My journey in graphic design began in 2006, my junior year in high school, where I had just been given a scholarship to attend the Art Institute of Illinois - Schaumburg. I dabbled in Adobe Photoshop 5, where I thought I had the confidence to design album artwork. My first found passion was music and I hoped to one day make it big working for a company like Rolling Stone or SPIN Magazine, or maybe I would get lucky from a pro-bono project that took off. None of those things have happened yet but a girl can dream!
My dream of working in the music industry is not all lost! I've been able to experience working directly and indirectly with musicians and various parts of the niche market from sales to designing album art to collateral and help with getting introduced to social media, online marketing, and even web maintenance. Simply put, I found my calling elsewhere and am amble to continue enjoying my passion of music separate from my work.
I graduated from the Illinois Institute of Art - Schaumburg in 2010 with a BFA in Graphic Design and again in 2011 with a Bachelors in Web Design & Interactive Media. They were still teaching Flash animation at the time but it helped me land my first real paying job of my professional corporate career, where I was creating banner ads for hotels all over the world - it was a pretty neat gig for a small-town girl like me that doesn't travel much.
After a few years and new manager later, I was given the opportunity to move up to the web design team where I really started to take interest in redesign projects. These were some high-profile clients that were spending a lot of money to increase their YOY revenue with online bookings. We were looking at Google Analytics and users' click paths to improve navigation and page hierarchies. This was a key moment in my career that made me realize I wanted to do more than user interface and graphic design...I was ready for something more. I feel like at the time I was looking for new opportunities the term "UX/UI" wasn't widely used yet. I struggled to find a position that balanced UI design with being able to dig into analytics and perform research for the purpose of learning prior to launching a concept. So many companies were looking for someone with strengths in either UI or UX but not both.
In 2016, Sears Holdings hired me to join their UX team as a Sr UI designer and allowed me to learn and grow in the realm of user experience practices. I found a new fascination with usability testing and live variant testing. Possibilities were endless and it was wild to see how such small changes had large outcomes effecting people's online shopping experiences and resulting in huge company gains. The most notable project I worked on while at Sears was for their online appliance protection plan program. I was heavily involved in their "patterns" team that focused on putting out consistent UI across all areas of the site. One of the principle designers gave me a book called "Atomic Design," and so began my interest in design systems. Sears began to severely decline in 2018 and I followed a few of my favorite colleagues to another well-known corporation called Walgreens.
Walgreens gave me the opportunity to work closely with a dedicated design system team where I learned how much coordination, challenges, communication, and collaboration is needed for an initiative like this to succeed. In addition to the design system, I was working on their next big all-in-one pharmacy application that would essentially replace the many applications that are used in the pharmacy today. This was an incredibly complex application that had several tasks they were trying to automate and create seamless work flows to achieve their goals. Although my time at WAG was short lived, I am extremely grateful for the experience I gained because it led me to where I am now.
Late Summer of 2019, pre-pandemic, I was hired at Peapod digital Labs. I didn't know it at the time but shit was about to blow up - the world was about to go on lockdown, and online grocery ordering was about to go through the roof. I was already sold on the idea of working in grocery - I mean, it's kind of a necessity for people, my work would impact potentially millions of people. PDL has allowed me to learn more than you would ever want to know about the operational side of fulfilling an order. Ask me about it sometime, you'd be surprised to know how many stores till struggle with solving substitutions.