Tell me a bit about your early years and where you come from.
Early years. So I was born in the Dominican Republic. Me, my mom, and my sister—well my mom and my dad were never married at any point, so technically I’m a bastard child if that’s how you would like to call it.
It’s the same in Norway. Most of my family isn’t married in Norway and that’s normal. They all just make babies together.
[chuckles] Then my mom took me and my sister to New York at a very early age, at like five years. This is hard because I hardly ever talk about my mom because we’ve had a very rough history.
My mom was a single mother. She came to a new country, didn’t know the language at all, took on some small jobs here and there as a housekeeper—when I was very young—in New York. I was like five or six. I don’t even remember any of this really. It’s all stories that I’ve been told.
“It was a hard time for me when I was really young. We were poor and we all slept in one bed in New York City.”
During that time, she also got into the system. She applied for and received welfare, and then once I got a little older, I started seeing how my mom started to change. This is a touchy subject because I don’t really talk too much about this because it is kind of a dark period of mine—but my mom kind of got really unmotivated, stopped working, starting taking out a lot of student loans and doing college classes, even though it seemed like she wasn’t really into the profession and was just using it as a means of getting free money and really not spending too much time at home.
It was a hard time for me when I was really young. We were poor and we all slept in one bed in New York City. It was in the Upper East Side, and at that time that area wasn’t the Upper East Side that it is today I guess. It was higher up in the hundreds, so it was almost borderline East Harlem. So I was your typical poor kid in public school system growing up in New York
My dad, who I’ve been in contact with here and there, was actually—he’s a very smart businessman. His business started expanding and getting very big. At one point he came back to me right before I started junior high school, and saw how I was developing and wasn’t very happy. I would say I was a little bit of a rebel. I was staying out all the time. I was kind of like the independent, young New Yorker that most New York kids are really [chuckles]. Super independent, living our own lifestyles, doing whatever we wanted. He wasn’t very happy so he asked me if I wanted to come back with him.
At that time that was a really hard decision. I didn’t want to leave my mom. I knew that she was having trouble and I wanted to help her out, but I couldn’t really. It’s just hard for a young New York kid. I was maybe 14 or 15, I don’t remember exactly how old I was at the time when I moved to the Dominican Republic with my dad and went to junior high school and high school there. It’s funny because I look back at it and it’s probably the best decision I ever made. My dad was doing very well. I was able to live a different lifestyle that I’ve never lived before. It was much better than what I had in New York, surprisingly. It was also like the Dominican Republic In general, is a very family oriented country. A lot of the families stay together and they’re very close, so I got to meet my family, and be very close to them at all times. People that I’m so happy that I’ve gotten much closer with by moving back home. Since it was just me, my mom, and my sister.
So I’m going to take a step back, cause there’s actually a lot of stuff that I left out. [laughter]
Let’s go back. Let’s dig in.
Let’s go back a little. [chuckles] This is going to be a little weird. So when I was in New York, my mom (for a short while) worked for a couple of people that I hold very dearly to my life, and have helped me get to where I am right now. This couple hired my mom to be a housekeeper for them, and then they met me and my sister and took us under their wing. Almost as their own, but we never actually lived with them. But they were mentors to my sister and I when we were very young. The reason I never steered too far to the point of no return, was because of them. They were able to help guide and provide for us, which was something that we didn’t have when we were young so we’ve always held them as really close family members.
When my dad came to ask me to move back to the Dominican Republic is was a hard decision. It was one of those decisions where you’re like, “I’m going to leave this new family I have here, this small family that I just started making my own.” Then there was my mom who was having a lot of problems, so it was a really hard decision. I just took it and just went with it, but then again, I look back and I have no regrets.
In the Dominican Republic, it’s totally different. The lifestyle there is much more laid back. It’s not as hectic, and there isn’t so much childhood pressure that you would get in New York City. There were things that interested me that I could actually focus on.
I was a very creative person from a very young age and I was able to take the time and develop certain skills that I probably couldn’t have developed if I stayed in New York. Really, it was funny that a country like the Dominican Republic, where design isn’t as important, would help nurture me. I don’t know if important is the right word, but it is something that’s not always the forefront of a small country. I think countries like the Dominican Republic and smaller countries are very focused on creating businesses and things like that, and design is not really part of that equation —at least not yet.
“Really, a lot the stuff that I learned was on my own. I just sat there. I played around with things. I spent a lot of days sitting in my room designing a little bit, (or at least what I thought was designing). I don’t know. If I look back on it, it’s probably crap now [chuckles], but it’s still good stuff.”
At that time, I saw an opportunity to help out with small marketing projects. I made some promotional flyers for nightclubs and stuff like that because they were like marketers basically and marketers needed creativity. Without creativity they can’t do their marketing. That’s where I got my start. I was 15, 16 years old and finally getting my hands on a computer with Photoshop and learning things like CorelDRAW, Photoshop Illustrator, Swift, Flash and all kinds of programs. Once I got my hands on those tools I started to expand from paper and just started playing around with new things.
In between that, the distractions were really around and I thought to myself should I be doing this? I think my dad did the right thing by never really talking to me about what direction I should go in because if that were the case, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with design. I think it was just a part of everyone’s mind that design just doesn’t equal success or an opportunity to be successful, but I was able to continue with that. Really, a lot the stuff that I learned was on my own. I just sat there. I played around with things. I spent a lot of days sitting in my room designing a little bit, (or at least what I thought was designing). I don’t know. If I look back on it, it’s probably crap now [chuckles], but it’s still good stuff.
Honestly, I think what really boosted me was in part what my dad did for me. He asked me to create branding for a new company that he was starting as a pharmacy chain—expanding the pharmacies that he already had—and I was able to create the branding for them. That’s where I saw the opportunity of getting into a professional field of design. So once I did that branding—I Googled what branding was and I was studying stuff like IBM and all these guys, just looking at what they were doing with the bold colors and textures and stuff like that. If you look at that pharmacy logo it’s very much inspired by that era [chuckles]. From there, it actually went off really well. I was able to learn a few things, how to work with print shops to get the logo right and do small things like that. That opportunity was huge for me. I think that really changed my direction of where I wanted to be headed.
“Anything I was able to get my hands on, I learned it by myself, and probably in the best way possible by grinding through it and doing extra class projects that weren’t mandatory.”
At the same time, the internet was really intriguing for me. It was really slow, [chuckles] it was painful in the Dominican Republic. We didn’t really have good internet there for a very long time until recently. I was super interested in web design, but I knew that my interest in particular was graphic design. That’s kind of what it was classified as. Just graphic design. At that time a lot of the schools that I was looking into when I was younger—during high school and after high school—they were all just advertising graphic design. I didn’t really know there was a web space or a product space. I think my abilities to see something and kind of shift to it what I thought was important—something that I knew was going to be big or huge at the time—is what also helped me a little bit. Taking matters into my own hands and learning things that I want to learn and doing things that I want to do, as stubborn as that sounds, is something that just helped. I never really spoke to my parents about my professional career, what I wanted my professional career to be, and that’s also helped, and they just let me do it. I went to school and did whatever I could do to get by.
I’m curious, I grew up in a very small town in North Carolina, and I don’t even think I heard the word “creative” until I was maybe sixteen. Where did you first get bit with the creative bug? Where were you when you were introduced to design as a concept?
It was in Manhattan actually. When I was really young, I took art classes in public school in P.S. 75 in New York. At that time, all my teachers really loved that I was super creative. They would push for me to continue being that way, and I remember right before I graduated junior high school, one of my teachers was pushing me to try and go to La Guardia high school, which is a design art school in New York city. So, I kind of had the knowledge that, “Hey, there is a design art field out there.” And really it just stuck with me. This is what I want to do, I’m really happy, and people enjoy my work. So at a very early age, I think living in New York just opened me up to that idea. And then after moving back there for college, I got to concentrate and just focus on it because there were very little distractions for me.
So walk me through the path from designing logos in your hometown to being in the middle of Silicon Valley.
So that was a little interesting. There’s going to be a little bashing in here. So when I was looking for colleges in New York—since I was technically a citizen at that time—I was able to look at U.S. colleges and I told my dad that I wanted to go to college and I’ll pay for it if I have to do it. But I want to do it in the U.S. because it’s design, right? In the Dominican Republic none of the universities taught design or had a big design field. There was one that partnered with Parsons but then still, I’d have to go to Parsons to be able to do a Dominican Republic kind of thing? So I decided to just bite the bullet and go. One school that accepted me and gave me somewhat of a scholarship was New York Institute of Technology. They’re a technology school in New York and had a graphic design program. And I was like, I’ll give it a shot and see how it goes.
“It was 2008, there was the peak of the recession. And it was so hard to find work, I think I probably interviewed like 20, 30 times with a range of people.”
Once I started there, it was kind of immediate to me that they didn’t seem to really specialize in the graphic design field—it was very much a traditional design kind of curriculum. But at the same time, I was starting to get into web design, and just the web in general. So there’s a few things that I did in college that leaned towards web design. I was already really proficient with different programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and Design. Anything I was able to get my hands on, I learned it by myself, and probably in the best way possible by grinding through it and doing extra class projects that weren’t mandatory. I’d even say that I was way ahead of the school curriculum, because they were trying to teach us those tools that I already excelled in. So during that time, I guess I just decided to learn HTML/CSS for one, which is probably the best thing I did in college—opening up code books and starting to learn it. In fact, that helped land me my first job and I’ll get to that later. Learning HTML/CSS during school was challenging because it’s not a school that was—it was very traditional, we were just drawing type on paper and learning lettering, whatever traditional graphic designers learn. But I love tech. I love anything that has to do with tech. I was into computers a lot so I got enough to afford a nice system that I just started to work on. And then I began to learn how to code, little by little, starting by building basic webpages and learning a little bit of Flash—something that I’m actually really happy that I dropped after a while because eventually it didn’t end up being that big, luckily. At that time people were like, “Flash this, Flash that, do Flash!” And I’m like, “ehh, no, no. I’ll learn how to build a webpage first and see how that goes.” And luckily I did that because soon after, Flash just died down really quickly.
So I went through four years of college, four years of drawing and design and all that. It’s stuff that I enjoy doing, but I knew that in order for me to do what I like to do, which is like building things, and just being a part of a team, and doing stuff like that, web was like the place to be. I did some freelancing graphic design, and I wasn’t too happy with it. I freelanced for Scholastic Books for a while, and at that point, I just felt like it wasn’t challenging enough. It was a lot of small effortless jobs, doing a lot of designs that had already been done. There was not much room there to innovate and really excite me. But, when I looked at the web, it was the opposite. There was a lot there that wasn’t boring and I feel like at that time, I was reading articles about places like Facebook, and Google for instance, that were really interesting into how they built things, and how things were so new and fresh and exciting. So, once I graduated, I started looking at web agencies, like Huge Inc., and places—and small startups here and there, in Comcast. You know, things that were a little bit more in a digital range, to see if I could get my foot in the door and started learning more. Luckily, one of the startups, which was Livestream, allowed me to come in at the time. Mind you, at this time, it was really, really difficult to find work. It was 2008, there was the peak of the recession, [laughter] whatever the recession was. And it was so hard to find work, I think I probably interviewed like 20, 30 times with a range of people. When I interviewed at Livestream, they were just looking for a junior web designer, and one of the requirements was to hopefully know how to code. I actually had some prior knowledge of coding but I wasn’t great. And then I was like, “Yeah, I’ll take it.” It’s my first job and the only one that really gave me a concrete offer and I was just like, “I’ll do it.” [laughter] And that was my door into product design, and then that was my path. It was awesome at that point.
Were you still in New York at this point, or in Silicon Valley?
No, no, no, this is in New York. So, I went back to New York for college and I stayed there. Livestream is still located in New York and hired me after I graduated from college. Like, three or four months after college. Three or four months of excruciating job searching [laughter]. Yeah. It was also kind of difficult because my degree was for graphic design, so to prove that I can do web I had to build my own portfolio online. This isn’t something I would recommend anyone doing anymore because this is a new age, but I did some redesigns of websites that I thought needed the redesign and small things like that, but nowadays it’s not a great thing to do [laughter] so I would never recommend it. But at the time, anything was good to show and it was still kind of early, so why not.
What were those first years of work like for you?
Hard. I think I learned more in one year at Livestream than four years in college. It was extremely difficult. I had to really build my coding skills a lot, to the point where I was like a beginner and now I’m more than like—I’m pretty good [laughter]. And it was because of the fast paced work at Livestream. We had clients that required strict deadlines at the time, and I was doing a lot of custom development for some clients, so I had to build these Facebook apps. At that time, Facebook had page apps so I was doing a lot of that stuff, so designing them and then building them, and sometimes I had to build three or four apps a day.
It got insane, yeah. It was really a lot of work. And then throughout that time I got to learn a lot about iconography and building UI and all that stuff. I was able to design one of their first iPhone apps and one of their first iPad apps at the time. That was all extremely exciting for me because the iPhone and similar gadgets were on the rise. I’d say I’d learned so much during that time. I was at LiveStream for four years, and those years were all difficult.
That’s a whole lifetime in startup years.
Yeah, I guess I got a little, I don’t know. Yeah, I don’t know. It was interesting. It was a lot of exciting work. I was learning a lot, so it kept me very busy and entertained. I guess I didn’t see myself needing to go anywhere.
I started at a very, very low salary. This is like a common story for a lot of people I bet. Especially women and minorities in general. Towards the tail end I started noticing a few patterns—I had to go through tough salary negotiations where I could get a livable wage. Even then I didn’t really feel like they wanted to take care of me, so eventually I just left.
“I’m happiest when I’m given the biggest challenges. It’s just like, ‘Look. We have something that we don’t know how to do. Can you help us out?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, let’s build a house [laughter]. Why not?’ I’m that person. You give me some crazy task and I’ll probably give it a try and see where I get to. It may not be perfect. I’ll probably warn you and be like, ‘Look. If it fucks up, I’m sorry [laughter].’ But I’ll give it a try. I’m not really scared of challenges and that’s helped my career out a lot I think.'”
It was really difficult at that time. A company came up to me—well actually a recruiter came up to me with an opportunity to kind of lead design at a small company, and I took it. This was just another step of a lot of learning. The company was called NewsCred. They’re still around and also in New York. I interviewed with them, and met their CEO and immediately we clicked. I was able to help lead their product design for their company. It was new to me, because I’d never led a team. Not anywhere remotely to that so again I had to quickly learn how to build a product from scratch, basically on my own from a design perspective, to actually being the UI engineer as well because we were really short staffed. So there was nobody to do the front end work.
So in like a year we built a product, a huge product for marketers that was like huge for them. And it was a huge win for me career wise, and that’s where I got, I guess that’s where, I still don’t know how Facebook found me, but that’s eventually how I came to Facebook a year later [chuckles]. Yeah, so it’s kind of a long road. There’s a lot of things in between.
I can relate. When I worked in start ups of like you’re just taxed with doing things you’ve never done before and you do whatever it takes to learn to learn them and do them. I’m just curious—when you encountered that atmosphere on day one of your first job, did you automatically feel like, ”Okay yeah, cool. I’m going to learn that shit and I’m just going to do it,” or were you just terrified? Did you have to go through any sort of personal process to convince yourself that you could do this stuff or did you just resolve to go do it?
No. I can do it, I’ve got to go learn it. I think that’s me. I think the last one’s me.
I’m happiest when I’m given the biggest challenges. It’s just like, “Look. We have something that we don’t know how to do. Can you help us out?” And I’m like, “Yeah, let’s build a house [laughter]. Why not?” I’m that person. You give me some crazy task and I’ll probably give it a try and see where I get to. It may not be perfect. I’ll probably warn you and be like, “Look. If it fucks up, I’m sorry [laughter].” But I’ll give it a try. I’m not really scared of challenges and that’s helped my career out a lot I think.
I think being a little brave and a little naive has helped a lot. Even with NewsCred, they knew that I never led a team before, but then they gave me a big task and knew that I could run with it and build something. In the few months that I started there, they had an idea of what they wanted. I was able to provide some kind of vision and just keep going with that and that kind of momentum it sticks to you early on in the production process. Once you’re able to at least come up with a defined vision and idea, it’s just like, “Yeah, that’ll stick. Let’s try and execute.”
“I think if you get scared about doing any minimal task, then it’s going to be harder for you down the road, because problems usually just get bigger.”
I feel like I’m the perfect person to be on product because it’s like I have enough experience now and enough know-how—I’ve made so many mistakes throughout the years—just kind of a better idea of where things should head in general. I was able to use that knowledge that I’ve built up from Livestream, all the mistakes that I’ve made and just like—let’s start over, let’s try something new and see how that process works. Maybe I’ve just been really lucky.
Anyway, it’s—yeah, I think that’s what works for me. I think it’s just—the bigger the challenge, the more excited I am and that’s a good thing for product designers. I think if you get scared about doing any minimal task, then it’s going to be harder for you down the road, because problems usually just get bigger.
Totally. What is the most exciting thing to you about working in Silicon Valley right now, like building tools that are used by a billion people around the world? What do you love about your work?
I build tools for advertisers, so I’m on the advertising side of Facebook. And these are tools specialized for agency advertisers. This field excites me a ton. I think what we call business design is something that’s usually overlooked by a lot of designers. I think a lot of designers, like the more higher-visibility work and the nicer mobile apps and stuff like that. But I get more interested in complex challenges and complex problems. And being in business design at Facebook actually makes me super happy, because it’s a field that’s still kind of relatively new again, and this is something that I learned at NewsCred as well. NewsCred was also kind of like a B-to-B, it wasn’t like a B-to-C. And doing that I actually learned that, “Hey, this is actually a pretty cool field.” You can do some great things. What we’re trying to do at Facebook is humanize our products, and make those products easier for everyday use for advertisers. It’s a great challenge. Working for Facebook, at this scale—even at the scale of advertisers that we’re working for—is pretty insane. There’s a lot of pressure, but at the same time there is a lot of, how do you say that—gratitude?—for the work I’m doing. Is that right? I don’t know if that’s the right word.
Yeah, it’s super fulfilling. Honestly, Facebook is an awesome place to work at, just in general. I feel super grateful working here. It’s kind of like you’ve made it, in a way, especially for somebody like me that’s just been all over the place—just jumping left and right, crawling my way up. Then you’ve reached the top, and you’re just like, “Woah. This is a different world here. It works differently.” I’ve been extremely lucky. Just the path that I’ve taken and coming here to Silicon Valley—it’s great. I’m working with like-minded individuals—super smart individuals—and get to work with great designers that I look up to everyday—people that inspire me everyday. We just build off of this huge momentum and keep working on these great products all the time.
I love how the work that you’re doing ties back to the original work that interested you in the first place—designing for businesses as a kid.
Yeah, it’s great. I’m at a perfect place now. I’m an illustrator as well, so at times I miss doing consumer work in a way. I do miss that side of it a little bit but at the same time I’m super happy where I’m at. I come to work smiling every day. I’m one of the happiest people that comes in. Just knowing where I’m at now and just working with the people I work with, I’m super happy where I’m at.
“I feel super grateful working here. It’s kind of like you’ve made it, in a way, especially for somebody like me that’s just been all over the place—just jumping left and right, crawling my way up. Then you’ve reached the top, and you’re just like, ‘Woah. This is a different world here. It works differently.'”
What were your first impressions of Silicon Valley when you got here?
I was scared. I had no idea what to expect. One, I was one of those kids that just like loves small companies; loves small families. I used to bring the culture as much as possible to every small company. I’m the one that organized the karaoke events; the beer Fridays. I loved having that culture and building those things and working with people that just like to have fun while they’re working. So I was actually really scared. I read a lot of articles at the time that were like, “Oh, big company culture. Cubicles,” this and that. And then I was reading a lot about Facebook who tried to break down those barriers a little bit.
So that interested me a little bit. I was like, “OK, this is open, weird culture.” Still, what’s the top-down level? I’ve always had to deal with some kind of hierarchy that made my work a lot harder and at times—I was still scared. There’s so many people, and so many hurdles. Will I still have the control that I enjoy in my work, and would I still be able to influence and provide any kind of impact to the work that I’m doing? How many people am I working with? Am I just going to be editing buttons, and text inputs, and stuff for weeks? That would put me to sleep.
I came and interviewed, and even after the interview I was a little skeptical. I knew that the place was awesome. I was like, “Wow. This place is cool. This is like Disneyland for adults. It’s crazy.” Then I thought “How many other opportunities will there be for me to work at Facebook?” Why not give it a try? It was a company that I’ve always looked up to, and the design, and product work that they’ve been doing. Their mission is something that I have always—who can’t agree with their mission? It’s amazing, right? So I ended up biting the bullet and doing it. I don’t think it was a bad decision at all. I think it was actually a great decision. It’s worked out really well so far.
Awesome. What do you think are your biggest motivators or influences?
The more I talk to designers here, I always feel like they have specific examples of what these things are. I am going to be one of the few people that will tell you that it’s hard to say what it is. The challenge of the problems motivate me more than just specific people or influencers. I don’t have any influencers that are really big. I’ve always tried not to get too influenced by people, because then I feel like my work will depict that exact thing. It can be very easy to fall into that, but it is a good question, and I’ve never really thought of it that way. The people that influence me all the time are my coworkers. My immediate coworkers. The people who along with myself, solve these problems together. Also, just the problems, themselves, and who we’re solving these problems for.
How do you think your background and life experiences impact the way that you approach your work?
The way my life has been, it’s kind of been all over the place. It shows that I’m not afraid to try new things. And that is exactly how it impacts my work. I’ve always been able to try and challenge my limits and try something new and push outside of my comfort zone, right? And that’s really defined a lot of my work. I’ve been able to do a lot of things with that like at Newscred and be able to build a new product that looked nothing like anything out there for the field because I can keep pushing and looking away from competition and trying that. I think that’s how my life has really benefitted my work, it’s just like don’t be afraid. Try it, do it and see what happens.
Yeah, for sure.
Even with Facebook I’ve been able to do that. Which sounds weird but, yeah, I can.
How do your family and friends from home feel about how far you’ve come and all the work that you’ve done?
You know, they don’t say much. [laughter] I think though, honestly—I know they’re very proud of me. My dad is super successful. My whole family is a huge success I think, and I’m really proud of them and they’re excellent people—amazing people. And having their support all the time has been—it keeps me going, makes me super happy. And my wife now too, she’s super supportive, she’s one of the best people—the best person I can be with right now and makes me super happy. We’ve been together for like eight years so she’s been through a lot of this stuff that I’ve been going through. And I guess back home, my family, they’re just very super happy, like always positive people. That’s kind of how I am and when I go home I’m just part of the family, I’m not any different really. And I love it that way, that’s how I want it to be.
Where do you see yourself in five or ten years, do you think you’ll still be here?
Oh shit, that’s a good question. You know, to be honest with you, I’ve always had a dream of finally owning what I’m building at one point. I’ve built so many great things for so many different companies and people and users, and I still want to build for users and people all the time. But I do want to eventually maybe do my own thing, like have my own creative business or boutique or whatever. And I’m really still kind of open to that idea, I’m hoping it just lands on my lap somehow, which it probably won’t, so I don’t know. We’ll see.
Well, I mean the cool thing about your work experience—having just done so much different stuff—you’re the kind of person who’s perfectly equipped to start your own thing later, you know?
Thank you for that. That’s a nice thing, I’ve never heard somebody say that.
Having done it myself, I’m so glad I worked in tech doing a million different things. And now I’m a photographer, but all of that stuff I did before is such a huge reason I’m successful. It’s so good to learn all those random things. It doesn’t make sense immediately, but it does later.
How’s that been for you? This is kind of like your own thing, right? I mean it’s super impressive.
Just a side project—that’s gotten really big.
I love your work by the way.
Thanks. Yeah, I mean it’s the best decision I ever made. You know, I still get to tangentially pop in and out of tech, and be involved however I want, but I work for myself, and I have complete control over who I work with, and I make way more money, and everything is better.
Yeah, that’s so cool. Yeah, it’s one of things like, you know, people have never had their doors open for them. It’s like I feel like I can do it, right, I’ll just work through it and find something great and do whatever I can. That’s a nice thing to have I think. I feel like my career, even though it’s been like painful a lot of times, is like, “Hey, I got here mainly on my own, just as much as possible, just working hard, and doing what I love.” So the creative field’s great. I love the field, it’s awesome. [chuckles]
Okay, last question, this is important. What advice would you give to folks from similar backgrounds to you, who want to get into tech?
Yeah, it’s an easy and hard question, because I feel like the advice I would give them would be very similar to what I did, right? But at the same time, I feel like the field itself has transformed to a lot of the young designers have learned things that at one point, I was the one learning it on my own, and these guys are learning it from school or on their own as well. I feel like the hacker mentality of building things and doing things that are unknown, is so much more natural these days than it was eight or nine years ago. It’s interesting because my advice to them—to the young adults coming out of college [chuckles] with a lot of knowledge in the tech industry and products and being surrounded by products is just take it all in and try and build things at all times. Build the smallest things to the biggest things. Just try and build stuff really. We’re all builders and even if it’s just a coffee table or any small thing, it’s important. It’s something that you’ll learn from. I would even say start small. If you want to start big, go ahead [chuckles]. There’s no real wrong path as long as you’re building and working. It’s funny because like five years ago, I would’ve been able to give you a better answer, but now days, I’m like, “These guys are doing pretty good.” I’ve seen a lot of these young university students graduating, and I’m super impressed by their work.
What about any thoughts for the Dominican Republic, your homeland?
For the Dominican Republic, I want them to take design more seriously because a lot of it is still thought to be extremely superficial, but design can do a lot of things to better a country in general—there’s a lot of possibility there. It’s not just graphic design anymore. In order to do that there needs to be work done around access to the internet. I know the internet is still extremely expensive and inaccessible for most of the country, but there’s so many things that you can do online right now that can help grow and nurture existing and new businesses while opening doors for engineering and design.
I hope it gets to the point where we can just have a lot of people like me just move there and work. One day, hopefully that’s the case.
“Just take it all in and try and build things at all times. Build the smallest things to the biggest things. Just try and build stuff really. We’re all builders and even if it’s just a coffee table or any small thing, it’s important. It’s something that you’ll learn from. I would even say start small. If you want to start big, go ahead [chuckles]. There’s no real wrong path as long as you’re building and working.”