Industrial Alchemy

Junior Industrial Designer at Softgoods Design Consultancy 

Junior Industrial Designer

Softgoods Design

2019–2020

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Overview

After graduating, I spent a year working with a small team of Industrial Designers at the base of Mount Si in North Bend, Washington. Industrial Alchemy is a small softgoods design consultancy creating innovative products for a myriad of clients including Eddie Bauer, Vertx, Stanley and more. 

What I Did

I came on to the team as an Intern, quickly learning the ropes of softgoods design. I touched many projects working on everything from concept sketches, market research, Revision Documents and Tech Packs to creating prototypes, designing patterns and sewing full products. During my time I also got the chance to work with clients, stakeholders, and athletes to gather feedback on upcoming products and projects. As I transitioned from Intern to Junior Industrial Designer, I took on the full design process and created my first product, giving me a fundamental skillset in softgoods design. The lessons I learned during my time at I.A. helped shape the designer I am today and will lead me through my career. Here are some things I learned:

What I Learned

Ask for Help – Like I said before, I.A. is a lean team of 5 where each designer is very talented in specific ways. Being new to the softgoods world, asking my colleagues for help with sewing or asking for guidance on complicated Illustrator Tech Packs was critical for my development as a designer. Through this, I became more comfortable with learning on the fly and it has proven to be one of the most important tools I strive to use as a designer.

Get Out of your Comfort Zone – I used to have no idea how to make a pattern for a backpack, but after some guidance and many iterations, I was able to design a pattern from scratch. I found that I grew more as a designer and teammate when I pushed myself beyond what I thought I was capable of. I learned that you can truly do anything once you set your mind to it, and there will be people to help along the way. I now feel more confident taking on new skills and opportunities, knowing that growth comes from being slightly uncomfortable and confused.

Use Your Voice!  At the beginning, joining client meetings was daunting and voicing my opinion seemed like an inconvenience. I quickly erased this mindset remembering I was a designer on the team for a reason: people want to hear what you have to say! I realized my "fresh eyes" and contributions of new design thinking during project meetings was insightful and important. This realization continues to give me confidence to speak up and voice my opinions and designs even if it means being vulnerable. Young designers have a voice in the industry and shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. 

It's in the Details – I found that I really enjoy the details. Choosing the right fabric, the right zipper pulls, the next line of colors for a client. I got a taste of this at I.A., working with colleagues and clients to maintain cohesive product lines. This was a reminder that every decision for a product is important, no matter how small or large. It reinforced my attentiveness to detail and drive to put my best foot forward with every design decision.

Persistence – Get back up when you fall. When you are learning new skills, not everything will go exactly as planned on the first try, and thats OK. There were countless times where I had to seam-rip projects, redo pattern pieces, and and try over and over figuring and testing out angles for a pattern because these were all new things to me. But each time I overcame a road block, I was able to apply those learnings to my next project, and suddenly I began to feeI more confident in what I was doing. Dedication and persistence allows me to learn from my mistakes and keep going.

Please reach out if you would like to learn more about my time at I.A.