Aby Cortes talks about her design process and inspiration behind Erin Condren’s best-selling and upcoming designs, what it means to design the first-ever Spanish LifePlanner™, and how diversity, equity, and inclusion is evolving the brand.
What’s it like being the Art Director of Product at Erin Condren Design?
My journey at EC has been quite the whirlwind in the best kind of way! I started at the company over eight years ago as a junior designer and have worn so many hats that eventually led me to my position as Art Director of Product. Through the years, I have been able to be fully creative on a day-to-day basis while also being a leader for the product design team.
It had always been my dream to work in a creative field, even before I was really sure of what that meant. I have been a lover of art all my life and was lucky enough to study it in college. I really love how much I’ve been able to use my creativity and talent at EC.
What is your experience at Erin Condren as a woman of color in a position of leadership?
I truly believe my experiences as a woman of color and my upbringing are reflected in every part of who I am. I am so proud to be a first-generation Latina working in a creative field. Stepping outside of traditional fields isn’t always the easiest for children of immigrants. My parents’ hopes for me were always for stability and success—two things that are hard to guarantee in creative careers. I’ve always used that as my driving force, challenging myself to bridge all the parts of myself into the career I wanted.
In EC, I’ve really found a place that values everything I bring to the table. Since my early years, I have been encouraged to use my voice and grow my confidence, something a lot of women—especially women of color, don’t get to experience in the workplace. I was also mentored into the leadership position I hold today; it was something that really came from being empowered by the amazing women I work with.
Can you share your inspiration, design process, and top 5 favorite designs?
The best way to describe my design inspiration and process is that my brain naturally catalogs the world around me. I’m constantly taking in the small details that make art, objects, and patterns really stand out. My favorite aspect of great design is that it is so present but also very much in the background; you know when it’s there and when it isn’t. When I design patterns or products, I always want them to feel special.
Hmm, my top 5 fave designs so far would have to be:
- Esea! My first pattern!
- Flower Power
- Watercolor Drops
What new Erin Condren designs and products are you most excited about?
Oh, that’s a tough one since we have so many new releases coming. I have to say I’m pretty excited about and proud of our new collections spotlighting Black artists. I love seeing what other creatives of color are doing out in the design world! Art and aesthetic is so impacted by who we are culturally and how we identify; and bringing that to EC has been amazing. Elevating the work of individual artists in Black and Brown communities is a point of pride for all of us.
I also love our new Seasonal Surprise Boxes. One of my favorite projects to lead each quarter. There is always so much newness that I feel like I can get really creative and make each piece unique!
And our new Spanish language products make me feel seen more than anything, especially our new Spanish LifePlanner™ launching tomorrow, which is an EC first. Representation is so important, and being able to offer products in a different language makes me so proud.
As a Latina Director at Erin Condren, can you talk about what the company is doing to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Absolutely. It’s a topic that hasn’t traditionally felt like it had a definite space in the workplace even though it impacts all of us so much. Now that we have a dedicated D&I Council, all the diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that we have created and set in motion are truly a result of our team caring deeply about the issues around D&I and wanting to bring them into our organization’s culture.
Images shared with us by the Richstone Family Center & Boys & Girls Club of North Mississippi of students receiving their Erin Condren planners and school supplies.
In addition to creating more products for Spanish language speakers, some other D&I initiatives include creating collections that support social justice and amplify Black artists. And we’re expanding our collaborations to feature more BIPOC artists and those all along the diversity spectrum in 2021 and moving forward. We’ve also added more diverse holidays and celebrations to EC planners and calendars like Hispanic Heritage Month, Juneteenth, and LGBTQIA+ History Month, to name a few.
And I’m particularly proud of our company-wide social justice training and over $250K in donations to students, teachers, and families in communities impacted by social justice. There’s so much more we’re working on and need to work on. We’re really just getting started.
Click here to learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion at Erin Condren.
Can you tell us more about the first-ever Erin Condren Spanish LifePlanner™?!
Yes, it’s a big deal! Our signature planner and all-time best seller is our LifePlanner™, and, starting tomorrow, it will be available in Spanish! Even all the stickers, the inspirational quotes, productivity and planning pages, everything in 100% Latin American Spanish, plus it includes Mexican holidays too.
Many people don’t know this about me, but English is my second language! I think Spanish speakers would love to see more products for them. Not a lot exist; so, I’m so excited that we recognize that this is important and are doing something about it. I can’t wait to send one to my mom!
Shop the first Spanish LifePlanner™, launching October 13th, here.