one of the highest per capita rates of increase in any United States metro area during that stretch, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“I have parents in their seventies visiting me this holiday weekend, and I’m scared to death for them to come to our small little town,” Leticia McGrath, a professor of Spanish at Georgia Southern University for over two decades, told The Daily Beast. “It’s bad.”

In the month since students began traveling back to their college campuses, coronavirus hot zones have migrated with them. Now many of the cities and towns where cases are surging fastest—places like Iowa City, Auburn, Statesboro, and Ames—are college towns. And while lax policies toward containment on and off-campus have created local breeding grounds for the virus, they’re not expected to stay local long, with sick students leaving campus and fall weather increasing viral spread.

“The original sin was inviting the students back to campus,” said Michael Innis-Jimenez, a professor of American studies at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where more than 2,000 students tested positive for the coronavirus in the last three weeks.  “And now it’s going to be very problematic to get them home. I think they finally saw that at the White House.”

Still, the White House response to the virus has been anything but consistent. Last Sunday, the White House coronavirus task force urged Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to issue a statewide mask mandate, noting the state now had the highest number of new infections in the country. The governor publicly disagreed with the proposal. Four days later, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams sided with Reynolds, telling a local news

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