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Why the ‘ambidextrous’ Erin Daniels started her own design firm

The design-minded ex-developer couldn't find a company that suited both her passions, so she started her own. Meet Design for People.

Design for People melds tech know-how with design expertise. (Photo by Flickr user Tobias Toft, used under a Creative Commons license)

Erin Daniels likes startups so much that she didn’t want to go work for just one — she wanted the freedom to be able to work with them all. And so she founded Design for People, a McLean, Va.-based product design and marketing firm. 
Two years later, Daniels and her team have done projects for clients ranging from local social shopping app Solebrity to the D.C. Department of For-Hire Vehicles (the firm designed the D.C. taxi app). And Daniels couldn’t be happier. “It’s super fun for us to get to help so many kinds of startups,” she said. Another commissioned project in the works? An anti-chewing tobacco PSA targeted at teenage boys.

Erin Daniels. (Photo via LinkedIn)

Erin Daniels. (Photo via LinkedIn)


One quickly understands that Daniels’ work really runs the gamut. And that’s exactly how she wants it — exactly what she founded her company to achieve.
Daniels actually has a tech background — she was a frontend developer back in the day — but she’s also got a solid grounding in design. She studied general fine arts with a concentration in computer animation, after all. And despite a varied career with jobs as a graphic designer, UX designer and eventually CXO at D.C.’s Apollo Matrix, Daniels often felt something was missing. The ad agencies she worked for were wonderfully creative but not technical enough for her liking, while the tech companies were super techy but less focused on design. In this dichotomy, Daniels considers herself “ambidextrous.”
“I started my company because I noticed there was this gap between tech and branding, between marketing and design and I wanted to bring them together,” she told Technical.ly.
So together with a fluctuating team of contractors that work with her on given projects, Daniels is doing just this. “It’s really exciting and I love it,” she says, of being an entrepreneur. And truly, what better job is there for the ambidextrous among us.

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