Karla Fernandes is a UX/UI Designer who loves creating digital products. She has worked with over 150 worldwide companies of various industries and sizes, designed more than 100 websites with both static and dynamic content and delivered creative design for over 700 email marketing and landing page campaigns. In December 2020 she decided to learn how to use no-code tools to build apps. In January she began using Bravo Studio. She has created over 10 apps since then and now she feels she has found another path to bring more revenue to her business.
For this Entrepreneur Day, we talked with Karla to get to know how she switched from being a freelancer to being an entrepreneur, how she manages being a company of one and what her plans for the future are.
First, could you introduce yourself?
Sure! I am Karla, I was born in Brazil and I have been living in Switzerland for a while now. I have been working as an independent consultant, designer and entrepreneur for over 15 years now. I kicked off my career in Brazil, took some time to travel around Europe while working as a freelancer and now I am creating end-to-end digital products. I enjoy staying on top of new technologies to provide the best possible service to my customers and to my mentees. My passion for learning, design, and people has recently led me to become a Bravo Mentor. I love working with designers to help them improve their skills and bring their ideas from Ideation to Market. I think it's a really exciting time to be a designer right now.
What made you decide to stop traveling around and stay in Switzerland?
I came to Europe 10 years ago for a trip and I realized that Switzerland was my place to be. I can say that probably those 10 years of travelling existed exactly because I couldn't stay here yet. I didn’t have my paperwork yet so I kept travelling and lived in some other countries until I was able to stay in Switzerland. It’s my place in the world. I love the mountains, the lake, the nature and how secure I feel here. I really encourage anyone who is thinking about travelling around the world to take the chance and do it. It’s a life-changing experience.
How did you start working with clients from Europe?
It began happening when I got my visa in Germany. With the help from some friends I translated my website to German and I started to generate leads. People found me online, then once they worked with me, they referred me and that was it. I also applied to freelance positions and did several of those jobs. They were very useful for me because I got to learn more about the business culture in Europe and how people were thinking about products, design and processes.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
From a very young age, my mom used to do my own clothing and I loved that. I would just get small pieces of cloth she was going to throw away and use them to create baby dolls clothing and try to sell them to my neighbours. I believe I really was born trying to do business. I am constantly thinking of creating a business out of every opportunity or idea I run into. I was born with this desire to create something new.
I started feeling as an entrepreneur and not just a freelancer, as soon as I started to deliver my own products. With no-code tools I was able to not just work on the branding or the design but to create real apps and even to sell them. Having people use your products is really something that feels great.
What made you want to start building apps?
I have been trying to create apps for a while but learning to code was really tough, the learning curve was steep and I also needed to take care of my business so I couldn't afford to lose so much time. It was just too much to handle.
Then in December 2020 I did what I do every year: I took an educational vacation. That's a whole month I dedicate to learning something new. I started to learn no-code development when I bumped into a campaign you were running that was called "Be Brave. Be Bravo" and I really liked the idea of Brave Designers because I felt like one. So I invested in Bravo.
It's been almost a year since then and I have already launched more than 10 apps. Each of those projects was very exciting and I am already building apps for customers. I am doing the branding, UX, UI, prototypes and MVPs they can actually publish in the App and Google Play Stores. It's really exciting to be able to make a whole product while being a team of one.
What are you planning to learn this December?
I am actually already learning it. There is a new plugin called Figma Tokens, from Jan Six, that allows you to create themes and is expanding the usage of design systems in Figma. I believe that's the next big thing for designers and no-coders. It's all integrated. Think about it: I am working on an app for client A and client B wants an app with the same functionalities but their own branding. You just need to replicate the structure, make some adjustments and change the whole look and feel. This plugin helps you do that. I am sure it will make my workflow better.
What would be your main suggestion for somebody who wants to get into no-code?
Take a moment to think about the product that you really love designing. What is the media you really like? Is it an app? Website? Marketing campaign? There’s a no-code tool for everything and tons of material out there to learn from. I really feel that you should follow your heart, have fun and see what really fits with you.
Do you believe that creating content on social media is something every entrepreneur needs to do?
Not really. I’d like to create more content and it’s something I will certainly do at some point but I am always busy with so many things that I need to prioritise tasks. Being a company of one is tough and I need to stay productive. Sometimes having likes and followers is just a distraction. I mean, creating content is on my list but having a product, learning new skills and working with my customers is more important right now. You can definitely be an entrepreneur and have clients without creating content.
To wrap up the interview, could you recommend something to our readers? It could be a book, a TV series, a movie, a course, a podcast, whatever is on your mind these days.
Business Made Simple is a course that gives you a step-by-step plan to grow a business that works. They also have a great podcast for free, with amazing content! I believe that if I would have done this course or listen to that content, 10 years ago I probably would be at a whole other level today.
Side-hustle-School is a podcast that helps you get creative. It gives you hundreds of great ideas and examples of really interesting side-hustles. I love all the episodes, they are short, direct to the point and inspiring. You don’t need to quit your job, you can just manage to do both things at the same time and see what happens.