Hello! I'm Nina, a San Diego-based designer with roots in B2B sales, wholesale operations, and account management.
I’m passionate about creating experiences that directly address business goals with a thoughtful, genuine approach that my clients can proudly own at the end of the day. Before making the career change to design, I previously worked in customer experience, account management, and operations in the fashion and tech spaces for 7 years.
My approach to design is collaborative, business-focused, a little bit rule-breaking, and a lotta bit fun. 😄 My current work focuses on blending my wholesale background with my design skills, working with an e-commerce agency to deliver UX & UI design work for enterprise-level clients on the Shopify Plus platform.
When I'm not designing, you can usually find me exploring new neighborhoods, hiking at Mission Trails, reading about food and travel, or turning my kitchen into a lab to test out new recipes.
The path I took to design certainly wasn't a straight one, but I do believe that the steps I took gradually taught me how to be a designer over the years. Here's a little overview of how I got to where I am now.
The College Years
A passion for connecting the dots
I started college with aspirations of going into international business, which led me to obtain my B.A. in Economics (with a minor in Global Studies) from UCLA in 2011.
In my college years, I found that the field of economics was essentially the art of connecting the dots. It taught me to approach problem-solving from an interdisciplinary perspective and to keep an open mind for where I could source inspiration.
This approach stuck with me and proved to be useful when I decided to return to the classroom to earn my certificate in Graphic & Web Design from UC San Diego Extension in 2017. But it would be a few years of working in interdisciplinary roles before I'd make that leap.
University of California,
B.A. in Economics, Minor in Global Studies
Professional Experience, Pt. 1
Putting interdisciplinary skills to work
After graduating from college, I dove into the fashion industry to work for a handful of footwear, accessory, and apparel brands. I was eager to jump in wherever I could gain business experience. Whether it was managing the e-commerce store and packing orders, creating line sheets and order forms, selling wholesale collections to international boutiques, or deciphering complex shipping instructions to facilitate international shipments, I wanted to learn it all.
The majority of the brands I worked for were internationally based, constantly challenging me to figure out ways to communicate complex messages across language barriers — something that led to me experimenting with visual design.
South Coast Endodontics
Account Manager, 2010–2011
Account Executive, 2011–2013
Sales Representative, 2013–2015
Accounts Receivable/Logistics Manager, 2015–2016
Professional Experience, Pt. 2
From fashion to food
After five years of working in the fashion industry, I wanted to branch out and put my account management skills to the test in a new industry: food startup. I accepted a job as an Operations Associate/Account Manager at Cater2.Me, a catering concierge service that collaborates with local vendors to provide tailored meal plans for tech startups.
Then, in 2017, personal events led me to move back home and spend some time helping my family. This pause gave me some much-needed time to reflect on my skills and interests.
Even though my time working in food startup was short-lived, I found that learning how to get my hands dirty from an operational perspective allowed me to balance empathy for clients with advocacy for my team — negotiation skills that still come in handy when I collaborate with clients on design work.
Operations Associate/Account Manager, 2016–2017
A Sharp Pivot
Self-Inventory and exploration
Thinking back to my experiences in account management, operations, and customer service, I realized that the one thing I wanted to learn was how to communicate better — and, given my experience working in international markets, I wanted to do it in a way that would transcend written and spoken language. Remembering how much I enjoyed creating line sheets and marketing materials for trade shows, I signed up for an Intro to Web Media class at UC San Diego Extension to learn how to make them better. I fell in love with the possibilities of storytelling beyond words, leading me to enroll in the school's year-long Graphic & Web Design intensive.
UC San Diego Extension
Certificate in Graphic & Web Design
Professional Experience, Pt. 3
Diving into marketing & Design
As a student, I hit the ground sprinting to learn as much as I could, and as quickly as I could, about graphic and web design. I attended design workshops, freelanced as much as possible, and helped out with marketing outreach at my parents' endodontic practice. Shortly after completing my certificate program, I got a job at a dental marketing agency.* It was there that I really got to run with figuring out my design style, designing brand identities for clients in the dental, legal, M&A, fashion, and food spaces.
My latest adventure has been exploring the "why" behind my design choices: I've recently entered the wild world of ecommerce as a UX/UI designer — and I love every minute of it! I'm always looking for a new challenge and I look forward to designing for years to come.
*The irony of designing for dentists when I, as a daughter of two dentists, spent a good portion of her life vowing never to practice dentistry, is not lost on me. I still laugh about it.
Marketing & Design
South Coast Endodontics
Marketing Coordinator, 2017–2018
Graphic Designer, 2018–2020
Senior Graphic Designer, 2020–2021
UX/UI Designer, 2021–Present