Interview

Verònica Fuerte

21 March 2022

Design is the way of communicating.

Verònica Fuerte is a founder of Hey & Women at Work. She founded Hey in 2007. They have a playful style with joyful color palettes, typographies, and strong messages from brands. They are very successful and they have many big clients such as Apple, Nokia, Microsoft, Google, The Wall Street Journal… Women At Work is an amazing platform that focuses on podcasts with female creatives. We talked with Verònica Fuerte about visual storytelling, approaches, and experiences.
Verònica Fuerte is a founder of Hey & Women at Work. She founded Hey in 2007. They have a playful style with joyful color palettes, typographies, and strong messages from brands. They are very successful and they have many big clients such as Apple, Nokia, Microsoft, Google, The Wall Street Journal… Women At Work is an amazing platform that focuses on podcasts with female creatives. We talked with Verònica Fuerte about visual storytelling, approaches, and experiences.
You have a long and successful career journey. We see you as a strong woman who knows herself and knows her steps. So how was this process?

I studied graphic design in Barcelona. Because I always wanted to do something about creativity. I have loved creativity since I was a kid. So I started graphic design, and when I finished university I worked for 7 years in different studios based in Barcelona. But I always wanted to have my own studio. That’s why I need to learn from all those. I wasn’t ready when I finished university. So I worked until I was ready. I founded the studio in my home. Actually, I didn’t know my expectations when that time. They weren’t big. I want to do work the way I want. It was like step by step to me.

 

Hey, it’s a colorful, striking, impressive studio from the heart of Barcelona and interacts with many big international brands. How did this success happen?

It’s organic. We founded in 2007. In the first years, we worked with companies, cultural institutes from Barcelona. They were more local. I showed my portfolio to potential clients. I tried very hard to find the right ones for collaboration. Because usually, opportunities don’t fit %100 with your style. I tried to look for the person who is in charge to find the right person to stand up for the portfolio. I tried to do more for our style. Thus we had time to develop the style and our approach for the way we want. And it started like this.

 

What is it like to be a manager in the creative industry? Do you think managing a creative team is any different from managing a normal team?

Of course, I worked in normal companies when I was a student. In clothes stores, etc. But I don’t have enough experience for this difference.

You start from a very usual place. But then you grow up in the sector. You know you learn everything in years. We all have the same problems. These problems, like how to manage people, can be the same in every sector. Maybe the only thing that can be different is everything is personal and it is not mathematical. It’s not a formula. And I think managing egos is the most challenging part of my job. I explained to my team that. The feedbacks aren’t personal, and all creatives need to learn that. I know, it is hard.

 

Women at Work is a very important and powerful organization for all of us. Do you want to talk about it a little bit?

It started a week before Covid. It was an event in March. I invited female creatives from different fields, different ages. It was a great experience for us to hear these from them. We shared our own experiences. I wanted to continue the events. But the pandemic happened. So I thought about how can we do this again. Because the event was good and that was just one day. I decided to make it as a podcast. Thus, people, can you hear from anywhere and there can be a lot of people. The project’s vision was to give a voice to female creators. Sometimes some female friends do the thing that you want to do. And when you see it, it’s like “She can do it. I can do it too.” So it is a really great, simple support. And sharing these experiences gives you courage.

 

What do you think about the power of visual storytelling?

For me, graphic design is a language. Sometimes you can’t express yourself with words. But you have the colors, shapes…

Design is the way of communicating. And we can explain things with this. I think it is very important. My goal is to create beautiful, understandable, clear messages for people. Design is one of the ways of visual storytelling.

 

Do you think, can we change the future with design?

I think it can participate in the change. It is not all in our hands. But I think design is very important at this point. Because it shows how we can change it with storytelling, narrative, visuality, etc. And as an example, in this pandemic graphic design came to be very important. Because everybody was lost. Nobody knew what was happening? Nobody hires a designer for this. But we are here to help brands, politicians, and people to explain things better. So this is part of it.

 

What were the biggest handicaps you faced while founding Hey? What should an entrepreneur be prepared for?

I think the first problem was that I did not have this background in business. But it is something you can learn from the years. I was 27 and I was a woman. I had a lot of meetings. But I think sometimes maybe I didn’t look professional. Because of my age, because of my gender. My appearance is not like that right now. My face was younger. And I thought people think she is a kid. How can we do branding with her? I didn’t have enough experience. I asked everybody about pricing, promotions, etc. I learned it in years. I became a professional.

 

You know, our sector, the creative industry, is too large, the content is too much. So how do we become different or survive? Is this necessary?

I know there is a lot of competition these days. This can be confusing. It takes time to understand what you are good at and it’s good to use this time. So you can see better what will happen. You need to try different things and find something unique. You can learn this from your experience. It is important to learn. You can improve yourself by looking at what you have done in the past. Thus everything will be better.

 

As in every sector, there is a lot of fuzzy and wrong information about branding in the design and creative sector as well. How to overcome this? How to learn how to create a solid and effective brand work?

It is not like culture. We need to give effort from education, from the school. You need to teach how design is important for creating a company. It is a necessary thing. You need to explain these from the beginning. Because clients need to understand the assignment. Branding is a powerful thing. You don’t need a big presentation. But you need to explain the foundations, importance of these. They need to have clear communication with their audience.

 

And lastly, as usual. Do you have any future plans, projects?

Yes, we have. Work is going very well. We have an upcoming festival. It will be in Valencia and Valencia is the capital of design. So this is something I enjoy. It makes me very excited.

I wanted to start the events. It was before the covid. We had only one. I want to do them again. Unfortunately, we have a small studio. We don’t have the capacity for this. My goal now is to find a partner as companies and offer them the sponsorship to make the ideas happen. Also, this year we want to change the website. It is 4 years old.

Sometimes you can't express yourself with words. But you have the colors, shapes…