Becoming a designer
Did you know that despite my Italian accent, I'm half British? Let me explain... My dad was born in Surrey and lived in the UK for many years. In June 2016, I followed my grandparents' path and moved to the UK to pursue my dreams of becoming a great designer. I now live in Brighton, a vibrant and outgoing city on the south coast. Before this, I lived in Milan.
Design and art have always been huge passions of mine. I studied fine art and architecture at school, but I couldn’t see myself working in either of those fields. Instead, I went on to study graphic design and art direction at the institute NABA in Milan.
The story of how I stumbled into UX design is a good one. After being made redundant (again) in 2018, I rolled up my sleeves and started my graphic design freelance business. At first I had a really hard time finding clients and figuring out what services I wanted to offer. But as soon as I joined a co-working space and started connecting with other freelancers, things quickly came together.
Back then, I specialised in print design — I didn’t like web design at all. I didn’t know much about it and I didn’t see much creativity in that field.
So what changed? Most of my friends at the co-working space I joined were developers and they often asked me to design websites for their clients. After resisting this field for so long, I soon found myself designing websites and charging a decent amount for it. I had help along the way. My talented friend Megan showed me the competences and skills I needed to become a web designer, and guess what? It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the discipline.
Just after my first three projects went live, I stumbled across UX design. If web design was new to me, UX design was a whole new world! I was literally obsessed with it. Not just because it was completely new to me, but because I wanted to apply UX principles and processes to my web design projects.
Long story short, in June 2019 I decided to take a break from freelancing and make the leap into UX and get a full-time job as a Product Designer. Experience has taught me that you don’t necessarily need a degree or qualifications to get into UX and product design, but you’re almost certainly going to need some kind of professional experience and a desire to learn.
Living the design life
Working in tech isn’t for everyone. You need to be really passionate about the product you’re building, plus you need to figure out which career path is best for you. Some of the most talked about job titles include UX designer, web designer, web developer, software engineer, and data analyst.
My only true passion is for Product Design, but my day-to-day duties don’t always include designing products and pushing pixels around the screen. I often spend my time in strategy sessions, product reviews, product updates, retrospectives, usability testing sessions, as well as facilitating workshops, preparing presentations, creating prototypes, interviewing users and much more. Yep, my job is more than just designing and I absolutely love it!
Making YouTube videos
When I was a kid, I wanted to become a movie director. And a writer. And a painter. And an actress. I've always been a creative person who’s in love with the art and craft of storytelling.
Not surprisingly, my biggest side hustle is my YouTube channel. I’ve always wanted to start a YouTube channel, but I never had the courage to press the record button. I was too afraid of failing, too afraid of trying, and too afraid of wasting my time.
Then coronavirus hit and the UK went into lockdown in March 2020. I had a lot of time to waste! I took that opportunity to finally press the scary record button - well, actually, I failed to record my first video not once, but three times, and it took me a whole week to edit and publish a five-minute video.
Was it worth it? In short, yes. I still remember the excitement when I reached 100 views and how satisfied I was after hitting my first 100 subscribers. That adrenaline rush kept me going (and still keeps me going today). I love reading every comment, seeing the numbers grow, and connecting with other talented designers and content creators around the world.
I’m still not sure whether making videos is “my thing”, but I’m sure that I want to continue inspiring other designers by sharing my journey and my knowledge of UX design and creative entrepreneurship.
Speaking at events
I’m an extrovert. In fact, I’m an extrovert with imposter syndrome. This means that I love making new friends and expanding my network, but I’m terrified of not being good enough. Over the past two years, I’ve attended many meetups, conferences, and workshops in Brighton and around the world. Speaking in front of an audience of any size is both terrifying and exciting. Mostly terrifying. Public speaking isn’t exactly within my comfort zone, but I’ve got an important message to share with the world and I think it’d be a shame to keep it for myself.
The runners's life
I never thought I could run a full marathon until I did it. Running for me is more than just a physical activity to stay fit and healthy. It’s a growth mindset; a way of proving to myself that, with passion and dedication, anything in life is possible. I’ve also met some of my best friends through running.
Being the only vegan in a small village in northern Italy sounds like a joke. Especially since the small village is renowned for producing dairy products. It wasn’t easy.
When I became vegan the only meat alternatives were legumes, seeds and, occasionally, tasteless veggie burgers. My friends and family didn’t understand my lifestyle choice and thought I was following a trendy diet to lose weight.
If you think being vegan is hard, let me ask you something: have you ever been inside a slaughterhouse? Do you know how animals are treated before they’re turned into your breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
We have a choice to eat healthy plant-based food and buy cruelty-free products. Animals don’t have a choice. Luckily I’ve seen veganism growing in popularity over the last 10 years and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. Not to mention Brighton is the perfect place to be vegan! We’re really spoiled with vegan shops, cafes and restaurants. So much so, I’ve actually created an entire Instagram Story Highlight full of plant-based recipes and inspirations. Go and check it out!