Our July Mujer, Jan Barboglio, best known for her eponymous line of home décor (and also known as Cristina Lynch’s aunt!), is every bit artistic as she is funny. Part cowgirl part artist, she has taken her love of ranch life, sculpture, and Mexico to make beautiful things that speak of Mexican romance.
Barboglio is ever the consummate hostess. We arrive at her home on a hot summer afternoon to chat with her about her career and her life and are instantly taken with her gracious hospitality. Warm quesadillas are set in a basket on the grand marble-topped dining table in a room drenched with natural light. The home itself feels like an escape from the rest of Dallas. Barboglio’s iconic iron sculptural designs are mixed in with clean white walls and modern lines, making the rooms feel artful but calm at the same time.
One can’t help but be struck by Barboglio’s quiet steadiness. She is an inspiration; hard working and constantly learning and absorbing.
What did you envision yourself becoming when you were a child?
I always wanted to be a boss like my daddy who ranched in Mexico. I grew up in the country on a ranch with wide open spaces… it was like the land of limitless horizons.
How did you get started designing home accessories? You mentioned once that it started with a bobeche, that could collect the wax drippings from your larger candles. How did that idea become a full-fledged line?
Yes, the bobeche or wax grabber, led to chargers, and that led to trays. And then trays led to stands to put the trays on. And the whole thing evolved. Also, I had just moved into this house, so I designed and made whatever we needed at the time.
My taste is influenced by Mexico and its spirituality, but I love and appreciate all forms of art from different countries.
You’ve mentioned you draw a lot of inspiration from your travels. Where have you recently gone and how has it influenced your design?
You know, I have traveled some. The last place I visited was the island of Anguilla. It really didn’t influence my designs, but I loved the varying colors of indigo blues and amazing pinks of the sunrises and sunsets.
When I returned, I happened to visit the Perot Museum of Nature and Science with my granddaughter to watch a BBC film about flamingoes. The film had beautifully photographed the same blues and pinks I had just seen in Anguilla. I have never had a collection with shades of blues and pinks… but I just might have one now.
Personally, I find the lack of color easier to live with, but I have recently found it exciting to layer in color in my own home, as we have in our collections.
Our recent collection of Talavera pottery… married with crystal, silver and white linens bring me to a state of euphoria. The various regions of Mexico… Puebla, Dolores Hidalgo and Leon Guanajuato have similar styles but are different. Putting them all together is exciting (and historic!).
What was a particularly challenging time for your business? What did you learn from it?
9/11. Everything stopped. I think stores were frozen, customers were frozen. Everyone was frightened. And what I learned from that period was that it’s important and essential to be there for your customers… not necessarily to sell anything, just to be there. And we were there. A lot of customers were less sure of their buys, so we helped them work through it. They were very loyal to us then and continue to be now.
What advice would you give yourself looking back on your younger self?
To be more patient. And to be more tolerant. And more accepting. Somehow when you’re younger you feel like you know it all.
How did you balance raising kids and running a business? What advice do you have for moms who are trying to juggle it all?
That is so hard. It is so hard. I’ve always thought that I could do three out of four things on my life list… I could be married, I could have children, I could have a business, and I could have a good marriage. And I was right, I could never do all 4. Somehow my good marriages bit the dust. But as a result, I have three lovely children and a lovely business… and I can say that I have been married!
What particular pieces from your collection are your favorites right now?
Jose and Josefina are artist signed vessels sculpted by a blind artist in Oaxaca, Mexico.
I have many pieces of his work that I treasure. Our collection represents two of his works.
What is the hardest part of your day-to-day job?
Keeping up with friends and family and not leading a very varied lifestyle… I tend to become a mule with blinders on at work. I am an early riser; I get up very early and head to the office. Since my children are grown, I linger at the office until 7:30 or 8 pm and by that time, I’m sort of in another world and don’t reach out like I should. I think that’s really important, to reach out to friends and family… that’s something I want to work on.
How do you spend a typical day? What is your schedule like in the mornings, midday, evening?
If I’m in town I get up at 5 am, go to a Bikram class I attend at 5:30, and I do that until 7, and then I go to work, and I am there for a couple of hours before everyone gets in the office, so I have time to think and do a little bit of design, and a little bit of reading and some wandering around. My son Angus plays an important role in the company and has been with us for over 6 years, so we carve out time to meet and catch up during the day as well.
How do you keep your ideas evolving while staying true to the hacienda aesthetic you’ve created?
I really don’t know… it just comes to me.
Describe your ideal weekend; what are you wearing; what are you eating? Who are you with?
This is such a loaded question because of where I am in my point in life. I think one of my ideal weekends would be in Mexico, at the ranch with my son, driving around, working cattle, and just being with him. I was brought up on that ranch; I was there until I was seven years old. So, it’s very meaningful to me. I also love visiting my two daughters and grandchildren! We all adore Mexican food.
In terms of what I’m wearing: At the ranch, jeans and a white cotton shirt. I don’t wear jewelry. I used to design clothes; and I never really was into clothes as I was always a little bit of a tomboy. But I loved that period of my life and I do love what I am doing now.
What Mi Golondrina pieces do you love and how do you style them?
I’m a huge fan of Cristina’s Tuxedo shirt; those are so classic and comfortable. They’re also versatile. I wear that with evening skirts and jeans, and I will always wear them with whatever and whenever and wherever! I adore them!