As a child, one of my favorite experiences was visiting the International exhibit of my city’s Children’s Museum. I was captivated by the vibrant colors and intricate patterns of the indigenous textiles and dolls. It’s no wonder, then, that I was led by instinct to the JUSTA & Global JUST Designs booth at various festivals and shows around the country. I remember walking down the busy aisles at Bonnaroo and being drawn like a magnet to all the colorful clothing and designs. Even at Envision Festival, which is rich with cultural offerings, Global JUST Designs stood out to me as something really special, something that resonated within me. And, after connecting with owner Jessi Long time after time, I knew I wanted to be more involved.
I believe that true happiness is achieved by following one’s passions, interests that often develop at an early age. For me, these were clothing and music. As I have evolved into an adult, I also feel compelled to help preserve indigenous arts and ways of life that have gotten lost in modern society. Working in the JUSTA & Global JUST Designs booth over the last year has combined all these interests. I love being around the fabrics, seeing all the work that has gone into not only weaving these textiles from thread, but also up-cycling them into clothing and shoes. I love supporting culture that is ancient and important to our human history. I love connecting with people at festivals and getting them excited about the products and people of Guatemala. Even though days working a festival are long, I feel overjoyed by the positive spirit and intention of JUSTA.
And it definitely is work. You arrive at festivals with a blank slate and physically build your booth, then decorate it, stock it with pants, vests, shorts, skirts, headbands, jewelry, and boots until it becomes an actual store. The end product is extremely satisfying, especially when all the shoppers are impressed and moved, like I was. The weekend is exhilarating as you share your passion, as well as celebrate life through music, dance, yoga, workshops, and, in the case of Envision Festival, trips to the beach. But you are still working, and afterwards, there is counting inventory, packing up, tearing down, and traveling to the next destination to do it all over again.
Is it worth it? Absolutely! It is particularly rewarding at festivals, such as Envision, where the support of indigenous goods is very strong. Central America is full of history and culture, and it’s wonderful to see this represented by vendors and participants from many different countries. It’s a tragedy that so many places are losing their native culture, but in Guatemala it is thankfully preserved. This survival relies on the support of people who see the beauty and importance of its traditions and are willing to keep them alive on a global scale. In an age where travel and trading are more prominent than ever, we can carry the rainbow vibration of the people of Guatemala and look great at the same time! We at JUSTA & Global JUST Designs thank everyone for helping our mission, and we look forward to seeing you at the main village vending area of Envision Festival. Pura Vida!
By Jennifer Brooks, Global JUST Designs Festival Sales