Daumantas Banys is a product designer at Vinted. He shared a story about his unusual career path as well as some thoughts on what it takes to create an intuitive, user-friendly design.
How did you join Vinted and why?
Vinted is my very first full-time design job and the story of how I ended up here isn’t quite traditional.
In 2017 I graduated from high school and started studying Digital Interaction Design at the University of Dundee in Scotland. Just before Christmas holidays, I saw a job ad for a design internship at Facebook. Until that point, I hadn’t thought about applying for an internship, but this ad inspired me to look for one when I returned to Lithuania over the summer. I decided to reach out to some Lithuanian companies that were publishing their design work on social media (in particular - dribbble ). Three out of four companies replied that they were either not looking for interns or interested only in the ones who have recently graduated so that the interns would be willing to continue their work after a summer placement. The remaining one was Vinted.
I met with Jonas, the current Head of Design, and we talked about why I was looking for an internship. He introduced me to product design and what kind of problems designers at Vinted are solving. Until then I didn’t quite know what product design really is. I had some experience designing web interfaces, but all the work I did was mostly driven by conceptual ideas and my goal when designing was usually to build appealing interfaces for fictional products - but these were not solving any real-world problems. After Jonas’s introduction to product design, I became highly interested in building and improving products that actually provide value to people. Later that year, I started my summer internship and after two months I was offered to stay here as a full-time designer. My initial plan was to go back to Scotland and continue my studies, but after a hard time evaluating what I should do, I decided to accept the offer and continue pursuing my product design career. Today, I am extremely happy that I am a part of a group that is working towards reaching such a powerful and inspiring vision.
What was your first impression?
Before joining, I knew just a little about Vinted. I had the perception, as most Lithuanians do, that Vinted is an online thrift shop that was being run by ±20 people. But when I came to the office for the first time, I was quite surprised that there were more than 250 people working here at that time. At first it was difficult to understand why you would need so many people to work on a website and a mobile app, but after a few weeks it was evident that there are an abundance of areas for product improvement.
What has changed since you joined Vinted?
The way I look at and approach product problems. But of course professional growth is to be expected when you join a company that has already proven the world its value and has employees that have launched or worked in top-tier companies. What I am happiest about is that I have grown massively as an individual. It’s quite difficult to compare how much you have grown, but the way I communicate and think have changed massively. What is super exciting is that I am not an unusual example at Vinted. It’s inspiring to witness how all of my colleagues are growing both as specialists and individuals in a similar way. The environment we have in the company constantly pushes you to do more and not become too confident and comfortable about the work you do.
What would be an atypical day for you?
A day when I would wake up and feel that I could do 100% of what I am able to. It’s both a curse and a blessing that I have such a mindset, because it certainly pushes me to achieve greater things, but I am never fully satisfied with the status quo.
And what would be a perfect day?
I wake up full of excitement about the things I am planning to do that day. I always dreamed of having an interesting life where every day becomes an extraordinary memory. Excitement for me means a bit of uncertainty about the new experiences that are going to happen.
What are the key things you learned so far during your time at Vinted?
I learned quite a number of design and product related things in just two years. Recently I wrote an article about that. Nothing ground-breaking, but I would have loved to have known these two years ago. If I had to point out just one lesson related to my specialty, it would be the realisation that everyone is responsible for their own growth. Colleagues and environment can amplify the progress or adjust the direction, but the “drive” itself has to come from you.
Were there any mistakes made and lessons learned?
Of course! I’ve failed so many times on both a personal and professional level. But what’s imperative is that from every mistake there was a learning. It’s important to understand when a mistake is a mistake and even more importantly, what do you get from it. At Vinted we foster full transparency. We talk out loud about the mistakes we make, we communicate reasons why they happened and what we will do differently in the future to avoid such cases. There is absolutely no shame in showing vulnerability and talking publicly about your failures, because not only do you get value from such self-reflection, but sharing your pitfalls publicly might also help others. It’s shameful to try to conceal mistakes and expect that nobody will notice it.
Who is your role model?
I don’t think that the world needs another Elon Musk or Steve Jobs. So I don’t really have a single person whom I look up to or whose path I would like to follow. I don’t feel like following someone or glorifying a particular person above others. There are thousands of people who do outstanding things, but instead of idealising a particular person, I build my own fictional role model by choosing different qualities that I admire from different people. Every single person I know has unique character traits that I admire and would like to see in myself.
What principles do you follow in life and at work?
I aim to have a rationale behind every decision. In work, when designing new features, every word, line or colour has to have a reason as to why it’s there. Product designers aim to build hasslestle-free experiences, meaning that every button, icon or screen has to be in the place where users would expect it to be. Thus, we cannot rely on our personal preferences, we need valid argumentation for every detail. Such pragmatic thinking is now evident in my personal life as well. I tend to have a goal or intention for everything I do, every opinion of mine has to be supported by other than emotional arguments. In other words: everything has to have its purpose. It sounds like a cliche, but currently, it’s the way I see things.
If you could host a dinner and invite three people, who would you invite and why?
This might sound very egocentric, but if I could, I would invite the 30, 50 and 70 years-old versions of me. At the moment, I am a highly career-oriented person, every day I strive to be a better version of myself in terms of professional and social growth. The thing is that I am quite sure that this mindset of mine will change sooner or later. I’d be very curious to hear what the grown-up Daumantas would have to say to the current version of me.
How do you spend your free time?
I like extreme sports, although at the moment that’s more aspirational rather than an actual description of my leisure time. Currently, I spend my free time on side-projects, which, who knows, might one day become actual products that will solve real world problems. Recently I’ve decided to take part in unfamiliar undertakings, one of them being a volunteer guide for the Open House Vilnius event. As mentioned above, I aspire to an exciting life, so I try to expand my interest areas.
One fun fact about you
When I was a child - which wasn’t all that long ago - I wanted so badly to have a skateboard. I got one eventually for my 7th or 8th birthday, but I never rode it.
What are some of the podcasts you love listening to?
On occasion, I listen to design related podcasts such as Wireframe, but my favourite one currently is Bad Decisions. It’s an entertaining and highly educational podcast about marketing and psychology.
What music do you like to listen to?
I don’t have a consistent taste in music. One day I can listen to the Cinematic Orchestra, another Rudimental or The Weeknd. If I would have to choose my favourite band and artist, it would be The XX and Jamie XX.