We had the good fortune of connecting with Mikee Catacutan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mikee, so given that most of us are stuck at home due to the crisis, we’ve been asking folks about what they’ve enjoyed doing during quarantine. We’d love to hear what your favorite thing to do has been.
My favorite thing to do during quarantine is organize my digital life. As someone whose career relies heavily on a computer, those work files only are a digital life on their own. Add to that, my personal digital life, it’s just all over the place and this extra time has finally allowed me to not only clean up my desktop and delete unnecessary files, but also relive a lot of photo memories that aren’t work related (friends, family, travel, etc.). How have I kept busy? Luckily I’m able to work from home (perk of that digital career) so my days are still consumed with work, but I’ve taken up some new hobbies to help me maintain a somewhat healthy (or as healthy as one can be stuck at home) lifestyle. My current obsession being inline skating. I’ve been trying to rollerblade early every morning around the neighborhood to avoid cars. I’m not the kind of person that can get motivated working out at home so without access to the gym, I need other ways to burn these quarantine calories!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a Creative Director of a online streetwear retail company, DrJays.com and Freelance Photographer. 14 years ago, I started off in my company at the bottom of the Creative Team. I was mostly doing data entry and at times would assist with some photography studio work. My only creative experience straight out of college was a couple of internships so the fact I was coming from an hourly part time job to a career with salary and benefits was totally exciting to me. It was the first time I felt like I was finally adulting. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? At that time, it was a start up company with a small Creative Team. After a year of working there, I saw a huge opportunity for me to pave my own way and build a career and title for myself. There was a path missing that I knew I fit perfectly. Along the way, I think the most challenging part was proving to our CEO and Executives why visuals and design mattered. A big part of not seeing the importance of that was because you change a design, you don’t necessarily see a change in analytics right away. Branding doesn’t always directly translate to sales. The best way I could communicate the importance was to show case studies of larger companies who had gone though creative and design changes and how that effected their overall brand in the long run. Sometimes those changes take time to see a change. As fashion evolves, so does creative thinking and visual branding. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others? The best compliment I’ve received that really put a stamp into me understanding what my strengths are is from a resignation letter from one of my designers. I took him under my wing with very little online design experience and saw him really flourish into an amazing Web Designer. I groomed him to be my #2 and I believe strongly that every leader needs a strong #2 to be successful. The shitty part about that (can I say shitty lol) is that if you’re successful, you’re #2 will eventually leave. He ended up moving to San Francisco and landed a Web Design position with Gap. In that letter, he said that what he admired most about me was my eye for beauty. Prior to that, I always had a hard time trying to figure out or put into words why I did what I did, well. It was then I realized I wanted to be a Creative Director because while I know I am not technically as skilled or talented in design as some of those who work for me, I have a way of seeing the picture as a whole. So in the end, the brand I’ve created and the brand I ask people to trust, is me. And all of that also directly relates to how I approach my freelance photography.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
It’s crazy how we take for granted where we live. I travel so much and look up so many areas to see and photography but when you’re asked about your city, we draw blanks because we’re just so use to it. A week in San Diego? I’d say that involves a list of the following: Beer: a ton of breweries, too many to pick. Food: Top chef owned restaurants but also so many good local eateries. Animae for fancy, The Friendly Tavern for cheap flat top burgers. Izakaya Masa for late night Japanese. Photo Ops: Balboa Park – a mini little Central Park-esque vibe. Little Italy, IMO one of the hippest Little Italy’s in the nation. Beaches: La Jolla Shores, Wind and Sea or Imperial Beach are my faves. End at Sunset Cliffs. Bars: A little bar hopping in Hillcrest or North Park for sure. Hillcrest: Number One Fifth Avenue – my favorite hole in the wall, they pour them hard. North Park: Polite Provisions, a somewhat fancier affair. Shopping: Westfield UTC, newly remodeled, outdoor shopping at its best. Plants: Green Fresh Florals, the cutest plants in town. Tourist Goals & People Watching: Downtown and Seaport Village. Adventure: Hikes, hikes and more hikes – Cowles Mountain for the views and Iron Mountain for the calm. Early Morning Runs: Peaceful jog along the harbor.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents are the biggest reason I am where I am today in terms of not just career but life in general and the philosophy I try to live by of be good, do good, feel good. From the start, doing well in school was always instilled. It seems so stereotypical considering I’m Filipino, but that push to get good grades wasn’t so they could see an A in my report card. It was for me to see that A. The lesson was that if I put in the effort needed, I could succeed. And it was never about being perfect. B’s and C’s weren’t frowned upon as long as I tried. If they didn’t push me to succeed, I’m not sure if I would have found that drive myself. And it’s a gear that I use in all aspects of life.
Nominate someone: ShoutoutSocal is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.