Edmonton, Canada šŸ‡ØšŸ‡¦
unmute
#019

Saakshi Dhingra

Product Designer

Hello! Iā€™m Saakshi. I'm a product designer, self-proclaimed food stylist, and portrait photographer. I love yoga, watching an unreasonable amount of Netflix, and matcha.
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Where are you based as a Product Designer?

I am based in Edmonton, AB Canada.

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Why are you a Product Designer?

Product design connects people, ideas, and creativity. It gives you the chance to understand another human and build with purpose. Product Design aims to humanize technology ā€“ it's made to enhance environments and the connections people make.

I'm a Product Designer because It gives me the chance to create spaces for others to trust their intuition, their values, and trust they have all they need to make decisions that work best for them. The design process is centered around intention, and I hope to always be intentional as a human, designer, and storyteller.

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What were you doing before pivoting to Product Design?

Before transitioning into Product Design, I was immersed in all things Accounting and Business. I finished my degree and began pursuing my CPA designation. I was even working at a public firm straight out of university.

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What was your experience like transitioning into this field?

My experience transitioning into design was far from easy and it certainly could not have been done without the support of my parents and loved ones. Being South Asian, there's this idea that we have to fit into a certain mold, choose a career that adjusts to those limits, and feel the need to consider what the rest of the world is saying. My family has always been extremely open, but I felt the need to choose stability over my natural abilities and passions, until one day that switch flipped.

My transition began when I felt nothing more than relief from being laid off. I realized that I wasn't supposed to feel this way and that I needed to make a change. The world of accounting always felt extremely linear to me, the dots never connected and I never felt that I was making an impact. There was always a process or correct way to do things. When it comes to design, it is extremely fluid. There is that chance to constantly pivot, feel the impact with the smallest insight and see your work come to life. Transitioning into design has given me so much more than I ever thought it would, and I'm very grateful to be here.

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What does a typical day look like for you?

Right now, my day starts off with struggling to get out of my bed, hitting snooze several times, and scrolling through socials (a habit I know I need to break). Once that battle is fought, I go through my full morning routine which includes getting ready, my skincare routine, making my morning matcha, yoga, breakfast, reading through my emails, and setting up for the day.

After that, I usually have morning standup with my old cohort, and some 1:1's with some of my peer mentors. I'll go through any messages on slack, respond, and do all the tiny things that tend to pile up. If I don't get to those In the morning, I usually forget. Once all of this is out of the way, my work actually begins. I like to start by making a list of things to do and then sort them from highest to lowest priority to focus my schedule.

The rest of my day consists of me completing my freelance work for my clients and, of course, my work with Margot Community. Since I'm a budding designer myself, I spend a good chunk of my day networking. This involves reaching out to other designers I come across or those that I admire in order to learn from them, and listen to their story. Since mentorship has been invaluable to me throughout this journey, I also make time to mentor students who are just starting out their design journey, working through a career transition and those in school who may be unsure about what they would like to do or what direction to go in.

I do not like to spend tons of time making food throughout the day, so I always throw together leftovers or whatever I can see in the fridge. Something fast and healthy like a bowl or avocado toast is always lifesaver. In the evenings, or once my work day ends, I like to take out my camera and practice portrait photography, hike, or watch an unreasonable amount of Netflix.

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What is your current desk setup?

Since everyone in my family started working from home due to the pandemic, my current desk set up consists of everything that everyone did not want. I purposely places my desk by all the windows to take in the natural light as I work. I keep a candle/diffuser to relax the mood and maintain a sense of calm throughout the day. I always have a snack at my desk and some type of a drink ā€“ I'm obsessed with barkTHINS and matcha right now. I also have shelves to block off any distractions happening behind me such as my family members entering the room during a zoom meeting. Here is my humble abode:

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And your Workstation setup across devices?

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What work are you most proud of?

Right now, the work I'm most proud of is my work with Margot Community. I have the chance to design, research, and speak for a brand that creates space and opportunity for others to find mentorship and be mentors. We're working on slowly building out our marketplace; but, for now, our beta version is working its magic.

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Which Product recently blew your socks off?

I've recently been trying to work my way through Adobe CC and learn all the different platforms. Each and every adobe application is so robust and amazing ā€“ I cannot wait to see where it leads me. Since starting my portrait photography journey, I've been loving Adobe Lightroom. It constantly allows me to flex my creative muscle, and I've learned so many tiny things to enhance my portraits.

Here's some of my work:

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What challenges do you face as a Product Designer?

It's so easy to get overwhelmed and lost as a Product Designer, especially as someone who's new to the field. There are so many challenges I face from learning new softwares/ techniques, to networking, and even gaining experience with real clients. But, in all honestly, I think the biggest challenge lives in my own mind. It's the part of me that say's you're not ready, you're too far behind, and you have so much to do. It's the part that tells you not to apply for that position because you're not 100% qualified. Or, that fear that creeps up when you need to take a leap. When these moments happen, I do my best to lean into my mentors, my support system, and try to refocus.

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How do you engage with your team to initiate new product ideas and keep up with current projects?

Engaging with my team to initiate new product ideas and keep up with current ideas has been really amazing. At Margot Community we have a weekly design meeting and monthly feedback meetings, which is a safe space to discuss different ideas, engage in different research methods, and keep up with our current projects to decide how we can pivot and move forward. Open communication has been at the heart of all our work together, and it's what continues to make us such a strong team.

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What tunes do you listen to whilst designing?

Generally, I love exploring music, but whilst designing, Lo-Fi is my go to, especially Japanese Lo-fi. It keeps me in the zone - cool, calm, collected if you will.

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Three suggestions for budding designers?

  1. Connect with others in the community: I know everyone you speak to might say the same thing, but It's true. Networking, cultivating relationships, and being open with others is so important. At this stage in my journey, it's been crucial for me to build my network and explore. It's really opened my mind to see all the different possibilities I never even thought to consider. It doesn't matter whether they are designers who've had a hand in creating the industry today, your peers, others who are early on in their journey, or even individuals in other professions who have nothing to do with design. As a kid, I always looked at different creatives and never thought I'd be among them someday. Today, because of networking and fostering so many connections, I can see that all the people I've looked up to are not so far away, and my dreams feel that much closer.ā€
  2. Introspection: Take time to understand yourself, your choices, who you want to be and what impact you want to leave. I personally spent a lot of time journaling, trying to document my journey, spending time alone ā€“ essentially just researching myself. When you know yourself, you can trust yourself and cultivate a community and support system that helps you realize all that you can be. It gives you the tools to create each stepping stone of your journey with intention and purpose. When you look back you can see what you've built for yourself and for those that carry on after you. Taking time for introspection continues to be a huge part of my personal journey.ā€
  • Be easy on yourself + make time for balance: This journey is not linear, and there is no one way. There is this idea that we have to constantly chase the hustle, or the next thing, and that we'll be happy once we get there. Then we realize we don't have a chance to catch our breath. It's okay to give yourself some grace, take moments to slow down and recenter yourself. It's about enjoying the process and finding joy in each piece, rather than finding the joy in the next one. I say this as a reminder to myself because I still struggle with this and feeling that I need to decipher where I belong in this creative world immediately. Ā Just know that there is always a chance to try again and learn, but in order to do that, you have to take care of YOU.

Thanks for reading my story!

Edmonton, Canada šŸ‡ØšŸ‡¦

Saakshi Dhingra

Product Designer

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