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How I got into sustainable web design (EP.1/3)

This article is a part of the series “How I got into sustainable web design“, a three-part series about my background and how I got into sustainable web design.

A Thai girl who dreamed of living abroad

I’m a millennial Thai girl who dreams of traveling around the world. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Airlines Business Management, I worked as a passenger service agent at an airport. I fulfilled my dream by traveling to a few countries. But after two years in, I quit my job because I was sick of adjusting to different work shifts, and I didn’t feel like working in the high-stress airport environment any longer.

I began exploring other life choices by going to Australia with a Work and Holiday visa and working in a Ramen restaurant for a year with my brother. I found that I enjoyed making coffee and latte art, so I tried to get a job as a barista in the last six months I had left. Unfortunately, no coffee shops accepted my resume due to my lack of experience. 

I went back to Thailand and planned to go back to Australia with my brother as a student. We dreamed of studying for a culinary diploma together while working part-time to save money and enjoy our lives abroad. But, my dream was ruined in front of my eyes when my visa got rejected – twice.

I was devastated but still wanted to get out of Thailand and live in a more diverse environment. So, I changed my plan to come to the US instead. I am lucky that my aunt lives here in Renton with her family and is so generous to let me stay during my first year in the US.

I began my life in the US, observed, and started questioning. 

I enrolled in the University of Washington’s certificate program in Global Business. It was a nine-month program with an opportunity to intern outside of campus for a year. We call it Optional Practical Training (OPT).

My faded dream of becoming a barista fell through a crack at this time. My career path remained unclear, but I was open to learning new things. It seems like the world of business is exciting and full of opportunities. But, it’s also overwhelming and sometimes irresponsible or even unethical.

What struck me most is not how abundant capitalism and consumerism are in this part of the country but the tragic impact it causes on the environment, animals, and nature. I was sick of the throwaway culture, the norm of single-use products, and the endless marketing tactics that convince consumers to buy more things even if they don’t need them.

Searched and found a company that cares about the planet. 

When it’s time to search for an internship after graduation, I had one specific goal in mind. I wanted to work with a business that aims to improve the planet’s well-being. So then, I landed a job at Scoop Marketplace, a zero-waste grocery store, as a customer associate, web editor, and writer. 

Scoop Marketplace, at that time, was a brand-new, Seattle-based startup company (now located in Kirkland) founded by Stephanie Lentz. Stephanie is the type of leader I admire to this day. She is fearless, smart, great at communication, and such an action taker. She took a lot of risks in hiring four or five employees all at once to run the brick-and-mortar store and build an online store.

I was one of the first employees who got hired and the only non-US member on the team. Everybody was patient with my communication skills, and I was grateful that I had the freedom to try things I had always been curious about: web design and web development.

I tapped into the space that encompasses my future.

At Scoop, we used Wix as a website builder at that time. It was far from perfect. There were limitations in tools and customization. I always got frustrated, but I worked with what I had and maximized the available resources. I discovered that no matter how frustrating a website creation became, I didn’t give up on it. There is always joy and inspiration that keeps me going. It’s rewarding when I fix an issue or find a way to work around the platform’s limitations. It’s even more rewarding when my team or customers say that the website was nice and helpful. 

Occasionally, I wrote articles about low-waste lifestyle to help promote Scoop’s products. I posted them on Scoop’s website and also kept them on my WordPress blog. I built this blog in 2018 while studying in the UW certificate program to collect my artwork and share stories about who I am, what I do, and what I care about. 

I chose WordPress to host my website because it’s cheap. But there was a lot of learning curve for a beginner like myself. It wasn’t easy to understand its structure, the functions of each plugin, or the integrations with other software. So, all I focused on was only knowing enough to upload content and publish my articles.

However, I became more familiar with WordPress overtime whenever I interacted with it. I took some time to play around with different functions, such as changing and customizing the theme and layout, connecting my blog with Google analytics and an email service provider, etc. Navigating and testing different things on WordPress slowly made me more comfortable with it.

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