Sierra Lake joined the LaFleur team in 2020 as a design intern. She is an avid design nerd who loves using and understanding of needs and motivation to solve visual problems with design solutions. Sierra sat down with LaFleur to talk about the inspiration for her design career, what life is like in an unincorporated town, and an unusual talent that comes in surprisingly handy.
LF: Tell me about what you do at LaFleur.
SL: I was hired on as one of the design interns, along with my classmate Jenna. So I assist Nick, our main designer, in whatever he needs help with.
LF: You say, “classmate.” Did you recently graduate?
SL: I graduated two days after I was hired at LaFleur! I went to school in Madison, Wisconsin, and attended Madison Area Technical College for the past three years. I studied web and digital media design along with graphic design.
LF: Congratulations! What do you like about web and digital media design? That’s a very specific focus.
SL: What made me really fall in love with it is making something work so that other people can easily understand it. You have to study what needs to go into a project so the user won’t be confused by random stuff. You have to boil everything down to ‘what does the user need the most and how can I make it look good?’
LF: It sounds like there’s a lot of psychology involved, too.
SL: Yeah, I guess you need to know how to make something look a certain way to help people feel a certain way.
LF: That’s the heart of marketing. How long have you been designing?
SL: Since middle school! I took a career survey right before starting high school, and visual arts was one of my top categories. I looked into it more and discovered graphic design and was like, “well, that sounds interesting; I’ll do that.” And now, here I am.
LF: Is this the first time a middle school career survey was actually accurate and helpful? Because I remember mine told me to be a trash collector or a prop designer. It seems like you struck gold.
SL: It is weird that it was that accurate and that I went through with it! My other top category was teacher. But I didn’t want to follow in my mom’s footsteps, so I decided to do something different.
LF: When you’re not designing things that are easy for people to use, what can we find you doing?
SL: If I’m given enough time, I can read a book cover-to-cover in a day. Recently, I’ve just been sitting outside in a hammock, and I’ll just crank out book after book.
LF: That’s impressive! What’s the longest book you’ve ever read in one sitting?
SL: I think some of the Harry Potter books. I spent many late nights trying to finish that series. You get so into it; you can’t stop.
LF: Even if you’ve read them 4,000 times, on time 4,001, you’re still like, “what’s going happen to the Order?” So good.
SL: Ha! And when I’m not reading, I’m playing the piano, going outside, going camping, kayaking, running, just enjoying the nice weather.
LF: Have you gone camping yet this year?
SL: No, but I really want to. There’s a campground that’s not that far from where I live that’s really nice. They have showers, so we’re not totally roughing it, but it’s a nice place to be.
LF: Where you live is not in Michigan, though, where most of LaFleur Marketing lives.
SL: No, I live in northern Wisconsin, in a very small town called Ogema. We’re unincorporated, so we don’t even have a population count. It’s so tiny, there aren’t even any fast-food restaurants within a 20-mile radius of my house.
LF: That really tells me how remote you are! Did you grow up in Ogema?
SL: I did. It’s a certain way of living. After experiencing Madison, it’s a little too small for me. Maybe somewhere slightly larger would be nice.
LF: I grew up in a really small town too, and moving to the city after high school was an eye-opening experience. Even though Grand Rapids is still a mid-sized city, the cows don’t outnumber the people here.
LF: What’s the farthest you’ve been away from small-town Ogema?
SL: When I was in high school, I was able to go on a school trip to Europe; I went around Italy, Paris, London, and some places in Switzerland.
LF: That’s a real 180° from unincorporated Ogema! Did you have a favorite stop on your trip?
SL: Yes! It was a really fun trip. I loved London. It was so nice, and we got to go on a bike tour. Everything else we’d done was on a bus or walking, so it was totally different and nice to see the city from a different point of view. My mom was on the trip with me, and she was so nervous that she was going to crash her bike. And she did…before we even started the tour! We were waiting for other people to get their bikes and down she went.
LF: Bless her.
SL: She still went on the tour, though. She didn’t give up!
LF: What a good sport. Did you learn any other languages on that trip? Can you secretly speak French? Any other hidden talents you’re keeping from us?
SL: No, I can barely speak Spanish…But I am ambidextrous! I’m left-handed for fine motor tasks like writing and right-handed for gross motor tasks like sports.
LF: THAT’S AMAZING!
SL: Yeah, it comes in handy when playing the piano because both hands are equally as strong. When playing basketball, I don’t have just one dominant hand. Or when someone bets me that I can’t do something with my “opposite” hand.
LF: Anything else you would want people reading this to know about design, LaFleur, or unincorporated towns?
SL: I absolutely love LaFleur so far! Everyone is so kind and encouraging. People are always saying, “we’re a family here.” It’s such a comforting feeling. All these random people that you’re just meeting virtually saying, “you’re part of our family now.”
LF: That’s so great!
SL: Everyone is also really funny. I love sarcastic wit, and it seems like there’s an abundance of that here.
LF: You’ve got our number on that one.