Jing Xue: “Life is like a box of chocolates”

You can spend more time with your family, my daughter learned how to bike during the pandemic because we can spend more time teaching her and encouraging her to try and practice after dinner time. Now is a good time to learn more about your little one. What kids are thinking is really fascinating, and […]

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You can spend more time with your family, my daughter learned how to bike during the pandemic because we can spend more time teaching her and encouraging her to try and practice after dinner time. Now is a good time to learn more about your little one. What kids are thinking is really fascinating, and being able to watch them grow is really precious.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Jing Xue, COO and Co-founder of DecorMatters, a free home decoration app using augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) technology, to make the interior design and furniture shopping process fun, simple, and affordable. The company recently surpassed 5 million users and has been featured in MIT Technology Review, Apartment Therapy, among others. Prior to building the DecorMatters’ platform from scratch to a mature version, Jing has nearly a decade of experience as an architect and engineer at some of the top tech companies in California, such as Qualcomm and Nvidia. She holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Rochester.

From home and among the sudden circumstances of COVID 19, she not only oversees all operations at DecorMatters but is also a mother and wife, raising and homeschooling her 3-year-old daughter and expecting her second baby in the upcoming months! She has tons of insight and experience on how to not only manage but tackle the mother and business leader life head-on during COVID.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Before starting my own company, I was an engineer working in different tech companies for 6 years. During which, I was fascinated with how to build a different company culture to scale the company, and how to build products that can help to improve people’s life. Fortunately, I was able to find resources and wait for the right time. When I purchased my house, it was really tough for me to imagine how different furniture looks in my room, so building a platform that can make the furniture shopping and interior design easy and fun was rooted in my head. I was able to find two other co-founders and quickly build a MVP and test the market, that’s where we started DecorMatters.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

I still remember there was one morning where I sat in front of my computer and started reading our users’ feedback. There was one long message that caught my eye. This user said that she has experienced a mental illness and her mom passed away a few weeks ago, her life was shattered at that time until one day she got our app. She always dreamed of being an interior decorator when she was small, so she started designing with room templates in our app and was able to share her designs with other passionate people in our community. This kept her calm and helped her heal from her anxiety and mental issues. Now she has started to move to a new place and is ready to start a new life. After reading her story, my eyes filled up with tears and that’s the first time that I realized that I am doing something that can impact people’s life more than I expected.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am working on the website version of our design platforms where people can design their home using our web version for free and also be able to create design projects and get hundreds of designs for inspirations at a really low price.

I believe these can benefit most of the people who move to a new place or want their room to be decorated.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband Qi is the person that I would like to thank the most. Not only do we help each other to grow, we also support each other in different ways. When I feel frustrated or low, he encourages me and points me in the right direction.

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?

I think the biggest family-related challenges that I am facing is not only the work-life balance, but also how to achieve a similar quality of life that we had before.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

Keep communicating with other family members to make sure everyone is on the same page. For example we shared schedules so that we can make a plan for the coming days — we can know who can do the home schooling when and who can take care of the meals during the day.

Prepare for the next day or for the next week.

Outsource some of the house work to machines for example, schedule groceries deliveries online can save shopping trips, schedule the vacuums to clean the floor once a week.

Ask family to help, for example, we can teach our 3-year-old daughter to clean up her toys or help with the laundry, etc.

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

The biggest challenge I think is also communication. Before the pandemic, we could talk to each other face-to-face, and be able to use the white board or directly point at the computers. And you can understand others’ frustration or happiness through their gestures and facial expressions. With working remotely, all the communication is less efficient since we can only connect by voice or text. Having more frequent meetings and utilizing the online communications tools are necessary to improve the communication efficiency when working remotely.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

Having standup meetings every day, and everyone gets a chance to talk about what they are working on, it’s also a good time to know whether there is a need for further communication — for example, one team member may depend on another team member’s output and we therefore need to adjust people’s work priorities.

Having a summary meeting every day also helps every team member have a clear separation of work and their life. This can help our teams to keep a good morale and be able to work happily in the long term.

Also as a team leader, make sure to have enough time to conduct 1:1 to understand team members’ needs. Everyone feels under pressure in this pandemic, so make sure everyone is happy.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

  • Having standup meetings every morning or sharing calendars with your partners is a good way to maintain communication between your team and family.
  • Keep things prepared, for example, prepare the meals the day before or prepare the homeschooling materials ahead of time during the weekend.
  • Team up with your family members to get things done, for example, if you are having a meeting, your partner can take care of the kids or vise versa. If your partner needs to handle something at work, you can prioritize your work with preparing the meals.

Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?

Keep optimistic and look at the good side of the story. For me, I think we should all cherish the time that we stay at home; kids are happy since we are always at home with them, and families have more time to have meals together instead of only dinner at home.

Try to find different activities for family to spend quality time together, such as watching a family movie on the weekend, or camping in the backyard, etc.

Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

I think everyone hates the feeling of uncertainty and easily lives with anxiety and fear as the pandemic continues.

5 reasons to be hopeful during the pandemic:

  1. You can spend more time with your family, my daughter learned how to bike during the pandemic because we can spend more time teaching her and encouraging her to try and practice after dinner time. Now is a good time to learn more about your little one. What kids are thinking is really fascinating, and being able to watch them grow is really precious.
  2. Improve your living environment such as home gardening. We grow a lot of vegetables in our backyard, and watching these plants grow and fruit are quite satisfying and healing.
  3. A good time to learn how to do everything online. Such as how to have efficient meetings online, or learn how to sketch other people’s computers while they are presenting etc.
  4. A good time to improve your communication skills with your team members and learn how to get things done remotely.
  5. A good time to practice your home cooking skills such as baking.

From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  • Going for exercise together such as running, or yoga, etc. For little ones, having games with them can cheer them up, such as do a letter scavenger hunt in the neighborhood.
  • Talk to them about news and happy things happening in the world.
  • Give them surprises such as camping in the backyard or prepare a BBQ outside or picnic in your backyard.
  • Call friends regularly.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Life is like a box of chocolates, even though we don’t know what we are going to get, we are going to get something sweet. I think keeping optimistic and trying to make your life fun is the most important thing for everyone.

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