Freshly Laundered 037 / Bridget Reed


Philadelphia based Designer Bridget Reed hasn’t been in the design business long, but she’s already faced her fair share of hurdles and learned some good lessons along the way. Read on to learn more about her trials and tribulations, and how she’s overcome.

CB: Give us a quick history - how did you land on Design & Development as a career choice?

BR: My family says that I have always been drawn to both art and technology as a whole. While I was in high school, I constantly found myself spending my lunches and daily study period in the art department, better known to my high school as “the gallery” so – though I wasn’t quite sure EXACTLY what I wanted to do with the arts – I opted to attend a Tyler School of Art, Temple University, in Philadelphia for the beginning of my BFA. After my 2 years at Tyler, what I refer to as my “discovery period”, I found myself drawn more towards to my graphic and computer courses, and I transferred to Antonelli Institute, a 2-year school specializing in design and photography, as well as the business sides of both careers.

Throughout my first few months of post-grad interning, working, freelancing, contracting, bad bosses, late-night coffee runs, and career-jumping, I almost always found that the jobs that I was interested in the most wanted someone with knowledge of AT LEAST basic programming languages. I started my (early) career-transition by taking some online HTML/CSS courses with Codecademy and Free Code Camp, until I saw a twitter post from Philly Tech Week about Girl Develop Its Philadelphia chapter. I finally attended my first GDI class, Intro to HTML/CSS, in August 2014, and the rest is history!


CB: Now you’re a Designer, TA, and co-organizer for GDI in Philly, right? How did you get from mentee to mentor?

BR: Honestly, I feel like I was super lucky to end up in the position that I’m in. If you had asked me in college where I wanted to be in five years, I had one plan – I was going to (maybe) graduate, stay in touch with the friends I had made in Philly’s DIY scene, design their albums and apparel, and essentially get to travel with the bands as “Bridget, the merch girl”. If you were to ask me about those plan now, I’d tell you that I went into art school with super idealistic goals for my future, considering my impending $1,000/month student loans and affinity for shoes, and I wish that someone, whether it had been an advisor, instructor, etc. had actually told me that in the midst of my long nights in dark, loud basements, trying to fit in with a crowd I’d never truly be accepted in.

Fast-forward 4 years, and I constantly found myself either taking classes with GDI, continuing to work on classwork, and/or thinking about what I wanted to learn next. I saw that there was a design class, Photoshop 101, coming up and offered to TA. I found that there are tons of women in the dev and tech world who truly wanted to learn about more about design, whether it be to better communicate and understand the designer that they work with or for personal gain, so I continued to TA classes, both design and dev, and love to talk to students about how I made the jump from print to web design and dev.

As for the volunteering, designing, and organizing, I had gotten so used to designing for either school or work that when an opportunity popped up to design for myself (as well as a great non-profit), I jumped at the chance! I currently work on an amazing core team, all of which are men. I have had such great experiences with my primarily-male dev team as a whole, but I think that applying for jobs and just putting myself out there in general has really shown me how vital it is to introduce more women into this field and has helped me become a “mentor” of sorts.


CB: Speaking of advice - what is one piece of advice you wish you’d have gotten in college you didn’t? What advice do you give to the women you meet through GDI?

BR: I think that one piece of advice that always rings true to me NOW is the fact that “the straight and narrow is not the only path to success.” I went through high school and college with classes and advisors that ingrained the importance of going to a 4-year college or university into each of us. They never touch on the fact that there were other options, and they never tell you that it’s okay to NOT know what you want to do with the rest of your life as a 16-year-old.

Ultimately, I have met plenty of men who automatically discount my opinions - whether it be because of my gender, my age, my education, or my affiliations - but I have met just as many women who are equally excited and terrified to make the jump into tech. It is a super empowering time to be a woman in STEM.


CB: Where do you hope to see yourself in five years? And 15?

BR: I’m actually not quite sure what the future holds, but I definitely have a few long-term personal and professional goals!

After college, I was initially working in the advertising world and, while I wasn’t in a more interactive or UI/UX-centered position like I am now, I loved the feeling of seeing your work out in “the real world”. While I was going through the process of changing jobs, I had a few offers for print and production jobs in the ad world, but none of them really felt right, so I promised myself I’d get myself back out into the ad world if and when the right job comes along! Speaking of “jobs”, this leads me to…

Teaching design courses for Girl Develop It? Teaching design courses at my alma mater? (I mean, a full male design staff? What’s up with that?) Who knows! The sky’s the limit! Which leads me to…

Tech Conferences:
I’m speaking at my first tech conference, Web Design Day, in Pittsburgh this June! Crazy right?

I finally felt “worthy enough” to attend my first day-long female tech conference, ELAConf, in Philadelphia back in November 2015, and it changed EVERYTHING for me. I hope to continue speaking, networking, and traveling as much as possible while I’m young and (somewhat) free. Which leads me to…

Look, I’m just going to get this out of the way: I went to Walt Disney World for the first time in my adult life over the week between Christmas and NYE (also known as the busiest week of the entire year) last year, and it is an amazing, beautiful, magical place that totally took away the stress of a shitty job and a bad boss for every single second of the 3.5 days I was there. That being said, I plan on visiting Disney as much as possible for AT LEAST the next 5-15 years and finally understand the magic of sunshine, dole whip, and pixie dust.

*Phew!* Now that THAT’S out of the way I’m traveling out of the Northeast for the first time EVER to go to California for Google I/O in mid-May, and I cannot say enough about how thankful I am to Girl Develop It for the travel grant and to Google’s Women Techmakers program for setting aside tickets to get more women involved with the conference and allowing me to meet so many amazing women from all over the world (including Cotton Bureau’s own, Virginia Poltrack)! Though I’ll only be there for a few days, Justin – my significant other & a super-talented photographer – jokes that I’ll never come home and we’ll have to move to Silicon Valley (only time will tell)! Which leads me to…

Personal Projects:
Between work, GDI, and other commitments I have, when it comes to the concept of “time”, I really don’t have much of it. I very rarely give myself the time to do personal projects, though Justin always jokes that I always find more than enough time at night to catch up on the latest episodes from the wonderful world of “ShondaLand”. Which leads to me…

Though I may be exhausted at the end of the day, I will almost always make time for my nightly Tumblr blogging. It’s a place to zone out, get inspiration, find more music, see the best reaction GIFs, and absorb the types of content I totally need and appreciate on a platform that I have formed over the past 6 years; it is honestly my happy place. In other words, if I totally give up on Tumblr within the next 5 years, I will DEFINITELY be surprised.


CB: How exciting that you’ll be speaking at WDD! We’re bummed to be missing the festivities this year. These are a solid set of goals - how are you working towards achievement in these areas of your life?

BR: Thank you! I’m super excited!

So I’ve always been a people-pleaser, and I used to pay more attention to the looming thought of disappointing others rather than what I wanted or – more importantly – WHAT I NEEDED. So, one day back in the beginning of the year, I decided that this was going to be “the year of me” or – a better way to put it – the start of a better relationship with myself.

After both graduating Antonelli in 2014 and leaving an underwhelming, underpaying job with your typical bad managerial situation back in January, I immediately wrote off the people who gave off a negative vibes or who were a source of bad energy. I, ultimately, decided to put myself first to figure out who and what was most important to me. None of my goals are possible without the super supportive people that I choose to to surround myself with, as well as the occasional “Treat Yo'Self” day and Sunday brunches.

CB: Sounds like an excellent plan! Thanks for chatting with us, Bridget.

To keep up with everything Bridget has going on, you can follow her on twitter, instagram, tumblr, and dribbble. Check out her website here. To be notified when Bridget releases a new CB design, sign up here.