Meet The Gnarnians: Erica

  • June 1, 2023
  • Erica Knauss
  • 5 min read

Gnarnian [nahr-nee-uhn] noun : An employee of The Gnar Company


In our Meet The Gnarnians series, we unravel the stories, experiences, and passions that drive the folks on our talented team at The Gnar. Through a collection of interview-style questions, you’ll get a sneak peek into daily life on our fully-remote team, some epic origin stories, and answers to some questions as weird and wonderful as our team itself.


The Basics

Where are you located? Philadelphia, PA

What is your Role? Design Director

When did you join the Gnar? November 2022


What's the best advice you've ever received?

When I was in college I used to order enough Chinese food to last me a couple of days (very normal, we all did it). The best part of not only having cheap meals that would last the week but the large amount of fortune cookies they would include in the assumed large family sized order. Most of the time the messages you get are pretty repetitive, "Don't hold onto things. that require a tight grip,"  "A faithful friend is a strong defense, " or like "Good luck will find you soon". However, this one night while I was stressing over my end of year portfolio, I opened one that said, "You can do anything but not everything", then another that said, "Don't Panic". Both very different than you'd typically get. I kept them, and taped them to a post card I pinned to my wall, and carried them with me until I lost them in a move. So yeah, I could say that was the best advice I've received thanks to my delivery food.


What’s the last song you played or are listening to right now?

Currently listening to "I'm a Princess" by Bill Wurtz. 


What was your career journey up until joining the Gnar?

My entire career has been in the design industry but not the same mediums. When I graduated I worked for small NYC design studios, designing identities specifically for hotels, restaurants, and food & beverage companies. That work included a lot of print design, web design and creation of die-lines for physical product packaging. The work I did for restaurants focused around menus, branding for the interior, signage, and their websites. After working for a few small studios I moved to a global agency in NYC, and developed design systems for healthcare and consumer brands like Vonage, Amtrak, and Nestle Waters. At some point everyone was switching from agencies to tech start-ups and I thought I'd might try that out too. While working at various tech start-ups, I got to wear many hats (marketing hats, product management hats, and even an office design hat), was able to build my experience in product design, lead several small design teams, and most recently was part of a fintech start-up that went public during my tenure there.


If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

There was a point in my life where I was torn between culinary school and art school. Obviously I picked art school, but if I didn't I would 100% be doing Pastry/baking. 


What is your ideal work/desk set-up?

I recently moved into my own house and for the first time had the freedom to put my desk in its own room other than my bedroom or living room. I built a wall-length desk with a counter top, added some table legs and desk drawers. Since it's technically a kitchen countertop I don't have to worry about the condensation from all my iced coffees ruining it. I also keep a lot of design books within reach, pens, my sketchbook, and a Wacom tablet. On the other end of the desk is a work area for my partner and the xbox. With summer coming, I'll probably move to take some calls on my back patio, but I prefer to work from my office. It's important to me to maintain that feeling of stepping away from my "work area" for a mental break which is why I tend to only be productive from one area versus multiple set-ups throughout my house. 


How do you structure your work day or week?

One thing about me that has been forever true, I am NOT a morning person. I am not productive at all. I start my day either taking a brisk walk with my dog to a local coffee shop or just the walk and then make coffee at home. Either way I need coffee, coffee is a priority. Knowing my focus isn't the best in the morning I tend to designate that time then to things like, checking emails, planning my tasks for the day, and attending stand-ups for various projects. One of the best things about working remotely is I actually am more productive earlier than when I used to commute to work. Before lunch, I typically spend time doing any additional research, and looking up design inspiration. By the afternoon I am more heads down on client work which ranges from writing user research plans, designing, connecting with contract designers, and working internal projects for The Gnar like, designing social posts, writing blog posts, or documenting internal processes. At 3pm my dog reminds me it's time for her walk, and after that 'm usually heads down for the rest of the afternoon to early evening. Being a night-owl I will often be back online after 8pm for anything that is still swirling around in my head. 


Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing? 

My partner and I own a small gelato shop in Fishtown, Philadelphia. If I'm not there helping him in the shop, I'm either out with my dog, playing video games or visiting friends in NYC for the weekend.

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