108: Tech Fashion Part 1 with Kayte Malik of Dress Code

In this episode, Kayte Malik, of Dress Code, shares the mission of her company: to empower more girls and women to get involved in coding through creation and innovation. Kayte and the panelists discuss confidence, owning your accomplishments, and debunking the myth that code, tech, and STEM are for boys only.

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Panelists:

Coraline Ada Ehmke | John K. Sawers

Special Guest:

Kayte Malik: @KayteMalik | Dress Code

Show Notes:

00:57 – Kayte’s Superpower: Taking Something That Doesn’t Exist & Making It Real

02:12 – Having Confidence

06:45 – Paying Closer Attention to Your Accomplishments

lftm

08:30 Dress Code at a Tactical Level

11:43 – The Intersection of Fashion and Coding

10 Cloverfield Lane

15:52 – Wearable Technology and Biotechnology

17:09 – Creation and Paving The Way For Women in Tech

23:17 – In-Home Coding Parties/Pop Up Shops

26:37 – Program and Course Feedback

29:57 – Debunking The Myth That Technology, Science, and STEM is For Boys

34:53 Sign up to be find out about Holiday Promotions!

37:00 The Gift of Innovation: Tech for Marginalized People and Communities

39:55 – Coming in 2019….

Reflections:

John: Framing coding as an in-home, fun, party activity vs a classroom activity.

Coraline: Focusing on your accomplishments and building confidence through positive self-talk.

Kayte: Fashion tech and retail tech is exciting!

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Transcript:

CORALINE:  Hello and welcome to Episode 108 of the Greater Than Code Podcast. My name is Coraline Ada Ehmke and I’m joined today by my co-host, John Sawers.

JOHN:  Thanks, Coraline and I’m here to introduce our guest, Kayte Malik. She is the CEO and founder of Dress Code Tech. Dress Code believes that there is beauty in innovation and technology. The company merges fashion and technology to excite and educate women and girls about computer science, coding and STEM. She was named Remodista’s 2018 List of Women2Watch in Business Disruption Worldwide and the winner of the 2018 Innovation Award. Welcome to the show, Kayte.

KAYTE:  Hi everybody. It’s so nice to meet you and be here. Thanks for having me.

CORALINE:  Kayte, we always start off our conversation with our guest by asking, what is your superpower and how did you develop it?

KAYTE:  I am able to create something out of nothing, I think and take an idea, whether it’s big or small and put it into action and come up with a plan to kind of change something. I love being able to take something that doesn’t exist and make it real. I am always kind of been that way but the older I get or the more I learn about myself, I think that that’s really something that I’m good at and like to do. That’s a superpower, I guess.

JOHN:  Is that something you’ve explicitly worked on developing or is it just come to you naturally?

KAYTE:  I’ve always, even as a child, was very curious in things. I think the older I get and the more confident I get in my capabilities, that I work to develop it overtime. If I look at jobs I’ve had prior to Dress Code and starting Dress Code or some of the other projects I’ve worked on, it’s an iterative process. It’s the more you learn, the better you get and the more you can create when given a problem or when something doesn’t exist.

CORALINE:  Kayte, you mentioned confidence. I do a lot of work with early career developers, in particular women and other people from marginalized communities and I find that one of the constants that I see is a lack of confidence. We have very skilled, very intelligent, very creative, very driven people who they may believe in themselves but they don’t believe that other people will necessarily see value in what they bring to the table. There’s definitely a lack of self-confidence that comes along with things like impostor syndrome or just the struggles of people who are early in their careers. What is your source of confidence?

KAYTE:  My source of confidence comes from a couple of things. One is knowing yourself and knowing your capabilities but also being informed. If there’s something I don’t know about or I’m not as educated as somebody else in and I need to kind of be in a situation where I know I need to know that, I work hard to try and understand everything from every angle.

I think sometimes when I do lack confidence and I think everybody kind of has impostor syndrome every once in a while, is make sure that I am benchmarking and kind of track it in along the way some of the compliments that I have accomplished. You can then go back and look and say, “I may not feel really good about this but if I look at X, Y and Z, I’ve been able to move the needle a little bit.” I do think that that is something that has worked for me. Also, just back to knowing yourself and knowing your capabilities and positive self-talk versus being negative.

There’s a lot of studies around how do you talk to yourself and how you approach a situation, so I think you can actually work to change your mindset on things. Instead of going initially to the negative or saying, “I really suck at this,” or, “I don’t think I’m good enough,” is like, “What is going to make me enough?” or, “What am I doing well to be able to kind of contradict that negative self-talk?”

CORALINE:  Yeah, I have a lot of problems sometimes with self-doubt. A friend of mine said — I kind of shared some of the negative feelings about myself that I was having and she said, “Would you say that to a friend?” If you had a friend that was in that same situation, would you say those words that you’re saying about yourself? Of course, the answer was no. I would be supportive of a friend. I would build them up. I would try to instill in them confidence but it’s really hard for me to internalize that and apply that back to myself.

KAYTE:  I actually was in a situation, I think last night. I was at a SoulCycle class last night and the instructor said that they had a team meeting and they had gone through this exercise where the instructor just had to say something negative and something positive about themselves in their classes. You did think that SoulCycle instructors are like some of the best instructors in the country and so, these people are in great shape. They’re super motivated, they’re super positive and each and every one of them went directly to something negative, like they couldn’t go to that positive thing first.

I think we’re always looking for the negative. I think, just in human nature sometimes, we’re trying to better ourselves and only look at the negatives. Again, it’s back to kind of like switching that. It’s something that is hard to do but I have had to work at it personally. When you are a creator or an entrepreneur or even in coding where you’re creating something, you’re always internalizing like, “Is it good enough? Is it the best?” and you have to kind of just flip it and say, “This is actually really cool. No one’s ever done this before,” or, “I’ve been able to figure out this problem and yes maybe, it took me a couple of days but it could have taken someone else longer.”

I think it’s a matter of just being kind to yourself, not to kind of sound cheesy but try to go to the positive first instead of the negative. Back to your point too of would you say to a friend, you go to your best friend and talk to yourself like you would talk to anybody else and not be negative but again, it’s something that I struggle with too.

JOHN:  Yeah. Kayte, I like what you said about paying closer attention to the accomplishments that you do have in your past, so that you can use that as to sort of bolster your confidence. It’s something I actually give a talk on earlier in the year and I scoped it down to a very small win, sort of the everyday successes that you have that you tend to forget about after a day or two, that you succeeded in doing whatever that thing was. I’m actually developing some software right now to help track those things so that it can remind you. Like at the end of the week, you got 15 of these awesome things done and you probably forgot about 10 of them by now and having those reminders can keep that negativity bias at bay.

CORALINE:  That’s really interesting, John. I’m a very disorganized person so over the years, I’ve built up systems that keep me organized and keep me from having to rely on short term memory. It’s LFTM. You can find it on my GitHub. One of the things that I do now is I have a text document, which is always open called ‘accomplishments’ and whenever I do something that I feel proud of, I write it down along with the date and this might be something that I did or something that happened to me that made me feel good but it’s interesting you talked about scoping those because I tend to put the big things on there. I don’t put a small wins on there. I think that could be really valuable because sometimes those big wins are made up of a lot of smaller wins.

JOHN:  Indeed they are. I’m actually building it as a Slack bot, so it’s somewhere you are all day, every day, anyway so it’s easy to dash those off without having the context switch too much.

KAYTE:  I love that. That’s awesome. Send me when you got it done.

JOHN:  Okay, for sure.

CORALINE:  Kayte, I want to talk about Dress Code a little bit. Can you tell me like in practice, what Dress Code does? I think we’ve got a good overview, like this strategic mission but what kind of activities do you create? What kind of situations do you create for people who are interested in getting started in STEM? What does it actually looked like on the ground?

KAYTE:  For sure. With regards to Dress Code at tactical level, it’s really a leveraged jewelry or accessory to unlock lessons on how to code and it’s really targeted at girls 11+. We do have users between the ages of eight and nine with their parents to women in their 60s. We’re still relatively new in building out our technology and our digital products and stuff like that but we do have a curriculum today that gives our users or our dress coders a basic knowledge on frontend web development. Through our three lessons, our users have created a website all about themselves.

They’re presented with kind of a blank canvas and then, they’re able to go in and throw yourself guided lessons and able to kind of change the code to be able to create that website. Our lessons include intros to CSS, JavaScript and HTML right now. Depending on the age and level of knowledge, they take anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes to complete. After that, the user then has to access to a free-edit/free-code mode where they can go in and then manipulate and play with the code some more.

Now, all of this is done behind our profile because we do have users under the age of 13 and there are some laws and rules and stuff with regards to privacy. What we do and suggest is that someone wants a publicly-facing site or something they can copy that code and push it out on a work for a site or something like that. Again, it’s pretty entry-level at this point.

Our goals at Dress Code are to expose more woman and girls to coding but we do believe that exposure and community are two of the biggest things that keep females engaged. It’s really kind of like let’s show them that it can be fun, that you can create something. We like to take the approach that you’re creating and not coding. That is kind of barebones of what we do today and how our platform work.

You utilize the bracelets. Our bracelets have computer science code on them or binary code. You go in and you type that code into our website and then it unlocks the lessons. Long term, we’ll look at other very specific lessons in different languages and then other technologies as well. We do have a pretty robust roadmap in how we want to grow the platform but right now, as we test and learn and gain new users, we have kind of those base level entering into coding.

JOHN:  Tell me a little bit more about the interaction between the fashion and the coding. That’s a really fascinating area.

KAYTE:  When I created it, I want to find something that was not that invasive and something that a lot of women and girls are already passionate about, that being fashion or excited about. The kind of the idea behind it is that you would have accessories that would unlock lessons or games or something that you would then be able to access and learn about different technologies. Today, it’s pretty straightforward and pretty basic with our bracelets. Like I said, the bracelet just had the code on it and you take it to the site and unlock. Long term, we’ll look for people that actually create jewelry and stuff through 3D modeling or point-interactive technologies with the accessories. Again, that’s on our roadmap and kind of the plan. That’s kind of it.

If you think about just fashion technology as a whole or the retail technology, they’re kind of different but kind of the same. If you look long term, we like to leverage fashion because of the fact that in any given day, if you go to Indeed or LinkedIn or something like that, there’s over 13,000 jobs available — technology jobs — as it relates to fashion or retail technology.

Another element of that is just kind of the education factor. There’s all of these jobs in technology, there’s jobs in banking and engineering and all of this stuff but I think people kind of forget that there this whole world of retail and fashion technology that need creators and need people that are passionate about design and kind of the whole process of shopping and fashion. The whole another element is like this is real, that if you do pursue a career in technology, whether it’s in coding or project management or something like that, there’s opportunities to work in the world of fashion or with a store or something like that.

CORALINE:  I actually work for a fashion company. I work for Stitch Fix —

KAYTE:  Oh, awesome.

CORALINE:  Yeah. We have some interesting things at the intersection of fashion and technology. A lot of what we do, of course comes down to logistics but the bulk of our engineering team is there to support our stylist and also, to create and improve on our recommendation algorithms so that stylist are well-informed about how certain articles of clothing or articles of clothing with certain features are more or less likely to be in line with the fashions sensibilities of a given customer.

It’s very high tech. We do a lot of really interesting work and it’s right on the bleeding edge and it is in fashion. Our kind of philosophy is that everyone and we have a men’s and children’s sites now too but everyone deserves to feel good about themselves and one of the ways you can feel good about yourself is the way that you dress and present yourself to the world and that can really inspire a lot of self-confidence.

KAYTE:  Yeah, for sure. Actually, Stitch Fix and Rent the Runway and Birchbox and some of the… Well, not… I think RocksBox more or less but some of these up and coming companies, they’re not startups anymore, some of the reason why I thought of Dress Code is that there’s all this stuff going on in the retail space and the fashion space and there’s this all this opportunity, so I love what you said.

JOHN:  Speaking of fashion. It reminds me of the movie, Cloverfield Lane which was a pretty interesting movie but the thing that struck me the most about it was that hopefully, it’s not too much of a spoiler, that the heroine wins because her superpower is fashion. I don’t know if I want to give away too much but that’s the ultimate message of it and it was really pleasing to me.

KAYTE:  I will have to see that. I have not seen it but you pique my interest and I want to see how it ends now.

JOHN:  One of the things that sort of comes to mind for me when I think about fashion and technology is the advances that are going on in the Arduino community building microcontrollers that can embed in fabric. I know there are some flexible boards and conductive thread and things that can help you build some really fascinating mergers of technology and clothing. Is that something you’re looking at? Does that might be a direction that you’re going in?

KAYTE:  I’d love that you kind of pulled that up. I think that ideally, we want to get to a place where we are leveraging some of that stuff to teach people through different lessons and stuff like that. When you talk about those boards and being able to do things that light up and stuff like that or communicating, I think that it’s something we’re definitely looking to.

Fashion technology as a whole is very interesting. There’s things, even with biotech that’s being embedded into fabric to be able to gauge your heart rate and other types of biotech. Well, that more of wearables but there’s others like biotechnology and weird stuff being embedded into fabric right now to be able to do different and cool things.

CORALINE:  It’s really interesting with the fact that what you described the program being is having girls and women to create web pages for themselves. I’m reminded of a conversation that took place on Twitter over the past couple of weeks. The discussion was about Neopets in GeoCities and how a lot of women who are in tech today got their start by customizing web pages and learning just enough HTML and just enough CSS to start creating things and how that gave them a passion for technology and kind of unlocked the fact that they could be themselves. They didn’t have to fall into the media depiction of what a technologist looks like. They could be their full selves and be interested in the things they were interested in and still contribute to the online world.

JOHN:  Yeah, Coraline. That was something that was popping up for me when you were talking, Kayte earlier about showing that there is a path into technology that doesn’t involve sitting alone in a basement in the dark, typing into a terminal, which is the sort of stereotypical, horrible concept of what it is to be a coder and a technologist and showing that there are these myriad paths that you can take and that involve your creativity and that involve the other things that you’re interested in. It’s not just a single-minded obsession with writing the most efficient code. I think it’s a really powerful way to impact how people can see their own futures.

KAYTE:  I love that. I hadn’t heard of that but I think I definitely can see how being able to create is kind of the heart and something that we thought early on. I think it goes back to the confidence of things and saying, “This isn’t that tough,” and then you can build the skill and build the skill. But before you know it, you’ve built kind of this library of skills and you’re able to do way more than you ever thought you could. To kind of circle it back to of when I said about being informed, that’s really kind of being informed without necessarily going and studying a book or something. You’re just kind of putting pen to paper and building your skills.

CORALINE:  Some of the encouraging people, to think of programming as a creative endeavor. I’m a very creative person, I do music, I do writing, I do art and coding to me is a very creative profession. I think a lot of people think it’s all about algorithms and unfortunately, all of the companies *cough*cough* Google, also think, it’s all about algorithms and efficiency and computer science. When really, if you’re fortunate enough, you can find a job where it really is about tapping into your creative instincts and it really is, as you put it, creating something out of nothing. I think that’s a really valuable lesson to teach.

It kind of takes me back — I first got on the Internet in 1993 and there wasn’t really content out there. There was no content that was coming from a corporate source. Everything that was there was contributed by individuals. It was a very producer-oriented environment and I think what we’ve seen with the corporate colonization of the internet is a consumer environment. I think that’s detrimental on so many levels, so I’d love the idea of getting more people in a position where they can be creators and they can be contributing content and can be their full selves and explore the things that they’re interested in and create their own content, instead of just reading Twitter or reading websites or reading magazines online.

KAYTE:  I think maybe it goes to the point of and I want to get really deep like AI and the personalization of content that’s put forward which is somewhat commercialized. We live in a world where we’re supposed to have access to all information but with different companies or organizations that are utilizing the algorithms to push for content, I think that’s where human thought comes in and [inaudible] to their creative point is there is [inaudible] kind of how you build things but you need that creativity to solve different problems or to create other angles to things as well. It’s kind of two things there but for sure, we need more creators.

I think if you even look at how education is changing today, it’s like liberal arts versus going down a path. Sometimes you need to be able to kind of think outside the box where is, I think with the colonization of the internet and other things, we’re becoming people that are much more kind of technical and you do this and you do this and you do this and then not really taught to kind of think outside the box. I think that with different types of technology and different types of coding, you are able to kind of think that way.

JOHN:  Yeah. It’s just occurring to me now that having, even that little bit of understanding of how the web works that you would get from building something out of HTML and CSS and a little JavaScript, is hugely empowering. It suddenly lets you understand what it is Facebook is doing when you’re on Facebook. You’re like, “Oh, I see how this is all being put together,” and it puts you less of a passive consumer of whatever it is they’re producing. You can think, “Oh, well I know how they’re making this and now I understand and maybe the post that they’re showing me or the post they want to show me, not just the posts that I want to see,” and start realizing that you can peek behind the curtain and have some insight into what’s being shown to you and understand if that’s being manipulated and what that process of production is. I think it’s hugely empowering.

CORALINE:  I think that comes down to a form of cultural literacy.

KAYTE:  You can buy our bracelets online and access our products that way but one thing we started to do, like I said over the last four months is having an in-home coding parties pop-up or coding shops where a group of people get together, they kind of selling [inaudible] or something where people come together and look at some products. What we offer is the ability to take one of our classes for free in a group setting.

It’s really interesting at different level so we do it with professionals or we’ll do it with moms or we’ll do it with girls and it’s really interesting to hear the comments as people are working on the program together. It’s really funny when you get with people that work in professional jobs, they’ll be coding along and they’ll be like, “Oh, my gosh. I do this at work,” or, “Oh, my gosh. This is how that works,” and these are people that are in traditional technology jobs, whether it’s marketing or HR or something. It is really great and cool to see that light bulb go off. I love when that happens because I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. You’re able to take what you’re learning and put it into practice today,” or tomorrow or whatever.

JOHN:  Yeah and I think doing it in a group is also a really interesting dynamic. I think it makes it a lot more fun, you get a lot more support in what you’re doing and you’ve got people to share the experience with, which is different from a classroom because classrooms tend not to emphasize collaboration and sharing, because for whatever reason that’s evil. Being able to just have a group of people sharing the thing and contributing information to each other and helping out, which is the way a proper team will operate in the world of coding, I think is a really great introduction to working with code, rather than just sort of toiling silently on your own as you do your homework or learn whatever it is you’re trying to learn.

KAYTE:  Yes and in some of these parties, you throw wine into the mix, then it turns into a very collaborative session. It’s very interesting to see these websites that people make at the end of 15 minutes in some of these coding parties we have.

CORALINE:  What would it look like if we all listened more? Listening to audiobooks inspires us, motivates us, even brings us closer and there’s no better place to listen in Audible. Audible is the largest selection of audiobooks on the planet and now, Audible members get more than ever before. Each month, they get three titles of their choice: one audiobook, two Audible originals and a fitness program that they can’t get anywhere else. There’s never been a better time to experience Audible.

Right now, for a limited time, you can get three months of audible for just $6.95 a month. That’s more than half off the regular price. Give yourself the gift of listening and while you’re at it, think about giving the gift of Audible to someone on your list. For more information, go to Audible.com/GreaterThanCode or text GREATERTHANCODE to 500-500.

Our next book club book is going to be Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig and guess what? It’s on Audible. Download it and read along with us and get ready for us to discuss this wonderful book in 2019. Thanks.

What kind of feedback do you get from people who do your coursework or who attend these parties? Are you creating a channel for them to contribute back to what you’re doing at Dress Code and to learn from their experiences?

KAYTE:  Yeah, for sure. We have a really great community following and we see a lot of people coming back for more. We are constantly reaching out to our dress coder base — that’s what we called them, the dress coders — and asking for feedback on what we’re doing or what they’d like to see next. We do that both at the individual level but we also do work with corporations.

In the past, we worked with some really large companies, Fortune 50 companies and having them come and give us feedback on kind of how on things operate and what they’d like to see more of. We like to keep our conversation with our customers very open. There’s even some customers that I’ve [inaudible] and didn’t know and I’m friends with now and we try to help them out where we can. If they have like a woman in tech day or something like that, they’re constantly coming back and saying, “We like how you did this,” or, “Could you change this?”

I think some of the biggest feedback we get when people go and use our program is that it’s very pretty or very well-designed and easy to use. If you look at some other online platforms, they’re a little bit more sterile. They’re not as creative, I think. We spend a lot of time talking about creativity and I think we’ve really kind of put our target user in mind when we created that kind of platform.

Our first one, it’s very visual. There’s a lot of use of color and when people go through the program, they’re able to then go in and change some of the imagery and the colors and the words and headers and stuff like that. I think the key point of feedback that we typically get is that it is very inviting and very pretty and then also, we do keep that feedback loop open for customers as well, to give us feedback on how they like our site. The overall internal process too, not just like on the site but how they’re getting what it’s like when they open their product for the first time and stuff like. We’ve been really cognizant of the whole overall experience.

JOHN:  That’s great. I always respond really well to sites and systems that have that level of design and friendliness and even quirkiness. I was a designer long ago in print, even before the web, so I have a bias towards things that have that good design. So many websites these days are just in the sort of straight up and down, here some vertical lines and some background colors and it’s very business-y. I definitely find myself responding much more favorably when something can be a little more fluid or more creative, have some fun with color. I really like that.

KAYTE:  Yeah.

CORALINE:  Kayte, talk about kind of a wide range of ages for participants in your program. I remember back when my daughter was young, we felt very grateful. We homeschooled for a long time and then we sent her to a democratic school. She wasn’t really exposed to the social pressures that a lot of girls are exposed to, in terms of what she was allowed to be interested in. I think 11, 12, 13 is the age when a lot of girls are starting to get social messages from their peers and from society at large that technology and science and STEM are for boys and they get discouraged from being interested in it, from being passionate about it, from being creators. How have you seen that play out in your own interactions with girls of that age?

KAYTE:  I think that’s a very key topic to hit on. Something happens around 8th grade with the girls — they discover boys. It’s been proven out that if you don’t get girls engaged by 13 or 14, you’ve lost them. It’s very interesting when we do have these events and we do them with teens and tweens, the younger girls jump right in. They’re fearless. They’ll do whatever and you can see them start to get frustrated based on age because it really is designed for 11+ but if the girl is in 8th grade or so, she tends to stand back unless her friends are there and unless there’s kind of [inaudible] system, so it goes back to that whole community aspect.

I just think that an informed society too is from a young age, girls have been taught one thing and boys have been taught another and even though the schools are the same, I think it has to do with confidence and growing into yourself. If not everybody else is doing it, so sometimes people shy away from it. Studies have shown that if you don’t get them by high school, you’ve lost them and then they don’t come back again until 24, 25.

I speak a lot on this topic and there are some key things that can be done to keep girls engaged or let them know that it’s okay to get excited about technology and coding and stuff like that and some of the key points are making sure that there are role models for girls because people will try to be something or they are attracted to the idea of something that looks like them or if it’s something that they want to be. When you’re able to put role models in front of girls that are excelling in technology or excelling in other things, then it makes it easier for them to kind of see themselves doing it.

Then we’ve talked about this already but the exposure to it — just playing with it, touching it. From a young age, I was surrounded by women in technology. My mom works for Xerox, my aunt works for Xerox, so how I can remember our conversations as a child around technology. I think it’s just giving people the ability to see and touch and feel. Then the other thing is it’s allowing people to be curious or just ask questions and being able to fail in a safe place.

Coding is hard. You’re going to fail. Things are not going to work, so creating a safe space for someone to be able to understand and know that not everything is going to be perfect out of the gate and I think girls get to that age of like 8th grade or freshman year, they only want to be seen one way. They don’t want people to see their flaws and so, giving them the space to maybe it’s not in public but to be able to talk about things that frighten them or things that they may be uncomfortable with, could help in kind of bridging that gap.

What does your daughter do now?

CORALINE:  She’s a writer. I try to get her interested in technology. I try to get her interested in programming. We did a lot of stuff with Arduino and basic electronics when we’re homeschooling. I was responsible for the STEM portion of her education and she enjoyed it as an activity that we did together but she didn’t really develop an interest in doing that on her own. She’s always been attracted to the written word and the spoken word. That’s her passion and I’m happy to support her. I think she would’ve made an excellent coder but that’s just not where her interests lie.

KAYTE:  Cool.

JOHN:  We’re coming up on the Christmas season, which I know is huge for gifts for children, so do you have anything specifically planned around this Christmas?

KAYTE:  Yeah, for sure. As we approach holiday, we’ve got a number of different activities planned. Obviously, lots of great promotions which if you sign up for our email list on DressCodeTech.com, I don’t want to self-promote what we’re doing from a sales perspective or from a promotions perspective but if you want to learn more, feel free to sign up. Our best deals of the year obviously is around Black Friday and Cyber Monday but also, we’re doing some really unique things this year, including pop-up shops mainly in Chicago because that’s where we’re based.

We partnered with another woman-owned, small business for an event on Small Business Saturday, where we’ll be in their shop and making it fun. You’ll be able to come and see our products but also we’ll have snacks and stuff. That’s in celebration of Small Business Saturday. We’re also doing a day of STEM in December in Cincinnati. We’ll be running simultaneous lessons at Wilson Elementary School in the Forest Hills District of Cincinnati in the Cincinnati area.

Then, we’ll probably do some contests around the holiday season. We’re really looking forward to it and I think retail as a whole, I spent a few years in retail and e-commerce prior to starting my company and I always get really excited, not just because it’s a holiday season but it’s also kind of like the Super Bowl of retail. Just looking forward, we always like to improve from year over year. This is actually our second holiday season, so internally, we have a lot of goals that we want to meet and surpass what we did last year. I’m really excited to see how the next couple months play out.

CORALINE:  Kayte, it seems like all your focus has been on getting more women and girls involved in STEM. Are you doing any kind of particular outreach to women and girls from marginalized communities and I’m thinking like people from less well-to-do neighborhoods, people from black neighborhoods, people from Latino neighborhoods?

KAYTE:  Yeah, for sure. We actually, about a month and a half ago, introduce a new program called ‘The Gift of Innovation.’ What we’ve done is we partnered with Dress For Success Worldwide and Big Brothers Big Sisters Chicago. We’ve hit a kind of younger girls and then professional women to be able to provide coding lessons. We kicked off the campaign by giving away a thousand lessons to these organizations, so 500 to Big Brothers Big Sisters Chicago and then 500 to Dress For Success Worldwide. These programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters is obviously kicking off in Chicago and then, Dress For Success, it will be in Chicago, LA and New York, that they will be able to give lessons to their constituents at no cost.

We kicked it off and then going forward, every time a bracelet is sold, we are then gifting a lesson to one of these two organizations. In long term, we would hope to kind of roll it out to other organizations but we are working with these two great organizations. If you don’t know Dress For Success, what they do in 130 countries, they provide clothing and job skills training for women that are impoverished and then the Big Brothers Big Sisters is a mentor program that pairs at-risk youth with adults or young adults to kind of build networks and do fun things together. That’s one thing that we do.

We also do different fundraisers along the way. A lot of times, we’ll partner with organizations. We partnered with Wonder Woman Tech, which is a global organization that works to expose women in under-represented communities to technology and through that, we actually have a bracelet that’s co-branded that any time one of those bracelets are sold, we then donate money back to their organization. Then, when we look at some of these outreach programs, when we do stuff at schools, a lot of that is sometimes, we’ll do an event for free or something like that as well.

CORALINE:  That’s so great.

KAYTE:  We’re so excited and so happy about the partnership, the Gift of Innovation Program. Both Dress for Success and Big Brothers Big Sisters have been wonderful partners and we’re really looking forward to seeing how that grows in 2019.

JOHN:  I know you talked a little bit about future directions for a Dress Code. Do you have anything specifically planned for next year that you’re excited about?

KAYTE:  Yes. I am super excited. We will be launching an online retailer in January. There will be a big announcement in early 2019 around it but we will be selling our bracelets not only on our site now but on another retailer site and we’re really excited about that partnership. There’ll be some news around it and more to come there but really excited for our first real wholesale partnership that will happen in early 2019. We’ll have a lot of stuff planned around International Woman Month which is in March. We’ll do a lot of stuff there. We are working with some corporate partners, so there should be some big things coming then. I know that I sound kind of vague but a lot of this stuff is in early development but expect big things from Dress Code in 2019.

CORALINE:  At the end of the show, we always do our reflections where we bring up something that really struck us in a conversation, maybe something that we want to change about our own lives or the way we work. John, do you have some thoughts about our conversation today?

JOHN:  Yeah, this goes back to something I was mentioning earlier. Kayte, when you mentioned having the coding parties where people are running through your program in a very social context, often maybe with a glass of wine, it’s very informal. The difference between that and a classroom lesson like RailsBridge or something, it’s not that different. But I think just framing it as a party, as something very, very social, versus a classroom which is very much not all that social is a really powerful change in the way you think about the activity that you’re about to engage in and about how collaborative it’s going to be and how much knowledge sharing is going to happen there. I really like the friendliness that you get when you say, “Let’s have a Rails install party,” or, “Let’s install Linux,” or, “Let’s learn a little bit about JavaScript,” or whatever it is you’re going to do but having it couched as a party where everyone’s sort of doing this together and learning and laughing and failing and figuring things out, is a really powerful way of reframing what that activity is and what it’s going to be like and very much more welcoming than a classroom environment. I’m really going to keep that in mind as I start talking about what these sorts of things can be.

KAYTE:  Awesome. If you ever want to have a party, let me know.

CORALINE:  I think the thing that struck most was early on in our conversation, talking about confidence and confidence is something I struggle with a lot. My public persona is a very self-confident one but privately, I circle with that quite a bit. I love the idea of focusing on your accomplishments and keeping a record of your accomplishments and that positive self-talk that you were talking about, Kayte. I want to find a way to incorporate that more into my daily life so that I feel better about the work that I do and I feel better about myself and I can be a better role model to other people. I really appreciate you with that.

Kayte, do you have any thoughts?

KAYTE:  I really love the start of the conversation around fashion tech and retail tech. I think we can spend a whole hour talking about that. That gets me really excited. What both of you brought out too also hit me but I really do think that there’s so much innovation going on in that space and even talking about what was going on at Stitch Fix and being able to look at multiple facets of the business that is focused on fashion is just so cool to me. I think there’s so much that’s going to come that we just don’t even know about today, that is going to change how we shop, that is going to change how dress. I think that that’s just a really awesome future.

CORALINE:  Yeah, hopefully it’s a future that’s built by a lot of the 11 to 13-year old girls who are getting involved early.

KAYTE:  Right, yes.

CORALINE:  Great. Well it’s been great having you on the show, Kayte. Really appreciate your time and it’s been a good conversation. If you’re interested in talking about fashion tech or being a role model or anything else that we talk about on our program, for as little as a dollar a month, you can join our community. Go to Patreon.com/GreaterThanCode. This will get you access to our Slack community. All of our guests and all of our panelists are there, along with a very energized, very enthusiastic and very caring and compassionate group of listeners. I encourage you to think about doing that and thank you and we’ll talk to you all soon.

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