Founding a Company Entirely on UX Design: How GA Grads Started Jewelry Company Vrai & Oro


General Assembly grads Vrai and Oro

For years, Chelsea Nicholson and Vanessa Stofenmacher felt that the fine jewelry on the market just wasn’t for them. They wanted to make a statement with pieces that were classic yet attainable, and had an inkling other women felt the same. After graduating from General Assembly’s User Experience Design Immersive program in Los Angeles, they decided to do something about it.

The pair, who were friends before they were classmates, teamed up to launch Vrai and Oro — a Warby Parker-style fine jewelry startup that embodies UX principles its core. Vrai and Oro means truth (in French) and gold (in Spanish), and the name is reflected in the company’s values: quality, simplicity, and transparency. Chelsea and Vanessa produce their jewelry with ethically sourced materials in Downtown LA — without designer markups. And, true to their UX-driven brand, their website and eCommerce platform is minimalistic and image-driven for easy use.

We caught up with Chelsea to learn more about Vrai & Oro, the site’s user experience, and how GA helped the co-founders achieve their goals.

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Measuring What Matters: General Assembly’s First Student Outcomes Report



Since founding General Assembly in 2011, I’ve heard some incredible stories from our students and graduates. One of my favorites is about Jerome Hardaway. Jerome came to GA after five years in the United States Air Force. He dreamed of tackling persistent diversity gaps in the technology sector by breaking down barriers for other veterans and people of color.

In 2014, with the help of General Assembly’s Opportunity Fund scholarship, Jerome began one of our full-time Web Development Immersive courses. After graduation, he had the opportunity to pitch President Obama at the first-ever White House Demo Day and has launched a nonprofit in Nashville, Vets Who Code, which helps veterans navigate the transition to civilian life through
technology skills training.

Exceptional stories like Jerome’s embody GA’s mission of “empowering people to pursue the work they love.” It’s a mission that motivates our instructional designers, faculty, mentors, and career coaches. It also inspired the development of an open source reporting framework which defined GA’s approach to measuring student outcomes and now, our first report with verified student outcomes metrics.

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The Top 8 Digital Marketing Tips From Hillary Clinton’s Campaign


Hillary For America Digital Marketing Lessons

Running a political campaign is a lot like running a business’s marketing department. To be successful, you have to determine a target audience, then find the best ways to reach them to sell your product.

Just over a month before the 2016 presidential election, three leaders from Hillary for America’s digital team visited General Assembly’s New York headquarters for a captivating panel conversation moderated by Fast Company writer Ruth Reader. They shared insight on the Hillary Clinton campaign’s digital marketing strategy, from experimenting with new platforms, to choosing data sources and breaking through the echo chamber.

Clinton’s team shared tips that digital marketers can apply to amplify brand messages, create stronger communities, and capitalize on new tools and trends. Get an exclusive look at how the campaign operates by watching the full discussion below.

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Why You Should Break From Tradition When It Comes to Building Your Leadership Team


General Assembly campus in London

Nearly every company in the world is being shaped by new waves of technology, communication, and interaction with customers. Digital forces in particular are a huge concern for every one of the companies we work with at General Assembly. Leaders know they need to boost their digital readiness. But there remains the question of how to actually transform their organization, and what that can mean for their customers, employees, and shareholders.

During my 30-year career, I led Procter & Gamble’s Baby, Beauty, and Asia businesses, culminating with running P&G e-business — everything from helping to architect the digital transformation, to the incorporation of virtual tools, to develop breakthrough products and supply systems to digital marketing and eCommerce. I’ve harnessed my insights from three decades in the field to help companies answer that question of “How?” One clear way to make it happen is by improving leadership skills and creating digital leaders.

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5 Reasons Adults Fear Going Back to School — and How to Get Over Them


Adult learners fear going back to school

Taking a class can be a step toward that promotion you’ve been angling for, or lay the foundation for a full-on career change. But for many adults, committing to weeks, months, or even a day of lessons can be nerve-wracking.

It’s true: The back-to-school jitters are real at any age. Learning new skills often involves rearranging your schedule, planning for additional expenses, or combating the nerves that come with venturing out of your comfort zone. But if you can overcome these barriers, your potential will skyrocket.

Skilling up has innumerable benefits: It can give you a competitive edge in the job market; increase your value within your company; and, of course, keep you ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing tech environment. On a personal level, it can boost morale and give you creative inspiration. There’s truly nothing to lose.

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5 Things Great Product Managers Do Every Day


Assessing-You-Products-Market-ViabilityMy favorite product managers are quietly powerful. Every day they take small steps that move their teams and business forward in a meaningful way. But they do it without a lot of hoopla, taking a confident yet unassuming approach.

After all, product managers have a lot on their plate every day. They are responsible for the strategy, roadmap, and feature definition for their product. It is a big responsibility that requires facilitating and collaborating with many different teams — both internal and external — without the formal authority to manage those teams. It requires a unique mix of humility and strength.

However, that quiet power does not mean leading product is easy. I realized early on that the daily life of a product manager is unpredictable, hectic, and sometimes very tough.

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Our Network Just Got A Lot Bigger


Teaching and learning at General Assembly

Today, General Assembly is making a couple of big announcements.

First, we have closed on our company’s first acquisition — Canadian tech and design career accelerator, Bitmaker. We’ve known the folks at Bitmaker for a long time and I’ve been incredibly impressed with the way their CEO, Andrew Mawer, has built his Toronto-based organization. I’ve watched him lead his team and grow their community to become Canada’s largest career accelerator, and I’m so excited to have them be part of GA as we continue to pursue our long-term vision around education-to-employment.

As a bonus upside, we now also have the option of moving to Canada if Trump wins the U.S. election. 🙂

Second, we are announcing the largest expansion of our campus footprint in GA’s history — we are increasing our number of campuses by over 60%. Our ongoing mission is to impact people’s careers and more broadly solve the talent needs of employers everywhere. We see big opportunities to leverage our burgeoning online communities and audiences with new campuses that are closer to the biggest pockets of potential students, just outside of traditional urban hotspots more commonly associated with the tech sector.

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Your Guide to Making it Happen, Now


96540010 FINALAt any organization, there are always going to be more problems than there is time to solve them. But certain problems really need addressing–like, right now–and you know it. Unfortunately, these are the very ones that often go untended. They are the bigger picture problems that we don’t know exactly how to define, let alone solve.

As a doer in your organization, how can you force these important conversations to happen now?  How can you beat the: “Yes, this is definitely something our team is thinking about, but won’t be able to work on until Q2 of next year”?

Here are 6 tactics our team uses that will help you accelerate some of those stagnant conversations and seize the now:

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What Seizing the Now Looks Like at a CPG Giant


Mike Dubin, CEO Dollar Shave Club

You know what Mike Dubin isn’t doing right now? Reading any more articles about Mike Dubin.

He’s probably on a beach in Santa Monica, wondering how he’ll spend the $90 million he made when Unilever bought Dollar Shave Club, a subscription razor service he founded in 2011, for $1 billion in July. (In all honesty, he’s probably at a desk–he’s staying on with Unilever–but, considering his windfall, I’m going to be picturing him on a beach regardless.)

You already knew about Mike, though. It was an acquisition that launched a thousand articles and will likely sustain the dreams of rabid founders, and their VC handlers, for years to come.

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Volunteer Assembly: New York Common Pantry


At General Assembly, we pride ourselves on empowering those around us to find greater well-being in their daily lives, both in the classroom and beyond. At times, this growth can be inspired by something as simple as a healthy meal.

On a recent Tuesday, our team at GA NYC skipped its usual weekly Team Lunch — where we share a meal and learn about each other’s work — to help feed fellow New Yorkers in need.

For the second year running, team members swapped hairnets for funny hats, stacking up more than 500 sandwiches for the New York Common Pantry (NYCP). The nonprofit’s mission: “to reduce hunger throughout New York City while promoting dignity and self-sufficiency.”

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