Wellness entrepreneur Justine Monsul knows a thing or two about living well and living in style. The face of our most recent campaign, Justine has been a dear friend of the Coclico brand for nearly five years and counting. When she's not lending her distinct beauty and lively personality to our seasonal shoots, one will find Justine in Brooklyn working hard on building her organic beverage company Monfefo. As a proud Williamsburg dweller, we met with Justine on a sunny August morning for coffee in the neighborhood and chatted food, vintage clothing, and her forever items. Meet Justine and discover her sustainable street style featuring our Zeno Bootie in Black Leather.
Model Off Duty
On the Making of Monfefo
I always knew I wanted to do something that was tied to natural remedies. Since I was a little girl, my mother would always make ginger tea with lemon and honey while I was feeling under the weather. I have always been enamored by the power of natural herbs and roots that mother earth has to offer us. The idea of Monfefo began by the waters of Hawaii while I was working on an organic farm. At the time, I just graduated from Fordham and was really meditating on what I wanted to do in this world. I couldn’t simply get a job; I wanted to do something I loved but in a way that made people feel good. At the same time, on the farm I was picking macadamia nuts, drying them, adding salt, packaging them, and then shipping them to Japan. This mindset of farm to product stuck with me, and when I returned to NY, I began testing out the first batch of ginger shots.
Since the launch of Monfefo, our message has really only been expressed in the product itself and how it makes you feel. Which in itself is quite powerful. The reason being is because I was focused mainly on production, logistics and building a strong core for Monfefo. Now that I feel that I have a strong hold on the product, I’m spending more time on building the culture around the company, more about who we are and what our message is. We also recently began a running club every Wednesday at 6:30 PM. Open to all types of runners, we meet at McCarren Park on the NE side. All runners will get a ginger shot to start the run and a turmeric shot after. We also have some pretty rad '80s apparel to run in.
Life and Style in Brooklyn
I think building a food business in Brooklyn is amazing. There are so many growing businesses like mine, and it’s fun to chat with other startups about the qualms of starting a perishable beverage company. I also built my business based on connections and Google honestly. My background was in culinary food and a bachelor in science. I knew nothing about the beverage business starting out, just the basics. So I really leaned on the knowledge of others. For example, I would see a local juice company demoing at the deli, and I went to them and was like, “Hey, where do you make this juice?” And they were like, “The Pfizer Building, ” and I was like, “Cool cool… How do you spell that again?” Ha. But really, Brooklyn is an amazing place to be in, especially as a growing beverage entrepreneur. There are so many other amazing people doing great things here, and it’s great to learn and connect with others.
Regarding style, I’m a lover of vintage clothes. I really enjoy the uniqueness of a vintage outfit. I have also developed a more urban/factory-life type look. On a typical day, I’ll put on a pair of Levi’s, a relaxed t-shirt, a neck scarf, and some sabah shoes.
Sustainable Street Style
I believe that street style is more curated and for the viewer rather than for yourself. While personal style is more true to your roots of who you are. I think that style is most enjoyed when you are true to yourself and authentic.
My style is a fusion between vintage, relaxed, and hip. I really enjoy some personal pieces that have been passed down from my mother. In our shoot together, I am wearing all of my mother’s jewelry. My style over the years has become comfortable, easy, yet with a little punch, something that pops. And when in doubt, put a neck scarf on!
Currently, I am most excited about Monfefo Ginger Water. It is a new drink we are launching that is not a shot but a 16 oz. refreshing beverage. It’s a great cleansing drink that keeps you going throughout the day. You can also warm it up for an instantly soothing ginger tea.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have an item that embodies who I am but rather a symbol representing key characteristics of a strong business.
A business faces many trials and tribulations. But to succeed in business is never to give up, to believe in yourself and your journey. A symbol that I believe in that represents some key qualities of a strong business is a fulcrum. A fulcrum is a point on which the lever rests; it is the balancing act between the force you apply and the force you produce. A fulcrum requires balance, strength, and flexibility. Three key qualities I find essential to a sound business. It is easy to lose your path, something that has happened to me in the past. But if your roots are strong and planted, you will find your way again on that long and beautiful road. So cheers and enjoy the ride!
Photos by Bridget Badore for Coclico