We recently caught up with alumna Leen Sadder, MFAD’12 and asked her to answer few questions about her experience at SVA and beyond.
What are you doing professionally? I’m currently living in Dubai and running my own business called THIS Toothbrush, which actually started as a student project in Allan Chochinov’s class my first year at SVA! THIS Toothbrush is a revival of an ancient natural branch called the miswak, which has been proven to be great for your dental health. I also take on branding, experience and digital design and consulting projects from time to time, as well as mentor startups.
How has your project THIS toothbrush progressed? After completing the program at SVA, I got a full time job at a digital design agency in Brooklyn but continued working on THIS Toothbrush as a side project after it had gotten a lot of press and interest from around the world. I began to revisit the initial prototype and eventually ran a successful crowdfunding campaign, which helped fund the first round of production. Shortly after, I decided to move to Dubai to pursue it full time and launched it here two years ago. The business is growing and we’ve sold our products around the world, mainly via our online store: www.thisisatoothbrush.com
The SVA community frankly changed my life’s trajectory- without the people I met and the teachers who mentored me, I wouldn’t have taken the leap to start my own business and would probably have continued on a more ordinary (and much less adventurous) career path.
How were you challenged by the program? The program remains to be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my adult life- the overwhelming amount of talent around me, from both classmates and teachers, pushed me to completely step out of my comfort zone and be as innovative, daring and passionate as possible. The intangible skills and confidence I gained during my two years there have stuck with me well past graduation.
What impact has SVA MFA Design had on your career? The SVA MFA Design program has helped me understand what it really means to be a designer beyond the text book definition. It taught me that our skills as storytellers go way beyond logos, websites and apps and that we have the power to transform the world into whatever we want it to be.
You also participated in Design: Rome, could you tell us about your experience there? Joining the program in Rome is what eventually landed me a spot in the MFAD program, so I will always be grateful for that experience. Learning about typography in a city so rich in culture and history when it comes to design was extremely valuable for me as a designer- I’m pretty sure my obsession with hand lettering and typography started with the signage in Rome.
What advice would you give to incoming students? Take risks, give it your all, and have fun along the way. You have no idea where the experience might take you so keep an open minded and stay in touch with your peers.
Feel free to reach out to me anytime! You can check out what I’m up to at www.leensadder.com.
Any future goals? Grow a successful business and keep learning new things.