+ Gail, what is your purpose here on this wonderful earth?
To contribute to the growth of our global community. In my particular case, I leverage design as an (hopefully) impactful communication tool.
+ How did you come to be where you are right now?
I followed the path set by my own curiosity. I enjoy learning and experimenting a lot. Even if a topic isn’t related to my career or a particular project, I’ve always found that the accumulation of knowledge, experiences and information opens up doors and gives you opportunities to grow.
+ What does your current business model look like?
I currently consult with several large companies. I have flexibility as a startup to really look at a problem nimbly and from multiple angles. Large companies excel due to their established infrastructure, but experimentation or quick solutions are harder to see. It’s my job to come in and find design and data-based solutions that will impact the company’s goals quickly and efficiently.
+ What mindset shifts have you had to go through to level up in your business?
It’s not so much a mindset shift as getting a more holistic perspective on how all the parts need to come together. We see business as a checklist of items that need to be taken care of. In reality, it’s an intricate network of areas waiting to be optimised to work together efficiently. If you create the best software product in the world, but your marketing strategy doesn’t allow people to discover it, then you will be dead in the water. All parts of the business affect another.
+ I'd love to ask you about your mentors and peers. What would you suggest to people looking for something like this themselves?
I am a believer in surrounding yourself with friends who challenge you. I have always been attracted to people who are smarter than me, experts in areas that I have no knowledge in, and people who question their own work and strategy openly. Discussions that place you in a position of self-analysis by people you trust is critical in gaining the level of personal growth needed to become a leader in your industry.
+ Talk us through what typical day (or week!) in your design world might look like:
A typical day starts with a cup of coffee and some quiet time with my son. Then I spend 30 minutes catching up on the news and scanning design blogs and articles. Before I kick off any design process I will also look over my to do list and make sure that I am getting things done in the most efficient manner possible.
I also re-evaluate projects each time I open them. You’d be surprised how many times improvements or better angles appear after a good nights sleep. Taking 15-minute mental breaks to walk out to my garden or read an article helps me pace myself. I meet clients and co-workers in the afternoon. Talking to the team in the evening means I can also fully “digest” the data over night, which then helps kick off another re-evaluating process the next day.
+ Down time, and the work vs. life balance deal. How do you make it work?
This area is not a strength of mine. So as a general policy I try and take a month off each year to disconnect. If possible I go to countries where I don’t speak the language. As an aside, I’ve become very adept at charades! I find that a month also allows me to really absorb the local culture.
+ What has been your most rewarding project to date, and why?
The answer to this is definitely DataHero. DataHero’s goal was to bring cloud based data analysis and visualisation to everyone. We created a tool that made your average person a data genius! Being there from the beginning meant that I not only designed every aspect of the products interface, visual language and experience, but I also got to oversee and design the marketing. Having such a holistic view of these key components meant that we were very fast at iterating and applying innovative strategies. This kept us ahead of the pack and lead us to a successful acquisition earlier this year.
+ What three key lessons have you learnt in your entrepreneurial path, which continue to carry you forward?
1. Always ask questions and drive yourself to experience new things.
2. Place yourself in positions where your views are challenged.
3. The key to efficiency is to understand that each part of the puzzle affects another.
+ What doubts or fears have you had to face during your entrepreneurial journey?
I am designer, I live with self-doubt every day! Instead of focusing on my own ability, I reflect that question onto my work: “Is the project the best it can be?” “Is there a better way to do it?”
+ What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in design and tech?
Design and tech are becoming two sides of the same coin. My best advice is to learn and understand the people you are building or designing for. Spend time with them and place yourself in a position of discovery. This is what leads to breakthroughs and insightful solutions that sets you ahead of the pack.
Please tell us your favourite:
Book: I am going to hit you with a curve ball here: it’s a comic book: Hawkeye #11 – the entire issue is told through the perspective of a dog. It’s a great study on how visuals alone can engage you into a pretty complex story.
Website: Invision App
Early morning activity: Coffee – really, really good coffee.
Late night activity: Cooking! It’s how I de-stress and relax at the end of the day.
Gourmet snack? A glass of wine.
Gail Yui has been a pioneer in data-centric design for more than a decade. She is an expert in leveraging data alongside hands-on user testing to create both trend-setting designs and innovative user interfaces that solve complex problems.
At age 23, Gail founded Jybe Studios, one of the first data-driven design studios in the fashion industry. Jybe Studios used quantitative analysis of forecasted trends to create designs for clients that included Saks Fifth Avenue, Disney, Nordstrom and Macy’s. G
In 2009, Gail transitioned from the fashion industry to e-commerce, joining Sequoia-backed startup CafePress as head of design. She led their design team through CafePress’ successful IPO in 2012.
Following CafePress’ IPO, Gail joined Chris Neumann as the Creative Director and first employee of DataHero. DataHero was acquired by Cloudability in 2016.