We had the good fortune of connecting with Alex Jimenez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alex, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
The average human has more than 6,000 thoughts per day. In my case, those 6000 thoughts only happen after I’ve had my morning coffee…. The range of thoughts are vast, bouncing from ideas like “I wish the house would vacuum itself” to “I wonder if I can learn how to talk to my dog.” If you learn to become aware of these thoughts, the good and the ridiculous, you start to observe that themes appear in the shape of every-day problems that need solving. Problems that may not be unique to just you. This is how I started to uncover gaps or opportunities to explore. I come up with the ideas for my businesses by simply looking at what’s needed, what opportunities lie hidden, and then taking action. If I see the need for something within the industry, I won’t hesitate to dive into it further. I’ll most likely come up short or realize that I’m not solving a big enough problem. But sometimes, I uncover something… A single thread that I can pull on that leads me somewhere. And then I just follow it. Personally, I tend to be an action first, think last kind of girl. As I write this, I can hear my dad yelling at me to “Think before you do!”… something I have yet to master. This can either be incredibly beneficial, or just a bottleneck… depending on the case. But in my opinion, if I didn’t trust my intuition or have an action-first mentality, a lot of the things that I have done so far would not have come to fruition. Of course, validating my ideas through multiple sources and tools is important- the design thinker in me wouldn’t let me skip that part. Equally as important, I think it’s key to surround yourself with the right people. People that are like-minded in their ambitions and who truly want what is best for you. That kind of support is rare to find but when you do, you make sure to hold on to and nurture those relationships. You will definitely need it when you run into roadblocks or need inspiration along the way. These traits and relationships are what have helped me build my ventures. #yourportfoliosux was launched out of a need for career guidance and support for young (career-wise) designers. Upon graduating from a UX/UI bootcamp in Miami, I realized there was not much targeted support for career development and/or guidance in the local community. The career development that came with the bootcamp was very general, and mostly stuff I already knew. After realizing this, I partnered with a fellow graduate and got to work. From one day to the next I grabbed the Instagram handle, started an Eventbrite, and spoke with the staff from my bootcamp to start hosting weekly meetups for recent grads. The community quickly grew and our ideas were validated by our attendance rate and the engagement we received. UX Corner stemmed from the need for UX videos that are much more engaging than the ones out currently. My colleague and I have a habit of brainstorming random business ideas and working through them to see if there’s any substance to them. Instead of throwing these ideas out, or worse never executing on them, we loosely validate or invalidate them right on the spot. We found there was a gap in the quality of educational content being provided around UX. Once again, the idea was validated through the feedback received from the community and we are currently continuing to build upon and improve our channel. In the end, I would say it comes down to taking action and surrounding yourself with people that support and advocate for you, but who won’t hesitate to also be honest and rational. Out of your 6,000+ thoughts a day, hang on to the few that resonate, discuss with the group you’ve surrounded yourself with, validate, and watch your ideas come to life.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m currently working at REEF Technology. When I joined, the team was small and I was one of the first designers hired on, as well as the first junior designer. REEF traditionally did not hire juniors, but my hiring manager decided to take a chance on me. Big shout out to Sarah Nohe. At one point it was just the two of us, working on design sprints for a 17,000 person startup. Those days were a grind, but now we have a lot more personnel and a design team full of wonderful people. And I’m not saying it was because of me, probably just a massive coincidence, but REEF is now one of the biggest employers of junior designers in Miami. 😉 But the biggest challenge (yet most rewarding) was learning to be a leader, a user advocate, and the design expert for my scrum team. It’s a juggling act that I’m still perfecting, but has helped me grow so much as a person and as a designer. Many handoffs and launches later, I am proud of the designer I’ve become and of having adapted to a role I was definitely not comfortable with in the beginning. Learning from mistakes is what helped me develop into who I am today; I embrace them just as much as my successes. And did I mention Sarah Nohe?! I’m grateful for her support and guidance over the past year. I can’t stress the importance of having great mentorship and a positive mindset.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There are so many places to explore in Miami, even being raised here hasn’t been enough time for me to discover all the things to see and do. In the mornings I would definitely go to my favorite brunch and coffee places. All Day cafe for the avocado toast and incredible cold brew. For coffee and a snack, Havana Suite makes the BEST oatmilk lattes (and offers Vegan Cuban Cuisine croquetas that I absolutely die for) or the Salty Donut for strong lattes and the best vegan donuts you’ll ever find. Fun all-day activities for me will usually always include my dog, Kai. So the dog beach in Haulover is a must, to watch the dogs frolick and swim while I tan. For lunch, I would recommend Taula for a massive and affordable box of mediterranean food, or Organic Food Kings for incredible vegan food! I don’t like beer, but I love breweries and beer cocktails, so for games, drinks, and laidback vibes- Veza Sur Brewery or Concrete Beach are my go-to’s. If breweries aren’t your thing, the Wharf offers a similar environment but with a wide variety of food options, real cocktails, and it’s right by the water. As for Miami nightlife, I love to dance, so anywhere I go with my friends needs to offer great music. Although I am sure things have changed due to COVID, and I would not recommend visiting these places now. My favorites were always Blackbird in Brickell for some fun hip hop music to dance to, or Treehouse in Miami Beach for EDM.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am grateful for the constant support of all the people around me, but especially Sarah Nohe, who took me under her wing as a junior designer and has helped me grow into the designer and person I am today. Vitor Tomazzi, an incredibly intelligent individual who complements me so well, as a business partner and a friend. Also, Nicole Matos, a very talented designer who did not hesitate to partner with me to bring our meetup to life and has continued to be a massive help!