Conducted an interview

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Senior UX Researcher, Safelite
Dec 14, 2021
Conducted a 1-hour in-depth interview with a Safelite customer.
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Senior UX Designer, Safelite
Senior UX Researcher, Safelite
Dec 13, 2021
Conducted a 1-hour in-depth interview with a Safelite customer.
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Senior UX Designer, Safelite
Founder, Montage
Nov 05, 2019

Hotshot #16


“I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. My family was really into horseback riding and we owned a few horses, so that’s what kept us there. We’d always say, “We don’t want to move the girls!” But despite having a great group of friends and family, I never felt I was where I was supposed to be. I always had this image of living in a big city. It took my a while, but here I am, in Chicago!

I was coming into Oklahoma State right as the recession was ending, and I think that put some fear into me to choose the right major. Ultimately, I decided to pursue a business degree and along the way I took some entrepreneurship classes. During this time, @Toms was becoming popular and I was really inspired by their story. So I started making backpacks with a similar strategy, donating a backpack for every backpack sold. The idea wasn’t a huge success, but it was still a great learning experience.

For a while after graduating, I thought, “Oh no, what did I do?” I had an awesome time working for @TrekBikes in Wisconsin and getting into the cycling world, but still wanted to pursue something artistic. So after Trek, I moved to Tennessee to work for Blackberry Farm’s design team and work as a horse trainer, and both were an incredible experience. Eventually, I wanted to freelance with illustration and graphic design, so I decided to move somewhere with more opportunities and where I could go back to school. And somewhere colder, like Chicago.


I started illustrating a few years ago for friends’ weddings. I was always drawing when I was little, sometimes even on the walls and getting into trouble. Now I’m taking classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. My style has been influenced by apparel design. When I was at Trek, I was learning what it took to make graphics for apparel and I even used to sell baby onesies with my illustrations.


I just started drinking coffee in January, but now I probably drink way too much! I love the atmosphere and the friendliness of everyone. I love trying new drinks, so I tend to ask the barista to surprise me. One of my favorite coffee shops to work at is @ColectivoCoffee.

- Holly, Illustrator
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Founder, Lava Coffee Club
Founder, Montage
Oct 14, 2019

Hotshot #15


“I was born and lived in Bogota, Colombia until I was 8, when my family moved to New Jersey and then Indiana shortly thereafter. My junior year of High School was spent in Joigny, France. Junior year in France is specialized, so I chose Life & Earth Sciences, which influenced me to study Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University.

At Purdue, I embarked on a journey of research: a nano-satellite project with NASA, studying microgravity and plant cells; a biomechanics lab to study osteoarthritis; a co-op at Cook Medical working on minimally invasive devices; and designing circuits for wirelessly powering implantable devices. The cherry-on-top was going to Los Angeles to test our prototypes on cadavers with surgeons!

During my undergrad, I studied and researched abroad in Lucerne, Switzerland for a Fall semester – focusing again on space biomedical research. I was living by the Swiss Alps next to the beautiful Lake Lucerne – it all looked like a fairy tale! I was considering dropping out of Purdue and transferring, thinking, “I could live the rest of my days here.”

I came back to Purdue and started Purdue MIND, a club, to grow the biomedical engineering community. We then decided to start a company – Predictive Wear LLC (@predictivewear). We identified heart failure and its toll on patients and caregivers where we could make a positive difference. We develop medical wearable technology, beginning with a “smart” compression legging to monitor heart decompensation with sensors in the legging – preventing rehospitalizations and increasing care transparency.

In starting Predictive Wear as students, we found ourselves being contracted to implement our abilities for product development in other companies. This led us to, recently, start another endeavor called Crowd-U, which is a crowdsourcing platform for industry to sponsor contest or contract challenges with college students.

The life of a startup founder is always in a state of flux, wearing multiple hats, so whenever I need a chill place to work with amazing coffee, I always choose @SawadaCoffee!

- Pablo, Biomedical Engineer & Entrepreneur

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Founder, Lava Coffee Club
Founder, Montage
Oct 02, 2019

Hotshot #14


“I always say I just discovered playing the piano. One day I sat down and had these songs in my head and just started playing, figuring it out by listening. I grew up shy about the whole music thing, but my senior year in high school, I randomly tried out for the musical and got the lead!

Being self-taught, I was always insecure about my ability. It wasn’t until college that I started to play my own music; in coffee shops, Borders, and around NIU. I was studying to be a Spanish teacher, so music was my creative outlet, never something I saw as a career.

In college, there was a shooting in the class I was supposed to be in the next day. That whole year became very tragic, it hit me hard. So, the following year I wrote a song honoring the students that passed away. It was the first song I ever shared on the internet. I realized the impact music had on people.
After graduating, I started teaching, still doing gigs. One ‪Friday evening‬, my class asked me to write a song for them for Monday. I had been wanting to write more, so I was like, “Okay, challenge accepted”. I wrote a song and made a video, and they loved it and said I should make it into “Music Monday”. I agreed and in the back of my head, as a crazy disciplined person, I was like, “I’m going to do this for a year”. I kept it going for 98 weeks!
Someone came up to me at a show recently and told me that my “Music Monday” project inspired them to start doing a “Film Friday”. Those little stories tell me I have the capacity to make an impact in a way that’s not just making songs, but sending a message.

I first recorded something professionally in college and I had no idea what I was doing! Since then, I’ve recorded a 6 song EP, and I came out with my first full length album last year! I’ve kind of crossed over into the country realm. I feel like country music inspires me the most, because it’s heart-felt story telling, and that’s how I write.
I’ve always loved coffee shops because I’m a coffee addict, but also because it’s where I started playing music. They were always open arms and open doors, and ‪@LaColombeCoffee‬ is one of my favorites!”

- Dina, Musician
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Founder, Lava Coffee Club
Founder, Montage
Sep 24, 2019

Hotshot #13


“I’ve always been a reader. When we were little, my mom would read Harry Potter out loud to us while we sat around her. And my dad would read Where the Wild Things Are to me all the time. So reading was instilled in me at an early age. I also remember my mom would get calls from my math teacher, because I would sit in the back of the class and just read books while they taught.

I grew up in Grand Blanc, a tiny town in Michigan. It was a great place to grow up, but I was really excited to leave for college. I went to Loyola for English and Criminal Justice. At some point, I thought I was going to be a criminal defense attorney, but after a few years, I realized it’s really not for me. I speak in a very roundabout way, so I don’t think I could be concise enough. So, I added on an English major about half way through!

I was rereading a book that I had SparkNoted in high school, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. I started thinking about where the book came from. I read the spine and saw the little icon, so I started Googling it and I discovered the world of publishing!

In college, I had 4 unpaid internships, all in publishing at indie presses or academic organizations. I loved those internships, hated being poor, but just accepted that as part of my life, since publishing is notoriously underpaid. After the last internship, I got the full time job I have now in academic publishing.

About 2 years ago, I discovered book Instagram. I didn’t have anyone in my personal life that liked books as much as I do. So it was so great to find a community of people that loved bookstores and really wanted to talk about books all the time. It took me a couple of weeks to think of a name. I’m so bad at naming things, my first blog was called Eye Liner and Extra Frosting. I cycled through a bunch of bad names and finally landed on The Spines, because I really like the spines of a book, but also the imagery of a skeletal spine.

I consider coffee shops to be a place of community. I especially love @EverybodysCoffee! I always joke this place is like my home office. It’s a comforting home-away-from-home.”

- Megan, Book Blogger
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Founder, Lava Coffee Club
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