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.
When General Assembly students graduate from their course — whether it’s user experience design or data science — it’s always exciting (and sometimes surprising) to see the range of products and passions that actualize as a result. In the case of Nathan Maas,a Web Development Immersive alumnus of GA Seattle, the product was an idea called pennypost. The passion? Connecting the world with homemade digital postcards that are easy to send and share.
Nathan—who took a range of night classes in product management, front-end development, and data science at GA before choosing WDI—developed a web (and soon-to-be iPhone) app, pennypost, which was inspired by his travels to nearly fifty countries across the globe. Though he bought postcards everywhere he went with the intention of sending them home, constraints like time, postage, and tracking down mailing addresses, meant he never actually sent them. An idea was born.
Meet Rob Wyant, a General Assembly graduate whose latest work as lead iOS developer for Rukkus has brought virtual reality into the ticket-buying experience. Before Rukkus, Rob founded his own startup, Yapper, while in business school. During that time, he used General Assembly’s workshops to help him build confidence when discussing the technical aspects of his company. In 2014, he moved beyond workshops and graduated from GA’s first iOS Mobile Development course at our Washington, D.C. campus.
Aside from what he learned at GA, Rob is a self-taught programmer and is involved with NYC Swift Guild, a meetup for GA students. He says that none of what he’s accomplished with Yapper and Rukkus would have been possible without taking a GA course. “I tell that to anyone who’ll listen as often as I can!”
We connected with Rob to learn more about his journey with mobile development.
From classical ballet dancer to software engineer and instructional leader, Colin Hart transformed his life and career when he graduated from General Assembly’s Back-End Web Development course (BEWD) and Web Development Immersive (WDI) in early 2014. He came back to GA to teach WDI and was recently snatched up by the new WDI Remote team to be a lead instructor for the pilot course, which launched on May 16. Colin sat with us to share his story about teaching and learning at General Assembly.
Tell me about your journey.
I spent my youth training to be a classical ballet dancer. Even though I wasn’t able to do it professionally, it was like my first career because I would spend five, six hours a day training and performing. Getting injured led me to attend college instead, and I ended up majoring in media and communications and focusing my studies on digital communications. I interned for the United Nations writing a preliminary literature review around rights and dangers for youth online in Malaysia.
William Mullan graduated from Digital Marketing at General Assembly New York’s campus in 2015. Since joining Raaka Chocolate, he’s developed the company’s marketing efforts and advanced from an intern into the Director of Marketing. Now, William blends his passion for chocolate with marketing skills and techniques to share Raaka’s unique brand story in a way that is honest and engaging. Continue reading →
We’ve all been there. We know bringing lunch to work is the smart, healthy, and financially responsible thing to do. We want to bring delicious lunches to work, but then motivation is always low. We end up buying something or bringing whatever boring thing we could find in our fridge—wishing we could be better.
Enter: Prepd, a lunch box with modular containers and a corresponding app to help us be the lunch-bringer we always knew we could be.
I spoke with co-founder and GA Hong Kong alumni, Chris Place, a few days before his goal-busting Kickstarter which raised over $1M closed.
Change is inevitable. More specifically, career changes are inevitable. Especially in today’s job market, where the median tenure for the average employee is continuing to decrease. Our lifestyle goals and career aspirations are constantly in flux, but changes are scary. It’s easy to stay in a comfortable, unsatisfying position. The harder and braver thing to do is to take a leap of faith and pursue a career that actually excites you.
At General Assembly, it’s our mission to prepare you for this monumental change through skills training, a growing alumni network of over 25,000 alumni, and outcomes support for our full-time students. Take it from these five career-changing alumni: if you have that nagging feeling in your gut that you’re ready for a change at work, it’s time to reinvent yourself. We’re here to help.
Jade Johnson is a recent grad of User Experience Design Immersive at General Assembly’s Los Angeles campus, where she met “a crew of like-minded thinkers.” After graduating from GA, she briefly worked for NASA as a systems architect. Now, she is living in Berlin and pursuing her career in UX Design. Jade’s love for user experience has helped her build a rewarding career around her artist lifestyle. Continue reading →
After a week spent prototyping and iterating her app idea, Erin Hallerin is using her new technical skills to become a more well-rounded social entrepreneur. She is one of our younger alumni, but still participated in the winter Tech Intensive in Sydney after an inspiring visit to the New York campus with her classmates from The Ohio State University. Now, back at college, Erin is working with a social impact-focused food truck and making plans for the summer while finishing her studies in Business Administration/Finance and International Economic Development.
“The Tech Intensive creates an environment of inspiration and dedication to inspire you to act on whatever business idea has been floating around in your brain with the help of the best brains in the industry.”
Introducing a new kind of alumnus to the General Assembly community. Boris Shou completed the 2015 Business Accelerator Program—while working hard on his undergraduate degree.
Last year, GA teamed up with Colgate University for the first ever Business Accelerator Program, now the Tech Intensive. A one-week immersive experience for undergraduates, the program covered the startup world’s most in-demand skills with hands-on lessons and visits from industry experts.
Inspired, Boris put his learnings into starting his own venture. He and a friend are developing an online language learning platform where language enthusiasts can practice speaking with one another. Although it’s a “simple website” so far, the product is complete with a problem to solve and a target user group.
As one of the program’s alumni, Boris talks about his unique student experience, the projects he pitched, and his entrepreneurial goals for life after graduation.