Part 2, Interview with Karen Justice
Kristin: What inspired you to write your book “Barracuda in Bunny slippers”?
Karen: I wanted to help other people develop the courage to start over as I had experienced it myself, with building my company with impossible odds. We hear so many platitudes about positive thinking that they simply become annoying. I felt I had insight that could make positive thinking easier for others.
I’m happy to say I have received letters from people who’ve told me that I have helped them have the courage to make their dreams come true and that is very gratifying.
Kristin: Wild Jungle Chick designs are so playful and colorful. Where did this concept come from?
Karen: I evolved into a cartoonist while creating designs for Tigre Lis. My designs involved a cast of animal characters who developed personalities over time. What really caught my attention is that I received two separate letters from two health care workers who worked with Autistic patients and both reported that my characters got patients communicating. They wanted to know what my characters were thinking because they felt my work had a unique ability to communicate feelings.
This is when we hear our “angels” talking. I’ve learned to pay attention to these little nudges. Those letters really got me to look at how much I loved cartooning. It was what I really wanted to do with my life.
I live on a small barrier island on Florida’s Gulf of Mexico. Florida is a unique place. It’s a great place for a cartoonist. You see every character in the world here. If they don’t live here, they’re here on vacation. The Florida Keys attracts them all. They have beach bars and gypsy chickens running down Duval Street. I decided to locate my card line here. The tropics are full of vibrant color, happiness, and sunshine
My main character is the Wild Jungle Chicken. She’s a middle aged, hormonally altered chicken with an attitude. She’s not going to take it any more – and by the way is not aging gracefully. Flashy Frog has reached the top of her” to do” list. He has all the pick up lines and is sure green goes with everything. One of his side kicks – a pig called Pudgy Pants, is also one of the public’s favorite margarita swilling swine. She’s a little plump and not in anyway apologetic. In fact, she knows she’s hot!
People are looking for gentle humor. There’s a lot of abrasive humor out there but my niche is those who are looking for a more loving approach.
“The lower the latitude the better the attitude… Laughter is an instant vacation and the shortest distance between two people is a smile. I like to pass them on” are my life’s mantras.
What do you consider to the hardest part of working for yourself? If you could go back and change one thing and one thing only, what would it be?
Navigating the current economy. There are a lot of small businesses in trouble out there. I’m lucky because my line uplifts the atmosphere and it’s what people look for in a down economy.
The one thing I would change would be to have started on this path a little sooner, but then maybe I wouldn’t have had the insights that make my characters funny.
Kristin: The road to successful self employment is long and bumpy, but so rewarding when you finally reach each goal. How did you keep your focus when things got bleak?
Karen: I didn’t have a choice. I’m not married. I haven’t really had any support structure.
What keeps me focused is an honest belief that anyone can do anything if you have tenacity – If you don’t let life beat you down. The success common denominator is the ability to keep on going on a given course when things get rough. And they will. That’s how we grow in life. We learn to overcome our obstacles.
I live on the beach. Walking on the beach keeps me focused. It’s hard to get too down if the waves are lapping at your toes. People might say, well that’s ok for you, you live at the beach, but I would reply – you can create your life the way you want it to be. I don’t live in an expensive place but it’s a colorful place. I chose to come here. I worked to come up with a life that would support that choice.
Kristin: What do define as success? What do you define as happiness?
Karen: Right livelihood comes from doing something that you believe in. A successful life can be a simple one but I feel it should include having the courage to take risks and go for what matters.
Happiness is being grateful for the good things that are a part of everyone’s life and taking the time to acknowledge that gratitude daily. It also includes stepping out of ourselves and with love in our hearts, taking the time to be of service to others. We can all be of service in some way. Just taking the time to smile at an old person at Wal-Mart can brighten that person’s day. It’s easy if we stop looking inwardly at our own problems and enjoy the world around us. They say all the world’s a stage. Instead of getting too wrapped up in the drama, I choose to smile at the comedy.
Kristin: Where do you see Wild Jungle Chick in 5 years? Other than Wild Jungle Chick, what else do you have planned?
Karen: I would like to be one of the top 5 greeting card companies. I’d also like to have my own cartoon strip. I’ve started writing some children’s books and a funny self help manual I’m calling “Channeling the Chicken.”
I’d also love to have one of the children’s books made into an animated piece. I’d like to have enough money and influence to have a significant impact on animal rights and conservation.
I hope to continue being a small part of making life a little happier.
For more information on the Wild Jungle Chick line, visit www.wildjunglechick.com