About

Maile is a Product Designer and Researcher with a background in Visual Design and a fondness for Service Design. She loves playing with dogs, wandering through national parks, admiring watercolor sunsets, and creating graphic art from her photos of all three. She enjoys playing beach volleyball, board games, and piano. In addition to user experience, she also researches and reads about mindfulness meditation, environmental causes, and sustainable practices.

She is ardently dedicated to understanding the end-users’ experiences through qualitative research in order to create engaging and intuitive products. All her life she has been motivated by an innate desire to help people, inspire happiness, and make processes more efficient and easy to use.

CfA-fellowship-lighteningtalk

In 2019, Maile:

  • Completed a 10-month mindfulness Intensive Practice Program at UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC)
  • Began dogsitting for fun because she loves dogs but doesn’t have time to adopt one
  • Attended multiple Wanderlust festivals, including one in Hawaii where she participated in a daylong workshop with Elizabeth Gilbert and tried SUP yoga, Kundalini yoga, Amplified yoga, and Forrest yoga for the first time! 
  • Gave a talk on the importance of user experience research and design at Hack for LA, twice
  • Hosted an unconference session on ‘mindfulness meditation and how it helps’ at Code for America’s Brigade Congress in Cleveland
  • Visited Cleveland and the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, for the first time
  • Attended over a dozen User Research and UX Design events all over Los Angeles, including the UX Leaders Summit at Adobe MAX 
  • Volunteered (semi) weekly at Hack for LA as a UX research and design consultant
  • Didn’t play enough beach volleyball

Talking about UX


3 Careers & 2 Bachelors: The Pre-UX Years

Bachelor #1

Growing up, Maile’s biggest interests were fashion design, saving the world, and music. She learned quickly that the first did not play nice with the second during her first career in the apparel industry.

In college, she studied Fashion Design and Music. So, of course, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Human Geography. (It was similar to environmental science, felt a bit like Anthropology, but was less science-y, and somehow also seemed more practical than fashion design at the time.)

Years later, while applying for another Bachelor’s degree program, she realized Human Geography is an analog version of Interaction Design.

Career #1

Her career in apparel began at Juicy Couture as a sewing room assistant. Within a year, she was promoted to the R&D Director’s assistant, and finally Product Development Manager and Graphic Designer. Here she created the graphics that would appear on several famous celebrity bums, managed the production of multiple sample lines per season, and oversaw several contractors simultaneously.

Always looking to make processes more efficient and productive, she designed all of the product development templates and cost sheets from which the contractors worked more easily and accurately, and organized all files to be intuitively located by employees in several departments. (After leaving Juicy, she was told that they had to hire three people to replace her.)

Natalie Portman in a graphic by Maile
Natalie Portman in a Juicy graphic Maile designed

She worked as a freelance graphic designer after leaving Juicy, receiving 90% of her contracts through direct references from former coworkers and employers. 

During this time she also started the first gender-neutral, music-inspired, kids clothing line based on her unique graphic designs. As the founder of Punk Baby, she successfully filed two trademarks, a business license, and received a resale business license on her own. Additionally, she designed the original website and all marketing assets that appeared in social media, Rolling Stone magazine, LA Times, and more.

Original Punk Baby
Maile founded a kids apparel line called Punk Baby

Career #2

After returning to LA from a three-month solo trip to Europe (which she sold her motorcycle to fund) she decided she needed to extricate herself from the apparel industry. Thus she found herself applying to work in a hotel.

Once again driven by her desire for efficiency, and seeing a huge need to improve guest experiences, she proactively designed standard operating procedures for the 250 room hotel and a training program for front desk employees. These drastically reduced problems that had been plaguing the front desk and improved overall guest experiences.

Maile at the Trevi fountain
Maile at the Trevi fountain

Career #3 

Having returned to fashion after another long trip to Europe, she once again looked for a way to leave the industry. By a random stroke of luck, she discovered a job posting for the City of Santa Monica that required experience in visual and web design, as well as hospitality. (It also had beach volleyball courts on site, which was important because she played it for several hours per week.)

Trying acro yoga between volleyball games
Trying acro yoga between volleyball games

Here she proposed several major website improvements based on standard web design practices and from research gathered through conversations with customers and employees. Her improvements decreased many customer frustrations, reduced employee workload, improved the website’s ease of use, and increased information and feature discoverability. She later discovered that what she was doing was called “User Experience Design”. 

Bachelor #2 

In 2016, she stumbled upon a Bachelor of Science in Interaction Design program at Santa Monica College. Part of the first cohort, also known as the IxD program guinea pigs, she and her colleagues completed the most rigorous and intense curriculum offered to date. She absolutely loved it, having finally found her calling in UX!

In 2018, she was excited and honored to learn that her conceptual student product, ALEYE: Connect with Your Heart, was shortlisted in the 2018 IxDA Awards among a list of amazing professional and existing products. Maile graduated with high honors while working full-time as an Interaction Designer.

IxD Bachelors Graduation Day
Graduating with an IxD Bachelors
Aleye One Sheet
Aleye One Sheet

To be continued…