In a year that both confined people to the insides of their homes and offered up more than its fair share of doom and gloom, many found themselves turning away from the stark white, Scandinavian-style minimalism that’s come to define modern, Instagrammable home decor.
Instead, scores of home dwellers reached for bright, happy colors and playful prints—often those created by Justina Blakeney, designer and founder of Jungalow, and author of the 2015 book, The New Bohemians.
Blakeney’s also the artist behind a first-of-its-kind brand collaboration with Native Cosmetics, a personal care brand that offers deodorant, body wash and toothpaste created with all-natural ingredients. Native started as a direct-to-consumer business in 2015, was bought by Procter and Gamble in 2017 and has since expanded into retail stores such as Target and Walmart. Last summer, it launched its first national ad campaign, “No Is Our Whoa.”
The collaboration with Blakeney, which launches today, consists of four limited edition scents within package designs that the designer developed for Native.
Blakeney described the scents as a way to transport consumers to new places during a time when travel is largely off limits due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Each different scent has its special location,” she said. Sandalwood and fig is rooted in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Blakeney explained, which she visited just before the pandemic hit. “There’s one that’s Italy, there’s one that’s in Northern California, there’s one that’s Morocco. So they’re loosely tied to locations that I find extremely inspiring.”
Native creative director Mia Croft noted that winter isn’t usually a time to debut a new line of scents—those generally follow seasonal patterns. But in the midst of a pandemic that continues to drag on and prevent travel, “This is a time for escapism” to “give you that winter break that you desperately need,” she said.
While this represents Native’s first brand collaboration, it’s the latest in a long line of partnerships for Blakeney, who found her work in unprecedented demand throughout 2020. Her online shop, Jungalow, sold double last year compared to the year prior. Some of that demand, she said, was likely inspired by homebound consumers looking to bring more brightness and color into the spaces they were suddenly stuck in, 24/7, as pandemic-induced lockdowns were instituted across the country.
But that growth was also a result of more consumers seeking out and buying from Black-owned businesses like Jungalow, Blakeney said.
“It’s honestly hard for me to say how much of it is pandemic and how much of it is people supporting Black-owned businesses,” she said. Jungalow initially saw a “huge uptick” in business in June following the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, and that growth continued throughout the year. As a result, Blakeney had to more than double her staff—going from four full-time employees at the beginning of 2020 to nine by the end of the year.
In addition to her own business and the Native collaboration, Blakeney has also partnered with brands such as Keds, Band-Aid, Anthropologie, Loloi Rugs and Pottery Barn Kids. In October, she became Target’s newest home design expert.
The new line of Native products that Blakeney designed are available in Native’s online store today, and will hit the shelves at select Target locations on Jan. 31.