Industry Profile: Contour UX/UI Designer Aimee Desaki
31 Jul, 2012
Years on snow: 19
Days on snow: Weekend warrior status makes 33 this year
Currently Riding: Gnu Jamie Anderson / K2 Auto Agogos / Salomon Lily
Currently I am: Working late to surf tomorrow.
Shay: Tell us a little bit about yourself
Aimee: I grew up in the Seattle area skiing with my dad. My friend convinced me to try snowboarding in 1993 and that was that. I went to the UW, studied cell and molecular biology, and worked in research for a few years. Then I went back to school for graphic design because I love to make things. Anything, really. Now I design things, snowboard, play some soccer, and try to surf.
Shay: How has snowboarding changed your life?
Aimee: It has given me a good perspective to know what is important to me in life. It gets me out the door, clears my mind, and lets me see amazing places I never would have seen otherwise. I have met so many friends and gotten jobs from it along the way.
Shay: How did you get your start in the industry, who or what opened up more opportunities for you?
Aimee: I don’t really feel like I’m in the industry, but when I was in science, I wanted to have snowboarding in my life somehow every day, so I asked the local shop, Evo, if they had any part time jobs open. Since I was just some random uncool girl off the street, I put my contest results on my resume so they knew I at least knew what I was talking about. To my surprise, Grace asked me to be on the shop team they were building instead. I met a lot of friends there, which led to more riding, which led to contacts for other jobs at Stevens Pass, Zumiez, Mervin, and Contour.
Shay: How has your previous education or work experience helped you in your current job?
Aimee: A degree in design is important to have good foundations to do design work. Without it, it would have been a lot more work. From graphic design, I transitioned to interactive design. It is still organizing information for the user in an aesthetic way, just in a different medium. For the jobs I’ve had, it’s been very important to have a genuine knowledge of snowboarding and the industry itself because designers create the face of companies…if marketing and sales doesn’t get to it first.
Shay: Tell us about your role at Contour and a description of the work you do?
Aimee: I am a UX/UI designer. That’s user experience and user interface design. There are several designers at Contour, all in charge of different extensions of the brand and product (web, mobile, software, print, and industrial/product). My job is to design the web and software so they not only look good, but work well. I am currently working on pieces of a new site. After it is designed, I hand it to the engineers who build it. I work with both the engineers and QA until the project is to spec with the design.
Shay: If you had to make up a job title that most accurately described what you REALLY do, what would it be?
Aimee: “Website refresher and joke deflector.” I am the only girl on the product team in our Seattle location. The guys like to make fun of me but they are really nice. I feel lucky to be working as a part of the group. Or sometimes I’m the less glamorous “Facebook contest image generator.”
Shay: Describe the craziest day/moment you’ve had at your job?
Aimee: I’m not a rock star so I don’t do heli trips for a living. Nothing crazy has happened to me at work yet, but I do appreciate the flexibility, culture, and that I can bring my dog to work and people like him.
Shay: What are some memorable experiences from working in the industry?
Aimee: I really enjoyed testing product at the WWSRA demos. I figured out just what I like in a snowboard by riding a ton of them back to back. Normally you just get one and hope for the best. Besides that, It comes down to the people. Snowboarding with Contour friends, skating to lunch with the Mervin guys, and ride breaks with friends at Stevens. You don’t really have to be in the industry to enjoy these things though. Actually, I’m not sure if I am in the “industry” right now, though it does involve snowboarding.
Shay: What do you think are the biggest challenges that the snowboard industry faces and what changes would you like to see for the future?
Aimee: I don’t keep an eye on the biz as much anymore, but as snowboarding gets older and more popular, I think a challenge for some brands will be (and has been) maintaining authenticity while still progressing. I would like to see snowboarding age gracefully, and so far I think it is doing a good job. It’s cool seeing old pros still riding and getting their little groms started.
Shay: What advice would you give to people wanting to work in the industry?
Aimee: Go for it if you love it and want to make it better, not because you like the idea of it and it makes you look cool. Be authentic and ride because you like it, not because you think you should. If you’re in it for real, it will show and people will take you seriously and opportunities will arise. It turns out my friends told me about all the jobs I’ve gotten, and I’m happy with where I’ve been and where I’m going.