One would assume the inventor should do things that work. They’re supposed to identify a problem and build some innovative solution to fix it. Simone Giertz has been great about the first part but intentionally dreadful about the second.
For the most part of her career as the inventor and content creator, Giertz has been the self-proclaimed “Queen of Shitty Robots,” having shorts on YouTube with inventions that never had anything more than a punch line. There was a helmet that haphazardly brushes your teeth; the alarm clock that slaps you awake with a rubber arm; and a haircutting drone with dangerous inaccuracy — each one as ridiculous as the last.
Over time, however, the joke that Giertz was hilariously bad as the inventor started to wear off for her.
“I’m a recovering self-deprecator,” Giertz says in the episode of the Fast Company podcast Creative Control. “It’s like defending the internet creator and beating everyone to the joke and to the insult. I’ve been really trying to practice not talking myself down and talking down my skills. ”
The catalyst for Giertz’s pivot? A brain tumor.
In 2018, Giertz was diagnosed with a noncancerous meningioma. Doctors were unable to fully remove the tumor, and what remained grew back within a year. The ordeal of surgery, radiation therapy, and simply dying out made Giertz realize that she didn’t want to waste energy on things that didn’t work. Rather, she wanted to realize her actual dream of being a product designer.
“I had such limited energy capital, and it really put into clarity what I wanted to spend time on,” she says. “And that was building these slightly more thoughtful projects.”
Giertz created a light-up calendar to keep track of daily goals, a chair for dogs that you’re always working on, an adjustable table with a hidden compartment for working on jigsaw puzzles, and more. No doubt, its most ambitious “thoughtful” project to date has been converting a Tesla into a pickup truck, aka the “Truckla.”
Recently, Giertz launched her product store, the Yetch store (“Yetch” is the phonetic spelling of her last name in English), where she still has functional touches that still have a touch of her humor.
In Giertz’s episode of Creative Controlshe goes deep into her pivot away from lousy robots, her modest plans to take over the product design world with the Yetch store, why she’s thinking about selling the “Truckla,” her most famous invention to date, and more.
Check out highlights below and listen to the full episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, RadioPublic, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher.
Being less bad
“I think I would’ve kept on building shitty robots, I would probably have a bigger YouTube channel now. But for myself and for the longevity of my career and for my happiness and creative satisfaction, I felt like broadening it was important, and it was what I wanted to do.
“It’s important to have a simple story in the beginning that people can latch on to. Then you can kind of expand from there. But I remember I was so scared of being pigeonholed in the beginning. It was always something that I was nervous about, because I was like, I’m gonna run out of ideas. If I’m not finding ways of expanding what I’m doing, I’m gonna get stuck. I want to make sure I’m the first person who gets sick of it. ”
Less YouTube, More “Yetch”
“YouTube doesn’t feel like an end goal for me. I want to use my YouTube channel from the R&D department. So I can make projects on YouTube. Then if there is something there that I can pass on to the product team. We can manufacture it, and then I can pass it over to the YouTube channel, and I can market it to people there. It just feels like it’s two businesses that kind of seamlessly coexist and support each other, which I’m just stoked to see how it evolves over the next 10 years. ”
Finding the Yetch feel
“I want to be relevant to people who don’t know who I am or who doesn’t care about who I am. But at the same time, I want to be able to feel me throughout or to see that it is from me and it has a lot of that same kind of humor or that same aesthetic. I wanted it to be kind of a more grown-up version of what I do.
“Sometimes it feels like an impossible brief. I wanted it to be funny but not silly. I wanted it to be expensive, kind of design-y, but not pretentious or snobby — and a little bit gritty and cool, but at the same time polished. I gave myself this impossible brief as a fledging brand developer. But I’m really happy with where it’s landed. ”