Spotlight: Alex

By Alex Sailer

I'm wrapping up my second month at Focus Lab and it's about time I properly introduce myself.

As you may have guessed, my name is Alex. I'm a Virginia resident who originally hails from Georgia. I'm the newest addition to the UI team at Focus Lab and I couldn't be more pumped to be working with all the amazing people here. For those that don't know me, hopefully this little intro will help shed some light on who I am. My story starts like this...

tl;dr Version:

  • I sucked at being a teenager.
  • I had a terrible, life-ruining job.
  • I worked my ass off to go to college.
  • I met an amazing girl.
  • I got a design degree.
  • I got a job as a designer.
  • I became a creative director.
  • I joined Focus Lab.
  • I found out Bill Kenney's beard is fake.

I didn't grow up thinking I would be a designer. That happened way later in my life. I was definitely one of the artsy kids in high school but I wasn't too interested in thinking about what I wanted to do for a career. On top of that, I didn't even want to go to college.

So how the hell did I get here? Good question.

I started my college career at a community college in Roanoke, Virginia. That was ideal for me because it was affordable and I wasn't about to spend loads of money on an education that I didn't value at the time.

I sound super cool so far, right? No.

For some strange reason I was pursuing a business education. I can't really explain why I chose business other than the fact that I felt it was the most universal pathway to "something." On top of my business classes, I was also working the night shift full-time at a local car parts warehouse. I would go to work from 8pm-8am and then head straight to class at 9am. Needless to say, my grades weren't great. School was terrible, work was terrible, and my personal life was suffering from having to work nights. After months of trying, failing, and being unhappy I realized I had to switch things up and get my s*@# together.

I finally started looking at my future and that's when everything changed for me. I switched jobs, started taking general education classes, and got solid grades. Things were looking up… but something was missing. I needed to get out and experience life outside of Roanoke. I decided to transfer to Virginia Tech.

Fast forward to my senior year of college. I had met an amazing girl (who is now my wife), and I was about to graduate from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree. I did it! I had spent the last four years doing everything from fine art to industrial design and I loved every second of it. It was hard for me to believe how far I had come.

It wasn't all rainbows and butterflies though. I still needed to find a job and begin my journey into the "real world." So after 18 months with a few twists and turns, a summer in Connecticut, and a truckload of job applications, I ended up at a design agency in Northern Virginia.

I spent the next three-plus years learning and designing anything I could. I started as a junior designer and by the end of my time there I was leading the design team as creative director. I also managed to convince that amazing girl I met in college to marry me.

I left that gig as creative director to come work with these fine folks at Focus Lab at the beginning of this year. I've been drooling over their work for years now and it's still pretty surreal to me that I'm a part of the team. It's been a great fit so far and it really is true that surrounding yourself with the right people is the key to being truly happy at work.

It's been a crazy ride to get to this point but I've never been more excited for what the future holds.