This post is part of a new series by Product Hunt, Makers’ Stories, highlighting unique products and the people behind them from across the world.
Charlotte Dann is the maker of Hexatope, a system that allows you to design your own unique jewellery using intuitive interaction with a hexagonal grid. She has been coding since her school days in 2006 and has an MA in Computational Design from Goldsmiths.
Tell us the story behind your latest product. Why did you build it?
Hexatope is a union of my two passions: jewelry design and programming. It’s an app that makes it easy for you to design your own jewelry online.
I love that little ‘aha’ moment you get when you’re really in the flow of something and think, “Wow I can actually do this, I’m being creative!”. I wanted to give that feeling to people who don’t naturally think of themselves as designers, so I started working on Hexatope.
What age were you when you first started making anything? What did you make?
I first started building when I was 14. I really wanted to make jewelry, but didn’t have any resources or skills. I found some YouTube tutorials for making chainmail that only required garden wire, a drill, wire cutters, and pliers.
I spent a whole summer making jump rings by hand and weaving them together. It was a revelation to be able to make something physical from such raw materials that actually looked good.
What advice can you give people who want to break into tech but don’t know where to start?
Don’t try to learn things alone. So many areas of tech are mind-boggling and intimidating — it’s so easy to get lost searching for the ‘right thing’ to learn or bogged down with intensive courses.
A great place to dip your toe in is at meetups and hackathons. Hackathons are welcoming to any skillset. Teams need non-coders too, and they’re very open places for you to learn from other people, make like-minded friends, and get a greater context for the type of things you’re interested in learning.
What’s the last thing you read that made a lasting impression or really got you to think differently?
I only read things that are going to make me think differently, otherwise what’s the point? So I’d have to go for the last book I read — Grit by Angela Duckworth. It’s about how grit (perseverance/resilience) is the most important trait for long-term success, far more than skill or intelligence.
It’s made me think a lot about my upbringing and the focus we put on certain personality traits throughout adolescence. It also made me analyze my flaws as a business person — I’ve always thought myself passionate and determined but now realize I’m not actually very gritty and that that will hold me back unless I internalize it and work on it.
When you’re running low on motivation, what do you do to pick yourself up?
Take a shower, have a glass of water, go for a walk, or cook a meal. I always feel so much better when my self-care basics are covered, then if I’m still low I’ll ring a friend to talk through the problem and how to solve it.
If I’m still not motivated after that, I know I’m not working on the right thing.
What were some of your favorite products, toys or gadgets when you were growing up as a kid?
I was such a puzzle nerd and I still haven’t got over it. Yoyos, Rubik’s cubes, jigsaw puzzles… I love it all.
What worries or scares you about the future of tech?
I’m worried we’ll go down a path and not realize it’s the wrong one until it’s a decade too late. I’ve watched too many Sci-Fi movies to believe we won’t massively mess up the mass assimilation of AI.
If you won a chance to be in the first group of humans to colonize Mars, with the risk of never returning to Earth, would you go?
Hell yes. I used to be so afraid of change but then I started traveling solo and now the excitement of adventure royally trumps the fear. I like making gains, and Mars is a pretty big gain.
In your opinion, what is the most under-appreciated emoji?
No mouth 😶. So understated, so humble, so forgiving.