Ladies Who Create

In this inaugural episode of 'Ladies Who Create,' hosts Jess Rosenberg and Liz Meyer welcome Grace Walker, a talented web designer and entrepreneur. Grace shares her inspiring journey from a child passionate about art to a successful designer and solopreneur. She reflects on crucial moments and mentors that shaped her career, her challenges in starting and running her own studio, and her philosophy on work, creativity, and finding one’s path in the design world. Through candid and motivational conversations, this episode explores the importance of mentorship, self-discovery, and the courage to carve one’s niche in a rapidly evolving industry.

Grace Walker:

Creators & Guests

Jessica Rosenberg
Co-host of Ladies who Create, Creative Director, Mom
Liz Meyer
Creative Director, Owner of the design studio Datalands, mom
Grace Walker
Independent designer & Webflow expert

What is Ladies Who Create?

A podcast highlighting extraordinary women in the design and creative industry. Hosted by Jess Rosenberg and Liz Meyer.

Ladies who Create: Grace Walker
Jessica Rosenberg: [00:00:00] Welcome to the inaugural episode of Ladies Who Create, a show where we'll be interviewing the incredibly inspiring women who are trailblazing the design and creative industries. I'm your co host Jess Rosenberg, and I'm a creative director, a designer, and a mom.
Liz Meyer: And I'm your other co host, Liz Meyer. I'm also a mom. I'm a creative director and I own a design studio called Datalands. In this episode, we're joined by Grace Walker, an incredibly talented independent designer and Webflow expert.
Jessica Rosenberg: We chat with Grace about her inspiring career arc from university to embracing the solopreneurship lifestyle, how she finds inspiration, the value of mentorship and collaboration, and overcoming imposter syndrome with action. It's a great episode and we hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did.
Jess Rosenberg: Hi Grace. Welcome to the Ladies Who Create podcast. We're [00:01:00] so happy to have you here.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: I am so glad to be here. Thanks so much for inviting me on.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: This is very exciting because it's our inaugural episode that we're recording. And so I'm going to introduce myself. I'm Jess Rosenberg. I'm your co host of the podcast.
Liz Meyer: And I'm Liz Meyer. I'm your other co host
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: And again, we're super excited to host Grace Walker today. Grace is an incredibly talented web designer and entrepreneur. She's also been helping creatives find their footing through the first, touch points as a freelancer through the recent coursework that she's been creating. So Grace, thank you again for being here. And we're really excited to chat about your career and your life and all the things that you've been up to.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah. Thank you so much for the kind words. I feel like I could, I would listen to whole episodes, just chatting about both of your career backgrounds, so I'm just honored to be here and and chat. I
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Oh, thanks for [00:02:00] that.
To kick us off, I, we'd love to hear about, your career journey. What your career arc has been like up until this point, even going back to the earliest point could be from when you were a child. When did you know you wanted to be a designer and then how did it all kind of blossom from there?
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: was thinking about this a little bit. And I think that in my mind, there are two very distinct moments that I think about when I realized like, Oh, graphic design is a career and this is what I want to do with my life. And I was always a kid who was, like, really interested in art and photography, and thankfully had parents that helped me explore those things and went to a school that also had a really great art program and great art teachers and things like that, all of the environmental factors were there but these very specific moments, I remember we had a university fair at our school, and everyone was giving out guidebooks about their school. The University of Toronto was handing out these guidebooks, and I remember [00:03:00] getting it, and I was like, oh my god, this is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.
And it was this guidebook for the university, and just the editorial layouts were so beautiful, and the photography, and It had these whole features on type, and I literally taped the entire guidebook into my sketchbook for my art class. Because I was like, this is it. And it was around the time of my art teacher telling me that graphic design was a career, and I understood that oh, that's something people do and also just having moments in bookstores and just seeing physically designed things and being so overwhelmed by how beautiful they were and knowing that I want to do that.
And I was thinking about it the other day and I'm so curious if either of you like have this similar experience of just being like a teenager who just wanted to see so many visual things and collected every little piece of like brochure stuff and like on Tumblr and everything else. Was that for you?
Like how you spent your teenage years?
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: I [00:04:00] collected absolute vodka ads and
literally plastered them on the walls of my bedroom. And I didn't
even realize that it was a vodka brand. My dad was like, whoa, should I be concerned? You're like pasting vodka advertising to the walls of your bedroom. I was like,
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: And you're like, no, it's just so pretty. It's so beautiful.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: I was like,
fascinated by them.
I was like, that's
someone's did that. Yeah, I did that with absolute vodka. It was like, I think it was like sixth grade or something.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: I, my parents got New York Times Magazine. And I just, I would go wild. I would just pull everything out of there.
It was the cross between just, culture, like who was cool at that moment in time, like a Britney Spears with the milk mustache and like talking about her life
Yeah, it was like a cross between the things that I was really interested in at the time as like a sixth, seventh grader. And then it was just, it was there. It was new. It was every week you got one. It's [00:05:00] like those like the blind boxes. Now, everyone's really into those little toys and which one are you going to get this week or something?
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Surprise
factor. Totally.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: Yeah.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: but that like collection gravity of just like seeing things and I just loved it. So that was where I was like, oh, graphic design is a thing. I wanted to do this. So I went to art school. I went to OCAD University in Toronto. I studied graphic design for 4 years. I loved school.
I didn't like Toronto. I moved back from Toronto to Calgary, where I'm from after school, mostly because of like the mountains and my family was here. And I was really lucky looking back. One of my summer positions when I was a student led me to meeting the creative director of a small studio in Calgary.
And I ended up working at that studio for three years. It was two women who have been running the studio for five years on their own, and I was their first hire as design support, so I was like a little baby graphic designer and I was absolutely useless for the [00:06:00] whole first six months probably but just the creative director that I worked with was So talented and so kind and so patient with her time.
And I am honestly just like really lucky that I landed in that spot because they let me touch everything in their studio. I got to see clarity into like how projects were run and how they managed things. And that was really great. And I think one of like our very first like lunches that we had together, they were like, where do you see yourself in five years?
And I was like, like you I want to do what you do. I want to have my own studio. And I was really thankful also that I had them as amazing role models of women who owned their own business and were running a creative studio. But also I just, in my city in general, there were a lot of women who either were leading at agencies.
Had their own studios were like solo printers. Now we use that term, but I don't think I was really describing anyone like that. And I just had examples everywhere. My, my sister in law's mom had her own design studio for decades. [00:07:00] And so I was really lucky that I just like. When I thought of women designers, I was like, Oh, they're leaders.
They like have their own studios. They run their own business. And that was just like something that was always in my mind. So I feel like that was such a lucky piece to have. And then after three years of working there, I went out on my own. I just needed to I think give myself an opportunity to figure out who I was as a designer.
Apart from that environment, and it was incredibly difficult, but I'm still here almost four years later, and I love it, and I don't want to go back to ever doing anything else. It's really
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Yeah, maybe we can zoom into the early days of being, solo, what would you say were the most difficult parts or the most challenging aspects of it for you as you were learning how to, go about doing this on your own. And for the 1st time,
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah, I think a lot of the really difficult parts of the first year, the first two years even were [00:08:00] just measuring myself against what I thought I was supposed to be doing. Because I was really confident in my design skills. I had designed and developed dozens of websites by that point.
I knew that if someone came to me, I could give them something that was going to be really good. But. I had no idea how to run a business or I wasn't really interacting with a lot of clients at my studio job. Like I was involved in meetings, but I wasn't involved in quoting or sending proposals or winning work or any of that.
And so I think I just felt a lot of pressure that like, I didn't know anything and I was measuring myself against what other people were telling me I should do you have to scale a team and. Oh, you should be thinking about outsourcing work and especially those ideas around scale. I just felt like a really immense pressure in the first year that I was like, oh, my God, I'm not doing that.
Or, oh, my God, I'm not doing that. But what I found eventually was that, there are multiple right ways which has been a really reassuring thing to discover over time, but I think, yeah, just like the most difficult thing in the first year was figuring out how much work I actually [00:09:00] can take on what is my 100 percent effort, and I found that out by going over that 100 percent effort which I'm sure you could both relate to, but
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: a good problem to have time, right?
Liz Meyer: yeah,
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: it was, like, I was definitely lucky I had a lot of work and a lot of people sending me work, so that was not an issue, thankfully but I had the opposite end of the spectrum problem.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: I've been on both. I've been on both sides of that and the scaling bit really resonates with me. You have to figure out who you are as a designer and as an entrepreneur and, get it right with yourself and then it'll become right with your business. really hit me hard because I've been like with my studio, I have felt this immense pressure to scale it, to grow it and be seen as an agency.
And that's not necessarily right for like me and my family and my, my studio situation. So [00:10:00] I, we've taken like A minute to figure that out and you're just like the way you spoke about it just felt oh, she's so right. And she got it right. So early. I wish I had been that introspective like years ago.
So I didn't have to make those mistakes, and I just, I love that like about your story that you just, you know. You're making those decisions really thoughtfully and yeah, I don't know. I just I thought that was really cool.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah, thank you. I think that there are so many more examples now of women who are either independent or work at small studios than there was even like 5 or 10 years ago. So I think the timing of me being a designer has also just been incredibly lucky on multiple fronts of just having amazing examples to look up to.
Rachel Gogol actually just posted an article on printmake. com today. So I don't know when it'll be in relation to when this comes out, but she wrote this article called [00:11:00] what one, 0. 1%, the undervalued force of women founders. And it's all about her independent practice as a designer. And she featured.
Myself and a few other independent creatives in the article. I'll send it to you. But it's about that. I think that there's really this rise of women who Are working for themselves and are not succumbing to the pressure, like the overarching narrative that success equals scale and being reflective about that and building for themselves.
So it's, it definitely feels like a movement right now of. And I think part of that is the technology is just available now that ten years ago, if I wanted to design and develop websites oh my god, that's a big ask. But the tools are there now that it's so much easier to live in this realm of multitudes when you can do so many different things because the tech allows it.
And it's just, I feel so lucky to be a designer right now, just with the timing.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: it is a pretty incredible time and I'd love to dig into the time aspect as [00:12:00] well as looking into the future to and like your predictions and a little bit. I'm super curious since we're , still talking about your early days and how you started out. If you were to give your. Early career self advice, knowing what you know now, what would you tell a young Grace who's just starting out on her own?
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: I think I would say you're doing everything right, you just have to be patient. And I think that I am someone, and I think that probably both of you are as well, of a high achieving woman who wants to continually be bettering herself in literally every aspect of your life. And my best friend is like this, my sister in law is like this like you are the type of person who is always looking for opportunities to improve yourself and to do better work and to do more meaningful work.
And I think that when I was younger, and especially when I was first starting to do independent work, I felt So much pressure to be like learning everything. I was like, [00:13:00] what am I not doing right? Like, how can I fast forward through this? When the answer was you can't fast forward through it.
It's going to take a certain volume of work for you to understand this. You are doing everything right. You just have to be patient. And that's what I found over the last three years and four years really is like everything I was doing obviously I made mistakes. Everyone does, but I was generally making like good decisions.
I was just really impatient and wanted to have everything. Be perfect right away. And that's just simply not possible. Or if it is, it's very rare and was not my experience.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: I'm still there. I'm still
doing that this whole podcast is really also an exploration for Jess and I to figure out what we're doing
and we're learning from other women that are you know, just they're making it happen They're making they're doing
Liz Meyer: it. They're niching down in a
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: way they don't feel the need to be generalists.
I just [00:14:00] feel like I need to just be doing everything all the time. Because if I'm not, I'm failing or some weird, unrealistic
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: The high achievers syndrome. Yes,
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: but also the imposter syndrome of it all.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: The combination is very special.
Um, Okay. Super curious about what a day in the life looks like as you working for yourself, juggling multiple clients.
You mentioned, there's so much tech available at our fingertips today. What does your day look like? What kind of tools do you use to do your thing?
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah, absolutely. I work from home. So a typical day in the life for me is generally I don't have, a flashy morning routine, I get up and I get ready very minimally and then after breakfast, I'm like, straight in my office. I want to be. Like I love work and I love working from home and I'm so lucky.
My husband reminds me of this continually, but I don't have to go anywhere [00:15:00] to do my work and I can be in like a really cozy environment all day. I generally like to just dive straight into work. I'll have an overview of what's on task for the day. I generally like to split days into two different categories, so I'll either have focused days or just busy days.
And that's something that I've learned over time of trying to split my tasks into, that if I'm working on something that requires really deep focus if I'm trying to do that while also answering emails and slack messages and like having meetings and all of that. It is incredibly chaotic. So I try to split days into this is a focus day.
I'm just working on one big thing. Someone might email me. Someone might slack me. It's not an emergency. I'm not going to deal with it right now. And then other days are just like pure chaos. Let's get everything as much done as possible. And I find that cadence shift is really nice, because I know that it's not an emergency right now.
I can focus on this and tomorrow it'll be an emergency and I have 10 things to do and that's fine. [00:16:00] But having that shift is really nice. In terms of the day to day work that I do, it really, I feel like I'm, like, Always being pulled in like a dozen different directions, especially as an independent with the actual work which can be design work and figma development work and web flow.
I've been using visual electric lately for like image generation and brainstorming, and that's been really fun. I do all my project management and notion and email and slack and the rest of it. So like lots of different tools on the go, but also new business inquiries and talking to other folks for networking and there's just, there's so many things going on.
So I think that, like. Splitting my time into focused time and busy time also really helps with that. But yeah, there, there really is not a standard day. I work also this is not great, but I have been working almost every day, probably for the last three or four years not all day every day.
But because I work from home, even if I'm having like an off day, like I don't plan to be doing work like more [00:17:00] often than not, I'll find myself in my office because like I have an idea for something or I want to explore that or whatever. And I've tried to have more grace with myself for that over time, because there's so much pressure to have work life balance and not be working all the time.
And I think I'm just trying to like, accept that the season that I'm in is work focused and that's okay. And if I want to do it, great. I don't want to like feel forced to do it. But if I feel drive to go work on something, I want to have the flexibility to do that. It is what it is.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Yeah. You're drawn to what you want to be doing. And I think that's the most important thing. Most important thing.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: yeah, and that's healthy. It's healthy I think that's the most important thing to finding what you actually want to be doing with your life. And if you're not feeling that desire to go sit at your desk, like me in my corner over here if I don't want to do that. I that means that I'm probably not working on the project that I want to be working on or I'm not finding any sort of joy in what I'm doing that [00:18:00] day. And maybe that's a sign that I shouldn't be doing that thing. So it's like finding those moments and like finding that stuff that is exciting for you. I think is that's great.
And you're yeah, you are in your season right now. it. Enjoy the work that you're doing and, don't, yeah, don't let yourself feel like you have to be doing something else you don't have to, you
can have that work moment. It's fine.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: so many like arbitrary rules. I think that people feel like they should have to be following and especially like online seeing other people Especially men talking about like their morning routine, how productive they are. And I get up at 5 a. m. and blah, blah, blah.
And it's that's great, but who's taking care of your kids? Or it's who's making lunch? Who's doing the domestic labor? All of those different things. And I think it's especially as a woman I'm like interested in those things. I can see them and I can be like, wow, like maybe there's something I can take from that.
But also knowing that what someone else is [00:19:00] doing in their ideal state. Is not my ideal state and I can take lessons from it, and I can apply it and whatever else, but at the end of the day they're not me, they don't have the same opportunities, time, constraints that I do, and just having more being open about that, I think, because I don't know, but I also generally want to take advice from other people.
Women who have like their shit together,
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: I think that was a lot of the impetus or drive behind us creating this podcast is like hearing from other women, especially, those who are active on Twitter and social media in general, there's a lot of male voices and I love the male voices like I have very dear friends and colleagues who are men who are I really look up to and they're mentors of mine. But I also have women that are mentors of mine and I know they have so much to say. And so really want more women to be talking about, their achievements and what they've accomplished and what they do in the morning and what they do at night.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: How they make it work.
taking your kids to soccer practice?
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: [00:20:00] What is the secret? What is the secret equation to how everything gets done?
And it's not usually a simple answer.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: like me, I like to sleep. That makes me feel good.
I want to sleep a lot, and then I can wake up and I can do the work that I have to do. But if I don't get enough sleep, I'm not gonna four hours of sleep and then get up and run ten miles. I'm not, that would be in no way productive for me. That would make me feel crazy.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: My activity ring told me that I slept nine and a half hours last night,
which is why. So great today. I am like
on top of things. Yeah,
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: That's amazing. I'm proud of you.
I, I went up I, I got up early to go to an annual physical. I was like, I gotta check my levels and stuff. I don't know.
Haven't even thought about that in years. I did it,
Jess Rosenberg: I'm proud of you.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Amazing.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: Like, The most basic like, survival.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Having [00:21:00] worked at hyper growth companies in house for many years, there was that just go mentality and Then, like as the years went by, a lot of companies are like, Oh, work life balance, like we want you to work hard, but also take the time that you need. And as a manager, like once I became a manager and a leader, I really tried to foster environments that where people understood that you show up for work and then you sign off at five 30 or six and you just go have a life. I think we're conflict would come up on my teams is that. Some people, maybe some of them were single, didn't have kids, and they just loved what they did. They loved designing, and they just wanted to be doing it, and all waking hours into the night. And other people on the team, they still loved designing, but they also wanted to go have a life and be with their families, and I saw a tension there. Like a competitiveness almost arise amongst people because of the differing styles. And I think that causes stress amongst people. And I think, I don't know, I feel like folks [00:22:00] should do what makes them happy and comparing there's like the comparing game, I think, especially that happens a lot within our industry. And I'm super curious as a solopreneur. How would you, what would you advise other people who are considering going into the solopreneur owning your own company journey, just knowing there's so much competition out there. Like I see all of the people, especially going freelance lately in the past year. And there's so much talent out there and, it's really cool to see. And I can imagine it being pretty overwhelming for folks who are considering making the transition. I'm super curious what you think.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah, it's such a big thing. And it's really that thought of what do I want to share with other independents was like the whole impetus for me creating the course that I did called fast forward freelance, which is basically like a collection of every single thing that I would have liked to have known before I started working for myself.
Which was actually a really helpful exercise. [00:23:00] And reflecting on my business and the things that actually did work and didn't work and what I would have changed and coming back to that piece about management and comparison, I think that's something that for a long time. I didn't really have clarity on because you are working for yourself.
So you have to be the designer, the developer, the new business manager, the like studio manager yourself, like all of those different roles and. I think like going back to your comment around tension between like comparison of oh I'm not time on the weekends, or I want to be working all the time.
I have to be that person for myself and I have to be my own manager and sometimes that's really difficult because I find that tension even within myself of Oh, I feel like I should be spending more time like with friends or doing activities or whatever else. But I also really love work and I want to be working all the time.
So I think only recently have I really. Found [00:24:00] like calmness in being that overarching manager role for myself of knowing that I don't have to compare myself to other people. What works for me doesn't work for them. And knowing also that I have to make hard decisions around myself it can't just be driven by what I want at the time.
It has to be driven by what I want in six months and a year and five years and 10 years is the work that I'm doing and the way that I'm working. Sustainable and so that's really been a driver for me for trying to build a more sustainable practice of just trying to like, separate myself from my day to day and really be that manager on my own because it's like, it's so hard because you are just like, constantly comparing yourself and you're like, Oh, that other person did this.
Should I be doing that? It's really difficult. I don't know that I have any specific advice for that, only that comparison is a thief of joy, and as long as you're pursuing good work. But at to that point of there's so many freelancers now and people going independent I think [00:25:00] that it's just the way that work is changing.
A little bit like people are feeling power in their skills and they are empowered to go independent because of the technology available in this post pandemic online world. Frankly, I don't think that I would be doing what I'm doing. If the world had not gone through this massive transition, I live in Canada, I live in a smaller city I don't, not in Vancouver or Toronto I'm not in a big creative hub yes, there's a scene here, but it's not New York or L.
A. or San Francisco, and I don't think I would have had the opportunities that I do without work being so online so it's, I don't know, there's good and bad to it everywhere, but I think The more the merrier my skills are not other people's skills and other people are better at things than I am.
So I really think there's there's so much work out there and so much opportunity.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: Yeah, I feel like it's simil I went through a similar thing a few years or years ago, I'll just say years ago when I was in New York [00:26:00] City, I started my career there and, worked in agencies as like a contract freelancer, go in and out different agencies, be an art director, be an illustrator, be whatever they needed me to be every day, basically, and then,
there came a point where it was like, yeah, Do I want to just keep working for other people and doing their thing or do I want to build something for me? And yeah, I think Moving out of the city for me was difficult decision. It was very scary to move away from New York City. Um, yeah, having a studio and then moving yourself out felt really scary. But then the pandemic did hit and it was, honestly, it's been better. The remote world has been really helpful to, allowing.
These smaller studios and smaller areas and, my studio is just a duo, but so it's like a freelance situation, [00:27:00] but it's been really good to be out of the city. Don't not having that stress and not. Not having that pressure and just being able to do the work and then not having to work, worry about like that, those crazy paychecks and you can just afford to live and you don't have to hustle culture at your way through life anymore.
So I, yeah, I think there's something to being outside of those hubs and just feeling like. Less of that pressure. There's maybe less friends, that's for sure. But yeah,
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: I think that was like the biggest irony of the pandemic and remote work for me, is that I think I made more virtual slash internet friends during that time than like my entire life. Like the connection and everyone just being home. I don't know, there was something about it that at least in our industry, I felt like folks leaned into connecting digitally with each other more than ever.
It's pretty cool [00:28:00] to think about.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah, it's, I think it's also like a generational thing as well. I think people under 50 in general, but especially in like their 30s and 40s and late 20s, like we grew up on the internet. It was like things that were like coming about when you were in high school and college and university. And for me I've always been online.
That's always just how I've connected with people. And it feels like a really wonderful again, the timing of life. I'm so happy to be where I am, and I'm sure the future is just going to be even better, but yeah, it is just like a nice spot to be at that, that people are so open to connecting everywhere else.
And it is, I don't know, it is nice to live not in a, I love San Francisco. I would, if there's any city in the world that I would want to live in, it would be San Francisco, but I'm also very happy to be in a smaller place with affordable cost of living and seasons and the rest of it.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: I would love to pivot into inspiration and during your work and your day to day [00:29:00] and the different types of clients that you work for and with. How do you go about finding inspiration during the design process?
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah, this is such a big question because I feel like it comes from so many different places. And often I've been inspired by the work of other designers who I really admire or collaborators. I've been really lucky recently to work with just super talented folks who just like working with them is inspiring itself.
But more recently, I think that I've really started to nail down. What are the projects that get me really excited and the ones that I like inspiration is just they're instantly because there's so many things to dive into. And for me, that's been really highly technical projects. So things that are dealing with speaking to engineers hard tech, clean tech.
Things that are like dealing with very complex subjects, because I find that when you are dealing with a subject matter that [00:30:00] has a lot of details and intricacies and complexity to it, there's a lot to dive into. Right now I'm working with a clean tech company and they have this really interesting technology and.
I was inspired by like the transition, their technology basically turns liquid nitrogen into gas power pneumatic devices. And it's like really interesting, but it's okay, but let's dive into that transition, like that liquid to gas state. What does that look like? And how can we contrast that with the precision of the technology itself?
And so I've really started to dive into refining, like what it is. That I want to work on and I've come to this conclusion that I want to design and build websites for companies that are working at the edge of new frontiers. So especially to deal with engineering, hard tech clean tech I've I'm working with a clean tech company right now.
Last year I worked for a company that was developing a software in the hard tech space, which is really interesting. Things like aerospace and [00:31:00] industrial applications that are really pushing humanity and society forward. There's just so much to dive into that you can't help but be inspired by them.
And that's not to say I don't find inspiration in other projects working for SaaS companies or things like that. But it's just highly technical, engineering focused projects. They're There's hundreds of things that you could attach to and then express that visually, and that, for me, is what's been making my heart sing lately.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: that's awesome. Yeah, so it's companies who are literally changing the world or trying to. Yeah, how can that not be inspiring? That's awesome.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: It's pretty cool.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: yeah. It sounds like you're in the same realm of the sorts of clients that we, I work with a lot, working with a ton of data and kind of communicating that in a way that makes sense to the layman.
I've been afraid
Liz Meyer: of how much
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: I've niched down a little bit like into that data space, but it's good to hear that other people are like excited about doing because I've been in it. I'm like, Oh, this is, was this the [00:32:00] right decision? Oh my gosh. So it's good to hear that that's happening currently for you and you're excited about it.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah. No, I think it's, it has taken a long time for me to clarify to myself that is something that I'm interested in. Because I think for a long time I didn't have a clear idea of what my niche was. And I don't even know that's still my niche. Right now I have projects next month I'm going to be working with a mental health tech startup.
There's still a broad range of things that I'm interested in.
Grace Walker: But I'm starting to I think organically find a niche and a lot of the advice for new independents is that you need to have a niche right away and I really reject that because I think especially if you're coming from working at an agency or a studio or any kind of job in house.
You probably don't really know what you want to work on because you've been working on things that you've been told to work on for a very long time. And I'm really glad that I didn't niche down sooner. And I don't know, I guess this is me like announcing that I have a new niche or want to [00:33:00] pursue this.
But yeah, love it. So fun. But yeah, I'm really glad that again, I was calm about that and wasn't like, oh my god, I need to pick something right now to work on because there's so many things
that you can work on I think
only through a volume of work have I figured out that these are the projects that really need me.
Liz Meyer: And there so many
new technologies that are coming out right now, like so many industries that are just being born
at moment in time that I like claiming a niche for yourself as this is my thing. That's it forever.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: That's,
Liz Meyer: that is not advisable. I would say it would be
Grace Walker: It can also be like, this is my thing for three to for today. Yes, you
Liz Meyer: could do that. Absolutely.
Grace Walker: short term.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Yeah,
And it's changed as we grow and evolve and I think that totally makes sense.
And there's so many industries too, that I feel like so many people don't even know about. Like the other night I went to a friend's 40th birthday and they hosted this like omakase dinner. At their [00:34:00] house and the sushi chef was telling us about the different types of fish and how he buys the fish and this like underground fish market exchange industry that exists that all of the other sushi chefs know about.
And I was like, I literally would never know about this unless you just told me. So there's, and there's also a lot of, unsexy industries out there that are probably craving good design like in the construction space. Aeronautics, like medicine is a big 1. so it's really good to hear that.
Some of these industries are coming to you for. Good design, it's a good sign for
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: as I love lifestyle brands and things like that I'm not a, I'm not a DTC girly. I can appreciate it, but I'm just like, I've never really been good at it or gravitate towards it. I Feel good about finally being confident in that because I think for a long time I was like, oh design is like just for pretty things and like for direct to consumer staff and whatever [00:35:00] But everyone needs design and everyone could benefit from design
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: sure aside from the niche that we just established for you five seconds ago,
Are there any dream projects or like dream brands in mind that you would absolutely love to work with? Yeah.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: is just highly technical projects I don't know that there is any specific company that I would have a dream project with, but in my mind, I feel like if I could work on a industrial application, like something very highly technical that was like led by a woman man, that would be my ideal project.
I love working with everyone. I have great clients. Across all of the companies that I work with. But I just working with smart, inspiring, wise women is just like the coolest thing in the world especially on highly technical projects. That isn't to say I have wonderful clients across the spectrum.
But I just. Women [00:36:00] are cool. And I like love working with women who are like more established in their careers and working with a really great CMO right now, who's just like phenomenal in teaching me so much about work, but also just like life in general. So
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Oh, That's so great.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: Yeah. I think speaking with Jess lately has made me realize how much like mentorship is really important, especially, as a woman, it's just you don't, you're not really supposed to talk about your feelings at work and how you're. Where you lack confidence and where you're feeling like the imposter and, just being able to be candid with a woman who's already done these things and made these steps in their life and got to a certain point is like it's like illuminating, like you're like, Oh my gosh, I can do that.
I actually can.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: I think it's also a really unique combination and a lot of [00:37:00] folks like men and women that I really enjoy working with. Who are leaders, but who are also operators. And I think that combination of skill sets is like the ideal person that I want to work with regardless of their gender or company is just this person knows how to get things done.
And they're also going to lead me to what needs to happen for the company. And like that combination of yes, they have a vision, but they're also going to help me execute it with the technical side of things and the content and everything else, like the engine behind what I'm helping them build.
I want to work with people who get shit done.
That's really at the base of it.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: the bias to action folks who have that it's just night and day difference compared compared to folks that don't,
Liz Meyer: And like the, when people actually embrace you and understand that you're like, say you're a contractor and you're working on a project with them, they need to understand that you might not know every single detail about their product and you need some onboarding and you need a little, not handholding, but [00:38:00] a little bit of, yeah.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: assistance in just getting on board with the product and like the people that can embrace that sort of spirit of mentorship. That's invaluable. That, that, just warms my heart when someone can just be like, listen, here, let me tell you all about this product that we have. Here, let's do our best work let's get this thing done.
It's going to be amazing. That is the energy. I think that's not always around
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: we need more energy in the, in our professional worlds that
mimic what literally said
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: Embrace people. Be nice. The empathy. Empathy quotient is
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: projects where you're collaborating with others and at companies and whether you're working for yourself or with an in house team, it's like, everyone's working towards the same goal. So it behooves. You and the people you're working with to help to support each other and achieving those goals. I was, I've always been [00:39:00] so surprised and like people that don't try to be collaborative or they don't work well with other people and almost feels like they have their own agendas.
It's that never works and projects are never successful and folks operate in that way, but it always just like, how are people still acting like this these days? It's how it happens. I'm like, how have we learned?
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: I was thinking this morning actually about the ideal characteristics for clients who I just love working with and I'm energized by them and I want to do my best work for them. And I think it comes down to just like enthusiastic feedback and not being afraid to say what if we did this? Or what if we did this?
Or have you considered this? Or but not in a way that feels. demeaning or have you, like, why haven't you considered this? It's more so building on what you're doing and bringing their perspective and your perspective and multiplying your expertise so that the end work is a combination of something that neither of you could have achieved on your own.
That's what [00:40:00] gets me excited is that enthusiastic collaboration, asking what if. Being just excited to, to work together on something in a collaborative way. I'll do my best work if somebody's coming to the table and wanting to do the same. It's really just that, that spirit of, creating something that both of you couldn't have done on your own.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Yeah, it's energizing and super motivating. I completely agree.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: When you do enter into a client relationship and maybe there's a disconnect in your knowledge or there's something that you're maybe not totally comfortable with, how do you deal with that feeling of imposter syndrome when you might not feel like you're. the most informed person in the room.
Grace Walker: Yeah I think this is two parts, one of them
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: is like frameworks that I have for myself to help me overcome that, but the other part is like actionable items that I take to Deal with something when I'm [00:41:00] actually in it. And I think on the actual feedback side when I am in a situation and I've learned this through not doing this well in the past is that when I am coming across things that are outside of my skill set, or maybe I don't know how to do or I don't understand the technology and I need some like clarity I've been a lot better about asking for help recently and knowing that is a point of strength and not something that's going to detract from them.
The work or make me seem inferior because at the end of the day the work will be better if I have more clarity and more context and if I don't ask for that, I'm not going to get it. So if I'm in a situation where I'm working on something and maybe there's a piece of the site that's out of my skill set, I'm going to look really silly and waste a lot of time if I don't admit to myself that I can't do that thing.
And I'm gonna just spin my wheels forever. But the way to amplify that and get through it more efficiently is just to say, Hey, you know what? This isn't for me. I have to go ask for help on this. [00:42:00] And what I found over time is that actually is a better position to be in with a client for them to say Oh, hey, Grace doesn't know everything.
And she's willing to admit that. And that's totally fine. But she found the solution and someone else who does know what, like how to do this thing. So I feel like action wise, that's more so the approach that I've been taking lately after having not done that for many years. But I think framework wise as well, just how I approach this in my mind is that.
Frankly, I think that working for myself has been the best antidote to imposter syndrome because over time, and again this came with a volume of work I felt inadequate and doubted myself a lot because I didn't have a lot of evidence that I was actually doing good work or producing good results or whatever else.
But over the years of working for myself, I now have this like mountain of evidence of websites that I've built and clients that I've worked with and solutions that I've come up with. That I can look back on [00:43:00] and say, Hey, like those people trusted you to do that and you actually did a really good job of it.
Even though you're feeling really frustrated right now maybe is this the time that I'm not going to solve it? Telling myself that I've done it before. I can do it again. It's not going to be the exact same solution, but I have the capacity within myself. And this pile of evidence to look at to say Hey, you actually did this. I think honestly I don't mean this in a crass way, but I think that being paid good money for the work that I do has also really helped with my imposter syndrome to know that people are paying me for my skill set and they're not doing that on accident. Like they're seeking me out for that, and I did that.
And so I think that honestly, working for myself has over time helped alleviate a lot of my doubts. I think every single project I do, there's still doubts in my mind of am I a terrible designer? I think, I don't know if there's a single project that I've ever done where I haven't felt that way.
But knowing that I can trust myself to get to the solution. I might feel like that now, but I'm probably not going to feel like that in [00:44:00] a week. And that's okay. Yeah.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: I actually wonder if most creatives and designers feel that at some point in the creative process. There's that rollercoaster ride, start. You're like, how the hell am I going to do this? And then it's like this white road. And then at the end, you're like, Holy shit, I did that. That's amazing. there was this post that Dan mall recently put out and he spoke about imposter syndrome in it. And he said something similar where he was like, the first job I got, I thought it was luck. Second job I got, I thought it was luck, but then all the jobs that came after that, people kept coming back for more and paying me money and doing it over and over again. And after you do it, so many times it's not luck anymore.
It's you're proving your worth and your value. And that's why people want to work with you. So I think there's something about buckling up. And just like leaning in and doing the work versus being in your head. I've noticed that with myself too. It's I can be all in my head and like procrastinate.
I'm like, I'm [00:45:00] not good enough. I'm an imposter. But like when I'm doing the work, all of that goes away and you're focused on creating. And then on the other side of it, you're like, Oh, I just made that myself. And, it's like this emotional journey of being in your head and making, reflecting, and then doing it all over again.
At least for me.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah, and I think that doubt is healthy also
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Yeah.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: we all were nodding our heads when we're talking about yeah, I feel like a terrible designer at least once in every project. Because I think that often that doubt for me is thankfully not so great that it overcomes me or makes me feel like I can't.
Do work, but it does drive me to think Oh, am I going to am I going to do this? And then it's like a motivation factor of okay I have to figure this out. And that doubt I think for me is it's essential. Like I wouldn't want to not feel a doubt and go into a project and feel totally confident because then what am I going to learn?
You want to have a little bit of a question of, can I do this? Cause when you do it, [00:46:00] then it's very cool. And it feels like an accomplishment.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: I know we're a little bit over, and I want to be mindful of your time, Grace. I think one last question that. Maybe you have an answer to, maybe you don't, but since you were asked this, in the earlier part of your career, I'm curious where you see yourself five years from today.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Oh, interesting. I think a lot about this because I think I follow this personal finance creator named Bridget Casey. And she's like very she plans her life a lot. And she at one point in time had this she shared about this spreadsheet that she has for her life where she lists out like her age and her daughter's age and what she wants to do every year of her life.
And that spoke to my neurotic tendencies, incredibly. And I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want my life to look like in five years and ten years and thirty years. And I think for me, it's and so the space that I'm in right now, I've gotten really good at web design and development. I feel confident working [00:47:00] for myself. What is that next thing that I can build upon and grow within and feel that same sort of confidence in?
Grace Walker: So that I can become this person in 20 or 30 years who is made of all these multitudes, who is a really good designer, who is a good athlete, who is an artist, who like pushes themselves in multiple ways.
So I think in five years, I want to have a new skill set that I like, couldn't possibly dream of right now. And I think part of what that, the things that I dream about that with are like. Building an art practice and building like a craft practice.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: So like sewing and woodworking and things like that.
Grace Walker: I really want to dive more into the physicalities of creating things that are beautiful and functional that are not digital work
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: and like mastering a new thing, basically. Is, I want to have, I want to have a new skill in five years that I currently don't have.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: We'll invite you back on to this podcast in five years, and,
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: I want [00:48:00] to
see what you make. I'm so
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Me too.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: now.
Like, wait. I have no idea what it's going to be, Yeah.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: a
good high level and you'll manifest something for yourself with that
high level intention.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: And five years is a really, is like a long enough time to, you're not putting pressure on yourself. You're just giving yourself that space and you'll discover something beautiful and then it'll happen. It'll just
magically occur. It'll be great.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: It'll be good. I've actually been, this is me being too nerdy. I don't know. I've been thinking about, because I'm about to turn 30 in a couple months. And so I feel like that birthday is like a very. I don't know, everybody like you think about it, and I was talking to my, yeah, it's a big birthday.
I was talking to my best friend about it, and she was like, I realized that all of my plans just stopped at 30, and I hadn't thought about what I was gonna do after that. I thought it was just a finish line. And so it is this like reflective time for me, I think, of like thinking about what I want to be doing.
And the way I've been framing it is looking at my [00:49:00] life in three year chunks. Of university was three years and working at the studio was three years. I've been independent for three years. What am I going to do in this next three years? Of those are how I've been trying to like, segment my life into growth periods of you can be a beginner at something.
And try to grow it through those three years, and then grow something.
Grace Walker: And that's been like, helpful to think about.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: I love that.
That's really good. That's like it's segmenting it.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: I also just really like things that are orderly. So maybe that's just
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: That's
your web design practice.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Yeah hold on a
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: Grace on grid in your
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: great.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: all of my ages.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: That's okay. That's that's your personality type. That's great that you know yourself so well, so I think your 30th birthday will be illuminating and beautiful and you'll start your next chapter. with your, your new hobby, your new art practice,
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: [00:50:00] that is.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: the sky is the limit.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: for real. It really is for you especially so proud of everything you've accomplished so far. It's been so cool to know you on your journey. Grace.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Oh, thank you. Yeah, it I don't know. It feels exciting. I think just work and life and everything just feels very optimistic right now, and I know that it might not always feel this way, so I'm just trying to soak it in while I can.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: Yeah.
Enjoy it. Enjoy the good times. They're beautiful.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: There will be bad times ahead, and I know that. So, part of life. It's not a
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: big deal.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah.
jess_1_03-07-2024_130904: Thank you so much again for joining us today. I love every time we hang out and talk and I learn from you each time. So thank you for that. And I hope we get to try to get on the podcast soon.
grace_1_03-07-2024_120904: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much for having me and I really enjoyed our conversation and I can't wait to hear all the other interviews that you do with other talented [00:51:00] women.
liz-meyer--she-her-_1_03-07-2024_140904: It was so great to meet you.