Zehner Design Team Grows As We Expand Creative Offering
November 6, 2021
Over the last few months, our Design Team has grown significantly as we expand our creative offering to facilitate deeper solutioning for merchants through a better understanding of the relationship between customer and brand. We’ve made key hires across user experience (UX), research, strategy, design, and creative leadership to help drive this new direction at Zehner.
Collectively, our new Design Team hires have close to 20 years of eCommerce experience, and more than 25 years of relevant, role-specific experience. We are excited to introduce you to Vero, Daniel, Carmela, Erin, Kenan, and Ed (just six of our eight total hires!). Read on to get to know them and to find out why we’re so ecstatic to welcome them to our team.
Meet Vero Romero - Associate Design Director
Vero Romero joins us as Associate Design Director. Before Zehner, she worked at Refinery29 (under Vice Media Group) as a Senior Designer, leading both editorial and branded projects. In this role, she is most proud of being a part of the launch of "Somos," Refinery29's Latinx vertical, where she led the design and art direction, and also contributed to the ongoing narrative and vision.
Vero says she became a designer because she has always been a visually driven person. She wanted to find a career in which she could focus on this aspect of her personality, but also use it creatively as a way to communicate complex ideas and discover solutions. Vero believes that emotional connection is incredibly important to the human population - something that she feels only grows in importance as time goes by and the world becomes more dependent on technology.
“Art, design, and storytelling are all disciplines that lead us to empathic connection, and at the end of the day, that is exactly what I am looking for: to make people "feel" through my work,” she says.
Introducing Daniel Lurvey - Senior Designer
Prior to joining our team as Senior Designer, Daniel Lurvey freelanced for a branding agency after working full-time for several years at a Barcelona-based agency called Firma. At Firma, he did design work for a wide-variety of clients ranging from education, to culinary, to tech start-ups, and everything in-between.
Daniel first became interested in design as a profession after being inspired as a teenager by some designer customers he met while working at an ice-cream shop. Then, early in his career, Daniel did a freelance project for the Walker Art Center, a leader in graphic design in the arts and cultural space. This project had a significant impact on his career, as it helped him develop some of the key foundational skills that he still uses in his design practice today.
“I love the variety of work I get to do,” Daniel says. “I am passionate about design because it allows me to spend time immersed in so many different universes as I work to elevate them to their highest potential.”
Get to know Carmela Ocampo - Designer
Carmela came to Zehner from the brand side, having previously worked for a children's apparel startup in Los Angeles called Cubcoats. She began her tenure with Cubcoats first as a Design Associate, creating marketing materials like emails, ads, and website banners. Most recently, she was a UX/UI Design Associate, helping to redesign Cubcoat’s eCommerce website from wireframes to prototype while also developing templated assets for their refreshed brand identity.
Carmela says that a highlight so far in her career has been the opportunity to work on a website for a new skincare brand, while also developing its digital identity. This project has given her the freedom to experiment beyond traditional rules and really explore the various directions of branding. She casually mentions that another career highlight was the opportunity to design a Pride Month Spotify playlist cover for Celine Dion that ended up on a billboard.
“I'm passionate about what I do because I truly enjoy all aspects and intersections of design and art,” she says. “Whether it be the very meticulous processes in technical design, the marriage of logic and empathy in UX/UI design, or just the unmitigated emotional freedom to express in illustration - I love it all!”
Introducing Erin Hampton - Brand Strategist
Our new Brand Strategist, Erin Hampton, comes to Zehner from LIVELY, a women’s lingerie brand. Erin joined LIVELY in their second year in business, starting as Marketing Associate, and later becoming Content Strategist, CRM Lead, and Lead Copywriter. During her time there, she helped produce two national commercials, a podcast, built an email program and SMS program from the ground up, spearheaded numerous CRM initiatives, and produced all of the copy and messaging for the brand.
When we asked Erin why she decided to transition to strategy after starting her career in marketing, she said that she simply realized brand story, creative, and content is what truly motivates her. Today, as a brand strategist, Erin says she loves what she does because she loves people; specifically, their behavior and the things they subscribe to because of how they identify and who they perceive themselves to be.
“A story and the way you position it can ignite something in someone else and cause them to think in an entirely different way,” she says. “I just find that fascinating. It teaches me a lot about people, how the world works, and how we all find ourselves in it.”
Meet Kenan Jallad - UX Researcher
Kenan Jallad joins our team as UX Researcher, but began his journey years ago in an entirely different direction- documentary filmmaking and earning a philosophy degree at UBC. He says he’s always loved seeking out, listening to, and sharing human stories, which explains how he got into documentaries.
Ultimately, however, he decided that the film industry was not for him, and transitioned to studying digital design and web development at BCIT, which eventually led to him to discover and fall in love with UX design and strategy.
When asked what the highlight has been so far in his career, Kenan candidly said, “Getting the chance to start a UX Research practice at an agency like Zehner is a f*cking dream job.” No, we didn’t tell him to say that 😉
Get to know Ed Egydio - Senior UX Designer
Our new Senior UX Designer, Ed Egydio, comes to Zehner from a full-service marketing agency called Major Tom. Here, he was in a similar role to his new role with Zehner, focused on UX strategy from project discovery through execution, while also running client workshops, conducting user interviews, and designing information architecture (IA), user flows, and wireframes.
Ed says he has been interested in design ever since he was a little kid, always dreaming of becoming a designer or an architect. He has a Master’s degree in Innovation Management, during which he studied different ways to approach innovation within various environments. Ed then began his career as an industrial designer, working with packaging and product development for about five years, before switching over to service design and UX about eight years ago.
“I am passionate about problem-solving and the collaboration between designers, clients, and users,” he says. “I believe that one of my primary roles as a UX designer is to bridge the gap between these groups of people to help our team create meaningful solutions. The more context we have, the more informed this solution is.”
Now that you’ve learned a little bit about our team, we’re excited to share their responses to some of the more “abstract” questions that we asked them. Yes, we totally put them on the spot 😀
What are you hoping to accomplish during your time with Zehner? What are your goals?
Erin: I look forward to working with some of the coolest and most disruptive brands of today with a focus on beauty and fashion. I'd love to see my work make a positive impact on the success of a company, and even beyond the company itself, into culture as a whole.
Ed: I was hired as a Senior UX Designer at Zehner, which was my goal after immigrating to Canada three years ago. I was a team lead before transitioning to UX, and I had to go a few steps back when I switched professions. My goal is to keep perfecting my current UX skills, while also adding new ones. Being part of a growing team means a lot, and I look forward to helping to grow our UX capabilities specifically.
Vero: I can’t wait to continue to push and evolve Zehner’s design offering by working closely with the team to produce work that feels fresh and contemporary, yet unique to each brand's narrative. At the same time, I understand the importance of centering research and data within our design. I intend to lead our team with these goals in mind so that our work will continue to be beautiful and impactful, but also effective in providing the right solutions.
How will you make the most impact at Zehner?
Carmela: I will make the most impact at Zehner by always designing with the end user (the consumer) in mind, collaborating and sharing knowledge with my peers, and never forgetting the joy of designing!
Kenan: I view a researcher’s role in a company as one that’s centered on servant leadership. A central outcome of mine is to find ways to help my team make better decisions and to get closer to the customers/end-users we’re designing experiences for.
Vero: I am ecstatic to be joining a very collaborative process here at Zehner. I'm hoping to build strong and meaningful relationships with my team so I can empower, support, and inspire them to produce the best possible work and output.
Zehner’s mission is: “We connect brands and consumers in more meaningful ways.” What does this statement mean to you?
Erin: Zehner considers how a brand impacts, serves, and inspires their customer, thus creating this multi-layered, two-way relationship, digitally. I love that our end goal is NOT to help brands manipulate consumers to fuel their business goals and simply make more money. Zehner’s mission is part of the reason I was so excited to do brand strategy here.
Daniel: While our primary directive is to elevate our clients' commercially, we use it as an opportunity to help the client see themselves through the lens of culture to help them connect with their customers in deeper and more impactful ways.
Kenan: Zehner's mission statement is a great one in my opinion because in it you see the truth: a business is only as valuable as the way it connects to the held values and personal outcomes of its customers. As a UX Researcher, I couldn't ask for a better framing to the value that I deliver to each of our clients. In order to be "meaningful," we need to authentically get to know each brand's customers and celebrate the nuances of this relationship in order to design with intention.
How do you feel your own purpose and mission align with Zehner’s?
Erin: My personal professional goal is to connect people through stories, brands, and identities in meaningful ways so that people and brands can discover more about themselves and the culture around them. I think Zehner's mission aligns with this perfectly.
Carmela: I think the care and consideration for the user/consumer that is represented in Zehner's mission statement really aligns with my own personal viewpoint on the purpose of design in eCommerce: humans are the heart and soul of the job, and design exists to serve them better experiences that create lasting impressions.
Kenan: The purpose of UXR is to uncover and contextualize what is (or could) meaningfully connect customers to the brands we work with, which is in direct alignment with Zehner’s own mission. By starting with customer outcomes, we’re ensuring that our creative solutioning is aligned with real customer/end-user problems and goals, and that our measures of success are grounded in our users’ achievement of those goals.UXR, when done well, puts assumptions in the back seat - or even better - doesn't invite them into the car at all!
Explain this statement: “Zehner is recontextualizing the commerce conversation.” What does this mean and how will we achieve it?
Carmela: I think it means that Zehner is transforming the traditional way that most people think of eCommerce, which is very much focused on conversions and simply selling a product or lifestyle. Instead, we focus on understanding and helping the end users, the consumers navigate a more enjoyable website experience that simplifies the path to purchasing the product or service that brings them joy or helps solve a problem they may have.
Ed: Our team at Zehner is constantly pushing the boundaries of eCommerce so we can build better connections between brands and customers. We are constantly striving to innovate eCommerce.
Vero: By utilizing research and strategy, Zehner seeks to understand each brand's users’ interests and needs in the eCommerce world, allowing us to create unique, custom experiences for each client. This will help our clients’ customers to meaningfully connect with the brand, while also easily and intuitively navigating their shopping experience.
What is your vision for the future of Zehner? Where/how do you hope to see Zehner grow?
Carmela: I hope to see Zehner grow into a place that helps build and work with brands that have a meaningful purpose and also share the same sentiment of ultimately understanding and serving the consumer/user.
Ed: Zehner is a growing company with active leadership across all departments. I envision us continuing to grow into a creative, research and technology driven company that is constantly finding opportunities to perfect tools and processes.
Vero: Zehner has already positioned itself as a leading agency within the eCommerce world, and as the industry continues to shift, Zehner is focused on research and strategy while also looking to expand on their offering in regards to innovative design and customized content.
And that’s a wrap! We’re so excited to welcome Vero, Daniel, Carmela, Erin, Kenan, and Ed to Zehner, and to see all of the creativity they’ll bring to our team and our clients. If you’re interested in learning more about our Creative Services, reach out anytime here!