The String and Key Crew: Micah Heiselt
As part of our ongoing employee spotlight series, we’ll be profiling colleagues who inspire us. Today, meet Micah Heiselt.
Company Role: Head of Creative
Most likely to: not be recognized on the street
Secret talent: amateur woodworker/jack of all trades
While many of us dream of graduating and hopefully going straight into a decent job, our Head of Creative, Micah took it to a whole other level and landed himself his first gig in Hawaii of all places. Yep, after growing up in Ohio and finishing up college in Utah, Micah decided that paradise would be his next destination — not too shabby for a first job!
After some time well spent basking in the Hawaiian sun, Micah settled in Brooklyn and has been creating in the Big Apple for the last 13 years.
Working in packaging design at Johnson & Johnson, a round of layoffs was the catalyst for working on more personal projects — specifically making his own game. He designed an iPad game and focused his energies on pitching to a few different agencies in hopes of finding someone to build it. From there, connections were made that led to one of those agencies hiring him as a freelance UX designer. That led to him leading their UX team, and THAT led to him working at String and Key.
Our creative gatekeeper, Micah makes sure everything we produce aligns with our product’s greater vision. From mentoring the creative team to pushing design boundaries, he brings his multiple talents to the variety of projects that we work on. So get to know this valued member of our senior leadership team and see what inspires him.
What do you do, and what does your typical workday look like?
As the Head of Creative, I’m heavily focused on defining and refining our creative vision — making sure that things are moving well and that what we’re building is in line with who we want to be. On a daily basis, you’ll find me working closely with my UX and UI designers, and copywriter, to figure out the best approach to execute that vision.
I start the day by meeting with my team and making sure they have what they need to be at their best — whether that’s information or resources or even some advice. As the day goes, I’ll meet with individual members of the team to help out with any roadblocks, answer questions, and review work. I also schedule weekly one-on-one chats to discuss anything from work to life to career growth — it’s a great way to open up new communication lines in a more structured setting. Overall, I focus on striking the right balance in providing my team with creative freedom and guidance where needed.
Outside of creative-team work, I also regularly meet with the product owner and leadership teams to ensure that the overall work we’re producing is true to our vision.
What’s your favorite part about working at String and Key?
I like that it’s challenging. I loved the last place I worked, from my team to my boss, but I found myself complacent. A job would come in, we would do it, and it would go out. That’s not the case at String and Key. Everything here is a challenge — and if it’s not a challenge, well, then it’s clear then we’re not pushing ourselves. We always try to do the very best we can and not limit ourselves, and that’s very exciting. Also, the people are great! It’s a fantastic team of people who are not pretentious but are very skilled. Everybody is passionate about doing their best work and not about looking good.
What excites you about your job?
I love that anyone on the team can be the one that brings the next great idea! The work’s nature gives us all — regardless of job title or experience — the freedom to think, create, and succeed or fail. Everyone’s opinions and input are genuinely valued (which makes sense because the people at String and Key are excellent at what they do). We all work collaboratively — I’m very happy to be in that sort of environment.
Also, because we’re building something truly from scratch, I don’t know exactly what this job will look like a year or two from now — that’s exciting. From our teams to the way we approach things, how we grow and change is really up to us. The potential just seems immense and that’s pretty cool!
What are the values that drive you?
Being proud of the work that we do. It’s taking a problem, whether that’s a design problem or whatever, and finding the right solution that’s thoughtful and intelligent. And that doesn’t mean that it’ll always be the right solution or that we’re not going to find flaws in it later, it just means that designs are made thoughtfully. That’s important to me, and I take a lot of joy in that process.
What drew you to tech and what excites you about the industry?
What drew me was an accident. What excites me is this nice balance between constraint and potential that you find in the tech world. As a designer, I love constraints, and so I really liked the idea of designing for a phone. It’s exciting because you have to create an amazing experience in this tiny little box. And while you have terrific features like motion control and camera, etc, they’re still precise in the things they can and can’t do. You have a ton of flexibility within that ecosystem, but it’s an ecosystem that’s very contained. So like i said, it’s this great balance between constraint and potential, and tech, to me, just allows that to the degree that other areas don’t.
If you could swap places with anyone at String and Key, who would it be and why?
I think it would be one of our mid-level mobile developers. Over the years, I’ve had the chance to work with excellent developers, and it’s been exciting to see a vision being built and brought to life. I’ve tried my hand at developing and have realized my brain just stops at a certain point. I just cannot translate it (conceptually, yes, but not when it comes to the actual code work). So it’d be exciting to dive into a role where there is a great blend of creativity and technicality.
What unexpected subject could you give a one-hour presentation on with no advance prep?
I could teach a decent course on constructing costumes and other things out of foam. I just love the tactile nature of it, especially since most of my design work is digital.
The agenda for my foamsmithing course would go something like this:
- Planning what you want your costume to be.
- Breaking it down into its individual components.
- Understanding the material’s characteristics and how you work with it, shape it, cut it, etc.
- What tools you need: adhesives, paints, etc.
As to how I got into it, you can thank YouTube for that. I’ve always loved Halloween (my dad used to build amazing costumes back in the day), and so I’d use YouTube to look up costume ideas. And as I looked up designs for different types of costumes, I slowly started to see (especially in the cosplay community) that foam was a big part of how they do it. Some of the work is just mindblowing — there’ll be entire suits of armor that look so real, but they’re just made of floormats. So yeah, you could say YouTube taught me everything I know about foamsmithing.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
My kids/family keep me very busy. I’m also very active in my church. And that is plenty, to be honest.
Can you list five hashtags that describe your personality?
#FamilyLife #NoCarLife #MaterialHoarder #Puzzler #CustomBuildLife
Frozen pizza or frozen burrito?
Definitely frozen pizza.
Go forward in time or go back in time?
Pictionary or charades?
High tech or low tech?
Pacman or Tetris
Interested in working at String and Key? Join us!