Awake And Create: Why Picklecon Matters

September 19, 2018

Awake And Create: Why Picklecon Matters

Awake And Create: Why Picklecon Matters
Eli and Lei

Eli Alcazar and Lei Canlas are the CO Heads of Production at Design Pickle. These leading ladies are responsible for making sure our multi-part, constantly growing production system is thriving.

When it came time to find the Production Team’s new leader, both Eli and Lei were approached individually about the position. They proposed that they run it together. Of course, we said yes. This turned out to be one the best decisions we’ve made.

Eli and Lei were asked to share their thoughts on PickleCon, our annual conference in the Philippines. This year’s theme was Awake & Create. Eli and Lei were asked to reflect on this theme.

Is this a scam?

If one grew up in a traditional Filipino family and that family found out you were working for a startup company that ran 100% virtually, questions would be raised. Are you crazy? Will you earn a stable income? How sure are you that you’re gonna keep this job long-term? You’re just working from home, will you grow there?

It wasn’t just family who asked these questions either. Friends, people in our community, potential recruits also asked these questions. It’s not a surprise. It’s natural to question the unknown, to doubt something new and disruptive. A weaker person might take these types of questions to heart, make them doubt.

We have an internal joke amongst us Pickles. We simply say #notascam. We say this because there are many people who simply can’t believe that we practice what we preach. People have said, “this has to be a scam”.

Obviously, we are not a scam! The proof is not only delivered to our clients every day via our awesome graphic design. You can also see the proof in the lives of our fellow pickles.

Where we started

We both started as graphic designers at Design Pickle. In fact, almost every person in leadership on the Production team started out as Graphic Designers. While our paths to Design Pickle were different, we both were interested in Design Pickle because we wanted a better life:

We wanted to have more time for our ourselves and with our families.

We wanted to earn more money.

We wanted less stress in our day-to-day lives: impossibly long commutes to and from work because of traffic, freelance life-chasing down clients, compromising our value to gain clients, inconsistent pay.

We didn’t want to deal with the difficulty of finding someone to take care of our families when we’re away for work (either because of extremely long commutes, unconventional (often overnight) hours, or even having to work overseas)

Working at Design Pickle changed everything for us by addressing our needs and issues.


Working at Design Pickle did not just enable us to improve our lives, it provided an awakening that we were not just desk jockeys, we were more than just faceless cogs in a large machine.

Innately introverted, neither of us thought that we’d be capable of the growth we made in our careers, eventually leading teams and teams of designers, developing a robust support system, and making big decisions with confidence. Having the trust of our US team makes us feel 101% supported and heard. We are genuinely valued. We are empowered.

On a daily basis we are still amazed watching our teams perform, considering that we are thousands of miles away from each other. Then, we realize that this system did not appear out of the sky, fully formed. WE, the team, made this happen. It’s a huge source of pride.

Design Pickle thrives in growth – and growth starts in each individual Pickle who’s willing to push to and beyond their limits, to discover one’s strength and pursue their passion. Now that we have experienced empowerment as leaders, we press on to do the same for the rest of our colleagues. We want them to experience the same awakening that we had. Nothing is more empowering than knowing that one is capable of growth as long as one remains eager to learn and has the courage to take that first step.

the view from Eli and Lei's hotel room where they can see The Ascott, where the first, much smaller, PickleCon event was held
The view from our hotel room, across the street from The Ascott, where the first PickleCon was held.

Next door but a hundred miles (and years) away…

Our room at the Shangri-La had a view of the Ascott Hotel where the very first “Picklecon” was held 2 years prior. That year the whole team fit into a small conference room. We rented a massive projector that made our group look even smaller! It felt like our room at the Shangri-La was thoughtfully selected to remind us where we started, and how much we have grown: From a small meeting room for our first official gathering to booking the ballroom at the Shangri-La!

More than 200 people attended PickleCon18. PickleCon18 brought together almost the ENTIRE Design Pickle Family to Manila for 4 days of meetings, sharing, goal setting, and celebration. Suddenly, our team that is usually separated by vast geography were all in the same room together.

In addition to the fellowship, we received amazing training, collaborated with our peers, had a talent show, and had an awards gala! Tears of joy, sadness, and relief were shed. We hugged, we shouted, we did burpees. We all walked away with a greater sense of self and a clear purpose. Our vision is To Change Lives Through Creativity. PickleCon simultaneously changed our lives and gave us the tools to change the lives of others.

PickleCon was overwhelming but in a very good way. It was so much more than just an annual company event. It was designed to show gratitude and appreciation for everyone in the company.

It is just beyond amazing how having an attitude of gratitude empowers every individual who was present during PickleCon. So much love was given and received. There was so much recognition and appreciation for everyone’s hard work and contribution to the company’s growth.

Sometimes, it’s not that easy to comprehend the rate of our growth since we only get to see and meet everyone face to face once a year. But seeing everyone gathered in the ballroom made us awestruck. Because the work we do is done at our house, at our desk (and often in our pajamas), we forget how much impact we’ve made on our clients and each other.


Another takeaway that we had from the event is the beauty of synergy. Coming from different places across the globe, never in our wildest imagination would a team this diverse provide amplified results to our clients. It is indeed both a scary and challenging feat to work with individuals who have millions of ideas, varied views and different ways of doing things. But one thing remains clear for all pickles – WE HAVE ONE MISSION, ONE VISION, ONE SET OF CORE VALUES that guide us all.

an image of Russ Perry (founder of Design Pickle) with Lei Canlas and Eli Alcazar (the co-heads of production) at PickleCon
 Lei Canlas, Russ Perry, Eli Alcazar

Time to create

It’s been a few weeks since PickleCon and we laugh out loud every time we talk about being on a “PickleCon High.” Indeed, there were so many moments of awakening, appreciation, celebration, and learning during that week-long event it’s hard not to get a buzz just thinking about it. This buzz just gives us more fuel to do more and CREATE more.

Create is a powerful word and with all we took away from the event, we want to continue impacting lives through creativity. For sure, everybody knows how big the design market is in the world right now. Getting a design made is as easy as typing out a request online. With the right tools, anybody can design!

What sets Design Pickle apart from the rest is not the fact that we live and breathe design. It is because we create designs with a sense of purpose. We may not aim to create award-winning, critically acclaimed designs on a daily basis. In fact, we may just be working on a neighbor’s flyer for a fundraiser event, or a product brochure for a startup company. We design because we mean it. We design because we aim to empower our clients and we want to help change their lives.

We’re proud to say that this is the Design Pickle Way.