Vanessa Bruce + Six Things
A classically trained graphic designer committed to bridging the gap between design and development. She loves blurring the lines between product strategy, UX and visual design - a love she uses daily as one of the founders here at Six Things. When she's not hustling, you can find her exploring national parks with her husband, spending time with her family or hiking in a maxi dress.
What is the best compliment you've ever received?
This is a difficult one for me, as compliments usually make me blush uncomfortably. Someone dear to me recently told me that I was brave, which took me for surprise. Bravery is a quality I've always admired in others but never saw in myself, so it meant a lot to hear but the other day my six year old nephew told me I was his best friend and that's a compliment that's pretty hard to beat.
Where do you thrive?
Creatively, I thrive when the stars are out and the world around me is still. I've found that I'm most inspired between 10PM - 1AM and that's when I often do my best work. There is something magical about working when everyone else is asleep; no distractions, texts, snaps, or meetings to interrupt my flow.
Beyond work, when I need to recharge and practice self care, I thrive most on road trips with my husband. Being in the car with the windows down, fresh air flowing, surrounded by a scenic view is my favorite. We've recently driven through Iceland and Utah, and no matter where we are or where we're headed, I love the feeling of never quite knowing what beautiful place we'll discover or stumble upon along our way.
What's one bad habit you can't seem to shake?
Skipping meals. When I'm in the zone hours pass and I completely forget to eat. Often times both breakfast and lunch. Now, I love food. Like, LOVE. I'm never one to pass up a taco or a piece of pie, but more than the missed chances to savor something delicious, I'm unable to do my best work when I don't take care of myself - and fuel is a big part of that. As a whole I'm working on treating my mind and body better. I'm a better wife, a better business partner and a better human being when I take the time to nourish my body and mind.
What's the best idea you've heard recently?
I'm most inspired by technology companies who set out with a mission to help people - actually making the world a better place. Thorn is one I've been most inspired by recently. They are building a platform that is helping to save children from human trafficking, an issue our society has historically found too uncomfortable to address head on. It's an amazing example of software engineers, product designers and data analysts coming together to make a true global impact for social good.
How do you unplug?
The best advice I can give you to make sure you find time to unplug is to marry a man who still uses a flip phone. Kidding, sort of. My husband, and his flip phone, are pretty anti-tech so he's always encouraging me to step away from the screen and embrace life's moments in real time weather that's taking time to cook a meal together or go for a hike.
In fact, in January we committed to hiking a new trail together every weekend. Though the weather in Boston can make that a challenge, we've bundled up and made it happen. In a few short months, it's really become a tradition, with friends and family asking to join us on our weekend hikes- even in the dead of winter!
What's the biggest lesson you learned this past year?
I'm an emotional person and that's something I've been ashamed of for years. However, this past year has taught me that my emotions can be an incredible strength when I choose to honor them instead of attempting to sweep them under the rug. For years, my clients have praised my empathetic designs but it wasn't until recently that I realized the same emotions I've been ashamed of are the ones allowing me to approach my work with empathy. Being an "emotional person" improves my ability to craft experiences and products that actually make people feel something and that's something I'm learning to celebrate.