My life story as a timeline.
Life changing events, vignettes, and hot takes about my path to design along the way.
Me, looking like a tap dance fitness entrepreneur, cause I totally am that too.
Check it out! CardioTapNYC.com
I’ve always been interested in how things are designed, built, written about, and developed from start to finish. I like to master skills. I like to tell stories. I’m always learning something new.
I’ve changed my name four times.
I use they/them pronouns.
My career was theatre and my hobby was design; I decided to switch that.
(It's a long journey, feel free to jump ahead.)
I’ll ask you to get a drink with me before the story is over.
Weird kid --> UX Designer
Early Life; The Jersey Years
Me, at 8. Honestly, I'm not so different now. I'm still climbing walls and countertops - cause I'm short and aerial arts are fun.
Began performing in professional theatre at 11. Beat out the actual 5 year old for the part. That baby had no chance. I could actually read the script. Ha!
Won essay contests and stuff, fancied myself a poet, got contacts. I was thinking about becoming an architect when I grew up, but then I started dancing 5 hours a day 5 days a week so...
Joined a professional ballet company at 15
The births of MTV, Aspartame, and Me!
Started serious ballet training
I was kinda a weird kid - tiny, allergic to everything. I had to stand on a telephone book to reach the barre in ballet class. I brought my own special (aka less tasty) pizza to parties. Oh, And! I wore these spectacular coke bottle glasses. I remember them weighing down my face. I walked through a fair amount of screen doors at pool parties. Also, my mom permed my bangs. Why would she do that to me?
16, FIRST MAJOR HEARTBREAK ALERT:
Quit the company and pro ballet track because it became apparent that at 5’1” I was already the tallest woman in my family and was not gonna hit that 5’4” minimum.
Pivot: Threw myself into pro theatre track cause they don’t mind shorties as much and can always use a dancer who sings.
Began choreographing musicals.
Smug: I was honored to be the NJ state teen arts delegate representing dance.
I like it when people notice me.
The College Years; 1999 - 2002
Every show you ever see about theatre people is completely true. We’re always a little extra. One of my acting teachers at NYU made us sit in a circle and then stand and proclaim why we needed to be an actor. My turn came and I stood and proclaimed, “I don’t!” And she looked at me and said with a voice that seemed to resonate from the depths of All Knowing and said, “What. Do. You. Need. To. Be?!” And I cried,“A DANCER!!!”
So I transferred to Point Park to be a dance major. I also had thoughts about and took a couple of classes toward being a journalism double major, but then, ya know, I was dancing 10 hours everyday so...
Also, I was advised to not have a fall back career in order to avoid <insert eyeroll here> falling back.
No one was able to see that I actually had more than one interest that I wanted to pursue simultaneously. This began with being shooed away from architecture in 7th grade - I just liked the idea of creating structure and designing something from nothing. How cool! Also, I liked writing. Let’s not bother with whether a career in journalism or dance pays better (hint: both suck) but, the point is, I liked it.
I wanted to do both.
All Grown Up;
Seattle > NYC > LA > Boston
(we’re friends now right?)
My friend, I’ve been named dropped to myself. I’ve had a lot of highs, but I have to say, this was such a special minute. I really thought, I’m done now. Anything else I achieve in life will just be bonus.
Let’s begin by saying Seattle is a kinda small theatre town and -
There are a handful of people who were able to land consistent theatre work and -
I was one of them.
Every show is its own 3 month gig and between performing, dance captaining, teaching, assisting, and choreographing, I was #soblessed to line up back-to-back and overlapping gigs for nearly 7 years.
But seriously though, blessed is a good word for my path in this incredibly fickle industry - and hustle is a great word to describe what I did.
After 7 years and a high-profile production, Disney’s Aladdin, I was itching for some change.
I changed my hair, I changed my name, and I moved to NYC
(This is actually name change #3. I had an original name, then a married name, then a um... not-married name. The big cross country move and dye job make a little more sense? My newest name, #4, Holland, is a fresh lil’ baby of name, just a year old and came with a new set of pronouns too, they/them.
We can get a drink and talk about it like real friends, which we are now.)
So, my roomie and I need to find a housemate like you do in NYC. And we post an ad and share it with our networks, like you do. And we got a response from someone who recently moved from Seattle.
But we don’t know this person. They come over for an interview and say they did theatre in Seattle, but we still don’t recognize them. Then they start naming people they know/have worked with and asking us if we know them.
Person #1 happens to be my mentor, so I’m like, “Yes! Of course, I love working with him, we’ve done like 10 shows together.”
Person #2 is literally my best friend. I say, “Truly one of my favorite people in the world! I love that guy.”
Aside: I’m starting to feel badly because they have worked with the two closest people I’ve worked with and I still don’t recognize them. Like, I’m definitely the jerk who didn’t know the intern’s name - which is a look I try to avoid. BUT...
Person #3 is me.
And time stood still.
I’m fancy enough that this person is lying about knowing me and they just put me in the company of two of the fanciest people I know.
What a gift!
New York turned out to be a bust though.
You’ve read this far, so hopefully I don’t lose you now but,
west coast = best coast.
(If you’re mad, let’s get a beer, and talk about it as friends.)
I moved to LA.
In the mornings, I would wake up, pick grapefruits and tangerines off the trees in my backyard, and juice them into my home brewed kombucha. Namaste.
Even though LA was great, I still didn’t quite get the change I was hoping for.
I moved to Boston for grad school and found my new home. I snapped up an assistant professor appointment at Berklee during my last semester of my master’s degree at Emerson. (I may have mentioned, I hustle.)
Dream job? Dre-am j-ob?
Dreeeeaaaam job, dream job, dreamjob
Sounds kinda funny if you say it a lot. Doesn’t quite make sense.
Doesn’t really feel right, does it?
I love my Boston friends.
So few of them are theatre people. My Boston friends are developers, designers, and consultants.
(Ok and post-docs, can’t throw a stone without hitting a post-doc in Boston.)
(Don’t throw stones at post-docs, their lives are hard enough.)
I started to have wandering eyes. I started to think maybe I had my hobby and my career mixed up.
You see, I’d been designing things on the dl for close to 5 years. First my theatre website; then a friend’s; then one for my tap dance business; and one for my health coaching business; then another for a capstone project in grad school. Then a bunch of theatre posters and newsletters. I started volunteering to make logos.
I made a site to sell a friend’s new album, helped him brand it, and planned a release party.
I definitely had it mixed up.
So now I’m a designer ready to take a big creative flex in the tech industry.
Wanna talk more about it?
So I started making moves.
Started a design apprenticeship and dropped my teaching hours to part-time.
During my apprenticeship, I began to realize that while I’d been dabbling in visual design for 5 years, I’d been designing experiences since I choreographed my first show.
I’ve been developing characters, aka personas, since I was 11. Learning as much as I can about human behavior has been a significant part of performing and teaching. Empathy is part of my core structure. Also, I promise you, I understand a deadline. Because if the house is booked and the tickets are sold, there will be a show.
We’re friends now and I’m seriously asking you to drinks.