Design Revolutionary: Melissa Ivone Redux

In Part 1 of my interview with Melissa Morris Ivone on Tuesday, you got an introduction to this talented, dedicated design chick who’s prepping for her first HOW Design Live speaking gig in Boston. My e-mail conversation with Mel was so awesome that I had to share the whole thing with you—especially the part about how she GOT MARRIED AT THE HOW CONFERENCE. How cool is that?

I think my favorite little factoid about you is that you got married in Las Vegas at the same time the HOW Conference was happening. Why did you decide to get hitched then and there, and what was that like?

I love HOW so much I married it! Or, uhh, got married AT it. My now husband and I had been together about five years when I was making my plans to attend the 2006 HOW Conference in Las Vegas. He always tagged along with me to sightsee while I was in sessions. We weren’t even engaged when I brought up the idea to him. “What if we got married while I was at HOW?” Both of us have small families, and we’re not the traditional type, plus some of my best friends are people I’ve met through HOW, so it just seemed like good timing.

It worked out great! The closing keynote was on Thursday morning, and a few hours later we were married at MGM Grand! Then we threw a posh soirée for a small group of our friends and family in their Skyloft suite. There were no Elvises in attendance. HOW has been a big part of my life, so why not incorporate it into the biggest moment of my life.

You’re part of the HOWies—the crew of conference attendees who stay connected and meet up at the event every year. How would you advise other conference-goers to build that kind of network with the designers they meet in Boston?

Two years ago, HOW speaker Mig Reyes had said, “Make friends, not contacts.” I couldn’t agree more.

Don’t go to HOW with the intent of collecting as many business cards as possible. Take the time to get to know people and form friendships. You might be tired after a day of sessions, but make the effort to go to some of the “after-hours” activities, like pub crawls or happy hours. These are the events where you’ll really have the opportunity to bond with the other attendees.

My relationships with the HOWies have been priceless. I still remember Amy Reyes approaching me prior to the studio tour at HOW 2005 in her tiny floral skirt (pants have never been her ‘thing’), and now she’s one of my best friends. These friendships came in especially handy as the lone designer at my corporate job. I had a trusted group to bounce ideas off of or approach for career advice. And really, it’s just nice to be able to chat with people who can empathize with your daily struggles and support your accomplishments.

You’ve landed a speaking gig at HOW—great for you! What most excites you about being a presenter for the first time in Boston?

I still don’t quite feel like it’s real! I’m really excited to experience HOW in a new way. I have taken so much away from the six HOW Conferences that I’ve attended, and I’m happy to be able to contribute this year. Although it’s intimidating for sure. I have seen plenty of phenomenal presentations at HOW over the years. I’m trying to channel that as inspiration and motivation for my own talk. I’m afraid that if I start to feel stuck, it’s very possible that I’ll just launch into a karaoke rendition of “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

What’s the most revolutionary thing you’ve ever done?

I’d say I’m going through it right now! I left my comfy corporate job of 10 years to work for a tech startup. Everything about it is completely new to me. I’m quickly learning about the industry as a whole. I’ve never really done interactive design before, and now I’m creating interfaces for a web platform and designing websites. And because startups move so quickly, there’s a lot of “fake it till you make it” going on in my life right now!

I had previously made a silly vow to always be a print designer. Interactive frightened me. I thought my dream job involved creating custom invitations for wealthy bridezillas. But the events of the last few months have made me completely rethink that plan.

My mind has been opened to new possibilities, including an exploration into user experience design. It almost feels like I’m starting my career over again, but in a good way.

See, she’s cool, right? You’ll want to catch up with Melissa and talk with her about her new gig (and her HOW wedding), so be sure to register now for HOW Design Live. You know we extended the Early Bird registration just for you.

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