Ladies, meet the talented Natalie Armendariz! Natalie founded Funsize, a studio in downtown Austin, and has been creating amazing work along the way. She is a huge inspiration to fellow ladies who are navigating the UX/design world. Enjoy!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Partner and Design Director at a small studio in Austin called Funsize. I founded it with my husband, Anthony, about four years ago. Before Austin, we lived in Brooklyn for six years until we decided we wanted to move closer to family. New York was where I spent my time growing as a young designer because of opportunities to work at places like R/GA and Fjord. When I’m not sitting in front of a computer, I’m probably laughing with friends and telling dumb jokes, dining out, watching movies, and/or drinking a good stiff cocktail.
Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?
Yes and no. Back then, there weren’t that many roles that I was aware of in the graphic design field so I treaded carefully. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the creative industry but the paths were a little murky. I eventually went undecided through two semesters of college until I eventually dropped out after landing an internship at an advertising agency in Dallas. I found a path there for myself and once that happened, there was no turning back.
I found a path there for myself and once that happened, there was no turning back.
How did Funsize get to where it is today?
My husband and I didn’t set out to create a company. Our intent was to have something nimble so we could still be spontaneous and travel together. We ended up crossing paths with a handful of amazing, talented designers in Austin and we quickly discovered that we didn’t want to lose them. Because of that, Anthony and I eventually found ways to bring in enough clients to stabilize the company and hired them full-time. Since then, we’ve been growing organically but we still maintain the values of culture, personal growth, and work/life balance.
How do you navigate as a woman in a male-dominated tech industry?
I feel very, very grateful and lucky that I haven’t run into any situations where I’ve felt uncomfortable or disrespected because of my gender. There are definitely shrewd comments every now and then but when that happens, I always choose to take the higher road. Throughout my career, I’ve come across a lot of amazing and smart women (and men, like my husband) who mentored me and taught me how to build my soft skills, which I think are just as important to learn as design itself.
I’ve come across a lot of amazing and smart women (and men, like my husband) who mentored me and taught me how to build my soft skills, which I think are just as important to learn as design itself.
What would you recommend to other women/younger girls who are aspiring to work in design/UX?
There are so many opportunities in this industry right now. Do the research and come into it knowing what you want out of your career and what you want to avoid. Having that self-awareness, purpose, and confidence will really help guide you throughout your career. It also helps you stay true to yourself, especially when you come across challenging situations.
Having that self-awareness, purpose, and confidence will really help guide you throughout your career.
Above all else, always practice self-care. It’s too easy to want to go above and beyond or get caught up in the environment, and you end up pushing yourself to the limits and burning yourself out. No matter what anyone says, late nights and exhaustion are not measurements of success. You’ll be surprised at how much more powerful you are and how much better you can perform when you take care of yourself, unplug every now and then, and get some of that sweet R&R.