Do you ever meet someone so spectacularly cool you kind of lose your mind? And then you talk to them and they’re so nice and smart and interesting you lose your mind again but in a good way? That’s Celia. She has worn nothing but killer outfits since her first day and been a veritable font of new ideas and processes and visuals. Learn more about Vermont’s most stylish export (according to me, Vermont expert, Nora Taylor) and gain a lot of super dope career knowledge along the way.
You’re the Visual Director! What does that mean and what do you do?
I am! I manage a team of lovely ladies that are tasked with marrying the content on Man Repeller with the visuals successfully. My job has many facets, like managerial tasks, brainstorming and conceptualizing. I get to be an art director, graphic designer, photographer, event planner, writer, meeting organizer, mentor and the list goes on. Man Repeller is involved in so many creative outlets and I touch most of them. It’s pure creative diversity, and best of all, I get to wear whatever my heart desires — a.k.a. what I can round up at thrift stores!
What were you doing before this?
My previous job was at an international content marketing company where I was the lead designer. I oversaw a junior designer and a team of freelance designers. Together we produced awareness campaigns that were distributed both in print and digitally. To me it wasn’t the most thrilling work from a design perspective, but it certainly taught me a lot about who I am as a person and what I expect from an employer. I also learned I have a fierce love for office snacks… anything that looks like a bag of chips is dangerous for me. I used to schedule my snacks or else I would go overboard!
What did you go to school for?
Well, funny thing — I went to Parsons School of Design with the intention of becoming a fashion designer. I very quickly realized that my Vermont country-self didn’t belong in the New York fashion industry. Mind you, this was 10 years ago and the industry wasn’t as open and diverse as it is today. I think I was experiencing a serious level of culture shock and didn’t understand my place in the fashion industry, New York, or overall in life, so I pulled an audible and went into an industry that was changing just as much as I was: communication design or graphic design. At Parsons there were two pathways when it came to graphic design: print or web. I’m going to date myself, but it was a hard choice because web design was just taking off and everyone wanted a dot com, so it was seemingly the right path to go in if I wanted to make a ton of money. Naturally I did the opposite and stuck to traditional print design, not because it was safe but because it was tangible.
How did you get started at Man Repeller?
I had an interesting start I think. Most would say they were a loyal follower, but I went on a long hunt for female-owned/operated design agencies because I was sick of feeling too “strong,” aggressive,” or “powerful” for all my male bosses who clearly had issues with my level of determination. Man Repeller popped up again and again. So I looked for an opening and, sure enough, this job was there. Honestly it seemed like a reach; I think that was my insecurities saying, “You can’t do this job.” I knew I needed to jump because just like NYC apartments, NYC jobs go like hot cakes! So I went home, made a video cover letter because traditional cover letters are a complete waste of time and boring AF, and applied the next day. I was shocked to hear back so quickly and the rest is me writing this! It’s amazing!
Favorite part of your job?
The favorite part of my job is the opportunity to place visual intention to words. I land on the spectrum of being dyslexic, and so words are a constant struggle for me, but colors and shapes are my way of understanding. It’s creating a feeling, a vibe, and I enjoy being able to share that with others. It’s the way I connect!
This job is really wonderful because it affords me the opportunity to share all my passions. I’m not only a visual human, but I’m a team player. I feel whole by helping others grow and succeed. The ability to lead a team of talented and creative ladies is so rewarding. I walk out of work every day feeling accomplished, whether it’s because my team nailed a visual element to a complex story or because I sat with a team member for some time working on their career goals. I literally feel like this job was created just for me!
Least favorite part of your job?
The least favorite part of my job is the frustration of not visually communicating properly. Being a creative is very personal. So when we can’t visually communicate properly, it’s the same feeling as when you misspeak or are unable to understand your feelings and emotions. This happens when the ideas aren’t flowing or when there’s little time to conceptualize and place an intention. The sucky part is feeling like a dog with a bone; the visual problem just churns in my head non-stop and when I can’t find the solution in time, I feel like I failed to communicate and therefore feel misunderstood, which is hard to rectify.
What’s one thing that surprised you in your path up until now?
Welp, there were certainly a lot of mirror pep-talks discussing, or rather, contemplating, how selling iPhones at Apple for a year — which I did before the content marketing job — was going to pay off or put me on the right career path. But it really did! Besides the amazing health insurance and benefits, Apple really taught me a great deal about how to lead a team of people successfully. We all know Apple is the best in customer experience, because they don’t fuck around with their training. However, it’s way more than just ensuring one can handle customer needs the “Apple way.” It really was about how to effectively receive and provide positive and negative feedback to other humans. I think we can all agree this isn’t an easy task, but I’m more prepared to do so after my year with Apple. It’s proven valuable time and time again both professionally and personally.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I was very into sports growing up, particularly basketball. I told my mom when I was younger that I wanted to play for the NBA. She explained that I would play for the WNBA, and apparently I was insistent that I would be the first woman to play in the NBA. So as you can see, I (along with the rest of the world) am still working on what that looks like.
What’s one piece of advice you can offer to someone who wants a job like yours?
Be an observer of life, synthesize it and make up your own mind about how you project your experiences. Don’t worry that your career path isn’t chronological. It all adds up in the end, and the experiences that you have along the way are important in a position like this. It allows you to look at it from all angles and be a Jack or Jill of all trades, or have a Rolodex of how to visually solve problems in a way that people can relate or connect to.
What’s one piece of advice you have for someone who has no clue what they want to do?
Travel with an open mind and heart, without judgement. Do a lot and take it all in.
Photos by Edith Young.