Charis is employee number one here at Aisle Planner; she and Tina met when she needed help planning her wedding and a mutual friend introduced her. They hit it off and when Tina was looking to bring on a graphic and UI designer, she knew exactly who she wanted to work with.
I am lucky to get to work very closely with Charis (I like to say she is my work-wife) on a lot of projects. And over the past year, I have learned what a fantastic creative partner she really is – one who listens carefully, gives thoughtful responses, and solves creative problems with finesse. And, despite the fact that she works remotely in Tuscon, Arizona the majority of the time, Charis is still the creative force behind Aisle Planner’s visual brand.
So I’d like to introduce you to our Creative Director, Charis Mix. Read on to learn how she keeps fueled, the challenges of working remotely, and designing for people with very good taste!
What about your background do you feel like has helped you thrive in what you are doing now?
In my career, I’ve been lucky to have had the chance to work with a range of clients from different industries and with each new company I’ve learned a lot about different types of businesses and their unique challenges and advantages. I’ve found that this has been really helpful in my work with Aisle Planner because although we primarily exist in the world of weddings and events, our planners are constantly pushing the boundaries of their businesses and having insight into other related industries allows us to anticipate the needs of their expanding scope of work.
What lessons you’ve learned working at a start-up?
As a startup in the tech space, I’ve found that agility is a crucial component to creating success for both our company and our customers. Technology is a rapidly evolving landscape and it can be tough to stay on top of something that’s changing all the time but we are committed to building a quality platform that makes the digital side of their business work seamlessly. I also love hearing (and telling!) the stories of our our amazing planners and working at a start-up definitely gives you the opportunity to build genuine relationships with your customers.
Aisle Planner is a lean start up and all-hands-on-deck team. How do your roll up your sleeves and tackle projects that just need to get done?
Admittedly, I had a tough time with this when I first started at Aisle Planner. I wanted more days and hours to fine-tune every project until I felt it was absolutely perfect. I learned pretty quickly that time is a luxury at the start-up pace so I had to figure out how to maintain my design standards while still being able to make timely contributions to the team. So when it comes time to “just get it done!,” I work my way backwards in my thinking until I come back to the one core goal of the project. This becomes the framework through which I vet every decision I need to make until I can complete the deliverable – is this detail really necessary? Do we really need multiple options? Will working on this one more day really merit any major improvements?
What does a typical day in the office look like for you?
Every morning starts with coffee and a read-through of a few of my favorite design blogs. I’ve recently adopted the 1-3-5 Rule in planning out my day, so I spend a few minutes at the start of every work day mapping this out. I also work out of a great co-working space downtown that keeps me focused and energized even while working remotely. Design-wise, my focus rotates between product UI, brand development, and marketing. I work closely with our Marketing Director (Tayler Hollman) to create great resources for our planners and find new ways the share their inspiring stories. And before “clocking-out” for the day, I usually take some time to recap and record the tasks that have been completed and take an inventory of what’s left to be tackled tomorrow.
Fill in the blank:
I have to start my day with coffee otherwise nothing gets done.
I always get dessert whenever possible.
You were one of the first brides to have their wedding planned on Aisle Planner. What was planning on the beta version like?
Growing up in the age of the internet, I definitely just assumed that I could quite easily find an app to plan my wedding online. As it turns out, there weren’t as many options as I thought — and then through a mutual friend I was introduced to Christina who introduced me to Aisle Planner and everything kind of fell into place. Being the beta version, there were a few UI challenges to smooth out but overall it was a such a better planning experience because of AP. It was also really exciting to part of a new product that not a lot of people knew about and that I could have a say in as improvements were being made.
What is your favorite Aisle Planner feature?
The checklist, for sure! I often have a lot swirling around in my head at once and being able to write out a list of action items is so very helpful and keeps me sane (especially when I was planning my own wedding on AP!). Aisle Planner takes my old hand-written lists to the next level by making it easy to delegate tasks, assign deadlines, and add notes and information important to the task. Plus, that moment when you can finally add a checkmark in the box is so satisfying!
What is your favorite thing about working with wedding planners?
Their attention to detail! As a designer, it’s not often we get to work for clients who understand and appreciate the attention and energy it takes to get everything just right. Our planners know how much effort is actually required to make something look “effortless” and we’ve all experienced the disappointment of our hard-fought creative moments being overlooked. However, this can also be an intimidating challenge because I’m designing for a group of people who have a sharp eye and discerning taste — this keeps me on my toes and working to bring my A-game every day.
How do you work through creative roadblocks?
This typically means it’s time for a coffee break! And also, I try to shift my perspective on the project by approaching the challenge as maybe a different type of creative would. Instead of a designer, how would an engineer see this problem? What approach would a chef take? A painter? A writer? How would a kid understand it?
What has been the biggest challenge for you and how are you excited to work through it?
My husband is in the Air Force, so his job requires us to be flexible about our schedule as well as our home address. So, unfortunately, I’m unable to be with the Aisle Planner team in San Diego all the time. However, thanks to the amazing number of collaborative apps out there (including Aisle Planner, of course!) I’m able to stay connected to the team from wherever I am. This unique work situation also keeps me attentive to the challenges of online teamwork and motivates me to design for a better online experience for our users.
What are you most proud to have accomplished as a team?
Our new Community site! We are so excited to finally have such an extensive resource for planners to help them get the most out of Aisle Planner and to connect with other Aisle Planners around the world. Planning for, designing, and building the site required everyone on the team to bring their expertise and resources to the table to create the best possible experience for our customers.