Justo García, a Dominican Republic native and Jamaica Plain resident, has turned a talent discovered during childhood into a flourishing business entrepreneur.
He has turned his passion for drawing and sketching into a venture, starting his own business, Roots United LLC, selling t-shirts and accessories that characterize the immigrant community and the unique traits of JP. García joins during its "" series to display and sell his work.
In a Q&A with the JP Patch, he talks about culture and the JP community.
Why did you decide to partner with HTSF during Summer Nights Out?
I represent culture with all the t-shirts I design. I wanted to connect with HSTF, and I had an idea a couple of weeks ago, to come back on the streets the way I started. I found out they were having a festival, called some people and asked them about displaying my stuff so that I could create a buzz.
How are your designs representative of the Jamaica Plain community?
This community is full of culture, I have a little of everything for everybody. If you are Cuban, Dominican, Mexican or Puerto Rican, you name it, there’s a little something for everyone. I think I’m trying to do my best to represent all the nationalities that make up the community.
How do events like Summer Nights Out distinguish Jamaica Plain from other communities?
This is the kind of stuff that goes on in JP and it’s been happening for many years. I think the HSTF has done a great job at keeping this alive and not letting it disappear. Everyone enjoys each other's background and where they come from and they celebrate that. It’s a great and fun environment where we get to know each other.
What is it like being a business owner from Jamaica Plain?
When I talk to the clients and sell t-shirts I tell them that this is pretty much where everything started for me. JP is one of the reasons why I started, because I wanted to represent where I was from. Then there’s Puerto Ricans, Cubans and others, and I want to represent them as well. I want to be able to represent culture the best that I can, and I think JP appreciates that.
Why is it important to keep culture alive in Jamaica Plain?
Well, you don’t want this to fade away and turn into a one culture town. Regardless of positives and negatives, I think there’s a lot of good things that come out from a melting pot. When you are isolated, all you know is your own culture. When you look into other people’s culture you realize how much you have in common.
How important is culture to you?
I don’t want to lose my own culture. I think I’m American because I’ve been here for so long. But I’m also Dominican and I don’t want to lose that. That would be uncool, if you forget where you come from.
[Editor's note: García will be at the Aug. 2 Summer Night Out but is not scheduled to be there for the summer's last one on Aug. 10.]