I am an artist. A fashionista. And I’m going to be real with you—I never imagined I would be here, writing a blog post, from my desk at a San Francisco tech startup.
Let’s just get this out of the way now. If anything, I was once anti-tech. (Emphasis on the was, obviously.) I thought tech wasn’t cool. I thought as an industry it was too focused on disruption and not focused enough on people.
But as you can see, I now work for Serverless. How I ended up here, and what led me to find passion in this industry, is a journey with many twists and turns.
I’ll do my best to not give you motion sickness with this story.
I grew up one mile from Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California. Emerging tech was all around me, but I could have cared less about how it was made.
In 1987, Steve Jobs came to my school preaching the gospel about the new Macintosh SE and Macintosh II personal computers. He was wearing Tevas with socks and I remember thinking, “Ew.”
I daydreamed through his entire spiel. I didn’t think, “I want to know how that works!” or “I could build this.” But I do know my 3rd and 4th grade years were filled with hours of Oregon Trail on that machine.
In high school, I dove straight into all kinds of artistic pursuits. I was super involved in the mid-90s Bay Area music scene, was a radio DJ at KSCU 103.3 FM and went to school at UC Irvine for Studio Art and German. I moved to Cologne, Germany, where I worked as an English teacher and Gallery Assistant.
I eventually moved back to the Bay Area and got a job at SFMOMA. I thought I would end up being a curator specializing in video art, and even looked into going back to school for my Masters in Art History.
But after two years at SFMOMA I became extremely unhappy; I hated being poor and unappreciated (pros of working in a non-profit environment). So I left.
That’s when I met Sam.
I met Sam at a mutual friend’s party and we couldn’t. Shut. Up. About fashion. Two months later, we were signing business partnership papers in San Francisco.
Our fashion sales agency, Varjak, was born.
Sam and I spent several years together, attending fashion weeks in New York, London and Paris, representing up and coming designers in wholesale, meeting fashion VIPs including U.S. Vogue Editor in Chief, Queen Bee herself, Anna Wintour.
Then—well, you all are smart. You know what comes next.
Everything started going digital. Online shopping became the big moneymaker. Retail all over the world was suffering, and our buyers were reporting weak sales numbers. Varjak was taking major hits.
Tech, yet again, was creeping its way back into my life. So I sold my half of the business to Sam and sat there, wondering what on earth I was going to do next.
I randomly met a tech recruiter at a happy hour in SF and we started talking about work. “You seem like such a passionate and motivated person,” she told me, “You’d be great in tech.”
“What??!” was really all I could say to that. “Oh, no no no” I thought. “Not me, not tech.” I grew up around it, I said. I wasn’t interested. But she persuaded me to send in my resume. For some reason, I did.
Almost as quickly as I’d met the recruiter, she called me with a position. “I have something that could be the right culture fit for you,” she told me. “The company is pretty techy in terms of what they are doing, but the people seem great; I think someone like you could be a good addition to their team. Maybe shake them up a little with your flare and sass (or rather SaaS)?”
I was reluctant, but also intrigued. Ultimately, I thought: hey, why not? I was down to try anything once. I said yes, and started my contract position as an Executive Assistant at Serverless that same week.
I was nervous. But also, I LOVE the unknown and have never been one to shy away from challenges. They make sure I learn rapidly and continue growing.
The first thing I noticed when I started at Serverless was how genuine and nice everyone was.
Austen Collins, our CEO and founder, started his career in Hollywood and ended up creating this Framework that thousands of developers use every day. He came from a creative industry and found a solution for a technical problem.
I got to know the others and found a great group of funny, brilliant, multi-talented individuals who all had other interests outside of tech, but were passionate about Serverless. As a company, they were focused on community and had a mission to empower others. They wanted to make it easier for everyone to make software.
The more I got to know about the company and the people working here, the more I found myself imagining all the ways I wanted to make Serverless stand out and shine in this tech-saturated world.
Tech doesn’t have to be stoic or unfeeling. It’s a lot like fashion, to be honest. It requires having creative solutions, being fast-paced, being on the cutting edge, and engaging with the community (& the fans).
I think a lot of modern tech companies struggle to bring true humanity into this industry. But they are starting to take in views from people outside of tech, like me, and they are becoming more diverse.
And here’s the thing: I was drawn to Serverless not only because of the people, but because of what they are trying to do as a company. They are trying to democratize software development. They want to make it easier to do and accessible for anyone to learn.
Maybe even me.
Unlike that Steve Jobs presentation in 1987, I’m excited now to see where my ideas will take me. I want to know how things work. I want to build them.
From my fashion roots, I have spent a lot of time creating my own style language. Every day, I choose my outfits with the intention of communicating a strong, visual message. And now, I want to help Serverless become classic black—that enduring look everyone needs.
Watch out world... Here comes my Serverless style.
Charmmie = fashion+music+art+cats+kimchi
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