Meet Davio White: Rising from a Cleaner to an International Product Designer

#CreatorStories showcases the honest personal experiences of digital creators who monetize their knowledge of a skill and sell it on Selar.

We share these stories every week to inspire you to create and sell a product out of your wealth of knowledge and be a part of the digital creator economy.

This week, we turn the lights on Davio, popularly known as Davio White online. Davio works as a brand illustrator, creative designer, and product designer.

Let’s get to know him, shall we?

Can we meet Davio white?

I am Davio, a brand illustrator, creative designer, and product designer. I share mostly branding and product design content online but I draw as well. 

I started my tech journey 2 years ago, during the lockdown by practicing, learning, and doing a lot of design-related things. So far, I have worked for brands both locally and internationally. I currently work for a couple of brands as a product designer. 

What was your career journey before becoming a brand and product designer?

I graduated from secondary school in 2013, then I became an apprentice at a computer hardware shop where I worked for about a month. 

Afterward, a family friend got me a job in a company as a cleaner. I started working as a cleaner in 2013, and resigned in September 2021, making it 8 years I worked at that company as a cleaner. 

Two years after I started working as a cleaner, I enrolled myself in National Open University to further my studies after receiving advice from my senior colleagues. I lost my parents in 2004 and 2013 respectively, and since then things were a little challenging, especially because I didn’t have anyone to advise me on certain things. 

That must have been difficult. How did you manage it? 

I enrolled in school, The National Open University and it was quite tasking. In 200 level I had to leave school because I could not afford the money since we had to pay per semester. I came back after a while and continued where I left off. I finished in 2019. 

Before I started tech, I was a secular musician. Some of my songs are on iTunes and my YouTube channel. In 2020, I dropped it and decided to focus on gospel songs. I love God a lot and I just wanted it to be obvious in my daily activities. So I shared a post online, telling people that I wasn’t into secular music anymore. 

One very good day, I was scrolling through YouTube to check American talent and learn a few singing/stage performance tips from them and just as I finished watching the video, the next one that played was a tutorial on logo design by Logos by Nick.  

That immediately caught my attention, and I went to his channel every day to learn and practice. That was how my journey to design started. 

Every day when I wake up, I put out a quote, it’s called “Thank you God for keeping things running.” A lot of people don’t know why I put it out, but I have a lot of stories to tell and it has molded me into the person that I am today. A lot of the things that happened to me looked like they happened by mistake but I believe it was Divine. 

What major thing did you do to improve yourself daily when you started learning?

When I started, I recreated designs by other designers and posted them online (specifically on Instagram and WhatsApp). Then I asked people to analyze my designs and give me feedback. I’d get good and bad critiques and it felt good because it helped me grow. 

When did you land your first job as a designer? 

I started posting on Facebook, and that was where I met a lady named Theodora. She recommended me for a role six months after I started designing. That was on the first of December 2020. It was a travel company and I worked with them remotely for a little over a year before getting other gigs. 

How did you become a brand and product designer?

In 2022, I decided to pursue a new career as a Product designer. A friend sent me to complete a course for him and that was where everything started. Before then, I had never taken a course before, I was always learning on YouTube. 

That course helped shape me as it gave me a better roadmap to what I needed to know and learn about product design, including the fundamentals and principles which are very important for our journey as product designers. 

I drew Encanto, an animated musical movie character. That had about over a thousand retweets and it gave me more recognition. It motivated me and I started recreating brand materials from top brands such as UBA and Bolt. 

How did you land a role as a brand and product designer after taking the course? 

On February 28, 2022, I landed a role with NFT notified in the Netherlands, which was my first role as a product designer and it was a test. A small account reached out to me on Twitter, with less than 100 followers, and they gave me a test to use a different tool called Builder X to create designs for them. 

I told them I could do it, even though I hadn’t used that software before. In fact, it was while on a call with them, that I did my research and discovered that the tool was similar to Figma. The test was to be delivered in 24hrs, but I delivered in 1 hr. That was how I got the job. 

A few months later, Chiver reached out to me, a designer was already working on their project and they reached out to me if I could complete it. I completed it and in the process of completing it, they offered me a remote role to work with the company and I’ve been working with them since then. 

On the 1st of September, which is my birth month, I got a role. Honestly, I didn’t even know when I applied for this role, I think it was months ago. They called me for an interview and wanted me to do a design and send in.  But I told them that I would like to do a live design instead. They were on the call while I was designing and explaining my design process. 

A few days later, they offered me a role in the company and I’ve been working with them since the 1st of September. That’s how I have landed most of the roles that I currently have and the ones I have worked in the previous years.

How do you manage to work three jobs without getting queried? 

I have been able to structure it in a way that helps me make the most of my time. I like to start my day with the simplest tasks and I don’t do so much visiting or hanging out. That part of me is gone for now and it saves me time. 

I also try to cut out extracurricular activities. I don’t have time for chatting because I am always very busy. I try to respond to messages at the end of the day and if it’s very important, I would see it because I have a phone holder. Once your message drops on my phone, I’ll know if it’s important or not to respond at the moment.  

I have other factors I put in place to ensure that I stay focused and meet up to deadlines, especially during the day. Most times I work till 3 am, then sleep off and wake up around 10 or 11 am. So if you wake me up by 7 am, I fit swear for you (laughs). 

That’s how I manage my day and try to meet up with all the tasks on time and not get queried for doing my job.

Probably in the future when I’m settled with one company that can pay me something huge, then I can reorganize myself (laughs). 

Are there months when you have no clients? What do you do then?

Honestly, my journey has been extraordinary. I have never gone a month without any client. I still tie it back to God’s faithfulness because I feel like there is something that happens to you if you truly love God, you’re just not the same. 

Since I got my first gig as a designer till date, there has been no month where I don’t have a client or a job I’m working on. 

That’s part of the reason when I go to church, I give largely. Every time I do, the next day, or even that same day, God just surprises me and it’s been consistent so I just keep doing that.

Giving does a lot of things for you, when I was in church, I used to be against it. But now, I don’t bother coming out in church when they ask for things. I just do it from my seat. I believe those things have a way of influencing everything you do as a person. 

How do you leverage the internet to promote your skills? 

I use my social media account. Even the people I am mentoring, I have told them, no good client will want to work with you if you have not advanced your skill to a certain point, and I have also told them that you can never be good enough, you just have to keep learning, practicing and putting yourself out there. And that’s something I do. 

I keep learning and trying to share value. I have worked on my portfolio, which is a major thing for every designer. If you are a product designer, work on 3 to 5 case studies and have them in your portfolio. 

I am not saying that without this case study you wouldn’t land roles, there is also God’s Grace ( the God factor in everything) but you need to have something to show for your skills. 

Most of my gigs have come from recommendations. You have to create a good network, connect with people, and build relationships. That’s something I do with my friends – Onyinye and Meshach. Shout out to both of you…you are doing well.  

So, showing up can do a lot of things for you but you just have to start. I recommend Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn because that’s where I’ve gotten the most gigs from. 

All I do is show up, connect with people and put my work out there. Whatever I design, I post, whether good or bad. I always tell people, people are watching so just keep showing up and good things will come your way. 

Interesting. So what about people that find it difficult to post on social media?

What I tell those people who say they find it difficult to share their posts online is “you are a rich kid, you don’t need money.”

That is one thing I appreciate comedians for. Nigerian comedians are doing so well and they are unashamed about it. 

They would go on the streets tie towels and create content and they know what they are doing. they are not just creating content for you to just laugh about, they are making money from those content once it gets on YouTube.

So you have to show up, and you have to do crazy things to make money. At the end of the day, we are doing all of these to feed our families. I have three siblings, and they all stay with me. So I have to do more. 

If you don’t want money, then don’t show up on the internet because once you start being consistent on the internet and sharing your stories, you’ll look back in years to come and be proud of yourself. It was a post I shared online that brought me my first product design role. So my dear, share your story. 

What’s been the hardest part of being a Nigerian working as a brand and product designer in three companies?

(laughs) It is very obvious – light and data. It has been a big challenge, I have to run the generator from morning when I wake up by 10 am till 3 am when I’m done with work.

Whenever I’m designing, my gen is on and I spend nothing less than two thousand Naira every day for fuel. At the end of the month, I still have to pay the electricity bill for light I don’t even see. 

Network is slow when you have data, and when you don’t have data, the cost of data is over the roof. It’s really crazy. I wish they could just give us light at least. We can fight the data.

How did you get into the creator economy? 

Honestly, I was pushed to do that one by a friend, Ashy. I designed his product and he recommended me for a gig where they needed someone to create a course, their first paid course on AptLearn under UI/UX- because UI/UX is one of the most sought-after courses in the tech ecosystem. 

It took about four months plus to complete that course and that was because Abah (my friend) was pushing me, if not that course would not have been released(laughs).  And so far it has sold over 500 copies. My Twitter followers also pushed me to start using my YouTube channel although I had it since I was singing. 

I have been receiving lots of Twitter DMs from people asking me to mentor them. I know it is going to take a lot of time, so I had to monetize it to ensure I don’t get a lot of people because if it was free, everybody would want to sign up. 

So that was how it all started. By recommendations from Ashy and pushing from Abah. 

We see you have a design course. Is it your first digital product? 

Yes, it is. 

How do you manage to be a digital creator,  freelancer, and consultant? 

It is not easy first off. I do a lot and oftentimes my friends reach out to me to tell me to rest so that I won’t shut down, but it’s not that easy. 

I tell people that my goals keep me going, I set goals and one of the things I like to do is to place my goals on my siblings. Seeing them eat, and have the basic life needs, just keeps me going. 

I have created ways to manage things, one of which is making sure meetings are scheduled on my calendar. Otherwise, I miss them, and missing out on meetings isn’t a great work style to have if I’ll love to keep my job (laughs). 

Also, as I said earlier, I start my day with the easiest tasks. I still do branding, so if I have a logo to create, I would do that before attending to product design because product design takes a lot of thinking, research, and time, so it’s the last on my list. 

It’s not easy, but it is what it is.

What’s the average amount you make from digital products?

In September, when I released the course, I sold over 300 copies so I made over a million Naira, so far I think I have made over two million from selling that course alone. My YouTube channel is not yet monetized so I don’t have figures from there yet. 

What’s your advice to other creators inspired by you? 

First off, just be you. I am saying be you because I have been dragged three to four times this year (laughs). Just be you and keep creating. Whatever knowledge you put out there, there is someone that is looking for it. 

Whatever I put out there is based on my experience and I’m sure that someone needs it. It is recently that I started to understand that a lot of people need whatever you put out there because they haven’t gotten that experience so just keep creating and ensure you put in so much knowledge. 

Learn as much as you can, practice, and share your knowledge with as many people as possible. Keep creating and remember that you are your own limit. 

You too can turn your life around. Get started today, learn a skill and turn your knowledge into income.