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The Drum

July 26, 2019

Kate Darby — The Drum’s 50 Under 30: outstanding women in creative and digital


The Drum’s 50 Under 30 celebrates the world’s highest achieving women in creative and digital under the age of 30. For 2019, we present our first ever global edition of the 50 Under 30 after asking our readers across APAC, Europe and the Americas to nominate the talent they most admire.

Below, you'll find the fifth and final set of inductees to this year's list. If you've missed our series revealing the full 50 this week, catch up on parts onetwothree and four now. Our thanks go out to everyone that participated this year and we wish a huge congratulations to all of our 2019 50 Under 30 honorees.

Kate Darby is co-founder of Dovetail X, an app that helps agencies and freelancers form their own collaborative networks. Outside her work, Darby hosts the Design Work podcast, where she interviews trailblazers from all over the world. She also hosts a New Zealand chapter of The Design Kids.

News release

May 2019

New platform empowers agencies to create their own talent networks

For the first time, agencies have a tool to build their own live networks of creative talent.

Released this month, Dovetail X enables talent and project managers to create Pinterest-style boards to curate and scale their creative teams. The platform allows managers to get a bird’s-eye view of talent, build teams collaboratively, and scale quickly for projects.

Dovetail X founder, Kate Darby says the new tool was built in response to a fundamental shift in client, agency and talent relationships.

“In a new era of project-based work, the traditional retainer model has been made redundant, requiring agencies to be adaptable and light on their feet,” she says.

“It's no longer about size, it's about ability to scale. Clients are ditching retainers in favor of rapid-turnaround projects. Agencies that work more like an open network, than a production line will be able to adapt and scale to each new project.”

While agencies race to adapt their workplace models, the workforce itself is also changing. Creatives are going freelance and starting niche, independent studios to service a new breed of clients and projects. Previously this talent would have been locked up in full-time roles, but now agencies have a more diverse pool to access.

“We spoke with hundreds of creatives and agencies all over the world. The recurring theme was that a combination of the right talent and the ability to move fast would be the difference between winners and losers.”

“We kept hearing the same thing. Discovering new talent was important, but people also had networks they had been personally curating and amassing for years. These valuable connections were being buried in stale spreadsheets, with little or no shared access.”

“Our tool needed to be flexible and simple enough for talent managers, creative directors or project people to access their talent fast, without us getting in the way.”

For that reason Dovetail X takes no commission on talent, opting for a simple, flat subscription model that removes any barriers between agencies and their talent networks.

“The future of work is open, diverse ecosystems of talent. We want to equip agencies so they are ready to thrive in that world.”


About Dovetail X

Dovetail X is a new web app to organize and view creative talent in one place. Managers can upload their own spreadsheets of existing contacts to private boards or discover new talent in the wider Dovetail X network. Dovetail X is free to join, and there is a flat subscription fee for full feature usage. There are no commission fees on talent or extra job-posting fees.

Dovetail X is designed for talent directors, creative directors and projects managers to organize talent and jumpstart the next project faster. It also is a platform for creative freelancers to post profiles bringing together all their portfolio, skills and availability in one place.

Dovetail X was founded by New Zealand father-daughter design team, Kate and Simon Darby. Both are award-winning creatives and agency directors themselves with experience working across the industry. Kate hosts podcast, Design Work and has been recognized as ‘one of eight creative New Zealanders to know about’ in 2019. Simon is a designer and agency founder who has worked for global agency networks and tech startups around the world.

Idealog Magazine

Here’s eight creative New Zealand women you should know about

By ELLY STRANG, 08 Mar 2019

We celebrate women every day here at Idealog, but we also won’t pass on an excuse to roll out a list of inspiring women more people need to familiarise themselves with. So in light of March being our Creativity Month and today being International Women’s Day, here’s eight trailblazing women making New Zealand a more imaginative and innovative place through their work in tech, design, start-ups, urban design and more.

Idealog Magazine

Introducing Design Work, a podcast by New Zealand designer Kate Darby that shows global designers embracing new ways of working

Jan 25, 2019


Design Work is a new podcast hosted by New Zealand designer Kate Darby that interviews trailblazing creatives from all over the globe about how they design and how they embrace new modes of working, which will be hosted on Idealog's site over the coming weeks. Here, we have a chat to Darby about what inspired her to start the podcast, the gig economy and what it means for designers, and the key lessons she's learnt along the way while conducting the interviews.

UX Collective

Tour de Workforce — here comes the collective economy

July 24, 2018

What does a group of lycra-clad cyclists have to do with the future of work? More than you might think.

The peloton is a big pack of cyclists who move together through most of the race. Only one person can reach the top of that podium. So why are these cyclists hanging out together in a posse? The same reason that birds fly in formation and fish swim in schools; survival. The slipstream can create up to 40 per cent less drag. Over miles and miles of gruelling hills it is the difference between finishing and shrivelling up on the side of the road.

Idealog Magazine

Lessons from San Francisco Design Week: Bootstrapping your way to the US

June 19, 2018

Launching your start-up is a daunting task. It’s a bit like throwing a party. Your friends promise they’ll come, but you know that any legendary party needs a big turn out. So why make a launch even more challenging by doing it in the US? Dovetail X's Kate Darby explains how it can work.

Design Week San Francisco

The future of working solo is working together

San Francisco, June 7, 2018 - Debuting on Thursday 7 June at San Francisco Design Week, Dovetail X is launching the first open platform for creative and tech freelancers to build their own pop-up agencies.

With a cardboard co-working space in the Design Hub, Dovetail X is proving that collaboration can pop-up anywhere. The new platform enables freelancers to team up with each other to win bigger, better projects.

Co-founder and Dovetail X designer, Kate Darby says before Dovetail X there was no easy way for freelancers to scale. “Freelancers love their independence, but there are only so many billable hours in the day. If they team up, they can grow their network and their income.”

Unlike other freelance gig platforms, Dovetail X does not clip the ticket on freelancers or their clients. Instead it allows project leads to search for the perfect role-fit and invite collaborators on board. Freelancers can apply for roles or create their own pop-up studios to go after larger projects.

“From designers to developers to marketers, everyone told us they were missing opportunities to win big projects because there was no effective way to assemble teams. Leveraging their networks through news feeds wasn’t working, and they found other freelance job platforms often pushed low-value small projects, typically a race to the bottom on price, making it unsustainable for freelancers and unattractive for high-quality talent,” she says.

The Freelancing in America 2017 survey shows 57.3 million Americans freelanced last year, and this is expected to reach 86.5m by 2027, the majority of the U.S. workforce.

Dovetail X is evolving the gig economy to create a more powerful, collaborative version, dubbed the collective economy.

“We’ve seen how agile the gig economy can be, but the untapped potential lies in empowering this independent workforce to collaborate. Three people collaborating can achieve more in a month than they could on their own in a year,” Darby says.