2018 Year-In-Review

It felt like 2018 came and went with the blink of an eye. At the end of each year, I make a ritual out of looking back at what the company has done. We do this, of course, to be able to present a quick snapshot for all of the awesome people (like you!) that follow and support out work, but also because the world moves so fast and I love being able to carve out time to soak in all of our incredible milestones.

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In closing out our 10th year of business, this feels like an extra special time to reflect on a year of hard work, especially by my wonderful team who makes everything that verynice has accomplished over the years a possibility. Without further adieu, here are 10 highlights from 2018, and 5 things to look forward to in 2019.

10 highlights from 2018

  1. Work completed for dozens of clients including the LAPD, the Social Justice Learning Institute, the American Heart Association, the California Community Foundation, the Center for Disease Control, 826 Los Angeles, and so many more.

  2. We launched Give All, a series of 9 new toolkits that have already been used by thousands of people across the globe. We’ve already started translating the toolkits into all kinds of languages to make it as accessible as possible.

  3. The team and I had 60+ workshop sessions and speaking engagements across the United States and abroad in Japan, Colombia, Argentina, Estonia, Poland, and Croatia.

  4. We hosted 4 Women’s Design Salon events in Los Angeles.

  5. Our tools and resources are now used by organizations, practitioners, and students in 130+ countries (whoa!).

  6. We further developed new ways to engage with our verynice community by establishing a private Facebook group for our network of volunteers and ambassadors, offering community workshops, and launching the first-ever Models of Impact virtual pitch competition.

  7. Our Mexico City-based partners, Socialab, facilitated the largest Models of Impact workshop in the world, with 3,000 students participating.

  8. Our team enjoyed our first-ever “Give-half” day in which we took off half of the day to volunteer and prep meals with LA Kitchen.

  9. 15 of our Los Angeles-based verynice volunteers participated in our 2018 Createathon event resulting in over $50,000 in services donated to benefit 3 local nonprofits

  10. We moved into a new office in the arts district, and celebrated 10 years of business!


5 things to look forward to in 2019

  1. Launching a new website for verynice that will serve as a new home for our services and tools while also making it easier for others to get involved in our mission.

  2. Refining our services to focus even more closely on the skills that we have been able to provide the greatest value for our clients with.

  3. Working on kicking off our first-ever large-scale self-initiated design project to work on all year as a team.

  4. Further refining our impact models to ensure we are bringing the right services to the right people, at the right time. More on that, and other exciting changes to come.

  5. Continuing to perfect our approach to impact measurement, and making that approach transparent for all to see on our new website. Starting in 2019, we will be reporting out on our impact annually (yay, annual reports!) in order to provide you with an even more detailed snap shot into the quantitative and qualitative impact we are making across the globe.


As you can tell, we are closing out 2018 extremely strong, with a generous #givehalf balance, and are so grateful to be able to do what we do every day.

As always, thank you for your support. As our incredible clients, friends, followers, users, and partners, you keep us going - for that, we are so appreciative. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything the team and I can help you with. Oh, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Matthew Manos
Founder & Managing Director, verynice

Women's Design Salon: 2019 Resolutions with Hoodzpah Design

To finish off the end of 2018, we hosted the verynice Women's Design Salon: 2019 Resolutions where we heard from Hoodzpah Design co-founders and Creative Directors, Jennifer and Amy Hood. From their beginnings hustling to get work, to their leap in launching their own business, the Hood sisters dished and delivered the details to their design success.

Lettering Illustration by   Olivia Sy    @   artreleaf

Lettering Illustration by Olivia Sy @artreleaf

Download this card and pass the good vibes around!

Amy and Jennifer Hood are twin sisters that have branded hundreds of businesses and worked on projects with companies like Google, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Red Bull, and Target. When they're not branding the pants off the world, the Hoods are designing typefaces (including Palm Canyon Drive and Beale), or managing their goods line of posters, prints and pins called Odds and Sods.

Our hosts Alisa and Clarisa discussed various topics, such as "How does someone decipher between dreams and tangible options?", and "How do you integrate or balance your passions with your career?" along with a fun ice breaker question about their 2019 spirit animals. There’s a lot we can learn from both cats and dogs. Full of charisma and great advice, Jennifer and Amy Hood described further how they evolved their methods and business such as networking through Twitter, how their core team is primarily working remotely most of the time, and their personal rituals into getting into the zone. Attendees were able to jump in to share similar experiences and curiosities with the guests.

I really like what they said about finding a hobby even though you’re not that good at it. You can find inspiration anywhere and it definitely keeps you on your toes. You’re capable of spinning certain disadvantages into positive aspects in your career.
— January Roan, attendee

Most recently, the Hoods became published authors, releasing their book “Freelance, and Business, and Stuff: A Guide for Creatives” on the the ins and outs of pricing, pitching, getting clients, contracts, and everything in between. Currently you can find the Hoods traveling on their #FABAS Fall Workshop Tour based on the book, which will be stopping through LA in January in conjunction with verynice! Check us out at our next event with Hoodzpah! Sign up now because seats are limited!

A very special thanks to all that contributed to the inspiration.

Our friends and partners:

Spaces at THE ROW

Our amazing speakers:

Jennifer Hood, Co-founder of Hoodzpah Design

Amy Hood, Co-founder of Hoodzpah Design

Our super event hosts:

Clarisa Valdez

Alisa Olinova

Our wonderful volunteers:

Olivia Sy, Photographer & Illustrator

Seven years ago if you didn’t have a degree no one would hire you, so we decided to hire ourselves because we knew we had the talent but no one would give us the opportunity.
— Amy Hood

Please follow WDS on Instagram to stay in the loop! Interested in getting involved with the Women's Design Salon? Please get in touch at info@verynice.co

5 Takeaways from the Universal Design Symposium

On November 27th, our Design Director, Alisa Olinova, attended the Universal Design Symposium in Downtown Los Angeles in order to learn more about the power and opportunity of accessibility. The following is a reflection on the conference by Alisa!

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The Universal Design Symposium was hosted by WITH Foundation & Sidebench where I heard from Jutta Treviranus from the Inclusive Design Research Centre, OCAD University, Elle Waters from Level Access, Tiffany Yu from Diversability, and Cassy Gibson from Sidebench. In this blog post, we share 5 key takeaways from the event.

1. Numbers don't count. 

Take note of how often we talk about the "average", "normal", "majority", etc. The 80/20 principle may seem logical, but creates wide cracks for millions of people to fall through. In fact, spanning permanent, temporary, and situational circumstances, 21 million+ product users could "have one arm", 39 million users may be using a screen reader, 246 million users may be using screen magnifiers. 82% of these users are 50 years and older. Do we really want to leave all these people out of our designs? And the point is, it's not about the numbers. AI, aggregated data, or even empathy exercises aren't enough. Simulations for driverless cars are still running people over. There's no replacement for real human interaction, relationships, and understanding.

2. Innovation and disruption happens at the edge. 

Many things we can't live without now are a response to a problem or need that a niche group of people had toiled over. For example, the typewriter, the telephone, the headset, microphone, loud speaker, text to speech, etc. An idea has to be adopted before it spreads and those ideas are likely to be sparked by opportunities outside of the most saturated markets.  

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3. Consider the true cost. 

Think of disability as a mismatch between the needs of an individual and the product, service, experience, or environment that's offered. It's 10x as costly for a braille reader to go on the internet. We're all different, but certain differences can affect people's lives on multiple levels through design and products, education, work, and government. 

4. Consider timeless best practices. 

This affects most people, but also neuro-divergent, non-native language speakers, low vision users, and color blind users. Use plain language, iconic representation, color contrast, and appropriate proximity. Consider multiple ways to approach a task. When in doubt, something “obvious” is the way to go. You'll need HTML to test for people with mobility challenges or users who are blind for digital products. Consider guidelines on w3, and don't forget your alt-text! People will hold you accountable so you need to be open to feedback and iteration.

5. Accessibility demands that you are actually good at your job. 

Inclusive designers ask better questions and know that accessible doesn't have to be ugly! Incorporate accessibility into your success criteria early on and your designs will boost impact, reach, and longevity.  People will be appreciative and loyal to products that work for them. 

Thanks for the great recap, Alisa!

Gamifying Ideation to Inspire Creativity: Lessons from Models of Impact


A blank wall, scattered with Post-It notes of every color in the crayon box. If you work in the design or innovation space, this might sound familiar. Ideation is the point in the design process where we respond to problems and insights with solutions. Post-It notes and Sharpies are the tools we were taught to use. But what if there’s a different way to brainstorm?


Imagine rolling die to generate random combinations of models to inspire new ideas. This is how we brainstorm in Models of Impact, a role-playing ideation game that simulates the process of launching a social enterprise. A social enterprise is defined by a business structure that incorporates both a revenue model, a way to gain profits, and an impact model, a way to maximize impact on the communities they serve. At its core, the game is a great tool for introducing teams to a range of innovative business models, inspiring new programs and initiatives within a business or organization, guiding the process of ideating new products and services, and getting teams to think differently.

While role-playing may seem like a freewheeling method to ideate, players of the game work through a purposefully designed process: Learn, Invent, Program, and Report.


Before we dive into brainstorming, we take the time to learn about all the different revenue and impact models that exist in the world. Then, we invent multiple social enterprise ideas by rolling die to generate random combinations of a revenue model, impact model, and “other factors”. We converge on one idea and develop it further by completing a Models of Impact business canvas during the program phase. Finally, we report out our plan for feedback and iteration.

In Models of Impact, ideation is treated as a thoughtful process that requires preparation, collaboration, and creativity to help teams of players achieve a common goal: form a business idea that generates money and creates positive impact. It’s a fine balance between structure and randomization that unlocks innovative ways of combining revenue models with impact models.

There are a few key takeaways from the unique model of brainstorming in Models of Impact:

Incorporate learning prior to brainstorming. We can shape our ability to brainstorm creatively by devoting time to researching ideas and trends that are directly or peripherally relevant to our industry. In Models of Impact, before we “invent” our business, we learn about all the different revenue and impact models that are already out there in the world, such as the “one for one” model popularized by shoe company TOMS, or the less familiar sliding-scale cost model. Before brainstorming with your team, define useful categories of ideas you want to investigate further (i.e. cutting-edge technologies), so you can leverage your newfound knowledge in discovering interesting and provocative ideas that haven’t been dreamed up before.

Jumpstart ideation by using existing models. Existing models are like blueprints that provide the initial foundation for drawing up ideas. Conceptually, models and frameworks are abstracted at a level that can inspire original ideas with specific features. In Models of Impact, the main blueprints are revenue models and impact models. During the ideation process, these models set constraints on the general approach to making money and creating impact. It is up to the players to specify how these models will coexist with one another in a unified way, as well as determine what products or services they are offering and what industries they will play in. Teams also determine a range of “other factors” to add a layer of specificity to the combination of models, which could include your team’s core competencies, customer demographics, cultural trends, and more. To apply this approach to your own brainstorming, define the constraints you want to set, which will inform the types of models and frameworks you’ll use as a starting point. For example, if you want to focus on ideating new services, start with existing service models. If you want to focus on ideating digital experiences, start with existing and emerging digital modalities, such as mobile apps and augmented reality.

Randomization and play can spark wild ideas. A key feature of Models of Impact is rolling die to determine combinations of revenue and impact models you’ll start with. Rolling die introduces randomization into the ideation process, which removes biases and sparks unexpected combinations of ideas to happen. What might a social enterprise look like that combines retail commerce with pro-bono publico? Or a business with a subscription model that also donates 1% of all profits to environmental causes? These are new questions we can begin to ask when we incorporate randomization as our ideation structure. And when we dare to answer these questions, we enter a possibility space of wild, imaginative ideas. As a game mechanic, dice are familiar tools we’ve most likely encountered in various games. The act of rolling dice can make ideation interactive and actionable experience, which creates a playful environment that encourages creativity and collaboration. For your team’s next brainstorming session, explore different game mechanics and hands-on activities that introduces randomization and play to the ideation process.

Like a game that comes with a kit of parts, ideation doesn’t have to start from a blank slate. We can create the board and pieces we’ll play with by conducting thoughtful research beforehand, leveraging existing models or categories of ideas, and using game mechanics and interactive activities to throw randomization and play into the mix. Ideation should be fun, creative, and energizing, so why not gamify it?

Need an extra hand? We get it. It’s hard to do this stuff on your own. As creative facilitation gurus, we combine playful creativity with applied strategy to facilitate productive workshops and consulting sessions that help entrepreneurs and organizations think creatively about the problems in front of them. Our team of award-winning consultants have worked with hundreds of clients across the globe on over 1,500 initiatives. Talk to us at info@verynice.co.

Want to learn more about Models of Impact? Check us out here: www.modelsofimpact.co.

Women's Design Salon: Faces of Leadership Event Recap

Earlier this month at the verynice Women's Design Salon: Faces of Leadership we heard from Anne Kim, founder of Equal Pay Company and creator of “Faces of Leadership”. We talked about how leadership affects us in it’s different forms and compared our ideas about leadership to what data about our demographics says.

Desktop Wallpaper Design by Celia Tran    @loverlycelia    “  Taking the time to consider different people and perspectives from all walks of life, you’ll learn that everyone has their own unique way of working, problem-solving, and communicating. The more you try to understand what motivates people, the better you can collaborate to achieve things beyond your own imagination.”

Desktop Wallpaper Design by Celia Tran @loverlyceliaTaking the time to consider different people and perspectives from all walks of life, you’ll learn that everyone has their own unique way of working, problem-solving, and communicating. The more you try to understand what motivates people, the better you can collaborate to achieve things beyond your own imagination.”

Download this wallpaper for your desktop and for your phone!

Through the “Faces of Leadership” game, attendees were challenged with evaluating who they consider their own personal leaders and the demographics these leaders belong to. Once they applied certain categories, such as ‘Race’, ‘Sexual Orientation’ and ‘Education Level’, participants were faced with the question if their personal leaders tend to fit into a certain niche and discovered that they have the opportunity to broaden their leadership demographics. At the conclusion of the game, participants shared select figures they admire and why, in an effort to introduce undiscovered leaders to each other. By the end of the event, attendees left inspired to broaden their leadership pool!

A very special thanks to all that contributed to the inspiration.

Our friends and partners:

General Assembly Los Angeles

Our amazing speaker:

Anne Kim, Founder of Equal Pay Company

Our super event hosts:

Clarisa Valdez

Alisa Olinova

Our wonderful volunteers:

Celia Tran, Visual Recap

Dare to love life and achieve equity together in our lifetime.
— Anne Kim

Please follow WDS on Instagram to stay in the loop! Interested in getting involved with the Women's Design Salon? Please get in touch at info@verynice.co

Meet our verynice Fall Interns!

It's always exciting to welcome new talent to our verynice family! Meet our newest design interns via the brief interviews below:

Sophia Park

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, I spent the first 18 years of my life nurturing my creativity through painting and drawing. Fast forward 2 years, I am a Junior at the University of Southern California studying Design to feed my creative outlet!

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2) What are you looking forward to as a verynice intern?
I’m excited to have the opportunity to work in various forms of design, such as print, digital, and UX/UI, but more importantly, to be making impactful work with creative people who also believe in acts of social responsibility!

3) What is your favorite social cause?
I am passionate about equal education opportunities; having tutored children/teens throughout high school and organizing a free tutoring service at USC for local elementary and middle school students, I think it is critical to help those who do not have equal opportunities to learn to have access to great education and knowledge.

4) What passions and interests do you have outside of work?
In between being a student and intern, I am the Editor in Chief of Roski Mag, a student run publication that showcases student art and design work. Also being interested in UX/UI, I have designed an app that helps people build mindful habits. However, when I’m not doing things to help me get my BA degree, I like to create die-cut stickers, riso prints, different flavored popcorn, and binge watch baking shows. 

5) Who is your biggest role model in life?
There are many people I look up to and take inspiration from, but my biggest role model is my mom. Although she is not a designer, my mother showed me from a very young age the importance of color theory and visual hierarchy, by letting me pick out colors and designs for her quilts. She has taught me to be empathetic, hard working, and loyal, by being an example in her own daily life. I strive to appreciate and utilize each day as deeply as she does, because as she likes to say, every day is an opportunity for new growth, no matter how small.

Chris Palafox

1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
It all started with The Beatles for me. As a kid, I was really influenced by their music & as I grew older I became influenced by the impact of the 1960’s counterculture movement. Currently, I’m a Graphic Design student studying at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, where I'll be graduating this fall. 

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2) What are you looking forward to as a verynice intern?
Definitely working with an awesome design team, & I’m looking forward to helping create for companies & organizations that have an impact in the community.

3) What is your favorite social cause?
I’m most passionate about environmental issues. From overfishing to pollution to recycling I’m most interested in this social cause because it weighs the heaviest on our planets livable future. Although, due to habit & choice, I’m also interested in this social cause being one of the most accessible forms of impact an individual can participate in. So during this internship, I wanted to challenge myself to use transit as well as ridesharing with the homies. 

4) What passions and interests do you have outside of work?
Live Music, Festivals, & Exhibitions are my favorite things to do, & each year I try to go as many as I can. I’m also really nostalgic, I love 16-Bit Video Games, 80’s & 90’s film/television as well as VW Vanagons.

5) Who is your biggest role model in life?
John Lennon 

Women's Design Salon Recap


We were so proud to have been part of the Los Angeles Design Festival once again this past June. With well over one hundred guests huddled in at the ROW in downtown Los Angeles, we were heart-warmed by the record breaking attendance of our 'Freelance 101' event. Our four freelance experts shared their own accomplishments, struggles, tips and tricks for other freelancers seeking inspiration and support. 

Your work is equivalent to the work you put in. All the relationships you build along are the ones that will carry throughout your career.
— Diane Lindquist
Being able to articulate your unique value in the marketplace is a powerful tool for selling your services and gaining your clients’ trust! Also: Boundaries + Self-care = Crucial.
— Renae Getlin

Thoughts from our Desktop Wallpaper Designer,  Olivia Sy : Being a freelancer typically goes beyond mastering more than one specific craft or skill. The ability to juggle various hats as a freelancer helps to define their value as more than a designer, artist, writer or consultant. These panelists made it clear that freelancing can be complex, profitable, fun and a dream in reach! Concept kudos to Alisa Olinova for the idea!

Thoughts from our Desktop Wallpaper Designer, Olivia Sy: Being a freelancer typically goes beyond mastering more than one specific craft or skill. The ability to juggle various hats as a freelancer helps to define their value as more than a designer, artist, writer or consultant. These panelists made it clear that freelancing can be complex, profitable, fun and a dream in reach! Concept kudos to Alisa Olinova for the idea!

Download this wallpaper for your desktop!

We had a great time picking discussion topics out of a hat sent in by our community, such as "How do you establish trust with new clients and convince them of your value?", and "How do you navigate being unavailable or overbooked for a project or client that you want to work with?"

As women, we often have to work harder to earn people’s trust when first starting out, especially as freelancers. Support your peers, seek guidance from your seniors, and approach every situation with confidence and transparency—the rest will follow.
— Samantha Surtandi
Define success on your own terms — your path is yours and yours alone, and you shouldn’t let anyone else define you and what you do. Also, define your priorities in life and know what’s important to you because those will guide all the decisions you make around your business and your work.
— Jenn De La Fuente

Though our panel was short, we loved hearing everyone continue the conversation and mingle while enjoying the event space after the panel. We were so thankful to have had such a great diversity of skill sets and knowledge being shared by our panelists and guests.

Our community experienced the type of support and collaboration that makes the creative world feel more like home. We hope to see everyone at our next event!

Photography by Olivia Sy.

A very special thanks to all that contributed to the inspiration.

Our friends and partners:

Los Angeles Design Festival

Feel Good Salsa

Our amazing speakers:

Diane Lindquist, Multidisciplinary Designer, Strategist, and Marketer

Sam Surtandi, Multidisciplinary Designer, Writer

Jenn De La Fuente, Developer, and Professor

Renae Getlin, Writer, Content Creator, and Brand Consultant

Our super event hosts:

Alisa Olinova

Clarisa Valdez

Our wonderful volunteers:

Olivia Sy, Visual Recap & Photography

Kate Manos, Event Set-up

Kimberly Poquiz, Event Receptionist 

Please follow WDS on Instagram to stay in the loop! Interested in getting involved with the Women's Design Salon? Please get in touch at info@verynice.co!

verynice UX/UI Reading Recommendations

At verynice, we value input from our community network and feel they are a fantastic resource for idea sharing. Recently, we asked our community network what their recommended reads were for UI/UX design, specifically desktop applications, forms, and the like. Their offerings were too good not to share! Here are six recommended reads provided by the verynice community network: 

#1: “Design for the Real World”, by Victor Papanek

Shout out to Matthew Manos for initiating the conversation by offering his first two recommended reads! According to Matthew, Papanek is great for digging into the “U” of UX.

#2: “Form + Code”, by Casey Reas 

Matthew provided his second suggestion, which he said was peripherally relevant book, which one of his mentors used when he was in college. 

#3: All of the Rosenfeld Books

Thanks for this recommendation, Michael Manalo! He stated that these books offer a lot of really good and credible UX practitioners writing about UX practices. He named specifically,

#4: UX Pin

Shout out to verynice’s Art Director Alisa Olinova for recommending these awesome online reads! She specifically mentioned,

#5: “Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks”, by Luke Wroblewski

Katharine Hargreaves provided a book by the talented Luke Wroblewski,  describing him as “the king of mobile”. According to Katharine, the book is fantastic for web form design. 

#6: "Cadence and Slang”, by Nick Disabato

Drusilla Ray threw out “Cadence and Slang”, saying  that this resource “advocates evergreen guidelines for technology”. Though this is an “eccentric read” this book hold valuable information. 

Added bonus! Read the first chapter free here


At verynice we’re reminded every day that our greatest impact is made when we collaborate and work together. Thank you to all of our community members for being assets for designers, beginning and experts.

To learn more about our community network visit verynice.co or contact info@verynice.co.