I’m from a tiny village in the foothills of the Clwydian Range, Wales, U.K.
I currently live and work in the capital city of landlocked Zambia (a country the size of Texas with the population of Beijing). It’s a wild and beautiful place, with warm-hearted, kind and really positive people.
Where I grew up (North Wales, U.K.)👇
Where I live now (outskirts of Lusaka, ZambiaLake Itezhi Tezhi, where we occasionally go for a weekend away 👇
I’ve always loved trying to find out what makes people tick. I started my working life as an anthropologist: researching, writing about, and trying to understand what constitutes the human experience, particularly visual aspects like art, dance, and fashion. Through a series of fortunate events I fell in love with design, and I’ve been a graphic designer for nearly a decade now. I particularly love the intricate process of crafting the perfect logo, and making data visualisations, because ultimately I enjoy solving complex problems and creating simple solutions.
When I first discovered UX, and how human-centred design can empower people, simplify their lives, and ultimately bring people closer together, I fell in love with it immediately, and fall more in love with it every day. It’s my dream job!
I am enrolled in the UI Bootcamp, but am also starting the Design System Bootcamp soon. I had already studied the foundations of UX design when I discovered Memorisely, so I decided it was best to focus my energies on getting SUPA comfortable with Figma, and learn UI and DS foundations from experts who are currently working in the field. I am so glad I did - I am 4 weeks in and have learnt more in that time than I would have done in a year of trying to teach myself.
It’s an incredibly immersive experience. I’ll admit I was a bit intimidated at first - I last participated in a live class with real people over a decade ago and am very used to working alone. However all my fears were unfounded as everyone is amazingly friendly, helpful, and non-judgemental, and the positive energy is amazing! You can interact as much or as little as you like. As well as learning the technical skills of Figma & UI best practices, I feel like it is teaching me to really think and feel like a UX designer, and interact like one, which is a unique and incredibly valuable experience.
My favourite part of Bootcamp so far is the way it is structured. It is a mix of live teaching and exercises within Figma, and 2 different types of homework to practise what we’ve learnt in class. It has been incredibly well designed and a lot of thought has clearly gone into every aspect of it. Zander is an incredible teacher, with infectious positive and creative energy.
One learning that has really surprised me during the Bootcamp is the sheer depth and breadth of the course materials. From the prep work (course books to read, articles to write, blogs to bookmark, and other short tasks to prepare you for your first class), to the interaction and collaboration, to the tutorials, homework, and Q&A during office hours, it truly does feel more like the curriculum you’d receive at an academic institution rather than at an online school.
My biggest challenge currently is finding time to learn, practice, and do the homework from the course in order to build up a really strong portfolio. Along with my family and work commitments, it has been challenging to fit it all in and it took me a few weeks to get into the swing of it. However I have now started to manage my time a bit more efficiently and was even brave enough to ask my classmates for feedback this week, which was a first for me and a great experience!
I tend to get up early (around 5:30am), have a pot of fresh lemon, mint and ginger with a side of a very large cafetière of coffee and almond milk, and do a bit of homework for an hour or so before I get my children ready for school. I then do a quick to-do list depending on what work I have on that week, and get through anything urgent while they are at school. I do try to take breaks but once I’m focussed on something I often find it hard to stop....I hang out with my kids after school, then get back to homework after they’ve gone to sleep, usually from 7:30pm until around 10:30pm. I then try and take half an hour or so to read a UX book before bed, where I will typically listen to a Sleep Story on the Calm app to relax. I currently don’t have much downtime, but it’s the way I work best - I tend to fully immerse myself in a project for a chunk of time, then take a week or two’s break where I don’t think about work at all, before getting back to it again.
My workspace probably looks crazy and really cluttered to most people, but I like to have all my precious little things around me :-) I tend to paint, sketch or do origami to tackle creative block, and like to have reference books and notebooks close at hand. 1 or 2 or all 3 of my dogs, and/or cat, usually joins me at or underneath my desk!
I have a lot of “must-have” apps 🙂 Slack to communicate with work- and classmates. Notion for productivity. Google Drive for storage. Miro for brainstorming. Dashlane for passwords. Audible, Kindle & Spotify for music and books. If my mind is feeling busy or overwhelmed and I feel myself losing focus, I use Headspace or Balance for quick 5 or 10 minute meditations to get back on track.
Memorisely introduced me to Notion, and I absolutely love it. For planning, filing, organising, communicating, documentation, efficiency, and for overall productivity - it’s the best.
I have really eclectic taste in music, and listen to all sorts while I work. I find it gives me good energy. I like BBC Radio 6 Music, particularly Cerys Matthews, Cillian Murphy, & Craig Charles’ shows. I used to have my own radio show here in Lusaka called “Theme Time”, which as the name suggests had a different theme each week. I still create themed playlists for fun even though I don’t work at the radio station any more, and the one playing today is “Cities”. It has tunes from Nina Simone, Sufjan Stevens, J.J. Cale, Phoenix, Gomez, George Ezra, Ryan Adams, RHCP, Toots & The Maytals, Songhoy Blues, and more. Next week - Weather!