I’m a web designer and front-end web developer with over 20 years of professional experience in the design industry.
As the the owner of iDesign Studios, a web design and development company, I specialize in creating custom web sites for other businesses, focusing primarily on custom WordPress theme design and development.
I also blog on topics relating to web design, small business, freelancing and work-life balance.
I was born and raised in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands. That’s right… I grew up in paradise!
Island life was great, with beautiful, white sandy beaches – where you can be neck deep in the water but still be able to look down and see your toes. Absolutely nothing compares to it! It is a very relaxed and easy-going environment – family and friends are very close-knit, and everyone knows (almost) everyone else.
I received a great primary education at one of the best private / college prep schools on St. Thomas. I attended the same school from Junior and Senior Kindergarten up through to Senior year of High School. This is a great example of the island being a close-knit community, in that I graduated from high school with some of the kids that I had known since I was four years old. Not many people have the opportunity to attend school together for fourteen years.
The island is of course small, though, with few options for higher education and not many job opportunities for a web / graphic designer, since the primary economy of the Virgin Islands is geared towards the tourism industry.
So, I attended college in Florida, going back home for Christmas and Summer vacations. I met my future husband while at school. We were engaged during my senior year of college and married just over a year later. We are still happily married, and now have a very opinionated sweetie-pie of a toddler running around underfoot.
Art & Design
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always held an interest for art and design, in some form or another. The earliest career goal I can remember was to be an art teacher. Kind of strange since I am a total introvert, but anything for the sake of art, I guess. Another early aspiration was to be a gardener for the aesthetic beauty of placing flowers and other plants. Other aspirations included fashion designer, interior designer, fine / studio artist and graphic (print) designer.
I was lucky enough to have been exposed to computers since the age of three, when my father got his first computer – a TRS-80.
Little did I know, but this early exposure to computers would lead to my current career passion – computer aided design… specifically web design.
In high school, I attended an after school and summer art program. The focus here was on the fine arts. I learned a lot of great studio art skills and techniques. My favorite being acrylic paints. I created quite a few art pieces during this time – a few of which were sold at the annual art show which was held at the end of each year.
As much as I enjoyed painting, I had at the time also just discovered the internet. This crazy, newfangled thing that began in 1994. I had even more fun creating my first web site and searching the world wide web on bulletin boards and playing text-only online games with my friends. Who knew that would lead to the internet that we know and love so much today!
At that point, though, the internet was nothing more than a hobby for me. My career goal at that time was creating designs for print, such as advertisements, corporate identity, brochures, etc.
I majored in graphic design in college, graduating Magna Cum Laude. During summer vacations back home, I interned at the Virgin Islands Daily News (originally a Gannett Publication, although it is now published independently). I learned a great deal in the Creative Services / Advertising department here.
As much as I learned in college – and I learned a LOT – it still doesn’t quite prepare you for life in the real working world.
While interning at the newspaper, I also produced graphic and web site designs for a couple other small companies on the island. This helped foster my interest in web design. Of course, all the while, I maintained my own personal web site (you are currently viewing the fifteenth design this site has taken on in the last fourteen years).
To be truthful, I am actually self-taught in web design. The majority of my college courses concentrated on various aspects of print and graphic design (aside from the core curriculum classes like english and science, etc.). I jumped on the opportunity to take a web design class as soon as it became available, but it was such a new course, and I had been teaching myself web site design and development for so long, that I pretty much already knew everything that they taught in the class.
By the time I graduated, I was 100% positive that I wanted to focus on web design.
Of course in the real world you have to take a job that pays the bills, so initially half or more of the work that I did was print / graphic design work.
I officially moved to Florida right after graduating from college in 1999, where I took on a full-time job with a graphic and web design company that I had interned at during my last semester of college. I worked at the same company for nine years, finally moving on in June 2008, so that I could pursue my goal of running my own business full time.
My love of web design is so strong that I do this for more than just a 9-5 job.
That is why I constantly maintain my own personal web site. It is also why I freelanced as a web designer in my spare time, officially founding iDesign Studios in 2001.
Although lack of time is always an issue, especially with a toddler, I am constantly reading up on the latest web design and development techniques. One of the reasons that I love web design so much is that it is an ever-evolving medium.
It is an amazing sense of accomplishment every time you learn a new technique – especially if it was a struggle to get to that point.
Living The Dream
Since taking the “Freelance Plunge” I am now living the dream of being a small business owner / internet entrepreneur. I am absolutely in love with my new life, enjoying both the challenges and rewards that come with it.