Dice HQ

Meet Emma Jennings, the DICE Senior Product Designer who got her start hacking Neopets

Words by Allyssia Alleyne
Photos by Charlotte Patmore

Talking NFTs, Berlin nightlife and emotional design with the Product team’s resident extrovert

You never quite know where a conversation with Emma will take you. Over the course of an hour, DICE’s Senior Product Designer will pivot from the radical potential of Web3 to the timelessness of ABBA, and then to the benefits of an all-black wardrobe and syncing your sleep schedule with the sun. Having moved from London to Brighton in 2021 in search of seaside bohemia, she personifies the openness, warmth and creativity the city is known for. Read on to learn more about Emma’s life in tech, her current obsessions and the values that drive her.

On trading fashion for startup life

I did my degree in fashion communications, but moving into tech felt like a natural progression. My dad, who is a developer, taught me HTML when I was a kid (we even made a website, Jenningsville.com, to document our lives). From there, I was always trying to hack things on Neopets, Habbo Hotel and Club Penguin, and creating websites for myself and other people – including a street style blog full of outfits that were just ridiculous in hindsight. I feel like I’ve just continued to build since then, really – that I actually get to do this for a living now feels incredible.

On the emotional side of design

My friends all know that when we hang out, I give 100% of myself. I want you to leave our conversation feeling enriched and nourished, and like you've had the best time ever. I also run a vegetarian supper club because I think food is another way to show yourself and other people a lot of love. That empathetic, loving energy is essential in design, too: you need to be able to relate to and understand the people interacting with your product if you’re going to give them the best experience. That’s one of the great things about what we do at DICE – you can feel the love that goes into the app. There isn’t a single person on the Product team who isn’t a music fan and DICE user themselves, so any ideas for how to improve the fan experience are welcomed. No idea is a bad idea if it’s what the fan wants or needs.

That
empathetic,
loving
energy
is
essential
in
design:
you
need
to
be
able
to
relate
to
and
understand
the
people
interacting
with
your
product
if
you’re
going
to
give
them
the
best
experience

On being raised on synths

I was born in London, but my family moved around a lot when I was a kid because of my dad’s job – I lived in Singapore and New Zealand before coming back to the UK for secondary school. Because I was away for so long, I was never into the stereotypical ’90s and noughties British music. Instead, I was influenced by Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and other old-school artists that my parents would play wherever we were. I still listen to those bands all the time, and as I’ve grown up, I’ve moved toward darker techno as well. But whatever I’m listening to, there’s going to be a high BPM and a bit of funk to it. 

On queer clubbing in Berlin

When it comes to nightlife, Berlin feels like home. I try to go a few times a year, and will spend a good 24 hours on the dancefloor at KitKatClub or at Tresor, where the techno is even heavier. There’s this idea that Berlin is a very tough place, which is true in some ways. But in reality, you’re free to be whoever you want, and no one will bat an eyelid. A lot of people who come to Berlin have had their own struggles or years of questioning their sexuality, and are looking to connect with like-minded people, which in turn makes the community really friendly and strong. Just waiting in the queues, you can create relationships that you’ll have forever. 

No
idea
is
a
bad
idea
if
it’s
what
the
fan
wants
or
needs

On sticking it to the man, one NFT at a time

NFTs are my current obsession. I had been lurking around in a few Discords for a while, but I only recently decided to take the plunge – it’s interesting how outside factors, like the stock market, and elements of group psychology can affect the price of these things; and it’ll be interesting to see how they become integrated into the rest of the world. I’ve made it a rule to only support projects by non-binary people and women, though. Women make up just 16% of the NFT art market – the least I can do is use my money to encourage the diversity I want to see.

On taking it slow

I came to DICE from a job at a luxury fashion brand, so there was a major culture shock at first. The fashion industry is so fast-paced and political, and there’s a constant pressure to deliver, deliver, deliver. But at DICE, I’ve had to learn to slow down. You’re given the space to explore and, within the Product Design team especially, you’re encouraged to take your time to produce the best work you possibly can. It’s about doing everything with intention rather than just doing – and that’s a lesson that you can carry into your personal life, too. 

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