Product Designer based in the Bay Area. She's also a design lead at Instagram, who's focused on helping people make meaningful connections. She took the time to share with us her work and what Support means to her.
As a BIPOC creative, what does “support” mean to you?
No one does it alone. For me, support means helping out in whatever way I can. We all have something unique to offer— emotional support, financial, mentorship, exposure, making space, etc.
One of my favorite ways to give support is through mentorship. At my first product design job out of college, I was paired with a mentor who taught me everything from technical skills, how to navigate the company, and advocating to put me on projects. This daily support has had one of the biggest impacts on my career. If you can’t find one person, find support in multiple people around you. And it can be as light as one conversation over coffee. It can make a huge difference.
Who has supported you and why was it meaningful?
When I was looking to change jobs, so many friends and colleagues offered to help me figure out what to do next. They shared insight into different companies they’ve worked at and even salary information so I could get a fair offer. It’s given me valuable information I couldn’t have known otherwise.
And some of the most impactful moments of support happened without me even knowing about it. There have been times when colleagues have advocated for me when I wasn’t around and it’s opened doors for my career. It inspired me to be that person for others whenever I can.
What is a big challenge being a BIPOC creative in your industry?
When most leaders at your company are white males, it can have an effect on what you believe leaders should look/act like. While others may get opportunities based on potential because they “seem like a good fit” it may not apply to someone who looks different. And so the cycle continues.
It helps to have exposure to a lot of different leaders you can gain inspiration from that look more like you.
Any words of advice or encouragement to BIPOC creatives just starting out?
1. Prioritize rest & play (especially when you have creator’s block)
2. Go with your gut
3. Remember, no one can do you better than you
4. Ask for help from your community
5. Get clear on your “why”
What is your cultural heritage and how has it influenced your work?
My parents immigrated to the US from Korea without knowing English and it’s impacted my approach to design. I love how design is a language of its own and can connect multiple cultures together.
For example, the design of the subway system in Korea (both the map and the subway itself) has been a source of inspiration. The signs are so clear, you can understand them even without speaking the language.
I often apply this thinking to my work. Is it simple enough that my parents could understand how to use this app without fully reading the text? It helps me design simple experiences and interfaces that would be approachable.
Why are telling BIPOC stories important to you?
Seeing other BIPOC stories makes me feel less alone and reminds me that we have a huge community to lean on. Social media has really put the power in our hands to share these stories and support each other in ways that my parent's generation couldn't. I can't wait for us to keep it going.
Why is DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) important to you and your industry?
It’s challenging to design a product (like Instagram) that needs to work for a billion people without a diverse team. Diverse perspectives can anticipate the needs of a much larger group of people. It’s a win-win for companies and for the people we build for. There’s a reason why the Avengers all have different superpowers.