So today is “Ada Lovelace day“, a brand-new thing, to celebrate women in Tech, something that is definitely an issue, as many have pointed out when looking at conference speaker lists and whatnot. And there’s plenty of awesome women in tech & design, and I’ve been fortunate to work with several. However, I’m going to tell a story about two in particular, and the two are probably pretty obvious if you know me: Lauren Bacon & Emira Mears
I met Lauren way back when, when the internet was still young enough that we often had to explain to people why they might want a website. I met Lauren in one of those circuitous routes that made it inevitable we would be friends: I had a class with her younger sister, who introduced me to Day, who at the time was working part time at Duthie Books on 10th, and also starting up a small company called “Envolve Communications” with Jason Mogus (Envolve later became Communicopia). Day then introduced me to Lauren, who had moved down from Prince George and was working for Day & Jason when I started working there too. Lauren and I worked together at Communicopia, where we also met Emira. Way, way back in 2000, Lauren & Emira left to start their company Raised Eyebrow. I left Communicopia shortly thereafter to burn-out in a dot-com startup, while they slowly but surely, built what seemed to me an entirely different business model – one that I longed for, but was definitely not convinced it would work. Given that they’re thriving and not only the company I worked for at the time, but all but one of our clients, vendors and partners no longer exist, their business model clealy works ;).
When I started a sideline development company, Pencilneck Creations, I got to work with Lauren & Emira. And let me tell you – I’ve never had better bosses than they. They were patient, but knew how to push me to get things done. They both inspired and were inspired by their clients, and passed that on to myself and other contractors they worked with. They had a zine (Soapbox Girls, now sadly defunct), that inspired me to start blogging regularly some 8 years ago. They fought hard for women in tech to be recognized. They fought hard for themselves to be recognized, and slowly, surely, they were. I don’t think it’d be a stretch to say that they are now one of the most well-known local design firms, particularly in the sector of social-tech and progressive tech.
Lauren & Emira were also an inspiration to me when I left Digitopolis and formed Pencilneck Software with Jeff – I knew how they had worked, and that gave me the confidence to think I could do it too. They were also incredibly kind to Jeff and I, and we did a number of projects together our first years in business.
Lauren & Emira have also written a book, The Boss of You, celebrate International Women’s Day as a stat at their company, write passionately about women in business in technology on their blogs, continue to build beautiful, functional, useful websites, and also reach out to not only help, but promote other women in business across North America. I’ve worked, and continue to work now with a remarkable number of women in tech & design, but really, none are quite as rockin’.