10 March 2022

10 Mins Read



On Design, Family and Career Growth; The Maryjoe Udochi’s Guide


Let’s meet you

I’m Mrs. Maryjoe Udochi, a wife and mom of two; a boy and a girl. I like to address myself as a multidisciplinary creative because I have skills in graphic and web design, a bit of industrial design, brand identity design, and brand strategy. The core part of my design skills however is brand identity development. 

Where do you work currently?

I quit my job last year. I was the team-lead of the user experience team at Transsion Holdings, a mother company for Techno mobile, Oraimo, Infinix, and so on. I was there for four years. I quit because it has always been my desire to start up my own thing. Brand Hut is currently what I focus on.

Brandhut is a design agency that provides full-on, comprehensive visual branding services to businesses. We are a 5-man team, a web developer, an industrial designer, someone who deals with legal paperwork, and me. I double as both the brand identity developer and brand strategist.

What’s your background like?

I’m the first of four children. My childhood was totally fun and I was lucky to be one of the privileged ones, with access to good education and available care. I attended Federal Government Girls College, Owerri. I also attended Madonna University where I studied Computer Science. I was into programming at the time, but not anymore.

Being a programmer, how did you break into design?

I never imagined I’d become a designer all through my secondary school & University days. I was introduced to design during my NYSC year. I had the option to pick between working with a construction firm and with an IT firm. Despite the high salary benefit offered by the construction firm, I went ahead to join the IT firm as my background in software development was my main consideration. My boss, Mr. Tayo, introduced me to Graphics Design. My first software was photoshop. I learned how to design logos, business cards, and other basic visual branding elements. He was a developer but due to my passion for learning, he kept introducing me to different things. That marked the foundation of my design career.

As a multidisciplinary designer, how do you transition between different aspects of design?

I’m a creative junkie. I’m not the kind of person who would spend 10, 20 years doing a single thing. I easily get bored, so doing the same thing over and over again gets tiring. I like to learn new things, to challenge myself with new skills. And oh, I’m a fast learner. Within weeks, I get to be proficient with the new tools I learn. 

The core of my skill is brand identity development, however, I know how to use tools around other aspects of design. It’s quite easy for me to transition between all of them. The negative side however is that I end up doing a lot of things myself. Since I already have the concept in my head and I know my way around the software, I may find it hard to allow someone else to get it done.

In summary, transitioning among diverse roles is not a struggle for me.

Did you have a lot of female designers to look up to when you started?

No. While I worked at Payporte, I was the only female creative on the team. We had Nduibusi, Bunmi Adekunle, Ope, Dami, all guys. I was also the vice president of D21 Century, a design community in Abuja. When we had our meetings, we had just about 3 females. I didn’t have a lot of female creatives to look up to. I was very lucky to have these guys, they were and still are like my brothers. They were always ready to help me out, push me to be a better designer.

The few other female creatives I met were either fashion illustrators or makeup artists, only a very few were graphics designers.

Does femininity influence your output as a designer?

Females are naturally passionate people. If there’s anything we love, we hold it so dearly. When you see a female in a male-dominated industry, you can tell she’s very passionate about it. This explains why they succeed at it. 

Also, a lot of females are attracted to colors, this can be noticed from our patterns of dressing. I believe what we find enticing influences our output as female creatives. We have also been groomed in a certain way, our parents have shielded us from taking some risks, making us naturally cautious. This reflects in the creative space. Based on my experience of leading a few creatives, some females prefer to be cautious with their designs and not take risks to explore unusual territories with their output as a guy would.

Also, for a lady, nature calls at some point. For example, I got married and had children, this really slowed me down. I’ve not been on social media for almost a year. I juggle everything; being a wife, a sole proprietor, a mom. I try to create a balance, unlike guys that have few limitations caused by nature.

How much effect did starting a family have on your design career?

It affected me a great deal because I didn’t touch a computer for months and I started giving out my jobs to other people. A year after my first child, I planned to bounce back and was already taking steps. Then, I conceived again. The stress of going through 9 months of pregnancy, giving birth, then raising a child affected me as a creative, despite that I had a nanny.

Sometimes, while rocking the baby, I’m designing as well. This means I’m not working in my full capacity as a designer at that moment compared to when I was single. It doesn’t only affect creatives, it goes across all career paths. If you want to be an active part of your child’s life, it will affect you. I had to keep pushing because I needed to keep the two open, my career and my child’s life. It’s not bad to take some time off your career to take care of your child till they’ve grown to a certain age.

I was able to build a team from people I handed over jobs to. That helped me to see things from a deeper perspective that there is more to being a designer. While nursing my baby, I kept reading books on marketing, branding, and design which broadened my horizon. So, now that I bounced back, I see myself being better. Everything I kept busy with eventually turned out helpful.

As a wife and mother, what challenges did you face while working at Transsion Holdings?

This is where being a lady came in very handy for me as I was the only lady in the UX department. I’ve always been pampered by my male colleagues, they came in helpful while I was pregnant. Transsion was a very friendly workplace, the only barrier I had sometimes was language difference. I was lucky to have people to always cover up for me. I don’t think there’s any career path pregnancy won’t slow you down in. 

I don’t want to dwell so much on pregnancy, life happens at the end of the day, even to guys. I always had where I wanted to be in mind. So, I always told myself “MaryJoe, I want to have my things, handle personal projects.” My dad formerly worked at CBN before he retired. I compared the inflow of cash while he worked there and the current inflow while he’s retired, it is a push for me to start building my business now. I plan to build my clientele now, suffer through the hurdles now, then enjoy later in the future.

How do you combine running Brandhut and being the brand identity developer simultaneously?

I know that I am my boss and the fate of Brandhut is in my hands. One of the cores of being the figurehead of the company is trying to bring in clients. So, one of the first steps I took was visiting certain places. I had to print out BrandHut’s portfolio as a brochure. I knew my prospective clients weren’t keen on social media, so I used traditional means to ensure I can convince them of our abilities and how we can help their business visuals. I try to think of how I can grow my clientele for the entrepreneurship part.

As the brand identity developer and brand strategist, I know we all have roles to play whenever any client comes in. I agree that we are a small team, so I manage a lot of tasks. When I meet up with a client, I don’t take more than we can handle within a given timeframe. It’s not been easy but I pray we grow to a point where I can focus on one.

Apart from starting a family, what other challenges do you think female designers go through in their workplace?

I can’t tell you about others, but I’ll answer based on my experience.

Sometimes, there is a male designer who is ready to teach you, then feelings develop along the way. As soon as things go south, everything ends there. I faced this a lot while I was single, as I only had guys around me. 

Are you still actively involved in Mentoring ladies?

I haven’t even been on social media for a while. However, if I have the opportunity, I would love to mentor more ladies. I believe we need more females in the creative industry as the industry is still dominated by men. I’d be happy to take on this project but I have to be stable enough and have bounced back well before I can think of mentoring. 

What do you think the future holds for design communities in the next 5 years?

For Nigeria, I’m not so hopeful, to be honest. This is due to the situation in Nigeria compared to other countries where basic amenities are available. They don’t have so much to bother about, they have enough time to be creative.

Nigeria keeps deteriorating, keeps going from bad to worse. Thus, people work literally to provide themselves with these basic amenities. There’s a difference between learning to gain expertise and learning to ensure a source of income. It’s different when a creative is hustling just to pay rent, buy electricity, fix their car, etc. They tend not to think about solving problems and not be objective with clients. People are not being creative to solve a problem anymore but hustle and make ends meet.

The environment is not even encouraging your creativity. When I traveled to Dubai, there were a lot of colorful illustrations on the wall, you would admire them and feel inspired to be more creative. Whenever I got home, the whole vibe made me open my laptop and think of coming up with something.

Let’s look at the #EndSARS issue, we were simply trying to fight for a better government. Yet, the same government turns around to kill us. How do you want a creative to explore their creativity in such an environment? Creativity is gradually becoming a way to evade being broke and we can’t be as innovative that way. Whatever job you do is still tied to the standard of living and the government. 

I’m keeping my fingers crossed and praying that things get better than it currently is. 

Portrait of Maryjoe Udochi

Want to reach out to Maryjoe? Find her on Instagram

Brand DesignBrandhutBrandingDearDesignerDesign in NigeriaDesign ProfileMaryjoe Udochi

Other Posts

DearDesigner Icon

Join Our Community

DearDesigner Icon