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Meet Flo Katzenbach of BVAccel in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Flo Katzenbach.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Flo. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
When I was very young I wanted to be an author. In my first year of college, I tried to pursue that dream, but my tragic pragmatism made it difficult to continue down that path. I could see that the only person who read my work was my professor. My path forward was unclear, and I felt completely lost. That was when I found design.

Design was a new way to tell a story, more immediate and universal. I transferred to Columbia College in Chicago, signed a lease on my 18th birthday and began my design career. My first big agency job was in marketing, which is really nothing like Mad Men except for the copious drinking. It was here that I learned how to work hard, absorb feedback and swallow my ego. But the storyteller in me needed more.

I left to work as a UX/UI Designer at a small digital agency called Nansen. UX was all about problem-solving, research and understanding. The job brought together practical design application with a twist of storytelling. It was a sweet spot for me, and I haven’t looked back.

I do continue to write, even though I’ve chosen my career in a different field. I write about design (which you can read here: medium.com/@flokat), but I am also a songwriter and have been working on a series of novels that I hope to share one day with the world. I could not design as a job and a hobby without burning out, so writing has become a creative pursuit outside of the office.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Success is like a savings account. You put in a few dollars every day, and by the time you’re ready to buy your flights to France, you have enough money to eat baguettes and croissants to your heart’s content. My path has unfolded naturally, but behind the scenes, it has been a lot of hard work.

Every day on every client I work hard, even if the work isn’t always glamorous. I give even more energy to my team, making sure that I play a supporting role as much as I play the lead. This effort invested every day means that when it is time for me to move on to the next opportunity, there is already something waiting for me on the horizon. I only needed to walk a little way to reach it.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about BVAccel – what should we know?
Today I work for an ecommerce agency in San Diego called BVAccel. We design and build Shopify storefronts for small, digitally native brands. Our agency’s size and experience makes BVAccel one of the leading Shopify agencies in the world.

Everyone wants to feel that their job makes a difference, and I get to measure my effectiveness in the success of my clients. We watch for user engagement, increased sales or improved average order values to learn and validate our strategies and designs. I get to help small brands grow and succeed.

I am most proud of my work in collaboration with the MVMT team; Alicia Radabaugh and Sarah Tuffey being two of the hardest working women in the industry.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I have had many incredible mentors, but one, in particular, marked an extreme moment of growth in my career.

My first Creative Director was tough, and I was terrified of her. One day, when she reviewed my work, she stopped me in the middle of a reluctant head nod and said, “You don’t have to agree with me. You can disagree with anything I say, just convince me why your choice is right.”

That advice changed my career. I was twenty and feeling resentful of being a cog in a feedback loop. Here was a woman I respected, giving me permission to challenge feedback, so long as I had good reason to. She was the first person who I ever looked up to as the Creative Director that I one day wanted to become.

I remind her annually of the impact she had on me that day and still reach out to her for advice when I come up against new challenges in my career. This shoutout is for you, Laura Swiatkowski.

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