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Check Out Javier Cortés’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Javier Cortés. 

Hi Javier, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I am Mexican American, and I grew up in Acapulco, Mexico. I have always had a love for nature and trees. 

About eight years ago and after many years of working as a mortgage broker, I discovered the art of bonsai. At that time, the real estate market was in a severe decline, and I became a stay-at-home dad with our second daughter. I was training in mixed martial arts and was looking for something to balance out my life. I took my first bonsai class and purchased my first tree. Ever since then, this ancient art form has become my way of life. 

For several years, I studied bonsai under Erik Wigert from Wigert’s Bonsai in North Ft. Myers, Florida, and I have participated in a multitude of workshops with several well-known bonsai artists, such as Robert Steven from Indonesia, Felipe González from Mexico, and Marc Noelanders from Belgium. I continue to study bonsai with world-renowned bonsai artist, Nacho Marin from Venezuela, at a few of his schools in Mexico, Ecuador, and Brazil. 

I started my business, Vago’s Bonsai, in August 2015. I’ve been fortunate and blessed to grow my business out of my backyard, mainly through social media and word-of-mouth advertising. And now, I’m shipping trees all over the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Thankfully, it has been a challenging, but fairly smooth road so far. As a one-man operation, it’s as easy or difficult as I want to make it. And, my job is made easier because I have the support of my family. 

Running my business is not so much a challenge but more of a balancing act for now. Being a stay-at-home dad again with our bonus baby makes it difficult sometimes to find enough hours during the week to dedicate to my work. Because bonsai is a living art form, the trees need constant attention, especially during the growing season (Spring/Summer). Many times, my entire work week has to be condensed into just the weekend. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Bonsai means a plant in a pot, and the objective of the art form is to recreate nature on a smaller scale while following certain rules. 

I specialize in tropical species of bonsai trees rather than the traditional conifers like junipers and pines that are widely used in Japanese bonsai art. I enjoy working with tropical trees because they remind me of my childhood. Our house in Acapulco was surrounded by enormous tropical trees. I have fond memories of my mother talking to her plants when she watered them. I always thought it was funny, but now I find myself doing the same thing with all my trees. 

I’m probably known for my more non-traditional styles. I don’t always follow all the bonsai art “rules,” so I tend to create some unusual, abstract designs with my trees. I like to take whatever nature gives me with a particular tree and create a beautiful piece of art from that. I also like a lot of movement and drama in my designs, and so I can’t always get there following the rules. 

I’m most proud of when other bonsai artists purchase my trees or when customers show my trees in bonsai exhibitions. 

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
The lesson I’ve learned is to work hard and apply yourself. If you love what you are doing, it becomes a lifestyle, and you don’t have to “work” a day in your life. 

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