2016 was a year of positive obstacles, growth and confidence for CD. It was the year that I came face-to-face with many challenges that many wouldn’t perceive as negative but were monumental for me nonetheless. From growing and running a team in five different time zones to expanding on the business structure – this led me to reflect on my journey that started when I was just 17. Now in 2017, I am more excited than ever to venture into a new realm of the industry, exploring avenues I only dreamed of until now.
So, I decided to pen my thoughts on the things I wish I knew when I started this whirlwind of a business, in the hopes of inspiring and educating anyone who has ever felt doubted or been scared of their journey. This is the year of breaking boundaries, defining your niche and it’s all about the slay – so let’s do this!
APPRECIATE THE JOURNEY (CIRCA 2007)
I began coding in the MySpace era when coding was essential to make your page look super cool. From then I used Google (I mean Ask Jeeves lol), to learn how to create websites and would print out the instructions, much to my mum’s dismay. I learned from a lot of trial and error and I began to create sites that began to look professional and I was amazed. I had never enjoyed anything this much and had no clue this could be a part of my future. No one around me was doing anything similar or talking about it!
CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FROM THE LACK OF THEM
While at university, there was only one opportunity for a small amount of coding in a course called ‘New Media’. Other than this, I had to be proactive and teach myself as there weren’t many resources to learn from. This taught me self-discipline from an early age and it’s this discipline that was (and still is) at the foundation of chloédigital.
I made up projects and would ask anyone if they wanted a website and would code it. At one point, I went to a local printer who made menus for takeaways and negotiated with them to make a website for their clients. The key pointer here was the negotiation and perseverance – I simply never gave up.
One of the main factors that enticed me into WordPress and bloggers, was a Singapore based blog called Rock The Trend. At 19, I reached out to Laila (the founder) and asked if I could code her website for free. During fashion week, she received a ticket for the Burberry SS11 show in London and I went on her behalf. It was this moment that I fell in love with the industry and gained huge amounts of confidence! I knew I had to base a business around this – the gut feeling came, and I ran with it.
SEE THE POSITIVE IN YOUR DISADVANTAGES AND SETBACKS
When I left university and started gaining experience in the tech industry, I realised very quickly there weren’t a lot of people like me. I was the only black, young, female and I didn’t fulfil the typical look of a developer. Whilst this should have scared me, it provided me with a sense of motivation instead. I have really positive parents and they’ve always said “use what other people see as disadvantages or setbacks as your strengths” – so I did.
ALWAYS STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF
The aim behind CD, was to empower those influencers who wanted to build an empire online, but were afraid of tech. What amazed me was that the more I put myself out there, the more I saw the gap in the market! By this stage, I had made quite a few blogger friends through events and networking. I would help them out by coding elements on their blogs and provide strategic and technical advice. Then, before I knew it, CD was born.
I’m not going to lie, I was scared. Actually petrified. People would ask me, ‘are you any good?’, ‘aren’t you a designer?’ which I allowed to confuse me – for a second. One thing this taught me, was to just go with what you truly believe is right for you. How could I allow someone to define what I am good at?
Fast forward a few years and CD has become a monster with its own pulse. I work alongside an amazing team of ‘unicorns’ (that is seriously the only way to describe them!) across South America, North America, Europe and London. Moral of the story is, if you want it, you can make happen. If I’d have known when I first launched CD in my mum’s kitchen that I would be here a few years later, I would have probably laughed.
YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Looking back at it all, one of the key pieces of advice I would give, not only to myself but to anyone in the pursuit of a career, is to be fearless and embrace challenges. They are how you learn and what moulds you. Lastly, don’t be scared to not know everything, because you won’t. What sets you apart and determines your success is your perseverance and attitude to those exact obstacles that are stopping you from reaching your end goal – it’s fight or flight!