This weeks blog is special (like every week but this story comes with a solid dose of heart).
I had the opportunity to chat with some of Australia’s interiors world dynamic duo couple- Jaynie & Nathan Johnson who collectively make up BLACKLIST studio & store. Nathan is an uber talented artist. Jaynie has a keen eye for design and personality plus. These two worked their way through Sydney’s magazine world to break free and launch BLACKLIST where, together, they create.
There are two strong underlining drives behind their successful entrepreneurial venture – their children- Willow (4) and Dare (8months).
I am humled to share with you their story, their journey, what inspires them, their love for family and friends and that life feels that much more of a gift with a special needs baby (Dare just so happens to have Down Syndrome). This fab four has a bond as strong as they come…
What inspired Blacklist Studio & Store to come about?
Jaynie: Nathan and I both had a background in Magazines, which we are super grateful for. They teach you great discipline and time management and you work with really great people. After Art Directing for 10 years Nathan decided it was time to do his own thing and started BLACKLIST and it has been a fun and organic progression as we’ve taken and created opportunities to be lucky enough to do what we do with who we love each day. We love the store side of the studio as we love having complete freedom over the direction and intention of a collection. Nathan loves creating album artwork for musicians and hand lettering is one of his ultimate design passions.
Where’s your home and what do you do in your down-time?
Nathan: We live in Cronulla, which is 30 minutes south of Sydney. We love it. It’s a small town, near a big city essentially. We are real homebodies so hang at home a lot with the kidos and friends. We tend to go down to the beach most days in summer and we are lucky to have a bay that’s perfect for the kids to paddle around in, so we tend to do that and read and watch movies or documentaries about random things that interest us. Nathan loves painting, I love writing, Willow loves craft and Dare loves watching us all so it’s always a fun and messy time when we are home.
How did having Willow change your world and working life?
Nathan: Having Willow was amazingly amazing….She is beauty personified…..Her arrival meant Jaynies departure from the city work life of 7am-8pm and it really gave her the chance to focus her time on our online store. Having kids teaches you so much about yourself and life. We love the fact that having kids actually slowed us down. It makes us work on being slow on the inside when it’s fast on the outside. It helps you be more intentional and productive with your time and think less about things that really don’t matter. It adds even more purpose and significance to what you do and why. Our kids are our everything…..
And how did having little Dare change your world as a family and as individuals?
Nathan: Having Dare completely changed our world, in ways we could never have imagined, or thought possible. We never thought we would have a child with additional needs (Dare happens to have Down Syndrome) not because it was a negative thing, but because we just never really thought about it. When we first had Dare it felt like a bomb went off and our dreams for our baby had sort of turned to dust. Then you realise that the worst of it is over (the diagnosis) and you get on with something that seems very ‘different’ to you initially becomes your ‘normal’ and ‘ordinary’, which we love. Having Dare has been the best gift to our family, we feel so lucky to have been entrusted to raise him (& Willow) He brings things out of us as people that I don’t think we would have ever had the opportunity to relaise they were there without him in our lives.
Jaynie: I could honestly not be prouder to be Dares (& Lolos) mum. To be honest when we first met Dare and had the first few weeks with him, I really had no idea how our life would look with Dare in it. We weren’t very familiar with Down Syndrome and thought we might have to give up on work and be full time carers, we really had no idea. I think all of our awareness was very dated and incorrect. Now a mere 8 months on I can truly attest to the fact that life doesn’t look as I’d imagined it would before our baby was born, it actually looks way better then we imagined ourselves. I’m not going to pretend that having a child with additional needs is the easiest thing in the world all of the time, especially initially when you would usually be spending time with your girlfriends enjoying your new baby, we were at early intervention sessions and numerous appointments, but for us the busiest and hardest part was the beginning and now it’s just life as usual. We still have regular ‘sessions’ (we call them the gym) to ensure that Dare has the best opportunity to achieve HIS potential but we love these appointments. The people we have met have become like family to us, we adore them and feel forever indebted to them. Having Dare has knit us closer (if that was even possible) and we love the adventure it has taken our family on. Willow loves her brother. She knows he has Down Syndrome and is aware of what it is and she just adores Dare. It’s too much really. They have an incredibly unique and divine connection. I remember when she saw Dare for the first time, two days after he was born (Dare was born with a respiratory issue so was in ICU for his first week) he had tubes everywhere and we were quite worried about Willows reaction to seeing her baby like this, but Willow whom is wise well beyond her 4 years looked at home for the first time and said “he’s so cute and lovely” and that pretty much sums up how Willow and Dare have changed our lives. They remind us that life is well and truly lovely even when it feels like maybe it’s not.
Nathan, could you please share a thought on fatherhood?
For me, being a father is the best thing ever. Seeing how your kids grow and interact with each other and the people around you is so beautiful. I’m convinced that they teach me way more than I teach them.
Thank you so much Nathan & Jaynie.
And happiest Father’s Day to one Dad who inspires many.