What more could you want than living in a beautiful part of Mexico and having a job that is your passion?
Such is life for Justine Standaert, a Oaxaca jewellery designer whose work is sold under the brand name of Justine Justine.
A native of Belgium, Justine has been captivated by the art of making jewellery since she was 14 years old. At the age of 18 she visited Mexico for the first time and in San Cristobal de las Casas, in Chiapas, she was given a jewellery-making class by an American girl who was selling her products on the street.
“That day I knew that jewellery was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Justine returned to Belgium and studied jewellery design, then went to Spain for further studies. Returning to Mexico she took classes in filigree.
Since then, Mexico has become Justine’s inspiration: the textiles, traditional jewellery and the intense colors. Recently, she has returned to working with silver, using old-school techniques that she learned in Oaxaca some years ago, to make contemporary pieces.
“I love the combination of old and new,” and observes that such a technique can be seen in the classic embroidery employed by designers such as Silvia Suarez and Fabiola Calvo in their modern clothing.
“I love to do research on the classic Mexican jewels and start from there, evolve it into unique pieces of modern jewellery.”
Justine and her husband (who is also a member of the popular cumbia band La China Sonidera) work together in the jewellery business, processing orders that come in daily from online sales.
Their most popular selling jewellery is a necklace that “brought our business to the next level, it became really popular years ago . . . . “ Justine says the filigree is popular too, and customers have her made custom engagement and wedding rings, “ . . . and that is what I love the most!”
As for life in Mexico, Justine’s reasons for enjoying it are shared by many expats: “I love the people, the sun, the colors, all the cultural activities, the food, the art, the embroidery, the textiles . . . . “