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Meet Jill DaSilva of Digital Karma in Playa Del Rey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jill DaSilva.

Jill, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I started programming when I was eight years old. It’s only in retrospect that I realized how this influenced my current career. I started building websites in the early 2000s when I was a yoga instructor. I then started a wholesale and retail business in 2004. In 2008, I realized that I preferred helping others build their businesses so I went back to school as a single mom and learned “Web Design” and “Graphic Design” at Santa Monica College. After I was finished at SMC, I hustled for work by placing ads on Craiglist for building custom sites. I also did some Flash animation for one of my teachers. I was soon hired by a startup that made 2nd screen apps for popular TV shows: New Girl, So You Think You Can Dance, Celebrity Apprentice, and Master Chef. It was very fastpaced and long hours. I started looking for something a bit more predictable and calm and was hired to work at a company called Dex. The change of pace was great and I got the chance to work with incredible agile teams. And what was thrilling is that I was able to triple my salary in less than three years.

After that, I was hired by General Assembly in 2014 to launch their immersive UX program (UXDI) in Santa Monica. I went on to teach eight immersive courses there along with many workshops. While I was teaching, I continued to work on side projects with some students. This was great for them and for me. They could build their portfolio and gain more experience. And I could keep relevant in the industry and bring that back to the classroom. And this is how Digital Karma was born. I created my agency so that I could hire and mentor emerging designers while doing the work that I love. To this date I’ve hired over 25 emerging designers, most of them my former students. I’m truly grateful that I’ve had the success that I’ve had and that I have the opportunity to mentor and give back. I’m so grateful for my education at SMC. I was so successful after leaving SMC, I am now on the Board of Advisors for their IxD Bachelors Degree program. And my agency is now a preferred vendor for Adobe where I get to design, teach, and speak regarding their tool Adobe XD. This is something I would have never imagined when I started my design career. I am so grateful to have the privilege to work with so many talented designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs ranging from startups to blue-chip enterprises.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Looking back, one of the biggest annoyances was parking tickets in Santa Monica.  😉 I seemed to accumulate a lot of them in the first few months of living there.

One of the earliest barriers of my career was pursuing my education while being a single mom on a really tight budget. I didn’t have any family in LA so it was pretty much a solo venture as I was figuring out my path. Like any other entrepreneur, I learned on the go. There are endless challenges and obstacles that one could never anticipate. But, I showed up every day, strove for growth and kept moving forward.

Digital Karma – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition? 
I’m very proud of the work we have done and I’m very honored to have helped mentor so many emerging designers. Many of these designers have gone on to have very successful careers and I’m so happy to have been a part of their journey. My agency specializes in UX Design. We support the local design community through various events, workshops, and meetups. We love working with startups and helping them with their product strategy and reducing their burn rate by making smart product decisions. While our client work keeps us busy, our entrepreneurial spirit is driving us to build some exciting products in-house. So, stay tuned for that!

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success by how much I’ve helped those around me. This gives meaning to my life and brings me deep joy to see the success of those I’ve mentored along with the success of the companies we’ve done design work for.

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