From London, United Kingdom and Cofounder at Code & Wander, Alessia works end to end on client projects at her agency and is motivated when her team is helping each other to ultimately make clients happy. She's also the creator of Flowclass, a class naming system for Webflow.
About this episode
In this episode, we'll hear about everything from the diversity of people and food in London to being fulfilled through team problem solving and not being scared of showing your work in-progress.
Matthew Munger: Hey Alessia. Thanks for joining me today.
Alessia Sannazzaro: Hi. Thanks for having me.
Matthew Munger: Let's start off with where are you located.
Alessia Sannazzaro: I'm based in London, UK. London is such a vibrant city. I find there are so many different people. So you're walking around, you just find people from all over the world and you kind of have this connection of all living in the same city, but each one of them is like bringing something extra to the city. It's a pure melting pot, I find.
Matthew Munger: When you like to go out and do things around the city, what kind of places do you like to go to?
Alessia Sannazzaro: Well, I love food, so I like trying all the different kinds of restaurants that we have here, all the different cuisines. I also love films as I often go to the cinema.
Yeah, meeting up with friends, which is sometimes hard because everyone seems to have such a tight schedule. So you have to actually plan things in advance with friends. Lots of very good Indian restaurants, I really liked Dishoom as one of them. Lots of Italian restaurants. The most recent one I went to was one that opened over in Mayfair called Jacuzzi. And yeah, I mean there's such a long list. All the stuff that's happening in London in terms of theater. I love musicals. There are so many shows that you can go to.
Matthew Munger: So dinner, movie and theater.
Alessia Sannazzaro: Yeah, pretty much.
Matthew Munger: That’s a pretty full evening.
Matthew Munger: What does your workspace look like? If we were to sit at your desk, give us the experience.
Alessia Sannazzaro: I love going to the office. We have a co-working space called Huckletree and Shoreditch, I just can't work from home. I just find that I get distracted too easily. The TV is right there, the fridge is right there, you know– I usually go to the office every morning and we have a group of desks, there’s lots of different startups around us, different companies and agencies, and I really like bouncing ideas with one another and having lunch all together. If you sit at my desk, have a big monitor in front of me. I always have my laptop, I love to travel as well so I always bring my laptop with me. A monitor at home in those rare occasions where I work from home yeah, a few plants. Yeah, all the other startups and people around me. It's a dedicated desk so I can leave all my notes, all my stuff around.
Matthew Munger: Anything that's not confidential.
Alessia Sannazzaro: Exactly. All my scribbles that like putting down ideas, they’re all there.
Matthew Munger: You said you scribble, so is that like wireframes for websites or like sketching, what is that?
Alessia Sannazzaro: It's a bit of everything. Yes. So, wireframes or just taking notes on calls. I still use pen and paper sometimes. Mainly wireframes I think, or, graphs of how everything is linking together in that particular project. How to structure maybe like quick CMS diagrams, anything which is a bit more manual.
Matthew Munger: Yeah. Building some information architecture for CMS collections or like site maps and stuff. The workspace, is there a view, like out of the city, is there any kind windows around, natural light?
Alessia Sannazzaro: The one we're in is actually in the basement, so you go down.
Matthew Munger: I didn't know those existed.
Alessia Sannazzaro: But it has an opening, so it has a little outside space. So we get all the natural light, but we're on the lower ground floor.
Matthew Munger: You do get some light.
Alessia Sannazzaro: So yes we do have natural light, but we're underneath. One thing that I really like about the co-working space is that it's super colorful, so all the walls are painted and they have, just around the corner from our desk, the auditorium where a lot of the events go on. So we get access to all the events which happen there, including the Webflow meetups that happened a few weeks ago, the London one, which was super nice to meet everyone in person. So yeah, quite a vibrant community there as well.
Matthew Munger: Do you like to listen to music or anything while you work?
Alessia Sannazzaro: It depends what I'm doing. If I'm designing, yes, I usually make a cup of coffee and listen to music and get straight into it. If I'm doing something a bit more wordy, like writing emails or reading legal documents or anything like that, then I prefer just, you know, silence. Get to it, get it over as soon as possible.
Matthew Munger: When you're doing those wordy tasks, being in a co-working space, how do you still find a way to focus?
Alessia Sannazzaro: This might sound weird, but I usually put my headphones on with nothing on, so as a sign that I'm busy, like do not disturb me. But actually there is nothing playing or anything like that in my headphones. So it's just a signal to everyone else to just leave me alone, get this done soon as possible.
Matthew Munger: Do you have any hobbies or interests?
Alessia Sannazzaro: I do yoga every Thursday, so I quite like my one hour of just relaxing. It's actually organized by the coworking space as well. And if that's not happening, I usually go to the gym. I now and then play volleyball with my friends, like in the park, or we rent out a gym and organize a little volleyball session. That's always fun.
Matthew Munger: So mostly physical activity, huh?
Alessia Sannazzaro: Yeah. If you don't count barbecuing and grabbing a drink. Yeah.
Matthew Munger: Eat, eating and exercising.
Alessia Sannazzaro: Exactly. Yeah.
Matthew Munger: What is something that would surprise people to learn about you?
Alessia Sannazzaro: Well, I was born in Italy as my name might suggest. So both my parents were Italian, but I actually never lived in Italy. I grew up in Germany and then my parents moved to France and I moved to London. I always say I'm Italian, then when I go to Italy, I feel like I don't belong there.
I'm a bit of like a European citizen, a Londoner, because I find no one in London is actually British. Everyone comes from somewhere else in the world. Yeah, that might be one thing.
Matthew Munger: How old were you when you actually arrived in London?
Alessia Sannazzaro: I moved to London when I was 17, just turning 18. So I came for uni to study, and then I stayed. I graduated, London just sucked me in and I ended up staying. My journey, well, I guess to Webflow as well, is a bit of a long winded road.
Matthew Munger: Did your journey, like you're describing, have an impact on your agency's name?
Alessia Sannazzaro: A little bit. So I love to travel and I always thought that remote working was one of the best ways of working. Just giving the chance to everyone to decide where they wanna work from and how they want to manage their time. So that's where “Wander” of Code & Wander comes from. It’s that ethos of go and discover the world. As long as everything gets done and all the deadlines are met, then you just enjoy yourself. And that's how the name came about.
Matthew Munger: And how would you describe your role and kind of what you do every day at Code & Wander?
Alessia Sannazzaro: I never call myself a designer. I never call myself a developer. Before running the agency, I was a project manager, so I'm a little bit of everything and I find my role is kind of the glue in between the developers, the designers, the clients, project managers, and making sure that everything ticks along.
I'm usually the one who has all the first meetings with potential clients and does all the estimations and scoping, but then also follows the projects along. So I might not be– sometimes I am– but not always the one actually delivering. So designing or developing, but I'm the one overseeing all the projects.
Matthew Munger: Yeah. End to end.
Alessia Sannazzaro: Kind of like quality control, everything.
Matthew Munger: What excites and motivates you about what you're doing?
Alessia Sannazzaro: One thing that I find really fulfilling is seeing the team come together. Like I mentioned, we are a team of designers and developers, and when everyone comes together and helps each other, the project just comes to life. I think that's one of the best feelings. Also if the clients are usually super happy. So that's a motivation.
Matthew Munger: That's always a good bonus. Yeah.
Alessia Sannazzaro: Yeah, exactly. But for me it’s when I see people just like solving problems and helping each other. That's very fulfilling.
Matthew Munger: Where do you aspire to go to from here with your career?
Alessia Sannazzaro: So I definitely want to grow the team and be more involved in the community as well. So maybe start teaching. I already– we already do internal teaching sessions every Wednesday within the team. And we have different topics between us, but it would be good to open those to anyone in the community as well. Getting more involved, yeah, having more of an impact.
Matthew Munger: What is a resource that you think more people should know about?
Alessia Sannazzaro: Oh, there's so many good resources and so many good creators out there in Webflow. If I may, so I created FlowTools, which is a website which brings all of those resources together. Because there's so many creators out there, I found it really hard to go to all the separate, different agency websites and finding all of those resources. It's a website which I update weekly, where you can search and find all the different resources from all these different creators out there.
Matthew Munger: It's the resource of resources.
Alessia Sannazzaro: Exactly. Yeah.
Matthew Munger: Who is someone in the Webflow community that inspires you?
Alessia Sannazzaro: Well, a really good friend of mine who I met also at the Webflow meetup is Ben Selinsky. He inspires me and pushes me to do better and get more involved with the community as well.
We've got Claudia from Floxies, and then all the ones that you probably know like Vincent and Timothy Ricks and Corey, and yeah, the whole lot.
Matthew Munger: What is some advice that you would like to share with the community?
Alessia Sannazzaro: I think this is a bit of advice that I should take more often as well. So it's self advice as well, is share your work. Even if you're scared that maybe it's not good enough or it's not quite finished, it's something that I didn't do as often as I should. And yeah, by sharing, other people see what you're capable of, but also they can give you advice. So always see it as a positive thing. And sharing more if you can, because a lot of our work is under NDA, so you actually can't share it until it's live. But if you can, do, because it's really useful for others, but also helpful for yourself to get that feedback.
Matthew Munger: Yeah. And I would say even if you do have things that are under NDA, ideas and communication are not. So you can always spin up another project or a page on your personal site and show whatever it is the idea that you're working on without showing the actual content and client work.
It can also be helpful to work on ideas and the context of the project just to make sure the fundamentals are sound. And then you can apply whatever the context or the client content and media to that.
Matthew Munger: How can others in the community reach out and connect with you?
Alessia Sannazzaro: My preferred channel is Twitter, so you can reach out to me or follow on Twitter. My Twitter handle is a l e underscore, my surname, which is really long, I know. It's s a double n a double z a r o. Yeah, you can follow me on there and we can have a chat.
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