WILD Creative Lead Felicia Reyes (she/her) is one of our amazing volunteers who devotes sunny optimism to her contributions in the design community—and this is no exception! When she’s not working on WILD, she is part-time faculty at Parsons and Creative Director at West brand studio, where she specializes in creating design systems and brand identities that map to business needs and scale alongside ever-growing brands. Felicia discusses the value that relationships, craft, and knowing herself have meant to her career. Curiosity and inspiration come through distinctly in her point of view on design leadership. Dive in for a little dose of the wonder that she brings!
How did you get to where you are in your career?
I’ve been working in the design and creative space for 18 years. I started as a design intern for People Magazine while I was still in undergrad. I credit this experience immensely. To my parents, this looked like I was “working for free.” To my friends, they saw me getting invited to cool parties in NYC. I valued the opportunity in every way. As a Boriqua from the Bronx, I was in a whole new world of glam, fashion, and corporate America in Midtown Manhattan. I had an amazing mentor, Nicole Mills, who helped show me the ropes and treated me as an equal contributor to the team, not just an intern getting coffee.
Learning from the bottom up, shaped my career and my point of view. I learned to show up at 100% every time, treat everyone with kindness, and to keep focus on my (ever-evolving) goals. Keeping true to myself, honing my craft, and treating every project with equal importance has led me to where I am now.
What's one piece of wisdom that you wish you had known as a young designer?
Connection and relationships are just as important as the work itself.
What was it that drew you into the WILD committee?
I wanted to connect with other women and non-binary folks in leadership positions. I wanted to have conversations about leadership and design in a room that felt comfortable and welcoming, a room where I wasn't the only woman/queer/person of color.
Tell us about your perspective on the state of design leadership today?
I think leadership is at an inflection point. There has been a united realization that the approach of the past is no longer effective. Systemic influence and bias has always played a role in corporate structures. Leadership requires empathy, understanding, and diversity, among other skills. Whereas now, the aperture has expanded. Leadership is no longer defined by a narrow view.
It’s about empowering others to work together towards a clear and unified goal.
Share your leadership tips.
Trust your gut and find your tribe. Have a chosen few folks—friends, mentors, colleagues— whose opinions you value and who have your best interest in mind.
What are you reading or learning about leadership?
I recommend Tell Me About Yourself: Six Steps for Accurate and Artful Self-Definition written by the talented Holley M. Murchison. I believe that self awareness is a key characteristic for successful leadership (and life in general).
How do you stay inspired?
I keep an open mind. Inspiration can come from anywhere at any moment. Chats with friends, long walks, articles, Instagram posts, memories, crafts, all of it. I stay curious and open to new perspectives. The universe truly provides.
Tell us the words you live by.
“It don’t take a whole day to recognize sunshine”— Common. This quote is from a song, but this line in particular has always stuck with me. For me, it’s about following your instincts, listening with so many voices, influences, and distractions—it’s a reminder that I have the power to draw my own conclusions. I am the ultimate decision-maker for my unique path.
As Women in Leadership & Design (WILD) redefines paradigms of design leadership, we elevate the perspectives of the creative leaders in our midst. “WILD Portraits” shares the distinct stories of Bay Area women and non-binary design leaders, highlighting each individual’s unique path and point of view. Together, these profiles provide a sketch of the state of design leadership and how it’s evolving.