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The other night after work I had attended an event with a few colleagues that was hosted by a design agency called Cibo that used to work with us. Besides having drinks and networking, the main topic of the night was about brand experience. So when I had arrived to check in, while I write my name down on the name tag, you had to choose a word from the provided list as to what you feel/think about a brand experience. I chose gratifying and my colleague chose genuine. As we walked further into Cibo’s office space I already felt really inspired as corny as it may sound. I’m a sucker for beautiful interior spaces and architecture. The one photo I have of their space doesn’t do its justice. The main interior elements of this space was this industrial, brick and glass along with a pop of red throughout. It was really nice.

I gradually made way to get myself a drink and continued to mingle and get my networking on. It was kinda hard to really maneuver around since there was a good amount of people clustered in a corner sipping on their drinks and chatting away. I got to meet a couple designers that had worked with my colleague prior to me joining my company. I also got to meet the CEO of Cibo, who was absolutely friendly and welcoming. At the top of the first hour of the event the CEO had gathered us around so we can get started on listening to the 3 presentations that were lined up for the night. I got to talk to one of the founders that were presenting which was the company the Vault. The Vault had also collaborated with Cibo in developing their current office space due to some mishap.

The first presenters was by founders of Kinda Fancy, Lauren and Colin. The brand is basically a swim wear line that is gearing towards any average woman that’s looking for swim wear that won’t come undone when they’re swimming, surfing or do any water activities. Also, the swim suit has a pocket where you can store your keys and money. What made them come up with their brand was comparing themselves to companies like Billabong or PacSun which advertises their swim wear towards the more athletic type of woman rather than your average everyday “I don’t know how to surf” kinda gal. It was interesting to hear how they tested their swim suit, which was obviously tested on all body types. Even Colin, one of the co-founders modeled in the swim suit as seen in the photo above lol.

The second presenter was by Meg who is the Managing Director of the Vault. The Vault is essentially a company that creates a collaborative and supportive workspace as well as a community. Not only will the layout of the office space make a difference, but even the smallest things can impact an office space. Meg had mentioned having provided snacks is important to have. They’re going to be expanding to Brooklyn, NY this summer if any East Coast folks are interested in checking them out.

The last presenter was by Ben who is the founder of Odang Udon. It is a food truck that serves fresh udon noodles in SF. Ben has an ad agency background of 8 years and produces music as well. He left the agency world and wasn’t fulfilled with only producing music. After dining out to various Japanese restaurants in SF with a friend who became his business partner, they had realized at the time that nowhere in SF serves fresh udon noodles. They had invested in an udon making machine, which could mass produce how many bowls they’re trying to serve on a daily basis. Eventually they purchased a food truck and have been around SF. They will also be making their debut nearby my office at the SoMA Streat Food Truck Park, which is awesome. After Ben felt like he accomplished a lot with this new business venture and continues to grow his company, he was inspired to push himself with his music. He had mentioned that he would have these $2K paying DJ gigs, whereas amongst his other DJ friends weren’t making anything. He wanted to really make himself different and stand out from the many predominantly male dj’s that are out there. After discussing with his girlfriend if this particular DJ name change was okay, he went worth with it. Hence, DJ Julia Lewis LOL. Best name ever lol. It was hilarious. Long story short, he was able to get a spot on the stage at Coachella 2015 and got to DJ. I thought that was just awesome.

Despite how different each company were in their own way, they were all sincere and authentic in how they believed their brand can create this community and provide a valuable experience for their customers. I had taken some notes during the presentations because there were a lot of great points that were made. If you want your brand to succeed, you have to be consistent, authentic and true to your brand. With your brand, how will you give value through experiences? What are your competencies? It all comes down to the content, brand and strategy. I thought it was really interesting that Kinda Fancy and Odang Udon uses Instagram to gain exposure and to advertise themselves on that social media platform instead of Facebook.

After the great presentations, I felt so inspired and the passion that I’ve always had for design grew stronger. I was chatting with my colleagues afterwards and we all felt the same way. I literally wanted to go home and design something and just be purely creative. I had more fuel and drive to want to kick more ass in my career. It was very uplifting. I’ve always been about doing work the fulfills me, but has the work I’ve been doing made an impact on others? Yes, it has. My job is to create a better user experience not only to simply being able to navigate a website properly, but to create this experience for you to want to continue using this product. Whether or not you’re a designer, it was really good to be a part of that kinda of discussion. I wish all these companies for continuous success and growth because what they’re doing has truly impacted myself. Their story is just very powerful. I was happy to hear that this was Cibo’s first event in hosting something like this and will continue another one in the next quarter. I am definitely looking forward to their next event. 🙂

Here’s the links to Cibo and the 3 companies that presented:

Cibo SF

Kinda Fancy

The Vault

Odang Udon

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This afternoon after I came back into my office from grabbing lunch from a nearby food truck, I got semi bombarded by my colleague. He kindly asked if I had some time to chat and I said of course. He quickly mentioned that he had two bits of good news to tell me. I didn’t know what to think when he said this. We stepped into the conference room, door closed and he told me the news. First he will be leaving the company in 3 weeks, which he’s happy about since he wasn’t working on necessary projects. Secondly, his e-Book that he wrote just released and will need to focus on promotional efforts. I congratulated him about his book, but was bummed that he was leaving. I recently learned a bit more about him 2 weeks ago after having a pretty intellectual conversation in regards of User Experience design and whatnot. He’s worked with brilliant people in his past and he himself is a brilliant mind as well. It was very intriguing and I joked around with him saying he is a man of few words, but a few intelligent words. He’s the type of person that observes and chooses wisely of what words he’s going to use when he speaks. I love it! So after he told me the two bits of news, he told me he definitely wants to keep in touch with me and for me to hopefully be a part of something exciting. He was considering writing a book about UX (User Experience) and would love for me to be a part of it. He mentioned I will be compensated and I told him I wouldn’t accept his money. I told him I felt really honored and extremely rewarded to work with such a smart man. He was definitely flattered. We continued chatting some more and it’s great to connect with someone that shares the same mind set as myself when it comes to design and a few other things in general. After our chat, we exchanged business cards so we can keep in touch. I’m still quite giddy and excited about our discussion this afternoon. I really hope this project moves forward since it will be a pretty awesome collaborating session. I’m still really flattered for him to want me on board yet alone to be considered to be a part of that project. It definitely gives me that extra boost of confidence in my work. 🙂

• Here’s an article that he wrote for UX Magazine: http://uxmag.com/articles/everything-i-really-need-to-know-about-user-experience-i-learned-in-sunday-school

• Here’s a look at his newly released eBook, which is also available on Amazon: http://www.wayfind.com/habib.html

Welcome to DesignerX

Welcome to DesignerX

The other day I got a message on LinkedIn and got invited to a design event. In the message it stated that I was invited to this event on behalf of a company that wants to meet me and has viewed information about me. It was called DesignerX which was hosted by HackerX at a firm called General Things. It’s pretty much a speed dating style event where you get to meet companies that are currently hiring. There’s 50 designers that attends and 15 companies you get to meet. Also it’s a great networking opportunity to market yourself and meet other great designers as well. I quickly confirmed my RSVP but I still felt a bit hesitant on going. Why you ask? I felt very unprepared since I am in the process of redesigning my business cards, but at least I have a resume handy and my iPad mini ready to display my portfolio.

Secondly, my confidence as a designer has gone down pretty low. It’s pretty competitive over here (well, everywhere really haha) and I have to say I am intimidated. My skills aren’t as up to par as I’d like them to be. I still want to grow as a designer and expand to web skills, like UI/UX design. Print design is a comfort zone I’ve been wanting to step away from for so long. I am putting in the effort by brushing up some design knowledge and working on new projects, but that level of confidence has slowly gone down the drain.

Anyways, I was indecisive all day on going, but I finally got dressed and dragged my ass up to San Francisco. Met a couple of nice people who I ended up chatting with throughout the event as we waited patiently in line to speak with these big companies. Overall, I thought the event was disappointing. It was unorganized and not as detail oriented as it should’ve been. The idea was great yet poorly executed. Would I attend again? Maybe. I barely got to meet all of the 15 companies representing this event and I wasn’t the only one. I met with 3 out of 15 companies. The 5 minutes that we were suppose to have was definitely longer than 5. It felt like 10 minutes. It definitely should’ve been shortened to 3 minutes. Also, some of the companies weren’t as specific to what they’re company is looking for or even giving brief information about their company.

Like myself and many others, we were confused majority of the time. Even when arriving and “checking in” was confusing. No one was really there to check you in. I just saw a bunch of name tags and grabbed for mines. Prior to attending the event, there was no information as to how formal or informal this event was. Us designers were confused if we should’ve brought our resume and portfolios or nothing at all. It was just general basic things that should’ve been stated. I had contacted the person that reached out to me about this event and there was poor communication there. That was another reason for why I didn’t really want to attend the event.

On a positive note, I’m glad I left the event meeting a couple great designers and it was very reassuring to know that we’re all on the same boat. We all want growth as a designer and to aspire for more. I really don’t think anyone has any idea how hard it is to stay in this field. Even though we’re pretty much each other’s competition, people were equally as supportive. It’s comforting to have met others that are just as ambitious as I am are, especially in the design world.

Check it out: http://www.designerx.org/