Jan with Chan

Parties, prison trips and pen and paper.

5 min readFeb 1, 2023

February already. I am not even going to say how “time is flying” anymore as I am way past being surprised. Before you know it, I’ll be retired. For now, let’s enjoy the final year of my twenties without worrying anymore about the whirlwind of time.

2022 was full of highlights — Moved back to Manchester. Went on a work trip to Amsterdam. Travelled around the UK. Filmed 22 instagram reels. Tried corndogs for the first time. Went karaoke for the first time. I even got a new boyfriend (not for the first time though, but hopefully the last lol)

2022 was also full of many shockers — I got hit with Covid extremely bad. My grandma got breast cancer (now recovered thank fuck). Many people passed. If anything, last year taught me how to be truly present and spend quality time with the people who matter.

Now 2023 has arrived and I am hoping it’s full of blessings. Here are five short stories from Jan ⬇️

Going to prison.

The prison entrance

A big moment. Walking through a prison wing, experiencing the insides of the system. Let me clarify, I have not been arrested. I am actually working with the Ministry of Justice and have been since last October on a few projects. Right now I am working with a full team on understanding and designing something (maybe a new tool, maybe a new process, maybe both) for Accredited Programmes — a form of intervention for people in prison that aim to change the thinking, attitudes and behaviours to encourage rehabilitation. Some of us had the incredible opportunity to do some research in a prison. We spoke to leaders, staff members then ended the day with a tour of the prison itself. This experience completely revolutionised my thinking on the project and really made me become aware of things that you really cannot get over a zoom call, no matter how much you try. Lot’s more to talk about very soon 🤫

Dancing and downing shots in Camden.

The dxw team at the Christmas party

Who says you can’t have a Christmas party in January? Last Thursday, the whole of dxw got together and had a proper celebration. We spent the day unconference’ing — basically a day with no agenda where attendees decide what happens on the day. We all pitched in 15–30 minute slots on absolutely anything. There were sessions covering topics like the war between designers and developers, what a staff council truly means, the psychology behind dogs and the power of colour. All sorts! My pitch of course was a good old icebreaker to end the day, two truths and a lie. I learnt a lot of unique and quirky stuff about my team, a story for another day though haha. Not long after, we all checked into the hotel and had a three course meal (I chose soup, chicken and bread and butter pudding) followed by drinking and dancing. It made me realise just how lucky I am to work in this space with a bunch of talented (sometimes crazy) people. A toast to dxw! 🥂

Getting our governance structures together.

This time last year, I didn’t even know what governance was, because I never really had exposure to conversations that involved the word. Since being a council member at dxw, I have learnt a bunch of stuff that has made me understand so much more of how a business is run and the decisions that need to be made for an organisation to be successful. Recently, I have been part of several workshops with the directors, heads of departments and the board to figure out who is responsible for what, and ways which we can continue to develop as an employee owned trust. It’s certainly a minefield and can be very tough to get my head around but it’s great to have a say in things that a designer wouldn’t day to day. The council have made a decision to meet up in London on the last Friday of every month to keep the momentum going and tackle some knotty challenges for the business. Let’s go! 💭

Back to the pen and paper.

Screenshot from the Shut up and write website

I actually wrote most of this blog in the middle of a coffee shop at Arndale Centre. Last Saturday around 9am, I woke up and thought ‘Wtf shall I do today?’. After a quick google search on local meet ups, I came across something called Shut up and Write. It is a community that involves a group of people that meet up in a coffee shop, spend one hour on focused writing time and then end the session with some socialising or critique. How have I never come across this before? I jumped out of bed, had a rapid shower and got to the coffee shop in time. It was different because I decided to go old school and get back to pen and paper which strangely was faster for me to brain splurge. It was such a great feeling to get some structure, accountability and thoughts from like-minded people. You’ll definitely be reading more from me this year. 🔖

Booking a random apartment in Manchester.

Inside Whitworth Locke, Manchester

This year started out a little odd. I thought I was lucky for missing the winter flu this year, but then I jinxed myself and got hit with it in the first week of January. I then dropped a full cup of tea all over my work laptop so went into panic mode when the apple man told me it was beyond repair. I also normally enter the year with a few goals but this year I didn’t (and still haven’t yet). So I went and booked a quiet apartment in the middle of Manchester for a couple nights, as my self-care treat of the month. Complete turn off. New environment. Cute aesthetics. Funky bar. Just what I needed. It’s called Whitworth Locke, definitely recommend.

Finally, here’s a self-care tip for the month…

Stick on a face-mask.

If you didn’t already know, I am actually a qualified facialist. Something that I decided to learn and do part-time alongside being a designer a good few years ago. I decided to try a new face mask from Lush and it was actually lush — (I had to drop that in there). The mask of magnaminty has been doing wonders for my skin. Plus, if you’re a messy one like me and it somehow ends up in your mouth, it doesn’t taste that bad 😂

Thanks for reading and happy Feb ✌🏼




📍UK. Designer of *positive* experiences. Right now @dxw / Ex @bbc. Service design + UX/UI + Branding. Mentoring the future gen. + having a good time.