"I have always wanted to inspire people with visuals.
Thanks to Grideo...you can, too."
A Story of Starting Over
Have you ever thought about how far willpower can take you? Well, mine took me to the edge. I was on the verge of losing my savings, my health, my family. Despite my struggle, I´d never change a single step of my path. Let me walk you through a little story about a girl from a small town from behind the former Iron Curtain.
The world entered the second millennia, I was 5 years old, and my parents got an analog Kodak camera. I was absolutely amazed when I pressed the shutter and the time stopped. Fast forward 7 years and I got my own analog time stopper. Photography touched my heart and I knew I wanted to inspire with pictures, I wanted to create and I wanted to see the world in its best angle. However, my parents didn't share my version of the future because making pictures was supposedly “not a real job and good girls should rather learn to cook and bake.”
My fav analog camera.
Being an insufferably stubborn child, I agreed to learn to cook and bake if I could go to study photography for my high school. And so my dreams came true, ...only they didn´t. The local school was mediocre at best, I ended up bored so much I did my schoolmates' homework to kill time.
And so my stubborn teenage self decided to switch schools and aim for the best photography high school, right in the capital.
“But the capital is no place for a good young girl to live“ my mother insisted when I pleaded.
So it happened that for the next 2 years I was waking up at 4:30 am in the morning to catch a train to the capital and coming back home after 9 pm.
The school was great, teachers inspiring and so my dreams came true, … only they didn´t. After high school, I moved to the capital despite my family's objections. As it proved, they were kind of right about some things, as parents usually are.
Making a living as a photographer was pretty challenging, especially when you were not as great as you thought you were. I applied to university and got rejected. I applied again next year ….and got rejected, again. I was barely getting by, burned most of my savings, and my health got really bad. Returning back home, apologizing and being a good girl seemed to be the only way-out.
It was perhaps fate, perhaps a lucky coincidence that during this time I met Patrick who has later become my companion for life. Patrick was in the early beginnings of his iOS developer career. He was the one who brought me into the world of mobile apps and helped me discover my grown-up passion - UX. I was on the mission again.
My bank account and health: “Were you though?”
For 6 months, every single day, I was serving food, cleaning tables and wiping floors until I scraped together enough money to get my first Macbook, my first Sketch license and signed up for the UX design course. And so my dreams came true,
...only they didn't.
I landed my first design job in a big software development agency. As a junior designer, I was supposed to help design an app for a local bank. So it happened that I ended up as the only designer assigned for the project. What was supposed to be my first gentle touchdown into the world of UX design quickly turned into uncontrolled descent and crash landing.
My designs were returned no less than 12 times, each time with more passive-aggressive comments. Through tears and sleepless nights,
I managed to deliver a design that the client eventually accepted.
With my soulmate.
My first MacBook.
Working on various projects.
“Phew, nothing can surprise me now,” I thought. How wrong I was.The next design agency I joined accepted nothing less than absolute perfection. After a few violent closing of my Macbook’s lid and nights spent contemplating my life choices I eventually got used to the style of work, my skills improved rapidly and my design acceptance ratio spiked.I earned enough money to get my health back in order, reapproach with my family and start building my own future. And so my dreams finally came true, ...only they didn´t.
At Platform with a team.
It took one client to drag me down back to the self-doubt and almost make me bankrupt. When I became a freelancer I landed a job for a famous local entertainment show producer. The gig seemed easy. Design an app and help developers build it. In 4 dreadful months, I was yelled at least once a week, in person, over the phone, in texts. I was threatened with a lawsuit and fines, I was not getting paid and I couldn't take other work. Perhaps, I should have been a better manager and shouldn't have allowed the client to change requirements every day. Or better advisor and explain why he shouldn't have 10 colors and 3 layers in one screen. Anyway, I survived, learned a lesson, started to build my own design system and better times have come, better clients.
I designed apps, websites, e-shops, even print graphics. One of my proudest moments was when I designed an app for the country's second-largest city and my client won a public tender with it. Another proud moment was when I applied for a UX designer role at a world-famous software studio STRV in Prague. Designers that worked on apps such as Tinder, Christian Mingle or Lufthansa actually liked my work! What a day that was! Unfortunately, with all my attention focused on design I omitted my English so it didn't work out in the end. However, as you can read, I have been working on it ever since!
At STRV on Technical & English Interview.
Check out some of my work on Dribbble...
This happened around the time when my and Patrick´s paths crossed again. Patrick was working for Toptal, a company employing only the top 3% of developers in the world. Besides that, he and his friends were establishing their own mobile app agency and he offered me to join. No clients, no yelling, no limits to creativity, just building whatever WE find interesting. And so my dreams came true, ...this time with no twists.
My childhood passion for photography has been reborn into professional love for UX design and manifested itself in my first fully self-designed app - Grideo. My next milestone is to get my app featured on the App Store. For this, I am laying out my story in front of you. The story that good girls from small towns who can cook and bake can do whatever they wish, even make world-class apps loved by millions.
Making of Grideo
In-app stickers design.
Working all night on Grideo.
And here you can check out the result. My Grideo app is on the App Store!