Here in NYC, I own and run a boutique design and development agency, Studio Simpatico.
Below, I’ve chronicled my 15+ year product design and technology career from college graduation (Macalester College ’06) to now. Outside of work, I’m a fan of running, musical theater, well-crafted cocktails, and spending time in Queens with my husband and hilarious Havanese Lucy.
2006-2008: Master’s at NYU Tisch
After ten years of building websites through middle school, high school, and college, I attended NYU Tisch’s quirky Master’s program, ITP. Described as the “Center for the Recently Possible,” ITP’s students explore imaginative uses of technology, and “how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people’s lives.” While there, I dabbled in physical computing, PHP, video editing and animation, and much more. My thesis was designing and building a social media platform backpackers called Wanderlust (no longer online).
Summer 2007: Apple
Between years at NYU, I polished my marketing and web design skills as an intern on the Apple team in Cupertino, working on the redesign of apple.com during the summer when the first iPhone launched. (Believe it or not, the video below was used in one of Steve’s legendary presentations that summer.)
2007-2009: The Observer
Following graduation, I worked at The New York Observer during the Peter Kaplan era as the lead UX designer for the iconic paper’s 2007 redesign, which received a Webby nomination for “Best Newspaper” site. Having come close to choosing journalism as a career field myself, I adored working in the bullpen and collaborating with the editors to help bring their creative editorial ideas for visualizations and interactive components to life (Macromedia Flash, anyone?). I learned a lot during those years.
2009-2010: Tamara Olson Designs, Round 1
After leaving the Observer, I freelanced for numerous companies, from media monoliths like Conde Nast (working on a redesign of Truth.Travel) to charming startups like the Paperless Post (serving as their first user experience designer). I was happily settling into the rhythm and quick pace of self-employment when I received an email from a recruiter about taking a full-time UX design role at Google.
2010-2013: Google (Ads)
Despite my yearning to start and operate my own business, I knew I would be a fool to turn down this type of opportunity. I happily joined the Google Ads team in April 2010, initially as an individual contributor working on the DFP (DoubleClick for Publishers) monetization products. I learned a lot about how the internet makes money, how a successful UX team works, and how to conduct usability studies and larger research projects to test designs and assumptions.
Within a couple of years, I was promoted to lead our five-person research and design team. In this role, I oversaw the design of Google’s publisher products, worked closely with product management and engineering on product vision, collaborated with the Services team to help fold ongoing customer feedback into the roadmap.
2013-2014: Google (Classroom)
After three years working in Ads, I was ready for something new. In 2013, I left to join the Google Classroom team. Classroom’s design lead was going on maternity leave, which coincided nicely with my thirst for being part of a small, almost startup-like team. Over the next several months, I worked closely with the small team to incorporate the UX team’s research from real teachers into designs for the first version of the product, which launched in May 2014.
2014-present: Tamara Olson Designs, Round 2
Plagued by an ever-growing itch to pursue entrepreneurship and start my own business, I left the Google Classroom team (and Google in general) to start Tamara Olson Designs. In addition to working on a variety of UX consulting projects, I dusted off my coding skills and returned to front-end development, building custom themes for design agencies. When larger projects started coming my way, I began assembling small, interdisciplinary creative teams to meet each particular project’s goals.
2017-present: Studio Simpatico
After three years of serving a wide variety of clients, I decided it was time to expand; I rebranded the company away from Tamara Olson Designs and into what is now Studio Simpatico, and welcomed Simpatico’s first employee who helped co-found a new vision.
Six years later, the studio has grown into a talented team of ten designers and developers. We love helping our clients design products, create representative visual identities, and build custom WordPress projects.