When I was young, I spent a lot of time by myself. I grew up in a house with only adults, in a family with only male cousins, on a street with no other kids. My parents kept me occupied with Barbie dolls and endless Disney VHS tapes. I became obsessed with the characters—their dynamic stories, their aesthetic perfection—I wanted to be like them. In middle school, my isolation spiraled. I was unable to connect with people my own age. I felt flawed.
It took years for me to learn to be comfortable with who I am. I’ve grown to appreciate my own imperfect story. My isolation can be beautiful. My flaws are gifts.
As designers, we can get stuck chasing the fleeting ideal of perfection. I often remind myself of what I’ve learned. The most authentic brands are human—too much polish strips that humanity away. Design mediates our relationship with the branded world. The products we choose, the places we go, are all based on stories. Those stories should be real. The truth is beautiful.