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Hack To Start
Episode 189

Mari Sheibley

Product design @instagram.

Listen to this episode on iTunes, Stitcher, & Google Music

Mari Sheibley is a Product Designer at Instagram. Mari has a background in fine arts, before she transition into graphic design. When she first moved to New York, she took a bunch of odd jobs to make ends meet. She eventually met Denis Crowley and Naveen, who were working on an idea that would become Foursquare. Mari was super passionate about the idea and started by designing all the badges for the app. Once Foursquare raised money, Mari became their first designer. Over several years there, she helped push the product and shape the brand into the platform we’re all familiar with today. Mari then became the Creative Director at Walker & Company brands, tackling all aspects of physical product design for the fast growing startup. Mari then took some time to consider her next steps as a designer and eventually joined Instagram. Mari joins us to share her story, how she got into design and startups, what it was like working on Foursquare, what it was like tackling physical products as the Creative Director at Walker & Company Brands, what motivated her to join a bigger company like Instagram, her career advice and insights for other creatives, and much more.

Main Objectives For This Episode

  • Learn more about how Mari got into design & startups
  • Learn more about how Mari approached building a design career
  • Learn more about what it's like working at Instagram
  • And more!

Episode Overview

Mari Sheibley is a Product Designer at Instagram.

Mari has a background in fine arts, before she transition into graphic design. When she first moved to New York, she took a bunch of odd jobs to make ends meet.

She eventually met Denis Crowley and Naveen, who were working on an idea that would become Foursquare. Mari was super passionate about the idea and started by designing all the badges for the app.

Once Foursquare raised money, Mari became their first designer. Over several years there, she helped push the product and shape the brand into the platform we’re all familiar with today.

Mari then became the Creative Director at Walker & Company brands, tackling all aspects of physical product design for the fast growing startup. Mari then took some time to consider her next steps as a designer and eventually joined Instagram.

Mari joins us to share her story, how she got into design and startups, what it was like working on Foursquare, what it was like tackling physical products as the Creative Director at Walker & Company Brands, what motivated her to join a bigger company like Instagram, her career advice and insights for other creatives, and much more.


Some Of The Questions We Ask

2:13
Can you tell us more about yourself - where are you from and what did you study?

3:08
So where did your passion for product design come from?

5:06
So pushing that a bit further, how did you start your career? What were some of your first few jobs out of school?

9:18
You met with Denis and early Foursquare in 2008. So can you tell us a bit more about how that all happened and how you created the opportunity to join the team there?

11:22
So how did that role you created for yourself evolve? What were some of the other impacts your work had on shaping the brand and product?

16:15
So a few years after doing the startup thing with Foursquare, you ended up joining Tristan Walker’s startup Walker & Company Brands - as the creative director. So what was that experience like joining a company that was in a completely different space?

18:17
As the Creative Director, what were some of the most exciting projects you had a chance to work during your time there? And what was it like building a team there?

20:30
Today you’re back on the digital side as a Product Designer at Instagram. Can you start off by telling us a little bit more about how you created the opportunity to join the team there?

24:43
You’ve obviously had a bunch of amazing moments throughout your career, but what have been some of the most impactful or pivotal moments for you?

27:32
Are there any resources that you found along your journey and would recommend to others? Design specific or otherwise?

28:50
Do you have any final thoughts or advice to leave us with?


Here are some of the most important links and resources mentioned throughout the show.

Twitter Handles & Websites

Mari Sheibley on Twitter
Mari Sheibley on the Web
Instagram on Twitter
Instagram on the Web
Tyler Copeland on Twitter
Franco Varriano on Twitter

Devices, Apps, and Books

Google Ventures
Julie Zhuo

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