Project Spotlight: Juju feat. Handpainted Tiles
We can't get enough of Juju. From its vibrant assortment of female-made goodies to its Insta-ready shop counter, this colorful boutique overflows with positive vibes. Keep reading to see how founder Missie Yasko brings fun and sun to Portland Maine year-round, why she loves supporting other female-founded brands, and what inspired her one-of-a-kind shop counter featuring our custom Handpainted Aerial Tiles.
Hi! I’m Missie, the creative director & owner behind Juju. I’m primarily a Graphic Designer, developing brand identities for small, local companies. I received my BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts with a focus in design, ceramics, glass, and small metals. I also taught Graphic Design for several years at the Museum School before moving back to my home state of Maine.
What's something that most people don't know about you?
I’m part of a weekly (though currently on hold due to COVID) bowling league with my boyfriend and four close friends at our local bowling alley. Our team is called the Bowl Cuts, I designed our team shirts with a vintage script and a logo of a bowling ball sporting a bowl cut. My boyfriend even gave me a sparkly red ball for Christmas that I lovingly call Scarlett - I’m definitely not the best bowler, but the whole culture at our alley is so much fun!
Tell us more about your shop, Juju! How long have you been in business?
Juju opened in June 2019 and offers colorfully curated goods for your home & health. Arranged by color, the shop features female-founded brands that inspire moments of intention and happiness. We host monthly workshops with local female creatives across a variety of mediums, empowering others to learn new skills and engage in Portland’s vibrant arts scene.
What's it like being a female business owner?
As a female business owner, I’m continually looking for ways to support and promote other women in the arts – the majority of the products / brands we carry are female-made / owned. I especially love our monthly workshops hosted by local female artists. Collaboration is an essential part of building community, and these women contribute so much to our space by sharing their craft and aesthetic with us.
Growing up I was strongly influenced by my parents who founded several companies together throughout my childhood. Bringing the fax machine along with us on vacation was the norm, and I was involved in the family business ever since I can remember… my first published illustration was actually in Genetic Engineering News when I was in third grade, I was the only one who knew how to use the illustration program! From an early age I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer, but it wasn’t until I spent time living in San Diego that I really started dreaming of my own physical space to curate and collaborate in.
How has COVID impacted your business? What changes have you had to make / some obstacles you've had to overcome?
It was hard to keep our colorful little shop closed for months, lights out and in the dark – definitely not the way I expected to celebrate our first birthday! Thankfully I had already built most of our website so we were able to get online quickly, offering specially designed packages focused on self-care and comfort. Arranging custom gifts is a large part of what I do at the shop, and through the use of virtual zoom appointments I was able to maintain that personal connection with our customers.
Juju is all about creating moments of intention and happiness through the use of color, and with plexiglass barriers here for the foreseeable future I wanted to create a piece that would accent our shop and engage our customers – something not just to physically separate us, but to also inspire connection. Our AuraGuard™ keeps bad vibes (and virus) at bay in style, and we’re creating mini versions for personal and office use later this summer, both in clear and the signature rainbow featured in the shop. It’s such an unstable time for all of us, taking any opportunity to create joy is more important now than ever – even with a sneeze guard.
Tell us about the JuJu space...What did it look like before? What did you change?
Juju is housed within the historic Lafayette building, once a luxury hotel in the early 1900s.
The shop itself is an intimate boutique space with white brick walls and wooden floors, an oversized ceiling with beams, and a large sunny window in the heart of Portland’s West End Arts district. One of my favorite features is our large “sun” that I built out of vintage cigar silks from my Nana’s old shop. She was an antiques and minerals dealer on the Jersey Shore, and after she passed I found thousands of these vintage silks in her basement. I loved all of the different typography and varying shades of yellow and knew I wanted to incorporate them into the space somehow. I sewed them together and strung them from the ceiling to create our own permanent sunshine, a warm reminder through the hard Maine winters. The way the ribbons move and float throughout the day is so captivating and I love having a bit of her old shop in mine.
I also used minerals I collected throughout my childhood in our countertop that I hand cast and sanded. I love the juxtaposition of the natural gemstones embedded in matte concrete against the smooth geometry and glossy finish of our custom Fireclay tiles.
What type of look or aesthetic were you going for? What was the goal of the space?
Part of the intention behind Juju is to support each of the different chakras and so the products themselves are arranged by color. I also wanted the shop to have a spacious, gallery feel to highlight our rotating selection of artists and give their work plenty of room to breathe. As a result the shop itself is mostly white, letting our colorful offerings shine. With warm reds and oranges on one wall and cool blues and purples on the other, the center of the shop meets in the middle in our signature color - sunshine yellow – which is showcased in our custom Fireclay Aerial tiles that surround the counter.
Why did you choose the Handpainted Aerial in a custom colorway? What was your inspiration for choosing the tile color and pattern?
I dreamed of working with Fireclay for years - as a ceramicist I’ve always loved the vibrancy of the glazes, and the company’s commitment to B Corp values is extremely important to me. The Aerial pattern echoes an illustration I’ve had pinned over my desk for years, a geometric half sun / half rainbow, and so I instantly knew I wanted it for the space. Robin, Lindsey, and the rest of the team couldn’t have been more helpful in finding the perfect shades of yellow to match the shop – I still have all of the other sample colors piled in the back, they’re too gorgeous to ever toss!
What Fireclay products are you dying to use in future projects?
I’ve been redesigning the space immediately behind the main shop into what I’ve dubbed our “Sunset Lounge” – if the front of the shop is bright yellow sunshine, think juicy crimsons and deep gold for after hours! The lounge will be an intimate space where we’ll hold tarot, natal chart, and aura readings as well as private appointments with some of our favorite local artists. It’s a very narrow, long space so Fireclay 3x12 tiles were an obvious choice for this project. We have eight different colors of tile going into the lounge – I can’t wait for it to be completed, the shimmering variety of glazes will add such vibrancy and depth to the space!
Love what you see? Shop Juju's website or follow @Juju_Maine on Instagram. Inspired by Juju? Order a Handpainted Aerial sample or create your own custom colorway via our Color-It-Tool. Working on a commercial project? Contact us!