Sarah Hansen, graduating from the innovative Western Michigan University (WMU) Product Design Program this year, is someone who values the element of fun when it comes to design. Sarah is hoping to find a position in the community to put her skills of adaptability and optimism to work, preferably in the soft goods industry. Sarah’s curious mindset and commitment to having fun in the process while creating excellent products could be what your team is missing, so check out her full bio below to learn more!
What is the best lesson you learned from your classes, an internship, an instructor, or a mentor?
Throughout my experience at WMU, I’ve learned that designing should have an element of fun in it. Having that ‘fun’ approach is what keeps me going when I’m designing. I’ve had plenty of challenges, late nights in the studio, tight deadlines, and so on, but having that motivation keeps me coming back for more. It keeps me on my toes because there are so many possibilities when it comes to problem solving, researching, documenting, sketching, creating presentations, and more. The skills and knowledge I’ve gained through school, my internship, professors, and mentors has transformed me into a versatile and adaptable designer. As a designer, I strive to remain curious and to always have an element of fun in whatever I design. Whether it’s filling the wall space in the studio with research and sketches, jamming out to music when I sketch, or simply surrounding myself with like-minded people that I can joke around with, I have fun doing it and that’s what matters.
What is the strongest skill you bring to an employer?
My adaptability in the workplace is my strongest skill to employers. My ability to adapt to change in the workplace is something I really enjoy. I enjoy the challenges that change brings because it allows me to quickly adjust to new surroundings, new methods, new people, and so on. Being adaptable allows me to be optimistic and open to new opportunities when they arise at a moment’s notice. During these past four years as a designer in a new program, I’ve learned that having the ability to be adaptable is vital because designers change the world, and the world is always changing.
What type of project or industry interests you?
Growing up I went to a lot of rummage sales with my family. I was always drawn to collecting the purses and backpacks that people were selling, and it kind of became a hobby of mine. It wasn’t until I had the amazing opportunity to be a Design Intern for a leather handbag company, Brynn Capella, last summer in Chicago that I realized I really wanted to be a part of the soft goods industry. I find the soft goods industry to be very unique, inspiring, transformative, and adventurous. I can’t wait to be a part of it!
What project in your portfolio are you most proud of?
The project I am most proud of would be my thesis project that I am currently working on. I am developing a portable and versatile soft-good product that organizes safety equipment for inexperienced drivers in case of a roadside emergency. I am proud of this project because of a couple reasons. First, this will be my last project I work on while in my undergrad. I get to use all the skills and knowledge I’ve learned these past four years to showcase my design process. Second, I get to dive deep into research, learn more about soft good construction, hone in on my sketches and renders, and develop a product of my interest. And lastly, I am proud of this project because I get to see how my design process has evolved over the past four years to get me to where I am today, as well as where it will be heading in years to come.
What/who is one person, place, or experience that had a positive impact on you during your time at Western Michigan University or in the Kalamazoo community?
During my time at WMU, I’ve had a very positive experience with my current mentor, Rea Verberg. I am so grateful to have her as a mentor because she is very passionate about what she does, and her eagerness to help me navigate the world of soft goods has been extraordinary. She has broadened my networking capabilities, given advice about finding jobs, given insights about working for companies, helped me understand sewing and construction, and so much more. I am a better designer today because of her and the support she offers. Thanks Rea!