Today our business, Raised Eyebrow Web Studio, turns twelve. In our industry, that’s a long time. A really long time. When I look around we have few peers who are still in the game (by which I mean firms, many of our peers are still doing this work but have started and folded companies or switched jobs several times since 2000).
I don’t want to go too much into our industry and the changes it’s seen here, but for those who haven’t been following along from the start I will paint you this little picture:
Picture two gals, one of them (me) only 24, sitting in the corner of a bedroom with two computers. One of them had a 40 gigs hard drive and at that time I remember thinking it was more space than I could use in a lifetime of digital files. We had to share dial-up internet while we waited for the phone company to get us up and running with DSL, a process that took months. By share, I mean we had to literally unplug the phone cable from the back of one computer and move it to the other in order to check our email. Wireless internet was the stuff of sci-fi movies. Launching websites took so long that we would start a launch process and then go make lunch while we waited for files to upload. Those were the days.
At the time, we didn’t start a web company because we wanted to be the next big thing in design, or as a starting point to our first IPO. We started because we were tired of working for other people, we wanted to do business our own way, and we wanted both more choices and more control over where our careers took us.
I’ll admit, twelve years in, some days it feels like we’ve lost that control. Things get busy. Sometimes busy doesn’t seem to quite cover just how frantic days can get. And, sometimes, with all that busyness comes a sense of loss of control. A sense that you’re just scrambling to keep your head above water. On the other hand, with that busyness comes opportunities. Sometimes truly staggeringly awesome opportunities. Right now I have a very full roster of amazing clients that I’m working with, in some ways I feel like I’m doing some of my best work for them, and I’ve got a number of really interesting new types of projects currently operating at a low simmer. Projects that I’ll stop being cagey about very soon and announce here, I promise.
A collaborator on one of those projects emailed me today to congratulate us on a dozen years in business and in her email said this “[it] gives me hope for our daughters – they can do ANYthing.” And, I predictably fell into a puddle of tears. This “they can do anything” bit is one measure of success I often forget to measure against. That’s probably because it is a bit intangible and hard to articulate, but in part I went into business to prove that I could. That as a woman, along with another woman, we knew how to run a tech company. That we deserved to make more than we had been making working in tech and that we could have a positive impact on the industry. I had no idea that I would end up co-authoring a book on how to run a small business, that I would get to speak at major international tech conferences, or that I would get to collaborate and partner with some of my heros, eventually even calling some of them very dear friends. And while it’s a bit too “rah, rah” for me on a normal day, today I’m going to bask in all that I’ve achieved just a little bit. And I’m going to hope that by showing leadership and working for positive change in business and my industry I am in fact doing my bit to level the playing field for both my step-daughter and my daughter. That some of where the industry was when I started twelve years ago will seem as antiquated and out-dated as dial-up by the time they get there.
And to those of you who’ve been around since the early days, and for some of you that means the old Soapboxgirls.com days. Thanks for being a part of our community, for coming to hear us speak, for buying our book and for reading along. We couldn’t have done it or enjoyed the ride as much without your participation.