why we do | designlovefest

i was listening to a cool podcast called design matters and they were interviewing simon sinek on good leadership. in the conversation he brought up his “start with why” theory a lot. it basically focuses on WHY we do what we do. which got me thinking about my own career, how i got to where i am, what lead me here, what were the early signs of it. so today, we are going to look into all of our way back pasts and encourage you to look into yours too. it’s a fun topic to discuss and think about.


Q: looking back, what is a memory from your childhood that is an early indication that you would be well suited for your occupation?

bri: (title: CEO/creative director of designlovefest): definitely a huge indicator was that huge journal i lugged around with me everywhere, documenting and writing all my feelings and inspirations. that was my teenage blog at the time. but i remember even further back than that, i was obsessed with the visual aspects to a school project. i remember we had to write a bunch of poems in english class and put them in a binder. i made sure i designed the cover of the binder perfectly and each poem had it’s own graphic theme. i probably would be annoyed at myself if i was another student haha. i just really enjoyed making my projects tell a story visually. i was also obsessed with my xanga journal, cutting out pages in magazines, collaging my closet doors with teen bop magazine photos, kid pix. i liked imagery, that’s for sure! ha, tell me this doesn’t take YOU right back…

why we do | designlovefest

and look at me teaching my little sister about computer programs (ahem, blogshop teacher in the making?? ha)

why we do | designlovefest

and then my giant high school journal…

why we do | designlovefest

and you should check out these emo videos i made in college (here and here). it kinda looks like my new/old blog style! anyway, i’ll stop now, i probably have way too many examples! ha.

natalie (title: art director at designlovefest): if i look back at some of the earliest indications that all of my actions would lead me to this job there are definitely a few that stick out. when every kid in middle school was reading tiger beat and seventeen magazine i had subscriptions to vogue and bazaar, which i shelved and cataloged with so much seriousness. neither my parents nor my peers had much interest in fashion so for me it was something that i could really make my own. i also kept a journal where i would just make lists of different shades of colors, i think this started when i saw my first j.crew catalog in the late 90’s. green was always the longest list, leaf, mint, kelly, i remember thinking grape green was so clever. lastly, i got involved in photography very young, both taking pictures and studying photo history. i had an amazing high school teacher that taught us both technical aspects and also about how photography was invented.  it’s still the primary source of my visual inspiration. I love looking at photographic images and reading about the context in which they were made.

erika (title: a managing editor at designlovefest): i was obsessed with design since i was super young. when i was 12 i taught myself photoshop and made a bunch of websites about all of my favorite bands (if only i could see them now!). i would design graphics, make desktop wallpapers, and write updates about everything going on, ha! fast forward 10 years and i was doing graphic design full-time, and now i’m doing practically the same thing i did as a kid. pretty much all signs from childhood pointed to my future.

joanie (title: business manager at designlovefest):  i don’t know if there was a time when i thought all signs pointed to getting a business degree. to be totally honest, it just sort of happened, people told me that it was versatile and to study something that i could actually get a job in after i graduated. i had a lot of different interests and i thought if i got a business degree i could blend everything into one, and that is true on a lot of levels but i also think there should more thought put into what you study. deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life when you go to college at age 18 seems a little silly. it’s too young, i didn’t know enough about the world yet. i do remember thinking that if  i studied “international business” maybe that meant i would get to travel all the time, haha. but i don’t regret getting a business degree, it has opened up a lot of doors for me and i’ve been able to have some really cool jobs because of it.


Q: what’s the most exciting part about your job?

bri: i think the most exciting part of my job is the diversity. i’m not quite diagnosed with ADD, but i definitely have some of those restless tendencies. i like that i can get my ideas out quickly and then move on. i like that i can share what inspires me and connect to people. every project feels different around here and i love that!

natalie: getting to be creative with all kinds of people. no project is ever the same thing twice and i love getting to go from one project to the next and the challenge of approaching each one as it’s own thing. I like the challenge of trying to reinvent the wheel. i also really, really like meeting new people and seeing what kind of expertise they bring to a job.

erika: i basically live on pinterest. for someone who had thousands of inspiration folders packed with fashion, interior and design photos on their desktop pre-pinterest, it’s pretty exciting.

joanie: that it’s always changing and evolving. no day is the same and that is really important to me, i like variety. and that the possibilities are endless. when i first met with bri about working at designlovefest she told me to make a job for myself and i could have it and that’s what i did. having that freedom to grow and expand feels exciting.


Q: what is a surprising task at your job that people wouldn’t expect?

bri: hmmm… sometimes people are surprised to hear that i still do all of the social media for designlovefest, with the exception of a few scheduled facebook posts.

natalie: i’ve spent days on set sweeping sand on the beach with a broom, also sweeping wall to wall carpet with a broom. brooms are underrated.

erika: that i’m the resident green thumb and keep all the plants at the studio (aka jungle!) alive.

joanie: gosh, a lot of things, maybe that i’m involved in almost every cooking/baking/recipe post that we do? and, i never work past 6pm. 


Q: what did you think you were going to be when you grew up, and what is your title now in your career?

bri: i wrote in my journal at 16 that i wanted to be a graphic designer for Nylon magazine. i tried my hand in graphic design for a few years until i realized i actually enjoyed the more conceptual part. i am now a creative director.

natalie: i was obviously going to be a photo editor for a major fashion magazine in new york city. i was definitely wearing high heels everyday and very chic business fashions, but i was also somehow extremely arty and living in 1970’s, andy warhol/ velvet underground era soho in a loft. i now do art direction and set design, which in someways combines all of those things in a practical way.

erika: as a kid i made lists of my dream jobs obsessively. to combine my huge list into one it was basically a graphic designer/magazine editor/shopkeeper. and in this digital age i’m doing all of those things as an editor, graphic designer and online store owner. pretty amazing! i love the time we live in!

joanie: i think i always thought i’d work in fashion, and i did for awhile but i needed to find a balance with my business degree and my love for style and that’s why i started pursuing careers that were business focused in a creative environment. i’d last about two weeks in a traditional business role due to sheer boredom, but somehow being able to work in a creative environment and manage the business aspects works for me. it’s the right amount of right brain/left brain transitions throughout my day. my current job title is business manager at designlovefest.


Q: what’s the most rewarding part of your career?

bri: i think my answer here is pretty simple. i love my job. i wake up most days very excited to start working. i feel very grateful for that.

natalie: getting to manifest ideas into reality. taking a concept and being the person that actually brings it to life. and working with other creative people. i get to spend a lot of time brainstorming with others and that always leads to more ideas. knowing that creativity is endless rather than finite is probably the biggest reward of them all.

erika: working with artists i believe in and helping them get the exposure they deserve. it’s so rewarding to source all the awesome work talented people make and share it with the readers at designlovefest. there’s a whole lotta love involved!

joanie: seeing and experiencing growth. it’s really rewarding to work hard, have a vision for something and see it actual come to life. the social media/blog world moves quickly so it will be an idea one day and then two weeks later it has already been executed. that’s exciting. i also think creating a relationship between the brand and the blogger is pretty cool. two different sides of the coin, with two different sets of expectations and for both parties to be happy in the end, that feels rewarding.

now we gotta ask you, why do YOU do what YOU DO? we wanna hear about it!

(photo: Guy Bourdin Vogue May 1969)


Add your own

    Amanda says:

    my story is so similar to all of yours, i guess that’s why i’ve been a reader since the very beginning. in middle school i started collaging and had those same notebooks and magazine collections. in high school, i started to think about this art i was creating, and how to channel that energy and passion into a college degree and career. so i decided to study graphic design and actually wanted to work at nylon magazine too!

    now i’m a product manager at a tech company, which might seem like quite a departure, but from graphic design i learned web design, which lead me to UI and UX design, and now i’m designing and managing the development of high-tech software! it’s pretty cool.

    Danielle says:

    I ended up doing things that I thought I had to do – and had no relationship to dreams from growing up. I am currently working to get back to those things that still truly define ME and make me feel happy and fulfilled every day.
    Love this post – and especially because I relate on so many levels.

    My career has been a roller coaster ride. Although I knew from the very beginning that I’m inclined to creative field, I chose to be an electronics and telecom engineer. I thought I would have a secure job after that. But the urge to do something more creative like designing was still very strong and so I decided to my masters in Information & Digital design from design school. I though it would be a balance between the tech and design field. And it was.
    And like Amanda (above), I became a UX and UI Designer.
    However, life happened and I moved to the states from India 6 years ago and did not have a working visa. So I started my own blog. And now I blog full-time.
    Everything I thought I wanted to do, paint, graphic design, styling , photography, furniture design, I got to work on all. It’s almost like dream come true and the most surprising part is that I was left with no choice. I was kind of pushed into doing what I love. Which I guess rarely happens and I’m very grateful for that.
    I have a LONG way to go in the blogging business though… And that’s why I love your blog cause I’ve got to learn so much from it.
    My best moment was when you featured my DIY TACO STAND on Designlovefest and I thought that was my first big achievement in the blogging world.
    Also, loving this new, more personal approach of the blog!

    Megan says:

    I was the oldest of 7 kids and spent a lot of my time helping my mom and “mothering” my siblings. I also babysat consistently from 11 years old on up. When I was 17, I was babysitting a little baby and noticed the family had ultrasound pictures on their fridge. Looking at them, I was suddenly filled with the strongest emotions and desire to carry and care for my own children one day. Fast forward 8 years and I’m a young mom with two babies working from home so I can spend as much time with them as possible. This role is not without its challenges, but it is fulfilling to see the desires and experiences of my past materialize in the present and I’m curious to see how these experiences will continue to influence my life and my career. I know I didn’t even talk about my career, but I just love to see the threads that weave from one stage of life to the next, as you ladies shared so beautifully.

    designlovefest says:

    i love this. i’m also one of seven, big families are the best.

    Kaitlyn says:

    Love design matters! I have had the pleasure of meeting Debbie in person at Design Camp in MN a few years ago. Great speaker and so knowledgeable of the design world. I used to listen all the time years ago but fell off the wagon. I’ll have to start listening again

    Katryna says:

    Thank you ladies so much for sharing your journey! It took me a while to discover my why, and what I do.
    I always knew I had a passion for clothes when my dolls never played pretend, they just got their outfits done and redone. I learned to sew when I was 14 and haven’t really stopped since. I went into Human Ecolog in university which ended up being the perfect blend of fashion love, while also introducing me to more ‘practical’ work skills which lead me to my current job in marketing.
    It took me so long to discover what I guess I already knew all along, I love being behind the scenes, and creative, and I am very tactile and observant.
    After reading Start With Why I narrowed my WHY to: inspire others to not fear their creativity. So no one says “I’m not creative”.
    In my work this means getting people involved in small scale marketing projects that play to their strengths (small business perks) and in my blog and friends by teaching and (hopefully) leading by example.
    I am still excited to see where this can lead

    Merin says:

    Oh wow! Such a lovely Post! Absolutely loved it ! Took me back to memory lane and childhood and happy thoughts!! Finding your true calling is truly a blessing


    Sugar Vendil says:

    I say the same thing about my work (pianist/director): I wake up excited about my day. It’s unusual for me to not be excited!

    Kat says:

    I’m 25 and feeling like I’m still working my way towards my dream job. I do graphic design and photography at a university 9-5, but in the evenings and the weekends I am outdoors going on adventures with my friends and my camera and blogging our experiences. I’m trying to figure out how I can transform that part of my life which energizes me into a career… it’s a work in progress.

    bri says:

    keep it up, girl! it’s a process

    Tinneke says:

    I’m 31 and also still working towards my dream job @Kat 😉
    As a child I always loved to draw. I once wrote in my journal it’s so sad I can’t make a living out of my drawings (I was 15 years old). I studied visual merchandising, did a few boring jobs. Then I went back to college and studied graphic design (at 25). Now I’m a graphic designer and still not truly happy with my day to day job. So I started to draw again and noticed it’s still a true passion. What will be next..

    Terri says:

    When I was a little girl I dreamed of being a stewardess. I loved the idea that they got to travel the world, and since I was little in the 60’s when stewardesses dressed very classy, I was also fascinated with their style and sharp uniforms. Once I heard about my first hijacking that scared me off from the idea and I’m only 5’1″ anyway, so I gave that dream up. Once I became old enough to get a job I did end up going into fashion and became a buyer, and still to this day there is nothing I love more than international travel. I am one of those people that most of the time still dresses fashionably when I’m on a long flight. And yes, Bri, this is your mommy speaking. haha

    Savannah says:

    Loved this post (and the new direction)! I honestly check the site throughout the day and I’m never disappointed. I’m really enjoying the longer posts (“text-heavy” though that sounds like drudgery, not intended) – which says a lot because college students are the champions of skimming. Bri – I *totally* had the collage thing (except mine was on my exterior bedroom door, incredibly cringeworthy now). I literally taped photos of Pete Wentz and Ashlee Simpson’s wedding alongside Lauren Conrad and Google Image shots from “Dirty Dancing.” My 2008 aesthetic was a trip, good God.

    I’m in Secondary English Education, which doesn’t justify the Patrick Swayze fascination, but there’s definitely something I can trace back.

    Thanks you guys, keep up the excellent work! 🙂

    jen says:

    I’m a realtor in DC. My favorite part is looking at homes and seeing how people decorate their spaces. It’s fascinating. I didn’t dream about becoming a realtor when I was little. I’ve always been a huge reader and I thought I’d be a writer. Then I realized I didn’t want to be a starving author. I still love writing and that’s why I have a blog. While it’s not 100% personal or imaginative, it’s still deeply satisfying to do something somewhat creative.

    Sarah says:

    Wow, I loved this post. I absolutely love reading the stories and inspirations of people with careers whom I admire.
    I just discovered this blog and I’m so glad that I did!

    Sarah | sarahracker.com/blog

    amanda says:

    This post was definitely what I needed! this is amazing. Im 25 and i am a graphic designer at a small company but im not doing exactly what i want to do here. there is no creative freedom. i also do freelance work which keeps me alive and going. trying to work towards working for myself or a company with more design work to show off my style! thanks for this post!

Leave a Reply to Danielle Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.