Julieta founder of Design Junkie
ND : What brought Design Junkie to life?
After 20 years of working as a Marketing professional in big corporations like The Coca Cola Company, Unilever and AB Inbev (the biggest beer company in the World), I decided to dramatically change my lifestyle, looking for more me-time and, most importantly, following my dreams.
Exactly a year ago, I jumped in and followed my love for exotic textiles from around the world. I love travelling to exotic countries, exploring new markets and bazaars in search of new or vintage textiles. I am excited by the idea of supporting weavers to keep their old traditions alive. Design Junkie, born in Jan 2016, is an experimental space, sprinkled with bright colours, a creative atmosphere fill of positive vibes. I aim to blur the line between art, design and craftsmanship, and to add touches of bold colour, positive energy and bohemian texture to any interior. In my shop, you will find old treasures with strong character and soul.
ND : When did your inspiration and excitement for Design Junkie begin?
My love for unusual trips started when I was 18, while living in Argentina. I went to Peru and Bolivia with some friends and I was fascinated by the beautiful frazadas. Hand-woven from hand-spun alpaca and sheep's wool. I started creating my Instagram account @design.junkie as a hobby a year before I quit my job in Dec 2015.
That year, while working, helped me start shaping my business idea, identifying what I really like and also understanding that there is a big audience looking for one-of- a-kind products. These customers are keen to help artisans from undeveloped countries. Design Junkie is a brand in constant search for fresh and new influences from different cultures. I try to travel as much as I can, discovering new places. My travel current wishlist is Ethiopia, Senegal and Guatemala.
ND : What makes Design Junkie stand out?
Design Junkie explores new and exquisite fabrics and basketry from remote villages. It celebrates the originality of each ancestral technique. It’s a place where exotic textiles from cultures around the world mingle. My bohemian dream is to help my followers or clients open their eyes to all of the incredible ways they can give their homes a new life. In my online shop you will find pieces from Morocco, Turkey, Peru, Ghana, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Mexico, Argentina, India, Thailand and South Africa. Character is something I cherish dearly; in fabrics, textures and bold colours, so expect to see visual explosions, expert craftsmanship and original designs from all corners of the globe.
ND : Which of your products do you love the most?
For me each piece is artistically expressive, it’s a story. It is extremely hard to choose one piece. However, if you force me I think I would go for the fans from Ghana. They are extremely pretty and original, they also add fun and character to any home decoration.
ND : Tell me about the daily rituals that you follow to be your most effective working self?
Everyday I start my day by posting a photo on my Instagram account. I try to choose a picture, which reflects the essence and personality of my brand. Then, while having breakfast I organise the orders of the previous day, coordinating shipping, wrapping and packing. When that is sorted, I am free to spend time thinking about my new original pieces, trying to find hidden treasures on the Internet. That allows me to think well about my next sourcing trip.
Generally in the afternoon I take some pictures with the latest pieces. All my items are one-of-a-kind. So, I am continuously taking photos of them. I don’t have a big amount of stock, because I prefer to have fewer pieces, but permanently surprise my followers with new pieces.
ND : They say 'home is where the heart is'. What is your home-style like and how have you achieved what you aspired for?
My home is full of antique Asian furniture from India and Sri Lanka. I have plants and cacti in every room, a kind of little jungle. I am very lucky I have a house in London, so all my products are scattered all over my living room.
As you can imagine I have vintage pieces from different trips and they live altogether as a big family. An Argentinean chandelier sits beautifully with Moroccan lanterns, a Buddha ornament from Thailand with Peruvian pompoms, and so on. And of course, lot of colours…
ND : The first few years of setting up and running a business are hard, what are the three most valuable lessons you have learned along the way?
I've only been running my business for a year but, although it was hard in the first 4 months, I am now seeing the results of such an effort.
I learnt that starting small is not a bad thing. Now I am escalating my business with a better idea of what my clients are keen to buy. The support of your partner is so important. If you are used to a salary and suddenly you are jumping to the entrepreneur side, you not only need encouragement from your partner, but economic and emotional support.
Don’t be afraid to follow your instincts. Making mistakes is part of the process. Remember you can change the direction of your business while you are in the middle of your journey. I started selling antique furniture reupholstered with exotic fabrics for few months and then I altered my offering with textiles for home decoration. Most of your followers will support you if you are authentic.
ND : If someone came to you and asked for your advice on starting up what what advice would you give them?
Start thinking about the model of your business a year before you properly launch it. While you are still doing your OLD job. Take the time to shape your idea, do a bit of research, ask for friends’ opinions and make sure it is a financially viable dream.
At the moment Instagram is a powerful and free social tool every entrepreneur should be using. Create your IG account while it is just an idea and post constantly. I launched my brand when I had 10k followers and that gave me a good idea of who my audience would be, what they like, how to talk about my products. Be persistent, brave and take the risks your heart is telling you.
ND : Which areas of … do you want to grow this year?
2017 is all about escalating my business with new items from different countries. Ideally I would love to have 20 different categories. All in home decoration and respecting my brand essence.
ND : In a world where money really talk with regards to advertising, as a small business, how do you best market your company and it’s products?
I use social platforms to spread the voice about my brand. They are free and open great opportunities on a global scale.
ND : What do you think is your biggest achievement so far?
A year ago, I had only 10k followers on my Instagram account. Currently, after just 12 months I have 78k and my following is growing extremely quickly. I read that as people love the concept behind my brand, and it is rewarding. Also, I am very impressed, that in the month 9 of my business I achieved the same profit as my salary as a senior manager in a Global Corporation.
ND : What most inspires your work?
I fuel my creativity constantly by travelling to exotic countries, meeting new people and cultures. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Instagram looking for new ideas. I am also inspired by nature, by beautiful designs, by music and by artistic expressions.