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Isabel Edwards

From Manchester, United Kingdom and Head of Brand at Versori, Isabel is a Webflow Global Leader and as a designer at a local startup works on everything from branding to websites to pitch decks and app UI design.

About this episode

In this episode, we discuss saying yes quickly to opportunities before your nerves can kick in, and how in a global community with cultural differences it is important to move forward in your career and life with kindness.



Matthew Munger: Hey Isabel, thank you for joining me today.

Isabel Edwards: Hi. Yeah, thanks for having me. I've been looking forward to this.

Matthew Munger: Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Isabel Edwards: Yeah. So my current title is Head of Brand at Versori, which is a tech startup in Manchester in the UK. We are building data automation and integration software. So that's what I do full-time in my day job. And then in my free time, I'm very involved in the Webflow Community. So I'm on the Global Leaders program, which I'm very excited about. I do design freelance as well. So I build Webflow sites for clients in my spare time.

Manchester, UK

Matthew Munger: And you said you're located in Manchester, is that right?

Isabel Edwards: Located in Manchester, yeah, in the UK. I've lived here for the past six years now. I didn't always live in Manchester. I grew up in the countryside in Yorkshire, but moved to Manchester when I was 19. And I'm 25 now, and I have never really looked back. I love Manchester. I rave to everyone about Manchester.

So yeah, it's a great city. I feel like it's London, but more compact. There's lots going on. It's very vibrant, but you can literally walk from one side of the city to the other. I go to— anyone from Manchester will know the Quarter, which is a pretty trendy part of Manchester. So there's lots of bars, different types of bars. I love a retro arcade bar. There's a couple of those in the Northern quarter. They're really fun. Like playing Pacman, retro arcade games while you're having some cocktails.

My favorite place to go to in Manchester is somewhere called Home Cinema, which is where we hosted the Flow Manchester event last week. So that's like the hub in Manchester for art, theater, cinema. So there's always different events going on there for local artists. And it's a charity as well, so it's a good establishment to support. So yeah, that’s sort of what I get up to in Manchester generally.


Matthew Munger: What about your workspace? What does it look like?

Isabel Edwards: So in the office— which is where I am pretty much every day for my full-time job at Versori— the office space we have here is beautiful. I've been tweeting about it a lot, so anyone that follows me on Twitter has probably seen lots of pictures of it. We've just renovated it all and bought loads of Ikea furniture, which I can proudly say I've pretty much built all of it by hand myself, which is hard work.

But my desk at work, it's pretty simple, really. I have my BenQ monitor. I've got my YC badge, which we got into Y Combinator last year, which we're really excited about. So I have that proudly on my desk. But at work, I keep it pretty simple.

At home, where I do my freelance work and a lot of Webflow work, it's more my personality. So our spare room at home, I've sort of converted into my office. And it's a reflection of my personality, really. So I love Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson films are my favorite films.

I have movie posters of Wes Anderson films like The Grand Budapest Hotel and Isle of Dogs. And I have a little calendar next to my monitor, which is a California calendar, which I got at Webflow Conf last year when I was in San Francisco.

I like having just little things that remind me of good, happy memories. And then probably my most prized possession is three little plant pots that my best friend made me by hand out of clay, which are the three main characters of Adventure Time. I don't know if anyone has seen Adventure Time. It's Finn, Jake, and BMO. So lots of little trinkets and I like having things that I look at and remind me of happy times. So I think my favorite workspace will be at home.

Matthew Munger: What do you kind of do in the office or when you're working from home? Is it your own projects? Do you have side projects?

Isabel Edwards: Yeah, I do have side projects. So at work, it’s sort of a bit of everything. I'm the only designer at a tech startup, which if anyone else can relate to that, you know you basically wear lots of different hats and do a bit of everything. So UI/UX, branding, web design. So I like that— having varied work in my full-time job. I've been getting a lot more involved in the Webflow Community over the past year. Running Flow Manchester, that's up a lot of my time recently. And then I have one or two freelance clients, which I've built Webflow sites for and do other design work for. But it's kind of full-on having a full-time job and doing freelancing on the side.

I used to have more time for it, but since I've been getting more involved in the Webflow Community, I've sort of had less time for freelance clients. But I find getting involved in the Webflow community more fulfilling anyway, so I've been putting more time into that recently. So that's kind of how I split my time and my work.

Matthew Munger: Do you like to listen to anything while you work?

Isabel Edwards: Yeah, I hate working in silence. It really stresses me out, working in silence. I have a marketing background, so sometimes I'll do the copywriting for the job that I work at. So if it's something where I really need to focus, like writing copy, I love Studio Ghibli piano music. So I'll go on YouTube and put some piano music on. But if it's something that requires a little bit less focus, I always have my playlist on in the office, which will be, usually, like lots of indie bands like Vampire Weekend, and Tame Impala, and Two Door Cinema Club, and Arctic Monkeys. So generally I'll have a Spotify playlist on with that kind of music blasting in the office to help me work.

Matthew Munger: To help you and everyone else.

Isabel Edwards: Yeah. I don't wanna toot my own horn, but I do get compliments on my playlist. And I did one for the Flow Manchester event, which had a bit of everything, like a range from Arctic Monkeys to Abba. I think that's the key to being a good DJ, trying to cater to everyone, not just putting on what you like. So yeah, I had a couple of people coming up to me at the Flow Manchester event saying, "Oh, whose playlist is this? It's amazing." It's like, "Well, mine."


Matthew Munger: Do you have any hobbies or interests?

Isabel Edwards: Yeah. At the moment I'm part of a football team, soccer, football. So yeah, I've been doing that for the past year in Manchester. And something really cool about that: at the start of the year, we got sponsored by a huge shoe store, and they sponsored our team and gave us the funds to design our own kit. And because I'm the only graphic designer on our team they were kind of just like, "Yeah, Isabel, you do it. You take it and run." So I was like, "Oh my God, isn't this amazing?"

Matthew Munger: That's fun. Yeah.

Isabel Edwards: Yeah. So all the girls on our team are from a tech and data background. So I did this blue gradient on the top with little data nodes, and it got like a little network on the shirts. That was really fun. That’s my main hobby at the moment.

I really wanna get back into drawing. I always loved art in high school. I have a bad habit of not wanting to pursue hobbies that I'm not really, really good at straight away. I've always kind of been like that, but then I end up not doing the things that I love. You know, if you are not that good at it, you know, what's the point? Why would I carry on with it? But if it's something you enjoy, then yeah, I'm trying to reprogram my brain to still wanna do hobbies that I'm maybe not the best at, but still get enjoyment out of.


Matthew Munger: What is something that would surprise people to learn about you?

Isabel Edwards: I think something that I've generally noticed, that when I tell people they seem surprised, which it surprises me that other people would find this surprising, is that I get quite nervous to do public speaking or just any kind of event or opportunity while I'm on stage or sort of putting myself out there. People say to me like, “What do you mean? No, you can't be nervous.” People think that I'm really confident. I think I have a bit of an extroverted personality, I do get quite nervous and shy. But I think sometimes I kind of have the mantra of " fake it ‘till you make it." So maybe I fake it a bit too well sometimes. And then when I tell people that I actually get really nervous for those kinds of events and opportunities, they find it surprising. But I hate the idea of passing up an opportunity that would be a memorable experience or an opportunity for growth. I always say yes to things. I hate saying no to opportunities. So I kind of say yes at the time, then just deal with the nerves later.

Matthew Munger: So your trick is to say “yes” before you have time to think about it, so that you're already committed and, it's like “no turning back?”

Isabel Edwards: Definitely. Yeah. And I think once you do one thing that scares you and then you feel that amazing rush afterwards and that great feeling, as long as you've done that once, then you just remind yourself every time a new opportunity comes up, you think, "But about that last time where you were really nervous and wanted to say no, then you did it and you felt amazing and got all these great opportunities from it."

So as long as you just do it once, then you are able to keep saying yes to those kinds of things. But yeah, that is a good tip. Say “yes” to it before you have the chance to realize that you're nervous and just deal with the nerves later.


Matthew Munger: Describe your role and kind of what you do day to day a little bit more.

Isabel Edwards: It varies so much at Versori, which is what I really like. I'm probably in Figma most days. I do a lot of deck designs, so whether we're trying to raise investment and I need to do a pitch deck, which is probably one of my favorite things to do, I really love designing decks.

But then, like tomorrow, we are hosting an event at the office, so there are tech startups that are going to pitch at our event. So I need to set them all profiles up on our Webflow site. So today I was in Webflow a lot designing the profile pages. And then because we are a tech company, we're always building new software. So we might be designing a new product and I need to come up with branding for it from scratch. And then also when I’ve done the branding for the software, I need to actually design the software user interface. So then I'll go and do the UI screens, then once we've launched a software, I'll go into Hotjar and analyze user behavior and then improve the UX.

So it's literally like right from brand ‘till the end analyzing the UX. I kind of touch every part of the design, which I can see why some people might not enjoy that and feel like they're spreading themselves too thin. But I think I've kind of described myself before as a jack of all trades, which some people see as a bad thing, but I think it's a really good thing. I think the most valuable people are ones that are at a lot of things, so I enjoy doing lots of different parts of design. And that's typically what I'm doing day to day.

Matthew Munger: Like you said, there's definitely something to being a so-called generalist or jack of all trades. Being able to have a good skill set at a lot of different things, it gives you that kind of versatility. What is it that you love about wearing all those hats?

Isabel Edwards: Yeah, I definitely like the challenge of it if it's an area of design that I'm not super comfortable with. Like I'd say maybe logo design is maybe one of my weaker areas.

But when my boss comes to me and says, "We need a new logo," like the challenge of working on a design skill, one of my weaker design skills. I just see it as a chance to strengthen that skill. So I kind of like that aspect of it. I can't say for sure because I've never really worked in a job where I've just niched down and only done one part of design. But the type of person I am, I feel like I might get a little bit bored of just doing one thing, like just doing brand design or just doing UX. I like variation. I feel like it keeps it interesting and keeps it fun.

Yeah, I think that's one of the best things about a startup, that you can try out different roles. You can wear lots of different hats and then sort of niche down later down the line once you've tried a few different things.

Matthew Munger: Hmm.

Isabel Edwards: And mean, really, I've only had two jobs, marketing, then design, so I've not got the most experience. And I might be wrong, but to me, that’s one of the best things about working for a startup. You can try different things, find out what you like. I think there's a lot more flexibility than if you were to work for a huge, corporate company. But I dunno, I've only ever worked for a tech startup, so that might not be right.


Matthew Munger: What excites and motivates you to keep doing design?

Isabel Edwards: I just love creating things. It's just something within me that I like creating things digitally and just making things look pretty and creating memorable experiences and seeing people excited using your products or visiting your website. It's nice to create that— those joyous experiences for people.

I'd say in terms of Webflow and getting involved in the community, what motivates me is just meeting cool people. I was talking about this with the Flow Manchester event. I literally just wanna meet cool people and make friends, and build relationships, and help other people build relationships. I’m not really a goal-setter. I kind of just do what feels good and what makes me happy. And I've gotten so much fulfillment from people in the Webflow Community. It makes me so happy. And I wanna do what makes me happy. I think that's our purpose, to meet other people and build connections and share stories. Yeah, I wanna keep doing more of that, meeting cool people and helping other people build relationships.

Matthew Munger: Yeah, absolutely. What are we here for, if not to connect with others, and have shared points along our journeys with others, and have those memories and share those connections?

Isabel Edwards: Yeah, I had no idea about the community. Now I have found it. I wanna share it with other people. I guess I don't really like setting goals and I don't like thinking about the future. But I guess if I had to say a goal that I had, it's to help people find their music.


Matthew Munger: What is a resource that you think more people should know about, something you find valuable?

Isabel Edwards: The communities that I'm involved in, I always recommend. I think the top ones for me, definitely State of Flow, with Raymar and Colleen that run it, and Floxies well. And Flow Party. They're like my top three where I'm always watching the streams. Every single day when I open my laptop, I open Discord and get involved in Floxies and Flow Party.

So everyone that's new to Webflow, they are the three communities that I recommend straight away. Because I've so much value out of the content they share, and just the people behind as well, like Melissa, and Claudia, and Raymmar, and Colleen. They've been so supportive with me being a newbie to the Webflow Community.

I'm so grateful for all the advice they've given me, and all the support they've given me. If anyone's not involved in those communities already, then they are the three that I definitely recommend.

Matthew Munger: Absolutely. And what about any design resources? Other than Figma.

Isabel Edwards: Yeah. I feel like it is controversial, but I still love Dribble, which I feel like it's become trendy to hate on it. But I just keep quiet when I see tweets about people saying Dribble's dead because I still think it's a really good resource, especially for a beginner. And then, obviously, there's Behance and Pinterest. Made In Webflow as well. I use that pretty often. They're my top ones, but honestly, I hate to say it, but I like Dribble for inspiration.


Matthew Munger: Who in the Webflow Community inspires you?

Isabel Edwards: When I first started in the Webflow community, when I came across Grace Walker, I was like, "Oh my God." I think we're pretty much the same age, but I was like, "If I can be like Grace Walker when I grow up, I'll be so happy." I think she's so cool. She builds amazing, beautiful websites, and just her whole life as well. She's super active in the way she communicates with people online, and she's such a nice, genuine person as well. I really look up to Grace Walker. And then two other women I really look up to are Colleen and Claudia. They're the three women that I really look up to and have really supported me as well.

They’re so good at what they do, and they do it with such kindness as well. Like they’re three incredibly busy people, but I’ve had them reach out to me. And Grace said before that when she was first starting out with doing Webflow proposals, she had someone with more experience, had them be like a sounding board for when she was pricing proposals.

She would send it to this person and they would give her feedback on whether they thought she could price it a little bit higher or not. And she reached out to me one time and said that she would be that person for me, which I was really grateful for.

And then Colleen and Claudia I speak to pretty much on a weekly basis. They must be so busy, but they just always make time to give me advice or say, "Oh, you might have missed this. Like, you should do this opportunity." Or, "Webflow Conf is coming up, you know, why didn't you apply to speak?" And they’re just like the nicest people. They're amazing at what they do, and I wanna be like them when I'm further along in my career. They're the best.


Matthew Munger: Is there any advice that you would like to share with others in the community?

Isabel Edwards: Yeah. If you are starting off in the community, I'd say number one, just always be kind to people, even if you're giving feedback. I remember last year when I did the new Versori website, I posted that out onto Twitter and I was asking people for feedback. And even if you're giving constructive criticism, or even if someone's not being the nicest to you, just never be tempted to take the low road. Always take the high road and just always be nice to people.

And some things I've learned as well is because the Webflow Community's global, people have cultural differences and might speak and not communicate in the way that you do. You might think, "Oh, that person's being a bit blunt," or "Why are they speaking in that way?" But just give them the benefit of the doubt and just always forward with kindness. You'd be surprised at how far that will get you in your career if you're just really nice to people.

And then another thing is: I'd say just be a cheerleader as well. So if you are working on personal projects you are looking for that support from the community, you have to give it first if you want to get it back. If you are interested in someone's side project or someone's building something really cool— like at the moment Raymmar and Colleen are building Atmos, which is a browser extension for sharing resources online, a bit like a bookmarking tool, it's really cool. But that's something that I'm interested in. So it's like, shout about it, tell people about it, tell them that you love it. Be that cheerleader for people. Only authentically, don't do it for things that you're not interested in. But I think be vocal about people's side projects if it's something that you take interest in, and you will get that back one day. You get back what you put in, I'd say.


Matthew Munger: Yeah, absolutely. All right, Isabel, how can others in the community reach out and connect with you?

Isabel Edwards: So on Twitter, I'm most active, which is underscore Isabel Edwards. Isabel's spelled the I S A B E L. And I have a design Instagram, which is designs dot ie.

And then my personal website is designsie dot co dot uk. So yeah, feel free to reach out. And if anyone wants any advice, or support on starting their own Webflow Community, or wants help getting onto the Global Leaders program, or wants help starting an event, please reach out to me and I'm more than happy to give advice and support you with that.

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