How I Made It

Hannah Zachritz, Digital Product Designer

Hannah Zachritz is the head of product and design for a Vancouver-based custom footwear startup. Here, she tells FLARE how she made it

Hannah Zachritz, @hannahzachritz

How do you describe your job to your family?

I’m head of digital product and design at Wiivv (pronounced “weave”), a Vancouver-based startup making custom footwear from your phone. I help the company decide what to build next and why it matters.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I was a finance major at the University of Kansas with an international business concentration.

What’s the weirdest gig you’ve ever done solely for money?

I worked at Cold Stone Creamery for one week in college. I had to sing songs when people tipped me—the most embarrassing thing ever! I realized quickly it was not the job for me.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

I don’t know that I’ve had it yet. I’ve just worked really hard and try to make sure I push myself outside of my comfort zone so that I continue to learn and grow. I’ve definitely learned A LOT at Wiivv about leadership, but I’m not done yet.

What would you say has been your most significant setback, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

I was actually let go from my first job, as a receptionist, post-college. I wasn’t intellectually challenged, which resulted in my lack of motivation and engagement (and apparently, that was pretty evident—whoops!). It was a huge hit to my confidence, but shortly after I joined an education tech startup in San Francisco as its first sales person. That set up the foundation for my career in technology and, eventually, product management and UX.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

“I work so much” being considered a badge of honour. I found this especially prevalent in San Francisco. I believe you should be putting as much energy into maintaining your health (mental and physical) as you do in advancing your career, a cause or a business.

How would you describe your industry in terms of representation and inclusivity?

We’ve still got a lot of work to do. It’s SO important to have a diversity of perspectives at every table and that doesn’t just mean gender and race. Diversity in socio-economic background and education are equally important, and we haven’t even started to acknowledge that.

What’s the most pressing issue facing women in your industry right now? What would fix it?

We can all use a little more vulnerability, humility and empathy in management, leadership and peer-to-peer partnership. I’d like to help change the conversation that being “sensitive” can be a strength instead of a weakness.

Have you ever disclosed your salary to a colleague in the name of transparency? Why or why not?

Yes. If asked, I tell the people on my team. I think transparency is important.

Have you ever asked for a raise? If so, how did you phrase it and did you get it? If not, why not?

Yes. Several times. I made sure I had enough “data points” to bring to the table that showcased the value I bring to the company. I also brought several open job listings for people with similar skills as a reference point of what the market rate is. The conversation typically goes pretty well after that.

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