• findSisterhood

Jessica Greenwalt

Updated: Sep 25, 2019

Product Designer

Founder of Pixelkeet and Impact Record



Tell us about your career and how it all started?

As a little kid, I knew I wanted to have my own design company. So when I was in high school, I started one. I learned design techniques and how to use design software by creating sample advertisements, websites, illustrations, and other marketing materials for products and companies I liked. When I had enough pieces I was proud of, I posted them online. I learned how to code from online tutorials and blogs, and from reverse engineering sites I liked. I researched SEO, applied what I had learned to my portfolio site, and my website became the number one Google search result for “freelance graphic designer”. Project requests came pouring in from around the world, and my little design firm grew into the international UX and product design and research company, Pixelkeet.

I’ve worked on projects for the United Nations, LinkedIn, Telefónica, Facebook, Carnegie Mellon, UC Berkeley, Harvard, several other higher education organizations, several YC companies, and many, many more.

One of the benefits of owning a design firm that companies hire to help launch new projects is that I get to learn about—and help shape—things that don’t exist in the world yet. I get to work directly with founders and execs, and I get to see how they interact with others, and how their organizations operate.

What's your personal mantra?

Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.

What is your superpower?

I'm addicted to creating things. I love creating things for work, and when I'm not building something for a client, I come up with my own projects to work on.

Tell us about women that inspired you and your female role models:

A few years ago, I discovered an English scientist and author named Mary Somerville and was drawn to her story. The more I learned about her achievements, the more surprised I was that I hadn’t heard of her before. She wrote the first English textbooks on a wide variety of scientific topics—books that were used to educate the men of universities and organizations she was not allowed to attend due to her gender. Her books were the standard university text for a century, and one of her books even led to the discovery of Neptune.

Discovering Somerville sparked a compulsion to seek out lesser known world changers and tell their stories. Their stories have a common thread. The exceptional people I’ve learned about were inspired to pursue their work by learning about someone like them who had achieved great things. The knowledge that another woman or minority—someone they felt represented them—had walked the path they wish to pursue, became proof that success was possible for them.

This is why I’m creating Impact Record, the encyclopedia of positive impact. I’m collecting and presenting the stories of history’s unsung heroes, showing their context in history, making source material digitally accessible, and developing a way to quantify the impact made by each person. I’m making these stories widely accessible so they can reach the next generation of great thinkers, inspiring them to change the world.

What would be your advice for women who are building careers in your industry?

Understand that what is right for other people is not necessarily right for you. Try to put aside the opinions of others and study if your actions are producing the results you want in your life. If they are, keep doing what you're doing.

One piece of advice for your 18 year old self?

Get paid for your work, and pay other people for their work. If you want to save the world, pay people for work. We’re living in cities plagued by massive income inequality. Every dollar you don’t take for the work you do or don’t give for work you have done, contributes to this problem, and gives startups an excuse to build unsustainable business models off of the backs of free labor.

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