Brand strategist, OG podcaster and all-around badass, Debbie Millman, traces the genesis of her branding talent back to the Stayfree packaging at her father’s pharmacy, shares the poignant details of how a pair of lime green Levi’s helped her cope with a painful childhood and just generally oozes wisdom and deep thoughts with every word. Plus, she offers a revelatory distinction between courage and confidence and has an enduring fondness for potato chips.
What is your earliest memory?
My earliest memory is waking up in the hospital after a hernia operation. I was four years old. My parents were looking down on me; I was in some sort of crib. I was in tremendous pain, but as I saw the look of worry on their faces, I asked “Is the operation over?” I thought if I pretended I didn’t know the operation had even happened, they wouldn’t know what kind of pain I was in and wouldn’t worry about me.
How do you feel about democratic design?
I feel that it is the most profound manifestation of the human spirit we’ve seen in a long, long tme.
What’s the best advice that you’ve ever gotten?
From a fortune cookle: Avoid compulsively making things worse.
How do you record your ideas?
What’s your current favorite tool or material to work with?
What book is on your nightstand?
Three: Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of The World, Esther Perel’s The State of The Affair, and Dani Shapiro’s Hourglass.
Why is authenticity in design important?
Authenticity is important in everything. Why should design be excluded?
Favorite restaurant in your city?
CookShop or Gramercy Tavern
What might we find on your desk right now?
Who do you look up to and why?
I look up to Gloria Steinem. She paved the way for everything I think is important.
What’s your favorite project that you’ve done and why?
My favorite projects are the design and brand positioning of the NO MORE movement and the Joyful Heart Foundation. These projects have made my life make sense.
What are the last five songs you listened to?
Frederick - Patti Smith
Ring of Keys - Fun Home soundtrack
Elderly Woman Behind The Counter - Pearl Jam
To A Child - Laura Nyro
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