Vanessa Dewey is an award-winning Downtown Los Angeles-based designer who champions development and creative endeavors. Prior to her current role at Mattel, Vanessa was an Art Director and worked across numerous IP properties as well as properties for licensors such as 343 Studios, Mojang and Disney. Additionally, she co-founded Mattel’s first internal speaker series, ReFuel. The series brings in diverse creatives to Mattel, from Aaron Draplin to in-house creative leaders from eBay, Pepsico, Starbucks, and Tesla. Within four years it has grown from a quarterly event to 10+ annual events and a year-end conference. She is on the AIGA’s National InHouse Initiative steering committee, and, recently joined the Board of Directors for LA Design Festival and the LA Ambassador Committee for the NYC based group, Ladies Get Paid. When she isn’t immersing herself in design or women’s issues, she spends time with her two beagles and continually satisfies her small obsession with single-origin coffee at G&B Coffee.
Your full name:
Vanessa B. Dewey
Where do you work? What does your company do?
Mattel. It’s the world’s largest toy maker, responsible for Barbie, Hot Wheels, and other iconic brands (some of you might even remember Intellivision!).
What types of services does your team specialize in?
Until recently, I was an art director for Packaging and Branding. I’ve transitioned into a new role. where I inspire, educate, connect, and celebrate creative at Mattel. Overall, I’m supporting a creations company that instills the wonder of childhood.
How many people make up your team?
Besides my upper management, it’s only me. However, I do collaborate and team up with groups across the organization to work on a range of projects including education and speaker series, training, and development.
Your title/role within the company:
Development and Creative Experiences
What was your very first job in this field?
After graduating from SUNY Purchase with a BFA in 2.5 years, I took time off, dabbled in visuals, moved to LA, then started working as an in-house graphic designer for a travel publication.
Share a best-practice leadership experience:
Beyond knowing the creative and your brand, educate yourself on the ins-and-outs of your company and network regardless of the division. Over the years, I’ve had mentors whose role isn’t in a creative vertical. But they have given me a different perspective on the organization and have provided different angles for inspiration.
What are you working on now that you’re excited about?
I’m very excited about creating opportunities for connecting. One project that I’m working on right now is a podcast based on the idea that, everyone at Mattel can be a creative. With campuses located from Los Angeles to Hong Kong and around 31,000 employees, I’m aiming to interview people across verticals and delve into their story. Ultimately, I want to connect with these inspiring peers and to celebrate them.
What inspires you?
That is a loaded question. But it goes back to one word: connection. Connecting with people, connecting with nature while on a run, connecting at an art opening… the list goes on. From these connections I find patterns and everything evolves from there.
What is the first thing you do each day to organize yourself?
First and foremost, coffee is essential (many know that I have a slight obsession with it. Next I read my feeds for the NY Times, New Yorker, Inc, FastCo…I try to quickly surround myself with stimuli and culture. Even if what I’m reading might not pertain to my job, there might be something that could inspire me down the line, as creativity has no beginning and no end.
If you could share one piece of advice for an up-and-coming creative leader what would it be?
Being in house there is a tendency to get complacent and not to seek connection with outside creative communities because you have it all around you. For me, connecting with outside organizations has been instrumental to my growth. From the AIGA at the local and national level (I’m on the Inhouse INitiatve steering committee) and even helping out with the LA Design Festival has connected me to diverse creative individuals.