I'm a Product Designer with the Trello team at Atlassian. Previously, I worked with Shopify and Vox Media. View the work
I have never accepted that things are impossible and have never been satisfied with the status quo. When I decided to run the first design conference in my hometown, I never took no for an answer. I wanted to do something to make things better for my local design community, so when doors were closed to me at every turn, I took out a personal line of credit to bootstrap the conference. With so much on the line like speaking fees and costs associated with travel, advertising, venues, and catering, I got to work. At 26 years old, taking that risk should have deterred me, but deep down I knew the conference would be a success. And it was. I sold out my conference, gained amazing sponsors (like Shopify, Microsoft, Mailchimp, Hoefler & Frere-Jones, and Treehouse), and brought industry-leading speakers Jeffrey Zeldman, Aarron Walter, Ethan Marcotte, Lea Verou, Jeremy Keith, and Josh Clark to my island of Newfoundland in the Atlantic Ocean.
I’m often asked why I put so much on the line to run the conference, and the answer is quite simple, really: it’s my passion. I love design and technology for what it can do to liberate ideas. I was introduced to design when I got my first MacBook one Christmas. I remember playing with the word processor ‘Pages’ and the many templates it came with like those for creating posters. I loved the feeling of taking ideas and putting them into a real, physical medium that I could share with others. It evolved from there; I quickly learned Photoshop and other design programs and started doing some freelance design work. I was making a little money designing posters, and I enjoyed it, but my problem was that I knew design could have a bigger impact. So, once again, I got back on my MacBook and opened iWeb, the app it had for making websites. I remember staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning trying to write HTML and CSS snippets into iWeb to create what I thought at the time was amazing web design work. Looking back, these amazing designs were most likely just rainbow coloured words scrolling across the screen, but that was fine because it was a stepping stone.
That’s all it took to get me hooked. I don’t think I slept for a year. I was always on my MacBook and on the web learning as much as I could. I was doing as much freelance work as possible, while completing a double major in philosophy and political science. I took full course loads in the summer, so I could graduate a year and half sooner. Shortly after graduation, I was hired by that same university to work in their distance education department to design and develop online courses.
Since then, I have worked for clients all over the world from New York City to Australia, for companies like Vox Media, and for institutions like Caltech. I’ve built apps to assist cancer patients and have used Twitter to alert Newfoundland drivers of dangerous moose sightings on highways. This is why I love design and technology; it can enable us to make our lives so much better, and I wanted to share my passion with those around me. That’s why I risked so much to run my own conference.
The conference was also such an amazing opportunity for me because I made so many valuable connections. Living on an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean was no longer an issue; in connecting my local design community with world-renowned speakers, I had connected myself with an incredible international community of designers and developers who attended, sponsored, or spoke at the conference.
During this time, I also learned about the many pain points that thousands of event organizers have everyday including the cost of event apps that enable organizers to sell tickets online. In short, it cost me $2k to sell tickets for my conference each year, and I had to wait months to get paid. This wasn’t good enough. So what did I do about it? I built my own event management app, Evey Events, with a friend. Instead of paying $2k in fees, it would have only cost me $120 using Evey. Sales from tickets are deposited into the organizer’s bank account within 3 days, not weeks. Evey is now used by event organizers around the world including Harvard, Draft Kings, Smashing Magazine, Shopify, and many more. To date, Evey has processed over 25 million dollars in sales.
Today, I work as a Product Designer at Trello, Atlassian. Trello is a delightful product that helps people and teams organize anything. I'm quite proud of the work I have been a part of at Trello, including the release of Trello's Design System, Power-Up Directory, and Trello's Unsplash integration.
Before Trello, I worked as a Designer Advocate with Shopify. My goals at Shopify were to educate and provide valuable resources to the Shopify Partner community. This involved running webinars, writing articles, creating resources, and meeting partners at events. Design and education were at the core of what I did on a daily basis.
I continue to work on freelance projects to fine tune my craft, and I’m always eager to explore new ideas and technologies. AR/VR and machine learning are two fascinating areas where I'm spending a lot of my free time. I think that these two areas will bring us closer and allow us to explore possibilities that we have yet to imagine.
Design and technology hold no limits. They allow us to dream, and they enable us to challenge the status quo in order to improve our communities. I’ve experienced this personally as they’ve taken me down a path to places I hadn’t imagined, and the best part is that this is just the beginning. Onward.
You can reach me at email@example.com.