GirlStart – Interview

October 8, 2001.

An interview with Gayla featured on this excellent website that promotes girls in technology. Read it here.

Gayla Sanders
Writer & Graphic Designer

Gayla Sanders designs and maintains You Grow Girl, an online magazine about gardening and plants. She also runs her own design company in Toronto, Canada. How does this 28-year-old super girl do it all?

What is your job title and what company do you work for?

I am a graphic designer. I run my own small company with my spouse (who is also a designer) called Fluffco. I design for paying clients but I also produce my own sites of which is one.

What are some of your job responsibilities?

When working on I am responsible for writing articles, all design work, running the bulletin boards, brainstorming new ideas for the site, anything related to promotion, organizing and communicating with writers, artists or anyone that submits to the site, advertising, and uploading new content. That is just a small example of some of my tasks. Of course to run the business (Fluffco) there are an infinite number of tasks and responsibilities.

How did you find your current job?

I went to school for Fine Art, but I knew by my third year that I would probably earn a living as some sort of designer. I really wanted to design toys and candy packages for a while. When I finished school I found the odd job designing packages etc for companies as a freelancer. Eventually I worked fulltime as a print designer, did that for a while and then moved into web design. I still do print design, but web design is my main focus.

Did you learn any of your skills from school?

Well in high school I focussed on the sciences, but I also took art classes. While art wasn’t really a “side interest”, I didn’t think I wanted to make art for a living. In University I switched from Biology to Fine Art because I decided I wanted to make art full time, and not just as a hobby. My education and interest in the sciences has definitely helped in creating You Grow Girl.

In high school I also took computer science courses which made me comfortable with the more challenging coding that I have to do now.

What would you tell a girl that was interested in doing what you do?

Come up with an idea and learn how to create it. It’s as simple as that. You gain a lot of knowledge and experience by just doing something. People think that they need someone to give them a job in order to gain experience as a web designer. Start with a small project (one page even) and build from that. You’d be surprised how quickly your site can grow.

What are some of your hobbies?

Everything I do or make started as a hobby to some degree. Gardening of course, cooking, silkscreening, photography, book making… just generally making things. I am also a huge pack rat and to some extent amassing “stuff” is a hobby. After all I spend a lot of time organizing and displaying the objects I collect.

What is your favorite website?

If you could talk to you when you were 12 years old, what advice would you give yourself?

Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. That is around the age when girls start doubting themselves and become afraid to speak out. Stop worrying about what other people think and about gaining social acceptance. Trust yourself. Follow your interests and pursue them with passion. When I was that age, I had a strong identity, yet I was so self-conscious I couldn’t see it or appreciate it.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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