kyra pieterse of maxiblocks

Kyra Pieterse – Co-Founder of MaxiBlocks

April 30, 2024 / Themes / 0 comments

I am Kyra Pieterse Co-Founder of Maxiblocks. I am originally from South Africa but now live in Lisbon (Portugal). I am what I like to call myself a slowmad. We have moved around a lot but tend to stay for at least a year in a country. I have lived in South Africa, Dubai, Malaysia, Vietnam, Spain, Malta and Berlin (Germany)

I am a designer more than a developer, and I stopped coding many years ago.

The Journey Began

I have been a web designer since 1999, and my career began before WordPress. I started old school with Dreamweaver and Flash. My designs tend to be more interactive than most, and I think this is because of my Flash background. The web kind of became boring, so I hope to breathe some life back into web design.

I found WordPress in 2010 when I was living and freelancing in Vietnam. It was love at first use. Making my own custom themes was easy for me as I have some coding background, although they were simple themes.

The Need for “MaxiBlocks”

MaxiBlocks Icon

Our first digital product (company) Is Divi Den. We started this almost 7 years ago. We have been very successful selling Divi Layouts.

We started MaxiBlocks out of our own frustration from our support. We have been forced to use CSS and code to make our layouts in Divi. When Gutenberg launched, we saw it as an opportunity to create our own solution.

Building on top of Gutenberg has been hard. Much harder than I thought it would be. And it took much longer than we planned. The challenges are the slow pace of the core development and building on top of a moving object. Each update they make sets us back as we have to stop everything to fix it.

But even with these challenges, I am very proud of the end result. We have made all these designs.

Myself with my Brilliant Team

We are 100% remote and have been for many years before it was even a thing. With us moving around a lot, it made sense to us. 

My lead developer, Svitlana (also female – MaxiBlocks is run and managed by two women), has been with me for ten years. She is my rock. She is joined by two of the most brilliant minds, Andi and Myro, whom we are fortunate to have on our team.

We have two front-end devs, Sasha and Dasha, who make the patterns and do the QA testing. Marko is our very popular support lead who has been with us for over five years. I will not forget my partner and co-founder, Christiaan.

We have approached Maxi a little differently in that we have used my designs as a development starting point. We started with the style cards. Then, we built the responsive grid, and then we started the library.

By creating the library, we not only test our product but also see what is missing. The front-end team works very closely with the back-end team to develop features and share ideas.

99% of Maxi was influenced by our Divi support and what our customers struggle with. The most often asked question is, “How do I change the colour?” and that’s why we started with the style cards. To date, we have had only one “colour” email, and it was a fringe case on the accordion.

Advice for Business Owners

Plan for it to take much longer than you think it will. We have discovered being in the repo is of little benefit if you are starting out and it takes a while for the WordPress community to warm up to newcomers. 

Much to our surprise, it seems that it’s a little more difficult to take seriously if the focus is on providing design solutions to the WordPress community. Design is, after all, part of ‘web design’! And it is what we all see when visiting websites.  Seems quite important!

Anybody considering a WordPress-focused business should go with what they enjoy and are good at.

WordPress & Beyond

We plan to build a small but engaged group of members, our own tribe,  who value design and WordPress. Ideally, we want to grow our active installs. We hope at some point to be able to create some partnerships to help us grow, but until then, we are happy to grind it out.

We have had really positive feedback from our small Maxi community, and it motivates us to keep going.

Gutenberg is having some teething problems, and that’s to be expected for a new tech. But it’s starting to gain some momentum, and we are in a good position to ride the next big WordPress wave, which we believe is the block editor approach.

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My Love for the WordPress Community

maxiblocks team at wordcamp
Maxiblocks Team at WordCamp

We went to WordCamp Europe 2022 in Porto and WordCamp Lisbon last year. Both were fun. Christiaan has had more chats with the WordPress community. I play more of a background role.

Divi was the original reason we got into making our own products. They were the first to allow you to export and import designs, and they opened the gate for many of us newbie product makers. If it wasn’t for them, we would never have had the opportunity to create Maxi.

How I Keep Myself Updated

I am on a few newsletters, such as Davinder’s great The WP Weekly, Birgit’s Gutenberg Times, and, of course, others. I am subscribed to relevant YouTube channels and Twitter.

I Have a Life Other Than the Work

I have a cheeky Siamese cat, Leila. She is 5 years old now and has travelled with us from South Africa, Spain, and now Portugal. She is very talkative and always ready for a snuggle. 

kyras cat leila
Kyra’s Cat Leila

I Reward Myself by

We like to explore our new adopted city Lisbon and the rest of beautiful Portugal. Portugal has some of the most awesome beaches I have ever seen, and we love to go on drives to check out new areas we haven’t been to before.

Connect With Me

Get Maxiblocks: To get access to the pro library that currently stands at 2,082 patterns, 164 pages, 100 style cards, and a library of 13,867 icons. Visit https://maxiblocks.com/pricing/ for more info.

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