Go Mighty’s 31 Days of Inspiring Women, #1: Tina Hardison
Meet Tina. She’s a self-described “50% designer, 50% adventurer” who moved from a small North Carolina town to California to pursue her dreams. Taking the leap paid off—just three years later, she’s developed an impressive design career working with some of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies, and spends her spare time happily adventuring and road tripping around California.
Read more about Tina’s Life List and the inspiration behind her goals below.
So, Tina, what’s your story?
I was born and raised in Eastern North Carolina by very supportive parents that raised me to be a very independent woman. My mom is an educator, specializing in early childhood development, so when me and my two sisters were growing up, she’d give us blank paper and a variety of drawing tools instead of coloring books. I really think her teaching methods really affected my creative processes, as well as my sisters (who are both artists).
When I was a teenager I worked as a lifeguard on a barrier island during the hot North Carolina summers, which gave me a lot of time to day dream about who I wanted to be when I “grew up.” I decided to follow my older Sister’s footsteps and attend the North Carolina State University College of Design where I studied Graphic Design. There I was surrounded by very talented designers and educators, which pushed me to the design career path i’m on now.
You’ve worked with some pretty incredible San Francisco design institutions, from Chronicle Books to Apple to IDEO, all in your early twenties. How’d you get to where you are today in your design career?
My Junior year of College I had the opportunity to work in San Francisco for a Summer, at innovative design consulting company called IDEO. This changed everything. I immediately knew California was where I was meant to be. I learned so much from the work and the people at IDEO that Summer, that the minute I got back to North Carolina to finish my degree I was immediately scheming on how to get back to San Francisco. After I graduated, I was working at Red Hat, an open source Linux company, for a while, but not soon after I got offered a job at Chronicle Books here in San Francisco—packed up my life in NC and two weeks later I was living in California.
Working at Chronicle Books and living in San Francisco was a dream come true. I’ve always had a passion for books, and the beauty surrounding the Bay Area has me constantly scheming on weekend adventures. After a year and a half at Chronicle, an opportunity to work at a large silicon valley company came up and I had to take it. So that’s where I currently am, taking my love for books and tech to the next level.
How do you find balance between achieving your work dreams and everything else you want to do in life?
I like to think of myself as 50% designer, 50% adventurer.
Not long after moving here, my boyfriend and I drove our car back to San Francisco across the country from North Carolina. It was just a taste of the beauty I want to explore that exists in this country. Fortunately, there’s so much to explore right around me in San Francisco, where I live.
The minute I take a break from my work, I want to be outside, on my bike, on a run, in nature. Thats where I hit the refresh button.
So, you’ve made tons of accomplishments in both your career and moving your life to the west coast. Where do you want to go from here?
I think i’ve successfully proven to myself that I can make it as a designer. I’ve worked at some of my dream jobs (Chronicle Books, IDEO, Apple), but now I think I want to design and produce something from scratch on my own. Maybe not full-time yet, but I have some ideas. I’m always scheming.
Tell us a bit more about these ten goals from your life list. What’s the inspiration behind the goals you chose?
As I said, I like to think of myself as 50% Designer, 50% Adventurer. So looking at my list, it’s just about equally split between those two aspects of my life. I want to create and design a product from scratch, travel, buy a surfboard—surf…these are short term goals. A few longer term goals that I will be working on for a while are training for a half marathon and a cross country bike trip, designing a typeface, working for myself…successfully.
In design school, I started to slowly pick up clients to have to work on the side at night and on weekends, illustration jobs or small logo projects. Since then i’ve slowly developed my client list and picked up some larger projects, but I definitely still have a lot to learn and to grow. I’ve made mistakes, learned from them, and want to keep working in-house until I think i’ve learned enough to take a shot at working on my own. It’s a scary thought but I know one day i’ll take the leap, I feel it in my bones!
As for the other goals, they’re mostly goals that are just fun things that I’ve been meaning to do/learn while I still can—travel with my sisters, live abroad, surf, screen-print, and cook delicious Indian food.
Any advice for others on how to stay motivated/focused on achieving their goals?
My biggest advice would be if you’re too comfortable, you’re not doing it right. The minute you feel that itch to do something greater, scratch it. Make the jump. Be scared. It’ll lead to great things.
Follow Tina’s journey through completing her Life List here.
Want to make a Life List of your own? Easy—join the Go Mighty community here.
(Photo Credit: Helena Price)