Name: Justine Celina Maguire
Blog name: JustineCelina
Where were you born? Calgary, Alberta
Where are you living now? Calgary, Alberta
Why did you start your blog?
Ultimately, I was looking for a creative outlet on my own terms. If you’re familiar with my blog, you’ll know that my content is carefully crafted and highly visual. What you may not know is that I started my first business straight out of art college in 2007! I’ve been an entrepreneur, creative director, designer and stylist for my entire career. I started blogging as way to share my interests, passions and inspirations with like-minded people — basically, I grew tired of creating things for other people and feeling like there was no magic left over for me.
In the fall of 2014, I came across a quote that resonated with me so much that I truly believe it changed my life:
To build a career, the right question is not “What job am I passionate about doing?” but instead “What way of working and living will nurture my passions? ~ Cal Newport
I’ve been an entrepreneur for almost 10 years now and JustineCelina is my answer to working and living in a way that nurtures my passions — it’s truly what I feel I’m meant to be doing. I’m at my happiest (and most inspired) when I’m creating in all areas of my life and sharing it.
I also wanted to experiment with marketing myself and my creative services in a more personal way — it started out as an elaborate advertisement to showcase my creative work. About 4 years ago the industry really started to shift and I noticed more and more brands working directly with bloggers and content creators — bypassing agencies and studios. I’d always wanted to start a blog and I thought that I would be uniquely qualified with my professional background. Although it is still a marketing tool for client work, it’s evolved past that now into its own thing, which is incredibly rewarding for me.
How did you decide on your blog name?
Justine is my first name and Celina is my middle name. Professionally, I’d always gone by Justine Maguire, so I thought it made sense to use JustineCelina for my blog, since I use my blog to showcase a more personal side of my work alongside my personal brand.
What do you blog about?
I call JustineCelina ‘A Creative Lifestyle Blog’, but it’s so much more than that. JustineCelina.com is a Canadian lifestyle blog where I’m passionate about creating in every area of my life and sharing it. Over the past year and nine months its become a hub of curated content covering a variety of topics including lifestyle, beauty, fashion, food, entertaining, music, design and DIY.
Is your blog your business, your hobby or something in between?
It’s always been both for me and I set it up with that intention from day 1. I like to think of it both as a portfolio with a more personal spin and a chronicle of my life (albeit, my highlight reel). I use JustineCelina as a way to showcase my creative work — it’s basically an elaborate advertisement to help me market my creative services and attract the type of clients I’d like to work with. Almost two years in, I’m actually in the process of rebranding my business and syncing it up with the blog to market myself and my creative services under one unified brand.
What post on your blog most encapsulates you and why?
Definitely my My First Blogiversary + 10 Things I Learned in my First Year of Blogging post. I planned that post for such a long time to ensure it was conceptually sound (I threw JustineCelina a birthday party inspired by the Pantone Colours of the Year!) and worked with some very talented creative professionals to pull it all together. If you’ve ever wanted to know anything about me, my blog, or my life, you can likely find it there!
As I near my 2nd Blogiversary, I’m planning a follow up post and it’s likely something I’ll continue to do for years to come. That post holds so many happy memories for me and it also opened the flood gates for collaborative work at JustineCelina — it was a milestone in so many ways!
Which post do you wish received more love and why?
My Roasted Sweet Potato Fries with Lemon Tahini Sauce is a staple in our kitchen — you can bet that every time we have some sweet potato that needs to be used up, a batch of these fries go into the oven. Everyone I’ve ever made them for devours them and my family loves the recipe as well. The recipe was featured a couple of times on FeedFeed but I haven’t seen many recreations of the recipe — I love it when my readers try my recipes and tag me, leave a comment or send their feedback! To me, that’s what truly makes a recipe successful. Often, reader favourites are my favourite recipes, too!
Which post’s success surprised you and why?
My Blueberry, Lemon and Cucumber Gin Mojitos were featured on the Food Network this past summer, and although it was my second Food Network feature, it’s the one I’m most proud of. The recipe isn’t complicated (but it is tasty!) and it was totally inspired by my surroundings. I was visiting my family at my childhood home in rural Alberta (which is a place of rejuvenation and creative sanctuary for me) and was playing mixologist for my Mom one afternoon when I was inspired by some fresh blueberries she had set out on the counter. I just so happened to read an article a couple of weeks before I published the recipe about purple food trends — which is funny, because I already had a purple colour story in mind for the recipe. I ended up finding the perfect, purple glassware at HomeSense and the post itself came together quite quickly — everything aligned serendipitously and I was contacted by the Food Network about the feature shortly after I published the recipe (which by the way, still only exists on my friend Dana’s site, Killing Thyme, because it was originally a guest post!).
What’s your biggest challenge as a blogger?
Balance. I’m very passionate and an extreme Type A personality. I truly pour my heart and soul into everything I do — my blog is probably the biggest example of that. If I didn’t have to eat or sleep, I would seriously love to work on the blog 24/7, which can sometimes end in consequences in other areas of my life. I’m always transparent about the staggering amount of time and effort that goes into my work and do sometimes write about the struggles I face as a creative — I think it’s important to keep it real and let people know that life as a blogger / creative / entrepreneur isn’t as glamorous as it may seem from the outside looking in.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a blogger?
Put yourself out there and produce unique, authentic content — don’t let anyone else’s opinions of you personally, professionally or otherwise hold you back. Honestly, I still can’t believe some of the opportunities I’ve had 1 year and 9 months into my blogging career that wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t consistently put out content I was passionate about and that was representative of my life, style and work. You never know who’s reading, or what might pop up in your inbox! Hard work really does pay off — but you have to be prepared when opportunity comes knocking!
Share a couple of your favourite food blogs to read. Why do you like them?
This is an interesting question, because I like to absorb creative content in a different format than I like to create myself. Typically, I tend to follow a lot more vloggers and YouTube accounts than bloggers — although there are a few blogs that come to mind immediately:
I’ve been reading DESIGN LOVE FEST since forever — Bri had a blog before blogging was really even a thing. She’s an incredibly inspiring creative and her work is absolutely gorgeous.
I discovered Boxwood Avenue last year and immediately fell in love with it. Chloe’s blog is a refreshing look at farm life, slow living and making things with your hands. It’s totally unique, thoughtfully crafted and brimming with stunning photography.
As far as food only blogs go, fellow FBC member Diversivore really stands out to me. Sean is doing something completely different in an oversaturated space and I’ve learnt so much reading his blog this past year — he brings an incredible amount of passion, education and innovation to his content and I always look forward to seeing what he comes up with next. I’ve never read another blog like his — I have a feeling he’ll do very well!
Favourite food - care to share a recipe or a restaurant destination?
This is such a difficult question for me to answers because like most food bloggers, I LOVE good food. Although I love many different types of cuisine and exploring different cultures through foods, a common thread is recipes that are innovative, plant based and made with high quality, fresh, local ingredients. That’s also the kind of food I like to cook and you’ll find those types of recipes on my blog!
I eat a clean, plant-based, whole food diet — I’m passionate about promoting a healthy lifestyle that’s attainable. I love good food and good wine. I believe in proper nutrition and eating real, delicious food that’s nourishing at the same time! Although I don't conform to any one specific diet or label, I do have dairy and gluten sensitivities, so my recipes are dairy and gluten free. Most of them are also vegan or vegetarian, and free of refined sugar. My recipes are simple, seasonal and packed full of awesome, fresh ingredients — perfect to make after a weekend grocery run or trip to the farmer’s market! And, they’re family friendly.
What are you working on next for your blog?
I have so many ideas that I’m working on behind the scenes and literally 7 different notebooks on the go currently. In 2017, I’ll be bringing an educational component to JustineCelina that will begin to answer FAQs about my creative work and provide resources around styling, photography, editing, content, planning, writing, pitching, etc. A larger goal of mine is to develop my own line of products and add an ecommerce component to the blog. You’ll have to stay tuned later this year to see what I come up with there!
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page?
I’ve been a ‘creativepreneur’ for almost 10 years — people tend to think I’m a lot younger than I actually am, but I started my first business fresh out of art college at the ripe age of 21. I had a shiny new Bachelor of Design in Visual Communications and knew that I didn’t want to be pigeonholed into a box in the advertising industry in an age when most young professionals went to an agency to work as an art director, designer, photographer or writer. I loved different aspects of all of those roles and didn’t really feel like I fit the mould in any one category. So, I decided to start my own business and do things my own way, acting as Creative Director. Most people thought I was crazy and asked me when I was going to get a ‘real job’. I’d explain to them that this was my real job — of course I was young, naive and had a lot to learn but like everything in life I figured it out as I went and made it work. Being an entrepreneur has become very trendy over the past 5 years and while I think it’s wonderful (I always encourage people to follow their passions), I also I think most people truly underestimate what it takes to run a successful, sustainable business. I’m extremely fortunate that I’ve been able to support myself doing what I love and turn that into a very rewarding career. Although it’s definitely not easy, I’m a true entrepreneur at heart and wouldn’t trade this crazy ride for anything — high highs, low lows and everything in between. I’ve always had an aptitude for business and I think that the single most important thing you can do to ensure your success as a creative is to find your edge and market yourself as a professional. Even through JustineCelina, I market myself as a Creative Director first and a blogger second — I feel that’s given me a unique advantage in the ‘blogger bubble’ and I receive that feedback often from clients and partners.
What makes your blog unique?
My creativity and passion. I truly built the blog I wanted to read and I haven’t come across many other blogs like mine. I treat JustineCelina like it’s my own magazine — and I play Creative Director, Writer, Editor, Photographer, etc. I also work with other creative professionals often to bring collaborative content to the blog. I very much value my community and professional relationships and feel so fortunate to be able to work alongside some incredible creative talent to bring enriched content to JustineCelina, like the free monthly desktop wallpapers I create each month with my friend (and insanely talented flower designer) Rebecca Dawn Design inspired by what’s in season, called Digital Blooms. I really pride myself on my authenticity and innovation — I’m always pushing myself to explore, create and execute fresh ideas.
What part of the FBC site do you find most useful?
The blogger resources section. When I was first starting out, I referenced that section almost daily, soaking up as much information as possible. I still stop by regularly and direct other bloggers to the FBC site — even if they don’t blog about food! The resources FBC makes available to members (and the general public!) are truly second to none.
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