A strong community can promote new ideas and ensure accountability. It can also act as motivation, support and even provide a little friendly competition. The power of community is undeniable, and the Okanagan tech community is no exception.
Our community is strong and growing with record speed, and maintaining connections through a period of growth like this can be a challenge. Nobody panic. We’ve got a plan.
This is “The Faces of #OKGNtech,” a showcase of Okanagan tech entrepreneurs, partners, supporters and cheerleaders designed to fuel more connection, more growth and more excitement. Follow along on the blog and on Instagram at @OKGNtech to learn more about our growing community and what makes them awesome.
Meet Eryca. Eryca Stirling is a freelance graphic designer at Designs by Eryca and the Visual Communications Coordinator with Accelerate Okanagan. When she’s not creating the look and feel of a brand, you’ll find Eryca outdoors camping and off-roading, or inside playing with her cats, Chance and The Rapper, and drinking all of the iced coffee.
Are you originally from the Okanagan?
I’m born and raised in Kelowna, B.C. My family has been in the Okanagan for over 100 years. We are proud South Kelowna residents. My dad was a fourth-generation orchardist, and on my mom’s side my great-grandpa opened the first coin laundromat at the Capri Centre mall in 1959. When I think about owning my own house in the future, I know I want to stay here because this is where all of my extended family is.
What do you do for work?
I’ve started my own graphic design firm, Designs by Eryca. I’ve been fortunate to work with some great people and great businesses in the community—helping to create designs that reflect their unique brand. I’m also working part-time with Accelerate Okanagan as the visual communications co-ordinator where I do in-house photography, design content and help with anything else dipped in the AO brand.
What do you enjoy most about freelancing?
My entire life, I’ve enjoyed having multiple jobs. I love meeting new people and trying new things. What’s interesting about being a freelancer is that it’s kind of the same thing. I’m still meeting new people, learning about and helping a wide variety of different businesses. Recently, I had the opportunity to redesign some labels for Wards Cider, which I’m really excited to see on shelves next year.
How did you get into this kind of work?
When I was at Accelerate Okanagan, I got to work closely with a variety of contract graphic designers. I remember thinking how fun it would be to work as a designer all day. Eventually, I just decided to give it a try. I went back to school for graphic design and started working as AO’s in-house graphic designer. I started freelancing on top of that because I wanted to create more space to explore different projects, work with more people and grow as a designer.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a job like yours?
Understand how valuable the community can be and practise getting comfortable putting yourself out there. A lot of people working in the creative field encounter imposter syndrome because their work can be so subjective. But you need to be confident with what you do. Then you’ll be able to connect with clients that want to work with you. Don’t worry about the ones that don’t, you wouldn’t want to work with them anyways.
Do you think there is anything missing from the community here?
More people! I wish everyone could experience the tech community. I’ve met so many interesting people working with AO. I’ve learned about different companies and what they’re up to, which has opened my eyes to how many interesting ideas are being built here. I was born and raised in the Okanagan, and it took me so long to get involved with everything happening in the OKGNtech community.
What do you wish you knew when you were younger?
For a good portion of my life, I didn’t feel like I was smart. I needed math tutors, had trouble in science, and a lot of my friends were on their way to being nurses or engineers. I compared myself to them a lot. Now I realize that just because my strengths are in creative fields, I can still be smart and successful. There are things that creative people can do that others can’t. I wish I had a better understanding of that growing up.
Who is someone that inspires you?
My mom is the person I look up to the most—I promise she is not paying me to say this. She’s taught me that it’s important to be mindful of not only how we speak to others but how we speak to ourselves. I admire the way she chooses to view life. She doesn’t take it too seriously and always appreciates what she has. She’s really passionate about the energy you bring into your own life and the impact it can have on those around you.
Is there something you want to be remembered for?
I hope I can be remembered for helping people connect with their feelings through my designs. The thought of my work existing out in the world for a long period of time kind of makes me queasy. But something that I enjoy about being a designer is creating assets that can make you feel something. No matter where you’re from or what language you speak, designs can cause you to feel something.
All Columnists Stories