“I love print, I love pattern, I love colour, I love joy…” MOJEH steps inside La DoubleJ Founder JJ Martin’s Italian abode
An accomplished journalist turned entrepreneur and designer, cultivated Californian JJ Martin is a triple threat of the best kind. Her innate style made the 40-something a social media megastar, with Martin influencing women of all ages in the art of wearing (and clashing) prints with confidence. With the ability to marry her American confidence with European chic, the famed editor waved goodbye to her life in publishing and launched La Double J in 2015. Since then, Martin has been refashioning our wardrobes (and now our homes) with her crowd-pleasing, fearless style philosophies.
“Our mission at La Double J is not to just sell a woman a dress or a tablecloth, but to wrap our arms around her, uplift her soul and help her feel a million bucks in all aspects of her life,” explains Martin. “I’m actually happier if I can get her to start meditating, introduce her to a new pranayama breath technique, hook her up with an energy healer, get her to open her heart space and put her in touch with her intuition — all of which have been topics of the many live and Zoom events that La Double J has hosted for free in the last few years. My Spirit Tickle newsletter takes our community on my latest spiritual adventures with nuggets of wisdom and soul hacks from my tried and tested teachers and healers.We aim to connect with other women who are also seeking something deeper, and in this way we create and nurture a community,” she adds.
Martin’s holistic approach runs through every aspect of her life. A true artist, the lines are blurred between home and work, with her job a natural extension of the creative. Based in Milan, Martin’s home is a haven, housing her most precious pieces from her travels. To the design novice wondering whereto start, Martin offers this sage advice: “It’s really important to create harmony with your colours and prints because you don’t want to feel like you’re living in visual chaos. Start slowly:introduce one thing, live with it, see how you feel. All of this is very intuitive. There aren’t straight rules when it comes to decorating or designing your personal space, it comes from your gut. Every time you look at an object or walk into a room you should feel good inside. That’s your internal test. I always encourage people to start small so they don’t get overwhelmed, especially if they don’t have any print in their house. It’s really easy to start with pillows or blankets on beds to just add special touches to an already minimal or monotone environment. Lamps are also a great way to add an accent.
A mirror of her life, Martin’s home unites her love for vintage pieces and contemporary muses, with spaces for mediation, work and welcoming loved ones. “The house is both very old and very new, I have a mix of vintage pieces that I’ve found and a lot of really modern things,”says Martin.“What’s cool about Milan is that it’s not a baroque town like Venice, Rome or Florence. It has a very important history of mid-century design, which is super clean. Technically, my home is ‘complete’ but to me my homes are never done. I’m always looking to refresh, to peel things back, to remould. My bedroom was once a light celery colour which I’ve now totally transformed with a deep, earthy clay mood. It’s just about allowing the deeper layers of the house to express themselves. There are always more opportunities to play with the space, particularly when it comes to entertaining. I like to convert the little nook in my living room into a dining room, getting creative with mix-matching our home ware collections.”
Always feeling her way through her projects, Martin’s designs come from her heart, instinct and via her intrinsic sense of knowing what works on first sight. “When I see a print or pattern I like I get really excited, my heart starts thumping, I get a buzz of energy and I know we have to do whatever it is I am looking at,”she smiles.“It’s an internal oven that turns on. For the Roman Holiday collection we developed a collection of prints in-house inspired by Rome’s baroque domed architecture that I love exploring on a busy day in the city to zone out and reflect, as well as a serene dove motif that symbolises peace and feels just right for now. I love print, I love pattern, I love colour, I love joy.”
La Double J is proudly designed and produced in Italy, supporting its artisans and making for one very big happy Italian family. Having this Made in Italy stamp is all-important for the designer, as she explains the short but important history behind the brand. “The La Double J world has always been a love letter to Italy, from shouting about the legendary ladies of Milan to shining a light on our all-Italian roster of suppliers and artisans that we continue to support in an era when so many have decamped to Asia,”says Martin.“We are 100 per cent made in Italy, and it’s the backbone of my company. It’s a guarantee of quality, craftsmanship, passion and good values, as workers are treated well. In our new homeware collection, all of our porcelain is crafted with painstaking precision by Ancap in Verona. Our table linens are crafted by the Como-based textile house Mascioni and all our glassware is hand-blown by the Murano glass masters Salviati in Verona.”
When not working, Martin is living her best Milanese life, and can be seen starting her days with her pet pug Pepper.“Usually I take my dog for a walk in Giardini Pubblici, Pepper loves all the Roman ruins in the centre of the park, or I go to yoga,”shares Martin.“Truly, my free time is spent in anon-social way. I used to be a very social animal and would be out five nights a week. Now I barely go out one night a week.”I love to read and work on my writing, and sometimes I’ll do it at Pasticceria Cucchi, my home away from home. It used to be my office when I was a journalist and since then we have done lots of takeovers with La Double J. They are like family, I love that place,” she smiles. When it comes to shopping, Martin prefers vintage stores and markets every time: “You’ll always find me rummaging through the Naviglio market on the last weekend of the month or vintage shops like Madame Pauline and Cavalli e Nastri. We have an ever-expanding Milan Guide on La double j.com that has all my favourite must go-to restaurants, shops, cultural hotspots and secret places around the city.”
With La Double J now having a firm cult following, a pack of A-list collabs and boutiques popping up from Milan to Dubai, Martin has come a long way since shooting and selling vintage clothes online (another of her past dabblings). When asked the secret of her success, Martin believes that loving what you do makes all the difference. “Truly focusing on something that I genuinely love and am excited by is the thing that has helped me most with creating La Double J,”she says.“Back when I first started photographing and selling vintage, those clothes deeply excited me. I’d jump up and down when I found them. And I think that’s what transmits to people. There has to be some soul and heartbeat and that all comes from truly loving it.” Explore La DoubleJ’s latest collections here