S2 #5 'Designing for a better future', with Lucie Le Liard

Season 2 Episode 5


[00:00:53] James Gill:

[00:00:53] Hi, welcome to another episode of the EcoSend podcast. I'm James the host of the show, and I'm really thrilled to have another great episode for you today.

[00:01:02] Just in case this is the first time you're listening this is a podcast from EcoSend. We make an email marketing platform that is, all about being climate conscious. So we work with climate conscious and purpose-driven businesses to help them with their email marketing and help them send better email and climate conscious email.

[00:01:18] You can learn more about that@EcoSend.io, but our whole show, our whole podcast, is about talking to people that are in the worlds of marketing and leadership, whether they're in businesses or other nonprofit organizations. All about their own journeys into the world of, of climate. And today I'm very excited to have a wonderful guest on the show called Lucy.

[00:01:41] And Lucy is a strategist and designer for climate tech startups, and she's the founder and creative director of Positive Impact Studio. I'm thrilled to have Lucie joining us from, I believe it's Paris. So, hi Lucie. How are you doing today?

[00:01:56] Lucie Le Liard: Hi, James, so great. Thank you. Yes, I'm in Paris right now.

[00:01:59] James Gill: Awesome. Awesome. I'm a little bit jealous. So Lucie, maybe in your own words, do you want to tell us a little bit about what you're up to and what you've been doing? I, I'm keen to hear more.

[00:02:09] Lucie Le Liard: Sure. So I I founded Positive Impact Studio two years ago. And it's been quite the journey. Maybe I can say that the reason why I founded Positive Impact is because I have been working as a designer for about seven or eight years in a variety of different environments.

[00:02:29] I've worked in a publishing house in FinTech startup video game studio. And I ended up working for Web agencies and design agencies. Because throughout my career, I realized that I really liked working on project as the problem solver rather than working for a company and being part of the same project all the time.

[00:02:52] But throughout this this journey, I came to realize that my job, my work as a designer is very linked to the consumption society. And I realized that I had I had a role to play in the decisions I take of who I decide to design for. So, long story short, I went through a bit of a, of an identity crisis and I ask myself the question, do I really want to be a designer given the fact that us designers are responsible for people buying stuff and, and you know, we are making things desirable to be bought?

[00:03:33] And the answer to this question is I don't think I can ever stop being a designer because that's what I was born to be. So the compromise that I that I found for myself is that I can allow myself to continue living off my passion design as long as I'm working for companies and with people who try to do good for the world.

[00:03:54] So this is how I started my journey of being a founder and working with other founders in the impact or climate tech sector.

[00:04:05] James Gill: Wow. That's, that's actually an amazing, amazing story. I feel like there's so much to unpack there. Gosh, what a, what a crazy time. That must have been like trying to figure that out when, I mean, not sure I necessarily a hundred percent would consider myself a designer these days, but I feel like I would be extremely extremely unhappy if I could not do design anymore or was feeling guilty every time I did any design work. How did you get to that realization and what led up to that point where had this bit of a crisis of conscience of what you were doing?

[00:04:36] Were there any key moments there that caused you to suddenly think, gosh, maybe, maybe I should change my career. Maybe I shouldn't. What do I do?

[00:04:47] Lucie Le Liard: Yeah, it was kind of a long process. It honestly started even before I graduated when I was still a student. I actually studied illustration in fine arts, so not too related to design, but I still had design lessons and I did a design internship and all that. But during, so during my, my studies, I'm very fortunate to have had the chance to to do work that was very explorative and to express myself as an artist.

[00:05:16] And through through the journey of expressing myself, I've found a topic that I became very passionate about. Kind of how people associate their identity with the things they consume and also the things that they eat. It's obsessed about, and I was making a lot of art around that.

[00:05:34] And so I wrote my final year essay about this topic. And my project, my final year project was a book of interviews where I illustrated people's philosophy around food. So anyway, it started around that. And then I became more interested with the impact of what we eat.

[00:05:53] And that was also me trying to figure out how do I feel about what I eat and the journey towards veganism. And then, you know, one thing brings another, and once I start to align my values with the founding piece with like eating and food and stuff like that, then other things became a concern.

[00:06:14] I started to open my eyes around. Yeah. I try to be conscious around that, then what does that mean for that other thing that I also consume? And then, you know, it never stops

[00:06:23] James Gill: Yeah, you're sort of unraveling the, the thread.

[00:06:26] Lucie Le Liard: Exactly, exactly. But this whole process took years, to be honest with you. It took at least five years between the, the moment when I started this whole artistic project. And then, you know, try to find an alignment with my values, the things that I was learning little by little and and then making actual life decisions around what I'm gonna eat, but also what is the biggest part of my time that I spend, which is my work?

[00:06:53] What, what am I gonna spend it on? And what are the implications of that?

[00:06:57] James Gill: That is, that is fascinating. Yeah it's amazing that you had that, I guess maybe that chance to have that sort of reflection, introspection that maybe many of us can quite easily go through life without having and, and for that to come from, your artistic work and for that, to be the catalyst for that is, it's fascinating to hear that sort of journey. I think many, many people in life just don't, don't have that chance, or don't take that step backwards for a little bit to think like that.

[00:07:27] Lucie Le Liard: Yeah, it's a hundred percent a privilege. It also helps that I'm an absolute overthinker. But, but yeah, it's a huge privilege. Yeah

[00:07:36] James Gill: So I'm fascinated then that you started to realize more and more that your work in design had an influence or was part of that unraveling the thread. I guess many people when they're starting out in, well, in any career, but maybe in design, I know for me it's like you, you're happy generally. Like, 'oh, someone wants to do a business with me. Someone wants me to design something. I'll, I'll go do it'. How did you get onto this pathway you could actually be selective about the kinds of projects you would work on and, and design for? Or maybe that's still a journey that you are on around trying to, trying to understand who you will work for and who you won't and how that fits with your conscience and your other values.

[00:08:21] I'm, I'm intrigued about that. If it's not resolved, it must still be something that's a challenge daily that I'm sure other people may face as well.

[00:08:29] Lucie Le Liard: Yeah, it's definitely, it's definitely still a work in progress. I can't, I can't say that I'm 100 percent selective on every project that comes my way, but. But I would say that I do my best and I, I definitely have a, a goal, which is very clear and very affirmed which is that I am passionate about innovation and I want to work with people who leverage innovation to solve the biggest problems of our generation.

[00:08:59] So for me, What that means is climate change, but also social equality and gender equality and you know, accessibility on the web for under privileged communities or all of these. I think all of these challenges are the main things that I guess humanity in general is facing.

[00:09:21] And I wanna be part of solving that. That being said my company is two years old and I, me, myself, I'm a young founder. I'm a young entrepreneur, so I do my my best to to have a business that works, I guess. So that comes with, you know, compromises.

[00:09:37] But I'm lucky enough that all the people that come my way are just really amazing people in general with the best of intentions most of the time. I think people see in me someone who's really driven and and who generally wants to do good. So maybe for that reason I tend to attract people with similar values.

[00:09:58] Even though not all of them are definitely like for sure a hundred percent into the climate tech sector, for example, if that makes sense.

[00:10:04] James Gill: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's so good that you are sort of open about that because I think it's actually a really common thing from, from a lot of the conversations I've had with people, especially when they're early in their journey doing something. It's maybe not purely profit driven when they're starting to, like for us with, with starting EcoSend and, and learning more about the climate, I think you're always fearful that you are, well, you're not doing enough.

[00:10:34] But also that, that someone else is gonna come along and call you out for doing something wrong or something bad. And I think it's so important to sort of remember that you're doing things for the right reasons and you've gotta start somewhere. And if people waited till they were perfectly only did the right stuff 100% of the time, then no one would ever start.

[00:10:59] So I, I think it's something that's come up a lot on these conversations on the podcast as well, where it's better that people start and do something and take their intentions and make them an ever bigger part of their life, rather than to always be sort of living quietly in fear that you'll, you know, take on the wrong client or do the wrong project or say the wrong thing.

[00:11:23] And I think it's a big part of it. Like the more everyone feels more confident to talk, the more of a conversation there can be about doing the right thing. The less people feel fearful about about doing the right thing for fear, they'll be caught out. I think the better we'll all be.

[00:11:39] So I, I feel it's great that you are on this journey, Lucy and I think, yeah, just keep going and it, it probably will get easier and easier, and easier and easier to turn down the clients you don't want as well, which which I think is, is ultimately the goal.

[00:11:55] Lucie Le Liard: Thanks. Yeah. I mean, I already turned down some people who just come with a project that has literally nothing to do with climate but sometimes it just, you know, the in-between people. What I'm trying to say is that not many people like to work for big companies who do obvious bad things for the environment, for example. Or companies who you think you generally have like a, a conflict in values.

[00:12:20] But the in-between ones, the ones who don't necessarily do something evil, but you know, they don't really add a ton of value either. These people are just like you and me. You know, they, they also have a business, a family to feed.

[00:12:32] And yeah, I don't see a problem helping out these people if they need help.

[00:12:36] But yeah, I think it's just I think mostly it's the connection that you make with people and the intentions and the overall value set that drives the decision.

[00:12:47] James Gill: Absolutely, and I guess there's also an opportunity there, even with the clients that maybe aren't onboard with the same values that you have, as there's an opportunity at least for a dialogue perhaps there that maybe otherwise wouldn't exist. And if they're working with you rather than someone else who doesn't care at all. Then there's an opportunity to sort of, you know, to at least start a conversation there about some of the the wider stuff. Which I think is, is, is always an opportunity, I guess. .

[00:13:19] Lucie Le Liard: Yeah, a hundred percent. One example of that is that I taught myself how to and, and my team, how to make websites that are more sustainable.

[00:13:27] James Gill: Oh, wow.

[00:13:28] Lucie Le Liard: And most of our clients that we serve, that happen to need a website, even though they don't necessarily ask for it, we always make sure to sort of educate them on the best practices of how to manage their website in a way that that makes it less heavy for service to manage. And yeah, we try to build websites that are as sustainable as possible for every client, even though they don't necessarily ask for it.

[00:13:54] James Gill: That is actually really, I'm so glad you brought that up. I, I think that's such a fascinating aspect because at least in our conversations, you know, the vast majority of people still; , they're like, we all use the web, we all use our devices. We all visit probably hundreds of websites a day. And the idea that there is any cost to that because it's free to do, it's, you know, it's free for us to do and it's how we spend our time. But the idea that there's a, a climate cost to that is, is so far removed from our daily experiences and I'm intrigued. One, like, I'm so pleased to hear that you, you have that approach and I think two, I'm keen to hear more of whether you see more awareness of that growing or, is it still very much a rarity that people are aware of that cost. And maybe even I wonder, does anyone ever come to you with that that request or that demand that our site is consuming energy far more than we want? Like we're a way off hearing that from a, a client, I guess right now?

[00:15:01] Lucie Le Liard: Honestly, not so much which is a shame. But I wrote an article on our website's blog, a few years ago now, and I think that article is one of the few that you can find online that talks about sustainable web design. So for that reason, people come to me a lot to ask questions or to talk about that topic, but they're not usually clients who are looking for that as a, as a service.

[00:15:28] They're usually some other service providers who are also concerned about providing Providing sustainable web services.

[00:15:39] I live in France. And in France people are very concerned about ecology. So you would hear more people who are somewhat educated to that. And they will ask more questions.

[00:15:52] But it's never really something that's top of mind for them. It's more like an afterthought. Which again, is a shame. Most of my clients, however, they're based in the US or in Canada. And for them it's a totally different story. It's not even a topic.

[00:16:07] But it's starting to change. And the reason for that is because sustainable web design or sustainable web practices becomes more of a topic. And another thing is that usually performance for, for websites such as the velocity at which you can load a page or your SEO or some things that are good for business, for example, they are usually aligned with trying to be more eco-friendly in general on the web.

[00:16:34] So I guess that's a argument ,that's a big plus which I try to educate people on so that they realize that actually the planet's goal, I guess, is aligned with their own business goal in some way sometimes. So it's kind of what I try to tell them, to make them feel aware of that.

[00:16:50] James Gill: Absolutely. I think that's the brilliant thing, isn't it? Often some of the things we can do, I think especially in web design, the things that can be better from a climate perspective are also things that are better for an accessibility perspective that are also things that are better for a conversion perspective.

[00:17:07] And it's like you're not making this trade off like, oh, I'm gonna make my whole website, I don't know, black and white and be set in times new Roman. Like it doesn't have to go that far, but all of those things, it's not like this or that; I have to sacrifice conversion to tick those boxes or, or vice versa.

[00:17:28] It's all of those vectors get better and if you approach things in the right way, I think it's hopefully driving more people to just generally do like design better and, and rather than shift design to one goal or the other, it's. Like all of those align, hopefully. Happy client, happy designer ,happy visitors, happy customers. Everyone wins, right? Happy Planet.

[00:17:54] Lucie Le Liard: Yeah, for sure, it's all connected. So I would say the one thing that is very important on that topic is to never think of it as something that you can maybe sort of think of at the end of a project. It definitely needs to be part of the conversation from the early stage of a web project because it's gonna affect some decisions that you take.

[00:18:12] And, luckily for us the more sustainable a website, the more efficient it's gonna be and accessible and it's just best.

[00:18:20] James Gill: Absolutely. I feel like I can very easily go on a whole design focused podcast here, Lucy with you. But, I feel like it all goes back to sort of design not being this veneer that people layer on top. It's fundamentally like how you approach things? But I won't bore anyone with my thinking there! I will only ramble, but I did want to touch on something I know that you mentioned when we spoke before, which I think really struck me, was on this web design side of things. It's very easy for us to get comfortable, you know, whether we're in Paris, London, New York, wherever in these big cities where you have amazing connection to the web and amazing devices, but you've done quite a lot of travel. And I know you were saying that the level of access to the web around the world is actually, it's really not the same everywhere, is it?

[00:19:11] Lucie Le Liard: Yeah absolutely. So last year I spent almost the entire year in Central America. I traveled between Mexico and Panama throughout the year and stayed at a bunch of different places. So when I was living in Mexico City, there was no problem around accessing heavy pages or loading 10 different pages at a time.

[00:19:35] But later in the year, I went to live on a beach on the Pacific side in a small country called El Salvador. And the internet there was a complete different story. And yeah, it was an interesting experience being I guess a digital nomad who works on the web making things on the web, living in a place where it can be complicated to access internet sometimes. But what I've learned is that it really shocked me how a whole part of the internet is actually not accessible to some people on the planet.

[00:20:09] And the day that we try to solve this issue is going to open so many opportunities for people there. I mean economic opportunities, but also educational opportunities. I guess why I started thinking of this is because I realized that, even though sometimes the internet is not the best, it's actually not that difficult to work on the internet when you are in these part of the world.

[00:20:32] But somehow I didn't see too many people, like local people, I mean, people living in these countries working as a designer Or web developer. So I wondered why is it that these people have such little access to these professions? And the answer that I found is because all the types, devices the internet can be sometimes unreliable.

[00:20:55] And all of the websites and the, the things that we make in the north on the internet, We make them without taking into consideration that people with smaller bandwidth, they, they sometimes have trouble accessing these pages. And so it's a whole bunch of information that we keep away from them.

[00:21:15] So realizing that was was something that made me want to continue investigating into how you know, how we can make the web not only more eco-friendly but also more accessible. So that chances are that people living in developing countries have better access to education, information job opportunities especially with how remote open so many opportunities around the world. .

[00:21:40] James Gill: Absolutely. Honestly, it's actually incredible hearing that. And I guess, I think when one designs things for the web or makes anything for the web, I think in the back of your mind somewhere, someone at some point may have said, you know, think about lower bandwidth and think about older devices.

[00:21:59] And I think sometimes, especially when you are in a big capital city, like we both are, you can almost think, 'well, yeah, that advice that's quite maybe quite old now, maybe that's not so relevant'. Like everyone I know has an iPhone or a modern device or can just go to Starbucks or whatever and get some internet.

[00:22:19] But I think for you going there and and living in these places and spending real time , in these far more remote locations, seeing it firsthand. I guess nothing quite comes close to that or beats that for having an appreciation for that as someone who makes things. It must have really quite fundamentally changed your approach and how you consider that in your profession, I guess.

[00:22:43] Lucie Le Liard: Yeah, it's just like you said; everyone I know has an iPhone. Everyone around me uses a last generation laptop, for example. I guess it's difficult, but we have to be more conscious about the things that we create on the internet. You have to be able to make a website and sit at your desk thinking someone, I don't know, in Brazil, on a beach in Asia, needs to be able to go on my website and read the information there.

[00:23:09] Because why should we exclude them if they wanted to do business with us or if they want to learn things from us? So it's an extra effort that people don't generally make. But again, it is because of what you said, it's because we see the people around us living the same similar lives than than us.

[00:23:27] And for me being able to travel and live in different places and meeting different people and living with them and understanding their daily challenges really opened my eyes on that. So I'm trying to be more conscious of it and talk about it every chance I have.

[00:23:42] James Gill: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I know we're almost at time, Lucy. I feel like this has flown by, but I wanted to ask you around travel and how you travel, because know there's some interesting stuff there. And then, to wrap up also, just if you had any advice or any advice you've been given or advice for others , I'm keen to hear that. So on the subject of travel, just quickly, tell me more about your approach there, because this is obviously a common topic when anyone is talking about climate change.

[00:24:14] Lucie Le Liard: Yeah, sure. So remember how we're saying that my, my ecological conscience. Conscious started with a topic and then it invaded another topic.

[00:24:24] So it, yeah, like I said, it never stops. And of course traveling is a huge topic for me because I, I've always ever since I was little, I've always known that I wanted to travel.

[00:24:35] The world is something that has always been present in my life. I grew up in France and left France. When I graduated I went to live in England and then I moved to Canada. And then, like I said, I had this year of, of traveling in Central America. And during all of these periods, I I stayed for a long time in each place.

[00:24:58] And when I started to travel a bit on a different rhythm, I wanted to make sure that this wouldn't that basically I wanted to avoid traveling in a way that emits too much carbon you know. I try to take the least amount of flight that I can.

[00:25:16] And yeah, it's been, it's something that has always been an issue for me.

[00:25:19] Every time I'm invited to see a friend in a different country or something, I'm like, how can I get there without flying? But it's, it's can be sometimes really difficult, especially if you live in America, because over there, there's just no trains and the distances are so huge that you can't take a coach or drive everywhere.

[00:25:38] It's just not realistic. So I started to tell myself, okay, what, what can I do? What can I learn? So that I can maybe make myself more capable of traveling places without flying? And I decided that I was going to learn sailing. So, so I started that around the end of the year last year. And I took my first sailing trip between El Salvador and Panama. I, yeah, I went on a, on a 54 foot sailing boat. ,

[00:26:13] James Gill: That's quite big. That's quite big, huh?

[00:26:16] Lucie Le Liard: Big enough for three people to live in for about 10 days. This is basically how I traveled and it was one of the most incredible experience I've lived to date. Being able to be in the middle of the ocean quite far from land and being able to really, fully appreciate the distance; fully appreciate the sheer size of the earth. Becuase if you look on the map leaving from El Salvador to Panama, it's not actually too far, but the time that it takes you it's incredible. And then you're just connected to the elements because you obviously you've rely on the winds to be able to move.

[00:26:53] And it really puts things into perspective because we're so used to things always working. This is kind of related to what I was saying about the internet in different workplaces as well, is that we're so used of things always working. There's just no question about is the train going to run?

[00:27:09] Is life like going to, you know, unless you live in France and there's a strike! But generally speaking, things work as they're supposed to. But if you try to be more low tech or do things a bit differently, then suddenly you are confronted to, 'alright, well I'm dependent on the wind to be blowing so that I can move my boat'. And when there's no wind, there's no moving and being able to be at peace with that and think, okay, well I'm on this journey and I have actually time. I'm not someone who's that important that I absolutely need to be you know, in that next place in so little time I can actually give myself 10 days away from the whole world, away from the internet, away from everything and just appreciate to be alive somewhere on earth in the middle of the Pacific. Yeah, it was a crazy experience. And next thing I want to do now is to cross the Atlantic on another sailing trip.

[00:28:08] James Gill: Yes. , I wonder how long, how many days that will take that. That's not a short trip, last time I checked

[00:28:15] Lucie Le Liard: No, no. Definitely. You need to have a good amount of time in front of you.

[00:28:20] James Gill: That is honestly, that's made me almost feel like it was almost meditative to hear you talk about that. It is such a, literally a world away from, you know, the life in a big city like London or Paris , to think like that .And I'm sure most of the people listening to this have very busy schedules. Probably listening to this podcast at two times, speed on a commute somewhere. And to give yourself that time and to do that, I think truly shows a level of connection with the world that many of us would love to have. That's absolutely amazing hearing you share that, LUCIE.

[00:28:56] Thank you. I don't know if you even need to give any more advice than that. I don't know if you wanted to share anything else in terms of advice or inspiration, you've had Lucie, but otherwise I'm happy to wrap up and give people a few links to where they can find you. I don't know did you wanna share anything else on that side?

[00:29:14] Lucie Le Liard: Actually, I was going to say that if there's maybe one advice I can give to anyone, it's actually do spend 10 days on a boat in the middle of the ocean and bring with you a couple of books. A few podcasts definitely EcoSend! And you'll see that, you'll learn a lot about yourself and you maybe won't be able to read all the books because sometimes just looking at the waves is already kind of a crazy, you know, thing that you could be doing.

[00:29:43] But yeah, it's something that really it was quite transformative for me. And if you one day have one day in your life, if you have an opportunity or a privilege to do that, then definitely do it because it's amazing.

[00:29:56] James Gill: Wow. Thank you, Lucie. Thank you so much. I honestly, I desperately want to try and find that time to do that myself. I've never really thought about it like this, and yeah, what a great piece of advice. I hope that you've inspired maybe a few people out there to, to try doing that themselves as well.

[00:30:14] I thank you for sharing that. Really, really great. So I guess now I need to go back into the real world, but before I do, where can people find you if they want to either hear more about you, Lucie, or maybe even ask you for some more advice or thoughts. Maybe get some help with design work. Do share any, any of the places and we'll link them in the show notes as well.

[00:30:35] Lucie Le Liard: Sure. So you can go visit positive impact.design. I'm also on. LinkedIn very easy to reach. I'm on Instagram and some other Twitter things. So you can find me

[00:30:51] James Gill: All the places.

[00:30:52] Lucie Le Liard: Yeah, you can find me at all of these spaces. I'm a very you know, easy to reach person and always happy to, to connect with people who are sharing the same objectives or values or you just want to have a conversation.

[00:31:07] James Gill: Awesome. Thank you so much, Lucy. It's been an absolute pleasure having you on the show and thank you. Yeah, thank you very much and thank you to everyone listening. If you've listened to this show and you've enjoyed it, felt inspired, or want to take your own sailing journey please do let us know via whatever player or app you're using to listen to the show. We'd love every positive comment really helps more people find out about wonderful stories like Lucie's. Thank you for listening and we look forward to catching you again soon.


Creators and Guests

Lucie Le Liard
Lucie Le Liard
Lucie is a strategist and designer for climate-tech startups, and is the founder and creative director of Positive Impact Studio.
S2 #5 'Designing for a better future', with Lucie Le Liard
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